sorry ive been gone

I apologize for the few number of articles posted over the last 5 weeks, but folks need to make sure that every now and then some time is taken to unwind and relax. Things happening in the nation and the world are getting stranger by the day and far more expensive. We happened to have the ability to take off for a few days and escape reality, so we took advantage of it.

We decided to take a little time off last week and drive up to Orlando to visit the mouse. We are fortunate to be in a location that gives us quick access to a place like this. However, between home and there is a very long stretch of the Florida Turnpike that has a whole lot of nothing. We always make certain the get home bag inside the truck is fully stocked and up to date every time we make that drive.

Something was making the hair stand up on the back of my neck a little more this time. As I was loading up the truck last Tuesday evening I decided to give the get home bag and extra look. I added a few items to the bag including two extra ponchos and a new flashlight. I also threw in some more water bottles, another 50 yards of paracord, two more Mylar emergency blankets, and another Datrex 3600 calorie emergency food bar. I even added a box of band-aids to the bag. I then made sure the tire pump was operable and that the tire plug kit was fully stocked. Everything in the Ram was good to go.

We went inside the house and started packing for the trip. We decided to bring along extra ammo. I threw extra 9mm mags in the bag for my EDC and two extra speed loaders for her Model 37.

I did my normal vacation navigation preps. This included packing the Garmin handheld GPS (a TomTom is already in the truck) and a road map. We have never had a need to use any of these items simply because we know our way around so well, but I refuse to travel without redundancy in navigation.

We packed standard vacation clothes in our luggage, you know the drill…t-shirts, shorts, etc…We also packed one separate bag with some of our hunting clothes and boots, just in case we had to try and get home on foot.

Last week I posted an article about Coolcore Cooling Towels. We liked the product so much that we decided to take them with us to Disneyworld. If you have ever been to Disney during this time of year, you know just how hot it can get! The Coolcores were a great addition to our trip.

We headed out first thing Wednesday morning and started the three hour drive. The drive itself proved to be uneventful. However, as we were driving up the Turnpike we were constantly getting news updates on two very disturbing issues; the violence occurring in the Middle East and the Federal Reserve’s decision to start quantitative easing. Folks, we have been lied to over and over again by our “leaders” about both and I could go on a several-page rant about that, but that is for another day. Listening to this news we were certainly glad we had prepped our trip in advance of leaving home.

We ended up using two prep items during the trip. The Coolcore Cooling Towels, which we had intended on using, and the two extra ponchos I had placed in the get home bag prior to leaving. They came in very handy on the final day of the trip when we woke up to some really wet conditions. Thankfully, we did not have a reason to use any other prep items.

One cool little thing happened to us while we were eating lunch at our favorite resort hotel. We had the opportunity to speak with another couple in line while waiting for our food. We struck up a conversation with them and because of a lack of seating in the restaurant we ended up sharing a table with them. They were complete strangers and completely awesome. After some small talk, we realized these nice Southern people were like-minded. We talked with them about quite a few things including silver buying, retreat locations, and the problems facing our current society. It was a great experience.

We are living in very perilous times. Life as we know it is changing rapidly. In my opinion there is only one thing more important than preparing for the difficult road we are traveling down and that is making time for those who are most important to you. Make sure you take the time, while there is time, to relax and enjoy each others’ company. Take your breaks from life but make sure you always have a plan in place just in case. The S*** can hit the fan at any time!

Redundancy & Navigation

You are going to read a lot about redundancy in your preps this week.  As you can tell, I can’t stress enough the importance of redundant planning.  Murphy’s Law says that if something can go wrong – it will.  Experience says Murphy new exactly what he was talking about!  That is why it is so important to build redundancy into your preps.

I won’t bore you with another hurricane war story, but I can tell you this…trying to find our way around Miami-Dade County after Andrew hit in August 92 was IMPOSSIBLE. If you have a similar situation where every street sign is gone and familiar landmarks are destroyed, how do you plan to navigate your way around?

Nowadays people rely on the internet, GPS, and smart phones to find where they need to go. I’m guilty of it myself and have to force myself to purchase a map on trips just to ensure practice.  What if you are smack dab in the middle of a SHTF event?  If the power is gone, the cell towers destroyed, and there’s no cable or internet, and you have to leave, how are you going to find your way out?  These are important factors to consider in your preparedness strategies.

Like Monday’s post I am going to offer a list of potential solutions that can ensure you have plenty of redundancy built into your navigational preps:

Road maps:  The good old maps that your dad used to have on family vacations.  Remember these?  I fondly recall sitting in the back seat and following along on the road map as we traveled across country.  Road maps can be extremely valuable to you post-SHTF.  If you are planning on relocating to a BOL or a family member’s home outside the area make sure you have road maps covering the entire travel route.  It’s also a good idea to have road maps for the county you live in and neighboring counties around you.

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Tilapia Farming in the Backyard pt 2

Like I mentioned before, this is all from earlier in the year. I just now got round to posting some of this stuf for my buddies.

The original six tilapia that had been housed in a 35 gallon aquarium inside were now relocated to the 650 gallon pool. The fish were netted and placed into plastic bags, much like regular tropical fish, and allowed to float in the pool in order to acclimate them to the water temperature of the pool. After about a half hour, the fish were released into their new home. These fish were about two inches long when they were released into the clear pool water.

That night one of the tilapia was lost after it jumped out of the pool, so now 5 fish remained. They seemed right at home with the school of little minnows that had occupied the pool during the prior week. Things were going along just fine with the older fish in the pool and the new babies that were occupying the 35 gallon tank inside the house. We figured the current stock would be edible some time around the end of the year.

The babies (I will call them the 2nd generation) were growing rapidly in the 35 gallon tank. They seemed to have bottomless pits for stomachs and would eat just about anything offered. Romaine lettuce seemed to be their favorite. We would simply place a few leaves into the tank and the little guys would chow. They would eat just about any type of fruit, vegetables and even meat.

The 2nd generation behaved differently than the tilapia originally purchased from the farm. They always moved in schools, where as the originals were far more independent. They also were far more aggressive in their feeding habits. These little guys attacked food placed in the tank as if they were never going to eat again. The 2nd
generation fish were being fed 3 to 4 times daily, and they were growing like weeds.

As the 2nd generation was growing inside, changes were taking place within the outside pool. Although there were only 5 originals and the minnows in the outside pool, the water was quickly becoming dark green. The original filter that came with the pool could not handle the strain of the algae growing in the pool and subsequently burned up. It was replaced with a spare Magnum salt water tank pump. This pump is currently what is filtering the water today, but the water is still dark green with very limited visibility. A few natural barley solutions have been used in an attempt to clear the water, but they have had minimal results.

After a few weeks of feeding and observing the originals in the outdoor pool, we noticed that the fish were coning to the surface and what appeared to be getting air. We deduced that this was an oxygen issue, potentially caused by the algae within the pool. Knowing the algae were very difficult to control we turned to aerating the pool. A pond fountain was purchased and placed into the pool. That fountain is shown in the picture. This really seemed to do the trick and the fish were no longer surfacing, with the exception of feeding time.

After just a few weeks, and a few adjustments, everything seemed to be functioning properly and then it happened…the pond was full of more baby tilapia! We now had three generations of fish and our total stock was increasing at a rapid place. We were now well over 60 fish in a matter of a few months, at least that is what we could account for, we had no idea how many more were located in the darker depths of the pool.

The 2nd generation remained in the home, while the originals and 3rd generation were growing in the pool.
The indoor tank of 2nd gen’s was becoming very cloudy as the occupants grew larger. The decision was made to relocate half of the 2nd generation to the outdoor pool and keep the other half indoors for breeding purposes.
After moving half of the 2nd gen’s to the pool, we decided to net some of the very small 3rd generation babies and
relocate them to the indoor tank. This turned out to be a bad idea. The 2nd generation tilapia ate all five of the
babies within 10 minutes…lesson learned.

These fish do not stop breeding. By the end of July we lost track of the original 3 generations as all the fish were growing rapidly. Babies were constantly being netted and relocated. In all we probably have at least 100 tilapias…all started with the 5 originals. We are certain that by now the 2nd generation fish are reproducing and we are currently experimenting with different methods of keeping the baby fish away from the older ones.

As I mentioned before, these fish can really produce and they grow very fast. We have not yet eaten any of the stock, but that day is fast approaching. Stay tuned for part 3…

Backyard Tilapia

The following article may be somewhat more advanced for the beginning prepper.  Please do not be discouraged in your preparedness journey by assuming you are not far along enough in your preps or that this is a must have.  What you are about to read is a really effective way to produce home-grown protein in the event of SHTF.  It also can provide a supplement to your daily food needs during calmer times.

I would also like to comment that I am in no way an expert in raising fish.  A lot of what we accomplished was through trial and error combined with internet research.  The intent of the article is to outline what we did, and to describe our successes and failures.

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According to Wikipedia  “Tilapia is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia inhabit a variety of freshwaterhabitats, including shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Historically, they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africaand the Levant, and are of increasing importance in aquaculture.”

Tilapia really made it big on the scene here in the United States a few years ago.  A fish people never heard of suddenly was appearing on restaurant menus throughout the country.  Tilapia farms started popping up and all of a sudden this hardy little fish made quite a name for itself.


Tilapias are a very resilient fish and man can they reproduce. A female fish of birthing age can produce extremely large quantities of baby fish every few months.  Interestingly, the momma fish will protect the newly hatched fish by keeping them in her mouth (called mouth brooding).  This is necessary because the other fish in the pond will eat the babies.  Even once the mother releases the babies, they are fair game to more mature Tilapia. They have amazingly
big appetites and can survive through some really harsh conditions. I have even read articles where people in Haiti have begun raising Tilapia in little puddles that were dug by hand for the purpose of raising their own food.

In our neck of the woods invasive species are a very big concern to our local environment.  The warm waters
surrounding us are filled with a number of different and dangerous species that can wreak havoc on natural ecosystems.  Whether it is Burmese Pythons or Snakehead fish, all these foreign species need to be closely monitored.  The same holds true for the Tilapia.  Down here the only type of Tilapia that is allowed to be sold and raised is the Blue Tilapia.  This type of Tilapia is already present in Florida canals and waterways and they are not restricted.

Determined to try and raise our own, we decided to give it a try. If successful we could produce our own source of protein and eat fish that we know are not contaminated by any man-made substance.  Here’s how we did it…

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In March of this year one of our members celebrated her birthday by purchasing 7 small Tilapia from a local farmer.  These fish were bought for less than 10 bucks.  The newly acquired fish were brought home and put into a 35 gallon aquarium in the home.  One fish died overnight but 6 healthy Tilapia remained and thrived. These fish were small and we figured we had plenty of time to get their new home built and ready for them.

The time we had the fish inside their home, we had a good chance to watch their habits and learn what these fish liked and disliked.  When it came to food, there was very little they did not eat.  We gave them everything and anything from lettuce to cheerios.  As the fish grew bigger they became more of a stress on the water within the tank.  It was becoming much more difficult to keep the water clear.  We found out later that these guys don’t really care how dark the water is…as a matter of fact we believe they prefer the water like this.

Much to our surprise, after about one month, the 35 gallon aquarium was dotted with a few dozen babies.  Because of the ferocious appetite of the species, we expedited construction of the pond.


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The first step in the process was site selection.  Two of the members of the group decided to set up the project in their back yard.  An existing orchid / green house was modified to fit the pond.  The screened-in enclosure had to be modified and extended outward in order to fit the structure that would be the pond.  This required some moderate
building with pressure treated lumber and screen installation.

The floor of the house needed to be leveled out to accommodate the new pond.  Using several bags of playground sand, the ground beneath the pond was prepared and leveled.

A small swimming pool was purchased from the local Walmart. The pool holds 650 gallons of water and came packaged with a small filter.  The members paid 80 dollars for the pool / pump combo.  In our experience we learned that these fish would probably thrive in just about any size pool of this nature.  We elected to go with this pool because we wanted to raise many fish at one time.  The pool was assembled according to the instructions and filled with hose water.  The filter was turned on and allowed to sit for several days in order to make the water safe for the new inhabitants.


The first fishes released into the pool were a group of minnows purchased from the local pet store.  These little guys
didn’t realize it but they were the guinea pigs.  This was in March of this year, and I am happy to report that all of these minnows are alive and well (and huge).  With the water apparently safe, it was time to add some Tilapia.

The remaining adult Tilapia in the 35 gallon aquarium were netted and relocated to the backyard pool.  This is where
the adventure really began.

Keep an eye out for the second article on this topic.  I will be posting it soon.  As I metioned earlier, we are far from experts in this area, but so far we have had great success.  I you are interested at all in this type of self-sustainment activity please do not hesitate to ask questions in the blog or even drop us an e-mail.

Spe Labor Levis
GA

The “Get Home” Bag

What’s in Your Get Home Bag?

It’s Sunday evening and you worked really hard all weekend on your preps.  As you stand back and survey your preps a little smirk of confidence is apparent on your face.  You take a shower, hit the rack, and get ready for the upcoming work week.

The morning alarm sounds at 5:00 AM, you savor your morning coffee and head out for your usual run. Everything is right in the world and you figure it’s a great start to the work week.

After the morning shower you jump in your Ford Taurus and drive the 12 miles to your downtown work office.  Once you get to work, everything’s the same old same old.  Its lunch time and you decide to drive on down to the nearest Dunkin Donuts and grab some lunch and a coffee.  While you’re enjoying your coffee and surfing the internet on your iphone the power suddenly goes out.  It’s a sunny and hot day with no storms, you think it’s strange but decide to
continue your daily internet browsing.  However, when you look down at your cell phone, it’s dead. You think back
wondering if you charged it last night.  Discouraged, you leave and decide to just go back to the office.

When you walk outside you notice a few disabled vehicles in the middle of the road with their occupants standing around looking surprised.  You figure maybe there was a small accident or some road debris.  Oh well, you shrug it off and jump in your car. When you put the key in the ignition and try to start it, nothing happens.  You start to realize
something is very wrong.

You begin to survey your surroundings and start speaking with people about what is going on. Nobody’s electronics work, all cars are dead, and you realize from your preparedness efforts that either an EMP attack or large solar flare has destroyed the grid.  What are you going to do now?

You are 12 miles from your preps and your family.  Its summer time and you know your wife is home with the kids but you have absolutely no way to contact them.  You need to get home to protect and care for them during this crisis.

This will not be an easy task.  You have to cover 12 miles in as little time as possible.  And, to make matters worse, you have to pass through some really rough parts of town to make it safely home.  In between you and safety are thousands of people, predators and victims, which you will have to successfully navigate through.

You are a smart prepper and have tried to cover all the angles in your preparedness efforts. Part of your strategy is the Get Home Bag you put together and carry with you whenever you’re away from home. It’s in you back seat, so you grab it and head out knowing this is going to be one hell of a 12 mile hump.

How successful do you think you would be in getting home without the assistance of your gear?  Twelve miles is a very long way in a stress-filled environment.  Would you make it at all?  One thing for sure, you’re chances increase greatly if you have a well-equipped Get Home Bag.

So, with a scenario of this nature in mind, what should go inside your Get Home Bag?  Here’s what I have in mine: (no order)

  • Backpack (non-military or police looking)
    Belt holster with spare magazines
    Plain white T-shirt
    Ear plugs
    Ball cap
    Work gloves
    (2) Energy bars
    (2) Bottles water
    Water purification tabs
    Local map
    Compass
    Flashlight
    Water proof matches
    Magnesium fire starter
    Insect lotion
    Sun block
    Whistle
    Mirror
    550 Para cord
    folding saw
    Poncho
    Towel
    Leatherman
    Alcohol wipes
    Pain reliever
    Small first-aid kit
    Particulate respirator
  • I do have a CCW license and always carry my S&W M&P 9c.

Continue reading →

The HDX Folding Saw By: GA

We like to do our preparedness shopping early on Saturday mornings before the crowds wake up and start cluttering the stores. Our local Walmart and Home Depot are right next to each other and we visit both on a regular basis.  Earlier this year Home Depot began selling their private line of tools called HDX. These tools are less expensive than the regular name brands and they seem to be of pretty good quality.

I am always looking to add to my inventory of hand tools. In my opinion, hand tools are an important part of a sound preparedness strategy. Every time I wander in to the Home Depot I stop and browse the HDX tools to see if there are any tools that I can add to the tool box. I have purchased a number of different HDX tools from scissors to screw drivers just for the purpose of having a few of everything in case the power goes out and I find myself repairing things the old fashioned way.

Home Depot makes it easy to check out the HDX products. Usually these tools are displayed along the main store aisle near the cashiers. They are always in a very conspicuous location with the intent of having shoppers walk right by them when entering the store.

A few Saturdays ago we walked into the Home Depot and I began checking out the HDX tools when I came upon the HDX Folding Saw. As I inspected the package I thought this might make a really good addition to the bug out bag and the hand tool supply. Here’s the really cool part…this thing was going for five bucks! I figured it had to be a total piece of junk for that price, but since it was so cheap I decided to buy it and take it home for a try.

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I purchased the HDX saw with the bug out bag in mind. Because of its size it looked like it might be really handy in a camp environment. With that in mind, I took the saw outside to give it a try. The HDX saw had no problem cutting through tree branches. It was very comfortable to use and felt pretty solid. The largest branch I cut with the saw was about 4 inches in diameter but I am certain it could cut through limbs larger than that. I couldn’t believe it…five bucks!


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The HDX Folding Saw has a 5 ½ inch blade. The blade has 12 teeth per inch and is pretty efficient. When folded with the blade closed the saw is 8 inches long. With the tool unfolded and the blade locked in place, the saw is just over 16 inches long. It has a slim profile and only weighs .6 pounds. It makes for a nice addition to the bug out bag as it is effective and lightweight. The profile of the saw will allow for it to easily slide in and out of a pack or cargo pocket. The grip is rubberized and comfortable when in use.


I am going to pick up a few more of these saws. This one is going right in the bug out bag. For the low price I can pick up a few more and keep one for the tool box and put another in my hunting gear. The others willbe kept and given as Christmas gifts to my like-minded loved ones!

I really believe this was a good find. I think it will be an upgrade to the wire saw I had in the bug out bags (although I will leave the wire there for back-up) and for this kind of price a tool like this can’t be beat. The next time you’re in the Home Depot check out the HDX tools and more specifically the HDX Folding Saw.