Thursday, October 30, 2014


There are a lot of things that need to be stored away in your basement, store room or whatever you use for long term storage.  Basic foods come at the head of the list, I suppose, but things like medicines, medical supplies, cooking supplies, extra clothing, et al go there too. There are books that are essentially lists for self sufficiency planning, and there are lots of pdf. format files on the internet with the same information.

One of the items that usually shows up somewhere near the bottom is common salt.  We tend not to think much about that, but it's really a critical commodity for a number of reasons.  We need it to stay healthy, so much so that part of a Roman soldiers pay included salt. We get the word "salary" from the practice of issuing Roman troops with small bags of salt for cooking, then the cost was deducted from their pay by the legion paymaster.  The Romans didn't waste time on non essential practices.

People need small amounts of iodine in their diet, and the way most of us get it is by using iodized salt. Failure to do so, over a long period of time, can lead to several health issues, the most well known being goiters.  There are people, like me, who can't ingest iodized salt because we're allergic to iodine. If you have someone like that in the family or the group, you need to provide salt that has no iodine for their use.

Salt is dirt cheap, quite literally. I originally bought it by the case when I started out in the mid eighties. But over time, the case and the cardboard containers it held tended to turn into bricks. You could still cut away the cardboard and break the salt up, with no adverse impact on the salt itself, but it was tedious.

I found that if I waited til winter, when the humidity here is usually about 20% or lower, I could take the salt out to the barn, pour it into plastic bottles, seal them tightly, and that alleviated the issue of hardening.

There are salt blocks of different size, with or without iodine, that you can buy at farmers depots, and sometimes at big box stores.

This is one of the large salt blocks intended for animal use.  If you are keeping livestock, you will need a few of these to put out for the animals to lick on from time to time.

However, the same blocks make good long term storage salt for people as well. You can put ten large salt blocks down in the basement, and if the times call for it, you just chip off what you need with a chisel, and break it up with a morter and pestel,  If you don't have one of those, improvise one,  You can buy these large blocks, roughly the size of half a cinder block, either wrapped in plastic or as plain blocks you need to wrap yourself.

There are also small salt blocks, about the size of a brick, if that's easier for you to move or store.

There are a huge number of uses for salt besides flavoring and preserving food.  It's cheap (now), but it doesn't exist in quantity naturally anywhere near most of the places people live.  People who have read "Alas Babylon" will recall that the community where the story is based had to send a party to an old salt lick when the town ran out of the commodity.

 If you do live near a salt lick or by the beach, you might be able to get your own, but for most of us, what we have on "the day" is going to be what we have to get through.

I'd say lay it in while it's cheap.

Univ. of Pennsylvania: Canning and Pickling Salt

University of Missouri: Canning

Morton Salt: Frequently Asked Questions

Morton Salt Meat Curing Frequently Asked Questions.

The Modern Survivalist: 101 uses for : Salt

The Good Survivalist: Preserving Meat with Salt

The Happy Prepper: Uses for Salt

The Survivalist Blog: Top Ten Mistakes of Prepping Newbs

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Got my book.

I finally got my hands on Mike Venturino's new book.  As usual, there were delays with the publisher and it came out months late, but now I've got my copy.

It's pricey, at about $50.00, but well worth it. He covers most of the guns I commonly shoot, including the rara avis  that most people usually don't write about.

The pictures are great, but I already had plenty of books with pictures of different weapons. What this book has is load data he tested out for every single gun reviewed, and that's golden. You can get load data for most old guns out of any load manual, but he gives different powders and bullet types for several that I have had only one load for up to now.

It wouldn't be a lot of use to anyone not interested in the older weapons , originating in the 1891-1945 era, but it's a real find for those of us who are.

I recently received a heads up from a friend about a security breach in the blog. Many thanks to him , and it's been corrected. I am very careful about that kind of thing, but it doesn't take much to compromise your OPSEC and I missed something. I know some folks don't worry about disclosing their location on line, but you have to remember you don't know who is reading your blog, or why. I just don't think it's a really good idea to publish your personal information. You can pass that info on to people you know and trust via email, in a private communication, and that's what I do when I need to.

Turning colder here, and some light rain on and off.  It was a pleasant day, This evening I plan to catch up on reading blogs, then settle down on the couch and read my new book some more. I have a good fire going so I'm set for the night.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A new prepper just starting out.

Becca is working on a homestead, and all the things that initiates have to acquire knowledge about. I am sure, if you have time, that she would appreciate people coming by her blog.  If you can remember back that far, you know how hard it is to get off the ground.

The Popwell Homestead

Just Rambling On.

I sometimes use paintings to show people what the mountains look like.  I'm not a good photographer, and my photographic equipment is marginal.  Besides, I really like mountain art. I'm no artist, I find the paintings on the web.  But once in awhile I get a decent picture. This was a sunrise, taken from a "saddle" in the mountains near the house. That's a place on the ridge line where a narrow section lets you see on both sides from the same vantage point.

Recently a friend asked me if I had any AR-15 type rifles.  I'm a collector of the old military bolt guns, but I do have some modern weapons. I've concentrated on the L1A1 and the M14 there, but I have a couple of AR's.

This is a pretty standard version of the AR-15. 

This is a Colt SP-1.  It was the forerunner of the M4 Carbine.  It's light, and easy to carry. When I'm working in the woods near the house, I usually keep this on a sling.  I could carry one of my Enfields, Mausers, etc out there , but what happens is I get to working and wander away from the gun. The old military guns are way too heavy to carry slung around your shoulder on a hot, hellish day under the canopy.

My wife bought me the shirt I'm wearing in this old picture. It says "Does not play well with others."
For any non-Americans who might be passing by, that's from the old school report cards kids used to get, so she's taking a gentle jab at my personality.  She's not much of a mixer, either though, so our solitude up here suits us both.

This is a good time of year for sitting out with a fire in the evenings. I have been doing that for a good many years, One nice thing about living in the woods with no people to take into consideration,  you can pretty much do what you want to, when you want to.

A good thing about the cold weather coming, is that it means it's shoulder holster time again. I can wear a vest up here year round, as many older men do so I don't stick out in a crowd. But I'd rather just wear a light jacket.  As you can see, I'm a big fan of the Miami Classic rig. I doubt many people remember Miami Vice, but it was an early 1980's crime show. This particular rig was made for the main character of the show by Galco, and it really caught on. Above are a Browning High Power, a Beretta 92 Onyx, a Sig P226, and a Kimber Custom II.

I think I've put this picture on the blog before, but it does illustrate one of my favorite shotguns. That's a Mossberg, of the same type issued to USN vessels for shore party use, among other things. You can't beat a good shotgun for those times when you might need to get up close and personal.

After I finish here, I'm going over to one of the small lakes in the county to do a bit of walking. They have a one mile trail around this lake, and I can get there in about 15 minutes if I cut through the mountains on one of the old forest service roads.  After that, I just don't know. I'll probably take a nap this afternoon, and then we'll see what else there is to do.  Being retired is a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Morning.

Sunday morning.  Before dawn there was a lot of fog or low clouds. It was a bit cold so I built a fire in the fireplace before my wife got up. She likes to wrap up in a blanket on the couch and watch tv, which is what she's doing while I do this post.

The ferrets have discovered a "jumbo pack" of paper towels from yesterdays shopping. It was supposed to go to the barn for storage, but since they have kindly opened the package for me I guess I'll just keep it in the house and use it.

Ferrets are not supposed to eat cheese, since it can cause them digestive troubles. My wife discovered years ago, though, that they can eat string cheese in small portions and really love it.  Spike and Jet are clustered near the couch, getting ready to eat some cheese she put down for them.

Here's the general store over across the border in North Carolina.  They had been picked pretty clean and their inventory was down. Only about a third of the normal complement of weapons at the gun counter, and very little ammunition.  This is deer season, and they mostly sell deer rifles at this time of year, so that may account for it.

Among other things, the people who run the general store also have a realty license and they can conduct the classes North Carolina requires prior to the issuance of a concealed carry permit. North Carolina and Georgia have reciprocal agreements, meaning we recognize each other's permits. Right now, I can drive from Georgia all the way to Idaho without ever venturing into a state that does not recognize my Georgia concealed carry license.

After winding our way through the mountains and along the river on a very narrow road, we got to the town where the Grocery Outlet store is located.  You never know what they will have, and it's never the same goods two visits in a row, but we find a great deal of good food here at very low prices.

This is a no frills outfit.  The merchandise is just stacked up on pallets for the most part, although they do have locally produced fruit and vegetables in season.  They carry everything you need for long term food storage, though. There are also good prices on cheese, and fresh meat.

They actually have a pretty good selection of products, and most of them are name brand. You pay as little as  20% of what you would at a normal grocery store on some items.

All in all , we had a very good day and enjoyed getting out.  Don't know what we will do the rest of today, maybe just stay home and relax.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sun just coming up now.

Next week, after November 2, this will be 0700 instead of 0800.   I like that better, since I get up about four a.m. and when it's dark til eight that means I spend four hours inside before I can really get out. Not that it's a problem, because I have plenty to do inside.  It will just be nice to have the option of going out earlier.

I'm having my coffee, and my wife, who doesn't like coffee, is having mulled cider. I am good at making that. I even have little sticks of cinnamon to add to the cider once it's mulled. That's definitely a cold weather drink.  We don't have a fire in the fireplace this morning, because it's 42 degrees outside, but I'm running the propane heat so the house is nice and warm.

Yesterday, I got my first "subscription" copy of American Survival Guide. I can't complain about the contents, as always there were interesting articles and useful information. What I couldn't believe, though, was that they just stuck a mailing label on the magazine and sent it through the mail with no envelope or plastic cover.  All of my other magazines come in one or the other, and it's a good thing. This magazine, just thrown in the U.S. Mail, apparently sat in water somewhere, the pages were all dog eared, and in general it arrived in terrible shape. I tried to call the customer service number several times during the day.  It rang unanswered and then switched over to another number, also unanswered.

I won't be renewing the subscription. I keep my magazines for reference, and I keep them in good shape. To say I found such nonchalance about protecting the magazine on the part of the publishers infuriating would be a gross understatement. I'll just go back to buying the magazines at the newsstand in town.

Still, despite the poor performance of the publisher and the bad headwork that went into their decision making process, I'm not one for cutting off my nose to spite my face.  I saw the American Survival Guide Buyer's Guide on the newsstand at Walmart. Basically, it appears to be a compendium of the reviews they did in the magazine over the last year.

That's ok, because I have a hard time remembering what add I saw in which magazine. Commander Zero asked me a question about some security devices the magazine reviewed, and I never did find the right magazine to answer.  So perhaps this will be of use that way.  I confess, I have never seen anything in the product reviews that I rushed out to order. Principally, this is because all their gear is "wealthy yuppy" stuff. What I have done, though, is see something that conceptually I liked, and then gone to Major Surplus and Survival, or Sportsman's Guide, and bought surplus gear that fulfilled the same function. It's the ideas in the magazine, more than the specific items themselves, I pay for.

We have great plans for today.  Over across the state line, there's a little town that used to be the cigarette smuggling capitol of the United States in the 1980's. The feds closed that down, but there's still a post office, a gas station, and a general store. The general store has some good things in the way of guns, clothing, and equipment. It's a beautiful drive through the mountains to get there, and our plan is to ride over that way, then go to the discount grocery store in a town further on. Should be a nice break from routine. I'll try to remember to take my ancient camera, despite the extra weight.

The camera doesn't weigh all that much, but it adds up. When I go out, I carry my pistol and two extra magazines in a shoulder holster, a box of 50 rounds of 9mm or 45 acp, depending on what I'm carrying. I also have a cell phone, hand held GPS, wallet, check book, compass, matches, large folding knife, pocket flash light, and a few other odds and ends. Sometimes I feel like a medieval knight. I need a crane to host myself into the truck.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Busy Day Ahead

I have a full day scheduled.  Got up at four thirty this morning, and made a big breakfast.  Scrambled eggs, toast, bacon and coffee, plus some orange juice.  It won't be light until after 7:00 a.m. and I don't want to try going down the mountain in the dark.  It showered some last night, and the trail is covered with dead leaves. There's nothing slicker than wet leaves on a steep incline, unless perhaps it's ice.

I'm taking the truck in for some pre cold weather preventive maintenance. I need the electric engine heater cord checked to see if it needs to be replaced.  A plate of underside "armor" fell off and needs to be reattached. If you drive on unimproved roads a lot, you need these plates to keep you from damaging the underside of the vehicle or the exposed portions of the drive train. I knocked one off recently, but I heard it come off so I recovered it.  I need a new license plate light rigged, since the wiring was damaged by some brush and it doesn't work anymore.  Just small stuff but I want to get it all done quickly. I got the first appointment of the day, 8:00 a.m.

Then I'm going to the farmers depot to get a couple more bales of straw for the dog bunker. The dogs have compressed the straw on the floors of their compartments, and you need a lot of it under them, between them and the boards of the porch, for insulation. That needs to be fixed.  I have a slow drain in the shop, need some special unplugging liquid that doesn't hurt pvc pipe or septic tanks. They have it at the depot. I will pick up a couple of big salt blocks at the depot as well, to put in the meadow for the deer.

Then to the grocery store, to get my resupply of medicine. Should be ready. Some of it has to be ordered, they don't keep it on the shelf. I used to get my medicine at Walmart but there are so many old people here (yes, I know I'm one of them) that the line at the Walmart pharmacy is massive. I don't like to wait.

After that to Walmart, for chicken feed (it's cheaper there than at the farmers depot), dog food, dog biscuits, cat food, and ferret food. I already have a lot of that stored, but I think I know how a bear must feel when winter is coming and it's almost time to hibernate. You feel like just a few more 50 lb sacks of this or that would be a good idea.

Yesterday I got the skylight caulked. Probably won't have time for more chores up here today, but I can work on them tomorrow.

It's five twenty now.  Sunrise in about an hour and fortyfive minutes. Then I'll be on my way.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Blue Ridge Mountains in Fall

What did I accomplish today. Not much, I'm afraid.

I was supposed to replace some shakes on the barn roof.  I just wasn't in the mood to work up on a ladder, so I decided to put that off until tomorrow.  I needed to put a little bit of roof sealant on one of the skylight frames. Didn't do that either. I should have gone to town and gotten some pressure treated wood to work on a retaining wall, but I didn't.  I haven't felt very motivated or ambitious this week, and have spent most of the time reading on the couch by the fire, or sleeping.

Took  some time to go through the blog and delete some posts I wasn't happy with. Sometimes I don't get things right, or can't quite express what I'm trying to say. Better then to just delete the whole thing, leave the topic for another time. This blog is my personal record as well as a way of communicating with like minded souls. I'm thinking I'm going to split it into two parts, one that's oriented towards exchanging ideas with others, and another that is just uninteresting minutiae of value only to myself.

I did walk down and get the mail.  I wear a small pack down there and back.  It's roughly two miles round trip. Good for me but tiring. I carry a blue shopping bag to put the mail in, but today one of the kittens followed me down. About a quarter of the way down the mountain, she got tired so I put her in the shopping bag and carried her down and back. Fortunately, there were just a couple of bills and a newspaper, so she wasn't crowded in the bag.  It's just getting harder to make that trip on foot. Sometimes it's a test between my aches and pains and my will power.  Cold weather is hard on arthritis, and it may be that at some point I'll have to eat crow and go along with my doctor on the hip replacement. Not yet, though.  I have a horror of being cut on, and of hospitals.

Tried to work on my taxes some, getting things in order but spreadsheets just weren't on my mind this week and I haven't gotten much done.

I pre ordered  Rawle's new book, Tools, some time back but publication has been delayed until December according to Amazon, so there's no chance of it's coming anytime soon.

About the only other thing I did today was watch the old movie Falling Down. If you haven't seen it, it's a unique show and I've always felt a lot of empathy with the protagonist. There's a lot of vulgarity in the language, which is why I haven't been able to put a clip on the blog. Still a good show though. Pretty much sums up life in general.

I found a trailer that has been edited for language.  Good show, I think almost everyone can relate to it.

31 years is a long time. Doesn't seem like it.

This patch is from the ships store on the U.S.S. New Jersey.  You know how it is about souvenirs.

I don't know if anything done there made a difference, but if it didn't, it wasn't for lack of trying.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Potentially good show alert.

Thursday, 23 October at 2100 (9:00 p.m.) Atlanta PBS is premiering a new PBS production, called Last Days of Man: Top Ten Ways to Extinction.

That's all I know about it.  PBS shows tend to be well written and researched, so I am going to watch it. I don't know that all PBS stations will be carrying it, but I thought people might like to know so they could check.

Jeff Cooper on "the rifle."

“The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.”

― Jeff Cooper, Art of the Rifle

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Squealing on the druggies is bad for your health, and other observations.

I've been sitting in the house, keeping out of the wind and listening to the scanner.  A few minutes ago, the dispatcher called several of the Deputies on duty, and the town police as well.  There was a drug deal "going down" behind a local subsidized housing complex.  The place has a very unsavory reputation and nobody uses that street after dark unless they are a tourist or retarded.

The part that made me cringe was the dispatcher saying, in the clear,  "the apartment manager is calling in the complaint."  That's an OPSEC violation that could really ruin that guys day some dark night, if you see what I mean.  If I was going to do something like that, I'd make sure I had a "throw away" $14.00 cell phone, and I'd use a phony name. I'm sure the poor guy didn't expect them to compromise him over the radio, but live and learn.

Nice day out, but way too windy.  I went to town to get my prescription medicines ordered early today. I had planned to go to the theater and see a matinee, the one about the tank crew. I think it's called Fury. But alas, I got too worn out , so maybe tomorrow.

Most of the leaves are off the deciduous trees now, and with this wind blowing, any that are left won't be there long. The flags on my flagpole are standing straight out in the wind.

If it were a little warmer, it'd be a nice day.  I built myself a fire in the fireplace when I got home and I'm enjoying that.  Cheap way to heat the house and very restful at the same time.

At Walmart there was plenty of everything except .22 LR.  They have all the 9mm, .40S&W, .45 ACP, etc that you could want. I bought a box of 9mm Luger from Italy. It was inexpensive and packed very tightly, so I thought I would get one to carry in my vest.  I also got a box of .38 special LRN and a box of .30 .30 Winchester.  Hadn't seen any of the last two in some time and thought I should get a box or so while it was available. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

The counter man was having a discussion with a customer about forming a mutual support group. I had just this morning read a blog posting about the same thing. There are some young people in L.A. who are running their own survivalist blog. They were discussing putting together a mutual support group, but talking as if this particular plan was a new idea. I read the post twice and I didn't see anything revolutionary about it, but maybe I missed what they were saying. That happens to me, sometimes.

I think it's time for a nap.

How's that working out for ya?

 The new rage is black serial killers.  The guy who has been charged with killing that coed from Virginia is linked to several other killings of young women over the years.  Not to be outdone, another black man arrested for killing a woman is leading police to a long string of female murder victims missing back as far as seven years ago.  My memory may be faulty but it seems to me that most of this kind of thing in the past was related to white guys. But I guess it's a good thing to see the two cultures melding, right?

In Louisiana, which got stuck with a lot of the illegal immigrant kids that Obama let stay in the country, the school system is falling apart.  The legal limit for class sizes has been changed from a max of twenty to a max of thirty students. Anyone who ever worked in a classroom will shudder at the thought of what that means.  Louisiana's schools are paying a $5000 bonus for bilingual teachers, but getting few takers. So a teacher stands up in front of the math class, and waits while another teacher translates her lesson. So do the English speaking kids. And wait, and wait, and wait.....
Louisiana's education budget, not surprisingly, did not have funds in it for all these Hispanics, so they are twenty million in the hole. The feds are not picking up the tab.  The President's kids go to private schools, of course, so it's no skin off his posterior what's happening to kids in public schools anywhere. I don't guess it matters, since most teenagers either drop out of school or can't read and write when they graduate anyway. Even Al Jazerra, which vehemently attacked those who said the U.S. couldn't be the land of milk and honey for all these third world folks, is now saying that between exotic new diseases and the collapse of educational systems maybe it isn't working out too well for the U.S.  There's also the fact that the public is supporting all these thousands of bocas inutil financially and probably will be for as long as they live.

As soon as he can, Obama will use his newly declared and largely illegal executive orders to legitimize what he's already done in terms of letting this flood of  dross into the U.S.

In Ferguson, Missouri the carnival goes on.  What a sweet opportunity to get out and do a little shopping without the hassle of having to pay for anything.  I was going to go up there and "protest" too, maybe pick up some new tennis shoes and few other things.  Then I found out that the Walmart in Ferguson has evacuated all the ammo from their store, in anticipation of being looted by "race freedom fighters", so I guess it isn't worth the trip.

I don't know that there is the slightest thing that can be done about any of this. It seems like events have taken on a life of their own, and we are just along for the ride.  I do believe, though, that this will be a self correcting time line and that big changes are in the offing for us all.  I can't guarantee we will enjoy them, though.  Interesting times, indeed.