Archive for the ‘Self Sufficiency’ Category

We are in the middle of what is the worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. This act of mother nature, has been exacerbated by poor farming practices. So are the farmers to blame for the new Dust Bowl that is quickly approaching?

Many farmers are subsidized by the Federal government and paid to not grow crops. As a matter of fact, the USDA is reporting that more applications for this “conservation” program are at an all time high. (Story here)

Others receive Federal dollars that cover their bottom line which then allows them to grow crops purely for profit. As discsussed time and again here, profit is not an issue itself, but merciless greed with profit as the driving motive is highly dangerous especially so when government is subsidizing such behavior. (All that you have to do is look at what merciless greed and government subsidies did to the housing market) Still yet some farmers are given subsidies to grow crops to be used for fuel, without going into detail about how insanely inefficient this is, it is simple enough to say that we should not be burning possible food as fuel, it is ludicrous. (I will save the rant about ethanol fuels for another day)

The real issues at hand here are that consumer demand does not necessarily determine what is grown, the commodities and futures market determine what is grown, or government mandates as I previously mentioned. I understand that speculation in the commodity futures market helps maintain steady prices year round but what has been going on is purely gambling. The speculated prices are driving the farmers to grow what will make them the most money right now with no regard to potential failure in the future.

With the main motivating factor behind farming becoming profit and the fact that farmers are guaranteed to get paid through subsidies regardless of whether crops are successful or not, there is little regard for the land itself. The same crops are grown year after year depleting the soil of nutrients to the point that harsh chemical (petroleum based) fertilizers must be continuously dumped onto the land so that crops will even grow. Methods implemented after the first dust bowl in the 1930s such as crop rotation have been thrown to the wayside in favor of government funded profit farming. What has resulted is a wholesale erosion of the topsoil and fertile farm ground that had made America the breadbasket of the world. We are faced with dry, malnourished, crevice filled, cracking psuedo soil. The formerly substantial farm land of the midwest is now an oversized junkie hooked on Federal dollars and fertilizers.

What is the incentive for a farmer to take care of his land if he will be paid regardless of success or failure? Or paid to not even grow crops under the USDA’s conservation program as discussed and linked to earlier.

Is this not just welfare for farmers? We call it a “subsidy” just as we call welfare “assistance”, it’s just a matter of semantics. Substantively farm subsidies are welfare. What is the incentive for the farmer to do the right thing? Very little. What is the incentive to do the wrong thing? Money and quite a bit of it! But back to the point….

Dying crops, and low supply of needed crops are serious threats to American prosperity but not the only threats. Rivers across the land are drying up including the Mighty Mississippi. (Story here) It is safe to assume that reservoirs, wells, and water tables are going dry from lack of replenishment as well.

When this new dust bowl is at full throat and we see a mass failure of crops coupled with skyrocketing prices at our stores due to shortages of supply and a lack of clean drinking water, there will be panic. But should there be?

For decades America has had an overabundance of food. So much so that we have experienced an obesity epidemic. Americans are notorious for throwing away tons of food per year. As a result it has been difficult to imagine that this could ever change. The practices of canning, drying, freezing, and freeze drying were relegated by society to be the activities of paranoid people. Why stockpile food? Why store and preserve food? There is a ready supply just up the street at Wal Mart!

Government policies have reflected this disdain for preparedness. The Department of Homeland Security classifies anyone with stores of food to be potential terror suspects. The very people who should be encouraging preparedness among the populace have discouraged it at every turn. Laws against home gardening and practices such as rain water collection have furthered the issue of unpreparedness to ridiculous levels. This is such an epidemic that if you buy 6 cans of green beans at the store the cashier asks if you’re “filling your fallout shelter” with a smirk. The arrogance about what we have is obscene and our nations consumerism mindset needs adjusted.

Policies, laws, and practices have created a very unfavorable circumstance for a new dust bowl to occur in. The people of the United States are ill prepared and unexpectant. I fear that as a result many will go hungry. Unfortunately at this point the best thing that we can do is pray for rain in the fall and snow in the winter and put some food and water in the pantry.


My friend Kyle Herron, who wrote the previous post “Do We Really Need A Leader” for Less Than Unique, recently gave a speech to a local “Rock The Vote” event. Kyle was kind enough to pass on the text of this speech to share with the Less Than Unique readership.

Thanks Kyle.

“The biggest threat to a tyrannical government is a well-informed public.

I have spent the last few years of my life traveling to different countries around the world and spending time in their cultures. A common theme in most of these countries is a lack of individual liberties and an overbearing government. You see, the most important reason our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and enabled us to vote was to protect the liberties of every individual.

Each and every individual in this country has liberties that are endowed to them and cannot be taken away. We do not get our rights by being a certain race, religion, or the member of some group.

So where do we get our rights? Many will claim it is from a benevolent creator, and that may be a fact. But what about people who are not religious? Do they have rights?

The Declaration of Independence states that we are endowed with our rights by our creator. We all obviously exist so we were created by something. It could be nature, God, or our parents for that matter.
The simple fact is that we are all given those rights by being individual human beings.

While I was traveling the world I had several incidences where I was judged because of the group I belonged to whether it be Caucasian or American. Once I was forced to go to the back of the line in an airport and wait for all the native people to board before me, when I got on board I had to wait until the native people had been seated before I could sit in a less desirable seat.

These discriminatory tendencies are allowed in those countries because they believe that they received their rights based on what group they belonged to, not as individuals. These policies are great for the group that is in favor but not so great for those being held back. Don’t get me wrong I am not denouncing all governments, and I understand that government has a role that it must fulfill. But government must be under the close watch of an informed, and active citizenry.

Governments have the ability to, and the track record of attempting to fool their citizens into blindly following the leadership of the current administration. Sometimes those lies and propaganda have deadly consequences.

The Soviet Union forced millions of its citizens into forced labor camps where many of them died.  By the end of their rule they had murdered 61 million of their own people.

The Communist Chinese government murdered 35 million citizens.

We all know the stories that have come from WWII and the terrible death camps. Were you aware that it was not just the Jews who were persecuted? All of the German citizens were forced to wear armbands to identify them with a certain group. They also persecuted Jehovah witnesses, Gypsies, Homosexuals, and almost anyone with a mental illness. By the time the Nazi reign was over it had murdered 11 million innocent humans in an attempt to clear the earth of GROUPS of people.

Have any of you noticed a trend here? Powerful centralized governments murdering millions of people.

There is a reason the founding fathers set the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances into place. Many of the genocides took place under authoritarian governments where the people had little to no voice to speak out.

But the right to speak out and be heard is not something that can be taken away, it is something that is given up by the individual out of fear or in an attempt to gain stability. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

All of these murders were aided by lies put out by the government and dressed up in propaganda campaigns. All of these could have been prevented if people understood that our rights are not given to us by the government, and the government has no right to take any of them away from any individual.

Being informed about bills and amendments being passed by your government is the first step in keeping  government in its proper role. I served overseas in two wars and I can tell you from first hand experience, ALWAYS QUESTION THE OFFICIAL STORY!

It blows my mind how people will shut down their train of thought as soon as the “Official story” has been produced. It is like they refuse to accept that our government is not all knowing. Our government has its own track record of lies and enforcement of unjust laws.

Slavery was only possible in America because government wrote it into law and enforced it through the barrel of a gun. After slavery had been done away with government enforced Separate but Equal laws and enforced them across the land. Even now to this day government continues to use race as terms to get a loan, a job, or an education. 

Haven’t we seen it time and time again? A government official dresses up the facts in front of congress, he gets called out on the lies he made to the American public and they brush it off like its nothing. Then American citizens laugh it off and say “all politicians lie.” The only reason politicians lie and get away with it is because we allow them to. It is our responsibility to hold them accountable. Why is it okay for a Politician to lie to its citizens, but it is a felony to for a citizen lie to Congress?

The only way to truly stop bigotry is to stop looking at people and associating them with groups, we must look at them for their individual qualities. We cannot continue to allow ourselves to be sectioned off into groups. We must force everyone to look at us as individuals who have certain inalienable rights given to us at birth.

We all know about SOPA and the attack on internet privacy.  Our elected officials are slowly trying to take more and more rights away in the name of security. The attack on the privacy of the internet is far from over, just because SOPA did not pass that does not mean they will not try again. Just look up the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) How many of you have heard of the NDAA? More specifically sections 1031 and 1032.

Did you know that your government now has the ability to detain you indefinitely without a trial if you are suspected of being a terrorist? Did you know that the U.S military is now authorized to operate as Law enforcement inside of U.S borders now? Where do they get the authorization to do this? Not from the Constitution that is for sure.

They are able to do these things because we allow them to.

We allow them to do so by our silence on these issues. I hear a lot of people talking about how slow congress operates, or how it takes too long for our government to effect change. Though some people refuse to believe it, this is actually how our government was designed to work.
When governments are allowed to enact programs on the spur of the moment they are most often based purely on emotion.

Our founding fathers set procedures in place to slow our government down to prevent overreacting to the problems. The overreaction to a problem and the implementation of ill thought-out programs will lead to unintended consequences.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

You will have people who tell you should trust government, and that having distrust of government is just paranoid delusions . Nothing could be further from the truth . Not keeping a watchful, objective eye on your government is what leads to the slow decay of your rights as a citizen.

I ask you to look into each candidate that you plan to vote for. Fight bigotry and tyranny at home by voting for candidates who understand that you are an individual and that you cannot be grouped into the masses. You are special in your own way. With your own tendencies different from any other. Relish in your culture, enjoy your history, but embrace your individuality and let no one take it from you.”

A new reality TV show is currently airing on the National Geographic Channel it is called “Doomsday Preppers”.

Although I find it interesting and will probably watch every episode, I have a suspicion that this show is nothing more than propaganda. More specifically, propaganda intended to make people engaged in disaster preparedness appear to be fringe lunatics.

I have not watched any episodes of this show yet so my opinion is based on pure speculation. Maybe once I do I will change my tune, or maybe Im right? (Since writing this, I have watched 1 episode. My opinion did not change, you will see why further in this post.)

The show is intended to highlight the most extreme cases of preparation. One can easily see how only showing extreme cases of preparation would effect the general opinion of the topic. On the contrary, the show “Hoarders” doesn’t make everyone with a storage shed full of junk guilty of hoarding. So I may be stretching a bit on this one.

Either way, if you read my blog, or are just curious about “preppers” keep in mind, like all groups, there are varying motivations and approaches.

I do not have preparations for any one disaster scenario (little own all of them). I have mostly attempted to plan for myself and my family in order to hedge against rising food costs and other costs of living. I have somewhat prepared for natural disasters, and after seeing our neighbor to the southwest, Joplin, destroyed by natural disaster and all of the totally unprepared people that there were, I feel compelled to do more. There are facts of life that we cannot escape, bad things happen, bad things can happen to good people, unexpected events occur every day, and ultimately we are responsible for caring for ourselves and our families.

UPDATE: I started writing this post before the first episode of Doomsday Preppers had aired. Since that time, a prepper shown in the first episode has been deemed “mentally deficient” by his doctor and has had his firearms confiscated by the police. Story here.

You be the judge, was I right? Is Doomsday Preppers just propaganda intended on discrediting the “prepping” movement?

Here is a great article and video. Watch and read and then tell me that preppers are paranoid and that there is no reason to have some extra food in the cupboard.

UPDATE: May 30, 2012- Prepper sentenced to prison time.

The “go bag” is an essential part of any preparedness plan. I keep mine in my vehicle and transfer it with me when I switch vehicles for work or when I ride in my wifes vehicle. Some people may say it is a sign of paranoia, it’s a waste of money, or even that it’s not practical because the odds of needing it are so low. Ultimately, it’s not up to anyone else whether or not you carry a bag, it’s your decision. I also can’t tell you everything you should have, or even necessarily how much of something you should have, this list is not comprehensive and is merely a suggestion based on how I see things.

The bag itself:
3 Day Assault Pack.
Price: $40-$100+

This pack is the perfect size to keep in the trunk or backseat. Typically available in black, olive drab, or camouflage. I suggest buying a bag that has the MOLLE system, they are ideal for accessorizing your pack and not eating up space inside that pack. I would also suggest getting a bag that has a space for a hydration pouch (camelback).

I got my wife a Red Rock assault pack off of eBay for $40 with free shipping. Its a good little bag, but it was advertised as a 3 Day pack and there is no way it is, it is far smaller. It’s well made and has good compartmentalization.

Keys to a successful Go Bag


What good is the stuff in the bag if you don’t know what you have? Or if you can even find it?

Lists – I suggest maybe a small note card sized laminated (for waterproofing) list of what is in your bag and where it is located in the bag. I suggest another list, most likely printer paper sized and laminated that summarizes what everything in the bag can be used for.

A good tip for the order of listing the contents is in the categories of Critical, Crucial, and Necessary. Everything in this bag has a purpose, some items are of higher priority.

Critical Items- (Items that you are more likely to die without) Ex: Water and water purification, Food, First Aid, Fire Starting Tools, Protection, Shelter Items

Crucial Items- (Items that are complimentary to critical items or are crucial to survival just not of the highest priority) Ex: Containers, Compass, Signaling Items, Cutting Tools

Necessary Items- (Items that are of the lowest priority but are still valuable for survival or rescue) Ex: Space blanket, hand tools, duct tape

These 2 lists will save you time, frustration, and possibly your life.

Color coded bags – extremely useful for streamlining organization. Each bag is a different color, sometimes vary in size, and are typically waterproof.

Example of use: all first aid supplies in the red bag.

Your organization list should then read something similar to

First Aid-Rear Compartment-Red Bag

It is easy to see the advantages of compartmentalizing your equipment and listing it for easy access. Little things like this can save you critical time in a survival situation.


This is a go bag, not a sit bag. The objective is not to have everything you need to set up a permanent encampment, the objective is to cover your basic survival needs and keep you capable of traveling to another location and easily transfer those basic necessities with you.

Weight– We are trying to get the most bang per pound. If items have a specific purpose and are critical there should be at least one back up, in my opinion, 2 back ups. If items are not critical they should be able to be doubled or tripled for other purposes. I also love items that are multiple items combined into one. This saves space and weight. We want the lightest pack that can do the most.

Size– The bag should not be too large for your body, not just in weight but in dimension. Get a bag that properly fits your body shape and height.


The most expensive is not always the best. In some circumstances cheaper items are of equal quality, in others the difference in quality is not worth the savings. Water purification is an example of something that should not be skimped on, but not all 3 options for water purification need to be expensive. I will cover that a little more later.


The key strategies of successfully employing your go bag are:

Speed and Efficiency– quickly and efficiently implement the contents of your bag into whatever situation you are in

Accessibility– your bag should be easily accessible during vehicular travel, and the contents should be easily accessible while on foot or bike.

Manueverability– your bag should be easily carried while walking, running, riding a bike, or driving in a car.

Hideability– a bright pink bag will be seen for long distances, and easily spotted in your backseat. Think of concealment in your vehicle and on your person, don’t let your bag give you away.

Weatherization– the more water proof the better. All zippers should be completely closed and the pulls should be down toward the bottom of the zipper to prevent water leakage during rain and snow. Try not to include items that are damaged by freezing, or items that will melt.

* when something is described as being for emergency use it is not a primary means for that particular method

1.) Critical Contents

Water and Water Purification (carry the means for at least 3 methods)

– 2 bottles of purified water (does not count as a method)
– Water filtration and purification pump (Katadyn Combi)
– Bleach
– Items for Boiling Technique
– Water Purification Tablets
– Betadine (doubles as water purification and antiseptic)

Fire Starting (carry the means for at least 3 methods)

-Magnesium fire starter (best for damp and/or windy conditions)
-Waterproof matches and striker
-Fire Starter Logs with match striking end and striker
-Windproof lighter
-Several BIC cigarette lighters
-Mirror (doubles as fire starter and signal)
-Cotton Balls (doubles as emergency fire tinder and first aid)

Food (short term supply, not intended to live off of, but to sustain you while you find more permanent sources)

– Beef Jerky Sticks individually wrapped (Slim Jims)
– High Protein Bars
– Freeze dried fruits and vegetables


-Small tarpaulin (doubles as shelter and poncho)
-550 Cord (uses include: strapping, tying, cinching, lifting, dragging,etc.)
-Bungee Cords
-Hammock (optional)

First Aid

-Basic first aid kit (band aids,tape,gauze,wraps,etc.)
-Betadine (doubles as antiseptic and emergency water purification)
-Alcohol (doubles as antiseptic and emergency fire starting)
-Cotton balls (doubles as first aid and emergency fire starter)
-Clotting Patches (for excessive bleeding wounds)

Protection (carry the means for at least 3 methods)

-Hand Gun (optional, only suggested for those trained in using a pistol)
-Rifle (will not fit in your bag obviously, but is a nice addition,also optional for those with rifle experience)
-Pepper spray
-Stun Gun (doubles as personal protection and can be used for fire starting)
-Ammo for any firearm that you may choose to carry
-Knives (carry at least 3) Below is a short list of the types to carry

1.)Bowie Knife and sheath (get one that has one piece of steel for the blade and through the handle, the handle can be clad in wood, plastic, or rubber) I carry 2 of these.

2.) Machete (used for chopping firewood, clearing brush, defense, etc.) Difficult to carry but possibly one of the most useful tools for wilderness survival.

3.) Folding knife with clip or caribeener (keep this knife in your front pocket, or hanging from the shoulder strap of your bag) I carry one in my pocket at all times, surprisingly handy.

4.) Multitool Folding Knife (equipped with 1 long blade, 1 short blade, file, screw driver, can opener, pliers, etc.) I carry 2 of these. Leatherman brand are more expensive but are high quality and built to use.

2.) Crucial Contents


Compass- carry 2 different types of compass: magnetic and lensatic

Maps- maps of your area of travel, maps to get you home, maps of your typical area (maps should ideally be foldable and laminated, keep a dry erase marker to use on laminated maps)

Binoculars or monocular- the smaller the better, from a high vantage point you can see long distances and look for resources, threats, and topology

Water Repellent Gear

Poncho’s- I carry 2 of the cheapest ponchos available, your tarp can also be fashioned into a poncho.

Rain Suit- (optional) I suggest Frogg Toggs, they are light, fold virtually flat, and work very well

Tarp- used as poncho, shelter roof, wind break, sleeping mat

Clothes-take up a lot of space, I don’t suggest much clothing in your bag, but there are a few key pieces. Ideally you are dressed for the season. I keep a spare coat and coveralls in my truck during winter, we keep blankets and spare coats in our car trunk as well.

Socks- wool socks in the winter, cotton socks in the summer, keep at least one extra pair in a waterproof bag, dry fresh socks can help prevent blisters and frostbite

Hat- wool cap in winter, shade creating wide brimmed hat in summer

Gloves- heavy leather work gloves for use when working, mittens or insulated gloves for winter

Underwear- for comfort and hygiene, gives you an opportunity to wash and dry another pair, can prevent rashes and discomfort, store in waterproof bag

Signaling (at least 3 methods should be carried)

Mirror- (uses include: signaling, fire starting, sight assistance, first aid)

Whistle- (uses include: rescue assistance, defense against wild animals (not much), long distance communication)

Flare- (used for signaling, emergency fire starting, torch)

Strobe- (flashing firecracker) short life, prone to ruin, not a good primary signal but can be used at night to augment a better signal effort

Flashlight- (covered more in flashlight section)

Flashlights (at least 3 lights in at least 3 different types)

LED Torch– about 5-6 inches long, metal construction, on and off only (a light that has multiple dims requires you to click the switch 3 or 4 times for each use, this will wear out the switch quicker and render your light useless)

Solar LED – I have a good one that my sister got me from LL Bean, hang it panel side out on your pack and let it charge during the day, you can switch to a backup battery whenever the solar charged battery is down.

Dynamo LED – most hand crank lights come attached to a radio, and have flashing red lights as well, the major downside is size, but no sun or charged battery is required for use.

LED Cap Light or Miner’s Light – cap lights attach to the brim of a ball cap and illuminate wherever you turn your head, miners lights have an elastic strap and can be worn on your head regardless of what type of hat you’re wearing.

Glow Sticks – Minimal illumination, one use, but are waterproof. Great to throw into a puddle to gauge depth. Also great for illumination without giving off a light that can be seen for long distances.

Survival Manuals (kept in waterproof bag)

– SAS Survival Guide – available in a small easy to stow size, comprehensive, easy to read, has pictures for demonstration, great educational and reference tool

– Book of local plant and animal wildlife for the region you are in

– First Aid Field Manual or Basic First Aid Guide


Waterproof bags – zip lock, or vinyl drawstring bags
Water bottles
Condoms – easy storage, good for water proofing, also good for carrying water
Waterproof match holder (I found one at Bass Pro that has a compass, whistle, and mirror all in one, probably available on eBay)

Cutting Tools

– Machete – as mentioned earlier
– Small camping axe – available at Wal Mart
– Knives
– Scissors – first aid, utility
– Box Cutter/ Utility Razor Knife
– Cable limb saw

Food Collection

– Fishing line – used for fishing, snares, trip wire, utility
– Fishing hooks
– Netting for trapping or saning a body of water

Health (carry all of the listed items)

– Chap stick and/or lip balm
– Vaseline (wind protection, protects burns from getting infected)
– Sunscreen (High SPF)
– Healing Diaper Cream (use on chaffing or chapped skin)
– Anti Diarreheal tablets
– Bug Spray
– Spare Eyeglasses in hard carrying case
– Sunglasses
– Toothpaste and/or floss (dental problems are painful and dangerous, keep up on prevention even in a survival situation)
– Saline solution to flush eyes
– Prescription Medications
– OTC Medications (Acetamenaphine, Ibuprofen, Antihistamine)

Necessary Items

Hand Tools

– Pliers
– Wire Cutters
– Screw Drivers
– Hammer
– Saw


– Duct Tape
– Bailing Wire
– Electrical Tape
– Reusable Cloth Shopping Bag (good for gathering fruits, berries, tinder)
– Bungee Cords (shelter use, potential for weaponry)
– Ratcheting Tie Strap (shelter use, lifting heavy objects, lashing)
– Caribeiner Clips
– Fanny Pack (use to make space in your back pack)
– Spare Batteries
– Soap
– A motivational book (read if you become discouraged or complacent, I suggest reading your survival manuals during any down time not used for sleep, water purifying, food gathering, fire starting and building, or shelter construction)
– Crossword puzzles, problem solving games (something for occasional entertainment, pick activities that keep your mind sharp)
– Manual can opener
– Mess kit
– Hobo Eating Utensil
– Bottle opener, cork puller
– Stainless steel flask
– Salt and Garlic

As I stated earlier this is not a comprehensive list, or even a list that you have to stick by, add and subtract items based on your skill set, comfort level, and individual necessities. Climate, season, and weather should also play a role in what you carry in your bag.


Periodically take your bag out and look through it. Practice with it. Think about what should and shouldn’t be in it. Go for a hike with it on, determine whether it is comfortable to carry or if you need a different pack, also determine if the pack is too heavy for you.

Comment below if you have anything to add. I applaud and thank you if you managed to read this far, I was VERY long winded on this one!