Archives for February 2011

The Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat

My new book “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” has officially been released and is available for purchase through Paladin Press. I hope you will buy a copy…

Five Uses For Old Tires Around Your Retreat

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, drivers in the United States generate nearly 300 million used tires each year. I think you would agree letting such a mountain of a resource go to waste would be a bad thing and since I love using “free stuff” around the retreat, I’ve been brainstorming ideas on how I can put them to use around my place.

Here are a few of the ideas I’ve come up with…

1. Old tires work great for building cheap raised be gardens – I posted about this several years ago here and here. Aside from my posts on using old tires in the garden Charles Sanders has an excellent post over at Backwoods Home Magazine and here is another one by Kurt Saxon.

2. Old tires work great for building a bullet proof wall – all you have to do is fill each tire with earth as you stack them into a wall. This type of wall will stop anything that you’re likely to face, and it costs very little of nothing if you have a source of free tires and earth.

Start by filling the tires with dirt and compacting with a sledgehammer. This process is refered to as “pounding the tires”  a 15-in. tire will take nearly 300 lbs of earth and a lot of work and sweat to fill. The wall is built using staggered courses, just like a block wall to make all hold together without falling over without having to use mortar or reinforcing steel.

For a wealth of info about building with tires I suggest you get a copy of Earthship Volume 1, How to Build Your Own. I would like to have my trailer surrounded with this type of wall, leaving space for the door and windows of course.

3. Build a “goat gym” if you keep goats you know how funny and playful they are – bury a large truck tire perpendicular and half way into the dirt in your goat lot and watch them jump on, crawl through, headbutt and rub themselves in all kinds of strange and funny ways.

4. Old tires are also great for keeping livestock feed buckets upright. I have a billy-goat that loves to push and paw his feed bucket over, dumping his feed on the ground wasting a large part of it. My solution was to use a 13 inch car tire that fits his bucket snuggly and place his bucket in the center opening of the tire. Problem solved.

5. You can build a great composter using old tires. Start by using a jig saw or sharp knife to cut out both side-walls around the tread of four to six tires that are the same size. Find a level spot put the first tire down on the ground and cover the bottom with 4 to six inches of sawdust or hay and star adding your composting material and cover with a layer of sawdust, hay or both.

When the first tire is full put anther one on top and repeat untill all the tires are full. Now let it stand for at least two months, now remove the top tire and lay it beside the stack, shovel what was in that tire off the top and into the tire that is now on the ground, add the next tire and repeat.

After you have finished turning your compost let it stand for one year or more before adding it to your garden.

I’m sure you have other ideas for using old tires around the retreat – please feel free to share those with use in the comments below…

What Did You Do To Prep This Week

The past two weeks have been hectic, I’ve worked eight nine hours a day burning copies of my “ITEOTWAWKI – And I feel Fine” survival cd and filling orders – a lot of orders. The first week saw over 400 orders with over 600 orders total, I did not know if I should laugh or pull my hair out.

All orders have been shipped so everyone should be getting their CD’s sometime next week. If you have received yours please let me know what you think of it in the comments below… So far the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

On another note, my book “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” will be available from Paladin Press this coming Tuesday. I’m so excited, my book published by a major publisher – thank you all. I could not have done it without your support and the book is dedicated to you.

Okay, lets see what did I do to prep this week…

  1. Sighted in all my rifles (I do this once every six months)
  2. Cleaned all my guns (I do this once a month and every time I shoot
  3. Tried several new recipes from Peggy Layton’s book Cookin’ With Beans & Rice
  4. Getting my gear ready for the spring Turkey season
  5. Put back several bottles of Vodka, Jack Daniels and Tequila (for barter of course)

What did you do to prep this week?

Should You Invest In “Junk Silver” and Other Precious Metals For Survival

Investing in Junk Silver CoinsI’ve noticed a lot of comments from readers asking about investing in precious metals as a hedge against inflation. Since this is a subject that I’ve not covered before on The Survivalist Blog, I thought I would share my views on the topic for you in today’s post.

But before we get into the how to do it (or at least how I do it), lets look at a few of the negative points of investing in metals and why I think you should invest mostly in other types of barter goods and survival gear.

Who Will Know…

To many people the value of junk silver coins for example, may not be conspicuous and it could be difficult to convince them that your coins are worth more than face value. Take your “Junk” Silver Quarters down to the nearest convenance store and try to get more than the face value at the checkout counter and you’ll see what I mean.

Money, gold, silver or whatever exchange medium you are using must be accepted before it is worth anything…

To get more than face value for your coins you’ll probably have to deal with a specialist, if not you had better be ready to explain what you have and why it is valuable to someone who has no idea of what you’re talking about. Good luck with that. When the stores are have been empty for weeks and Joe six-pack is down to his last can of green beans, don’t expect him to trade that can to you for your “junk” silver coin.

What Will It Be Really Be Worth…

Someone without food, medicine, shelter or a means of protection, will want those life-sustaining basics much more than any form of “money”. After all they can’t eat gold or silver, they can’t plant it, they can’t use it to provide energy, they can’t wear it. Basic needs must be taken care of first – for that reason, I look for the price of collectible metals to plummet after a far-reaching end of the world type event at least until people start to rebuild.

It comes down to the type of disaster and how bad things are after the fact that will decide if people see coins as valuable or not. But, people will always need to eat, drink, stay warm and be protected.

Think about it – the nation has been devastated by a widespread epidemic disease, millions are dead the economy, power grid and transportation have collapsed. Which would you rather have a .22 rifle and box of ammo or a hand full of gold coins? Who would trade you their .22 rifle and ammo for your pieces of metals?

I wouldn’t and I doubt your neighbours would either…

At best hoarding such metals would provide limited protection during an economic crisis with no guarantee of being able to trade for what you need when you need it. It’s best to already have what you need put away so you don’t have to go looking to exchange those pieces of metal for life-sustaining basics.

Gold and Silver Confiscation…

Literally tons of gold were ripped from the hands of ordinary Americans after Franklin D. Roosevelt penned the first law to seize certain precious metal assets during the Great Depression. Who can say for sure that it will not happen again?

I’ve read many comments on this and other survival blogs pondering the possibility of food confiscation and redistribution after disaster and while this is a possibility, I think we would be more likely to see the confiscation of metals such as gold and silver especially if the disaster is economic.

Laws such as the “Trading with the Enemy Act,” and the 1977 “International Emergency Economic Powers Act”  have opened the door for future confiscation. Remember; you can legally have only what the government says you can have and they can make you into an instant criminal with the stroke of a pen.

Don’t think because your assets are held in precious metals that your wealth is safe – you aren’t.

Should You Do It?

From my statements above you may think I’m against hoarding precious metals – I’m not. Just don’t go crazy collecting gold and silver coins, get your basic survival needs first.

Remember, you can’t eat a silver coin or gold, it can’t keep you warm, it can’t protect you from attack and you can’t live in it. On a personal survivability stand point it isn’t all that important…

What I Do and You Should Too

After you have your other survival needs taken care of you might want to invest some of your time collecting and hiding coinage – here is what I do…

From 1837 to 1964, United States ten-cent pieces were made of 90% silver and 10% copper—just like the Morgan Silver Dollar. I double-check all my pocket change for these – since pre 1964 dimes have become numismatic collectibles, I don’t find many this way but when I do I quickly put them away.

Similar to dimes, United States quarter-dollar pieces were also made of 90% silver and 10% copper from 1932 to 1964. I treat these in the same way as pre 1964 dimes. These quarter-dollar pieces are exactly 2.5 times as heavy as silver dimes and obviously have more value.

Aside from checking your pocket change, you can buy junk silver coins at a mark-up, but I would rather get them for free. Creekmore, how in the Sam Hill do you get them for free you ask – with a metal detector, of course. You would be amazed at what you can find with these.

I like to look around old home places (with permission) schools, churches, parks and fair grounds. Do your research and keep in mind that you’ll have to hunt the older places to find quality coins – look for areas that were in use before 1964 and you will have a better chance at finding the coins that you are looking for.

This is how, I’ve found the bulk of my junk silver coins and an approach worth considering for anyone interested in putting back junk silver coins against the day of need. A good book to help you get started if you’re interested in doing this is Metal Detecting for the Beginner.

I also save all of my nickels – the composition of a nickel has been unchanged since the end of World War II in that it is still a 5 gram coin made of 75% copper and 25% nickel, with the metal value being worth more than the face value of the coin. Check for the current value.

What Do You Think?

Should collecting metals be a top priority? What are you doing? Let use know in the comments below…

A Self-Employed Carpenter’s Thoughts on the Future

This is a guest post by Jim Kearns of Rustic Structures LLC

The world is changing. Currently, as a nation, we have a large and well-trained section of our work force dedicated to residential construction. Unemployment within the construction industry now exceeds 20%. That number takes into account only workers getting unemployment compensation. There are also many self-employed individuals, ineligible for unemployment compensation, who have simply run out of customers and work.

That is the bad news. Now the worse news: Not only are those jobs not coming back, but the construction industry will continue to diminish for the foreseeable future. The real estate glut is not on hold; it is over. Waiting for its return is similar to waiting for next the big surge in typewriters, 35mm cameras, and home phones.

Why are the construction jobs not coming back? There are three main reasons, the first of which is inflation. Decades of credit expansion and the recent printing of money (quantitative easing) have increased the overall volume of our fiat currency: dollars. Therefore, the value of each dollar unit has been reduced, causing prices to rise. This results in increased costs in construction of new homes. Higher new construction costs make staying in and repairing older structures, or renting, more attractive.

The second reason is fuel costs. Living rural and working in urban areas is becoming very expensive. Reasons one and two will keep an increasing number of younger workers and couples living and renting closer to work. Why take the financial and mobility risks associated with homeownership?

The third reason is we are broke. Who are “we”? Western civilization, consisted mainly of the U.S. and Europe. Consider this…there are gold and silver coins and bullion: actual wealth storage vehicles. There are paper dollars: temporary wealth storage vehicles. And there are also trillions of “dollars” represented as pixels on screens in accounting software programs.

When I say that we are broke it is because I don’t believe those pixel dollars represent anything. All of the wealth supposedly held in those pixels does not exist. It is a classic Ponzi scheme. If you go today and convert your pixels to actual dollars, everything is just fine. But if 10% of us go today and try to convert our pixels into dollars, the banks will shut down…Why? Because the money doesn’t exist. There is no actual wealth stored in any of those pixels.

Spain and Portugal may require financial bailouts in 2011. Part of the fallout from the Greek financial crisis last year was the creation of a euro zone bailout fund of $1.01 trillion. That fund could be used to assist Spain and Portugal if necessary. Where did that $1.01 trillion come from? Was it removed from another sector of Europe’s economy? Supplied in gold bullion to EU headquarters in The Hague? Removed from the savings accounts of earnest Europeans?

No, none of those could supply that amount of wealth. It was simply created by banking and government officials in pixel dollars (euros). It has no actual, tangible value, because it was created out of thin air. One trillion dollars set aside after a series of business meetings, and no individual, company, or government had to contribute one dollar of actual wealth.

The pixels in the spreadsheets represent nothing. They serve only to continue the illusion that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. We don’t have the wealth we’ve been lead to believe we have…we are broke.

What does that have to do with construction? Everything. Cities and counties are broke. They cannot afford to borrow more money, and they cannot continue to raise taxes. States cannot afford the programs and pensions that they’ve promised, nor can they raise taxes. Companies cannot afford the pensions and benefits they have promised. They cannot raise prices either, as their customer base is already shrinking due to cost.

Families and individuals are struggling to both get out from under mountains of debt and to mesh sharply rising prices into their budgets.

The federal government spent $3.5 billion more per day than it brought in for fiscal year 2010. It is having trouble borrowing money by selling bonds to foreign entities because our current debt makes those bonds much riskier. The Federal Reserve is administering a program of quantitative easing (printing money or just adding pixel dollars) to keep up the appearance that everything is shipshape. What ship? I’ll get back to that.

Point being we are broke. There will be no excess income or wealth to support a large-scale residential construction industry in the near future. The ship, of course, is the Titanic. Imagine that we’ve already hit the iceberg. But…everything seems to be roughly the same, and the ship’s intercom is continually telling us that everything is just fine.

Remember the bailouts and the stimulus packages of hundreds of billions, even trillions, of dollars? That was the crew and the first-class passengers casually heading past you to get into the lifeboats. This current financial system will be on the bottom within a decade. And no, there is not going to be a lot of new residential construction during that decade.

We are already well into a global wealth realignment. How is wealth created? Not obtained, but created? Manufacturing is the application of labor to raw materials to make products. The exchange of those products for tangible assets creates wealth. A nation that manufactures and sells abroad is creating and accumulating wealth. The lower, middle, and upper classes of those nations, whether participating directly in manufacturing or not, benefit from that creation of wealth.

Western civilization in general, and the United States in particular, no longer creates wealth; we simply move it back and forth. Usually to the benefit of those who have the capacity to slowly, without causing concern, convert pixels into actual assets (think lifeboats).

But…the curtain is slowly falling away. The sad state of our current financial situation has become too large, and too smelly, to hide. We are broke. No real wealth means no real money and no real credit, and, therefore, no large force of construction workers will be needed. Take a deep breath and figure out what you want to do next. And yes, I am saying that as much to myself as anyone….

My guess is that it will take at least a generation to recover from this financial predicament. All our debts will have to be paid…the debts that your governments have incurred in your name will be paid by you. Believe it. We will have no choice but to live within our reduced means. The options you have today, the programs and support you have today, the retirement that you think you will have tomorrow no longer exist.

China is not going to be a superpower; they already are the superpower. The Chinese are testing a stealth fighter technologically superior to our best fighter, of which we have scant few. When they move to production, they will be able to produce as many as they think they need. We will not keep pace…we are broke.

We will lose air superiority in a wide arc around China, including the Koreas, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines within five–10 years. The discussion of whether or not we should be the world’s policeman is moot; we can’t be.

We have to pay our debts, live within our means, roll up our sleeves, and get back to turning raw materials into products with efficient labor. Government’s restrictions and regulations concerning manufacturing will begin to ease…they will have no choice. We as a nation will eventually emerge stronger and more compact. We as individuals will be greatly challenged, but we will be fine, if not finer.

There is no need for panic or despair, no matter what the news brings in the near future. Take this period of relative calm to sharpen your tools, mend your work clothes, and trim the fat out of your budget. We’ll all be back to work shortly, and no doubt working our butts off at something we’d never expect today…

Follow Up: Hybrid vs. Heirloom Garden Seeds

by Jerry

Hi Everyone!  Well, I definitely got some feedback on my last guest blog, Hybrid vs. Heirloom: One Man’s Perspective.  While some of you agreed with my ponderings, some did not, and that’s totally fine.  As I had stated in the blog, this was my experience with hybrid vs. heirloom seed, and everyone’s experience is different.

That being said, I am very happy to see so many people being so passionate about this topic.  I think it’s important that we all be aware of the differences between these types of seeds/plants and that we all experiment on our own and do our own research.   As many of you pointed out (and I agree), there is a big difference between cross-pollinating seeds and genetically modifying them.  GMOs are a completely different story and take things to an all new level.

I do my best to stay away from GMOs as much as possible.

GM seeds are very scary to me.  The idea that science can take a gene from and animal and apply it to a plant is frightful.

It just seems completely unnatural to me—and I think you would all agree!  It’s one thing to purposely cross-pollinated different plant genes, but when you start mixing in animal genes, it just makes me wonder where science will be in 50 years!

I am curious what everyone’s view on GM seeds is? I will admit, I do not know a lot about the science behind it all, but I am willing to learn.  Where do you think it’s all headed?  What are some of the health risks?

What are the environmental risks?  I think it’s interesting and intellectually stimulating to see all of your feedback, so please, converse!

Thanks, and I look forward to your comments!

How Much Time Do We Have Before TSHTF?

This is a question I’m asked at least once a week :

How Long Before The SHTF?

View Results

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Please let us know why you chose your answer in the comments below – thank you…

Free Ammo Giveaway From Lucky Gunner

The following is a guest post from the crew over at ~ M.D. has been a long-time advertiser here on  As a result, we recently reached out to M.D. with an idea to do a TSB-specific contest related to ammunition and preparedness.  

He’s a nice guy and agreed, because he wants his readers to have a chance at getting some free ammo – as long as we put together the details of the contest since he’s busy with The Survivalist Blog, a new column for New Survivalist Magazine (scheduled to hit newsstands in June) his book “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” (to be released next month) and his massively popular Survival CD. So without further delay, here’s the deal on the contest and how you’ve got 3 chances to win some free ammo from us here at


TSB Ammo Giveaway Contest Prizes:

  • 1st Prize – $200 gift card, good for anything on
  • 2nd Prize – $75 gift card, good for anything on
  • 3rd Prize – $25 gift card, good for anything on

To Enter (3 Easy Steps):

  1. Make a post about how a particular product from will help you prepare on *your* blog or website (note that blog comments do not count – it has to be an actual post).
  2. Link back to the product(s) on that you are talking about.
  3. Email the URL of your entry to [email protected] to enter.

We’ll randomly draw three winners from all qualifying entries on Wednesday, March 9th.  To qualify, all you have to do is follow the 3 steps above and just pick a product on our site, write about it on your site and why you need it when it comes to being prepared, link to that particular product (or products) at and email your entry URL to [email protected].

Possible Entertaining Topics:

  1. What you’ll do with your ammunition from
  2. Why ammo storage is important for WTSHTF
  3. What new gun you just purchased for WTSHTF and what sort of ammo it shoots best.
  4. Anything else related to being better prepared & the products we carry on

You can write about whatever interests you as long as you link to the related product(s) you’re discussing on Again, this has to be done on your own blog or website and blog comments don’t count.

The winner will be randomly drawn on Wednesday, March 9th from all qualifying entries.  A blog post here on will announce all three winners and will follow-up with each winner individually via email to get them their individual gift cards immediately thereafter.

Since ammunition and reloading supplies can be key parts to many people’s survival preparations, we’re excited about actively supporting the community M.D. has built and engaging the many knowledgeable readers he has attracted.  Thanks to M.D. for his willingness to help us on this and we’re looking forward to seeing the entries!

(M.D. adds : a link back to The Survivalist Blog when you mention the contest on your blog would be greatly appreciated but not required.)

Heidi & Co.

Donated Book and DVD Round Up

One of the great things about running a blog with more than two readers is that, I sometimes, get free books from authors and vendors. No, they’re not sending me free stuff because, I’m a swell guy, but with the hope that I will give a  positive review and my recommendation for their product.

Nothing wrong with this, because it gives me a chance to look at lot of books that I otherwise would not have an opportunity to read and eventually relay my thoughts to you. I like doing book reviews because they give me a chance to help you avoid spending money on books that would be of little use to you in your preps.

Today, I have several books and one DVD that I’d like to give my impressions of and hopefully help you make the best choices when buying. Let’s get started…

1. Will to Live: Dispatches from the Edge of Survival by Les Stroud: If you are looking for step by step outdoor survival techniques with photos and diagrams then get another book (maybe Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen) in Will to Live Les Stroud looks at a number of real-life survival situations, like the 1972 Andes plane crash, Chris McCandless and the Karluk ship wreck to name a few.

While not a detailed, step by step survival type book, Les Stroud gives his advice on what he thinks should have been done in each survival situation and there are more than a few gems in there.

I think “Will to Live” is a good book and worth the time to read, but I do not consider it essential for the survival library. My advice is to “borrow from the library”  before you buy…

2. Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late by Scott B Williams: You know how I feel about the “batman in the boondocks” grab your bug out bag and run to the woods to live survival strategy.

Some people might be able to pull it off, with the right training, physical conditioning, location and gear but for most people it is just an armchair survivalist fantasy.

It’s not that this book is bad, it isn’t, it’s just the live in the woods concept is flawed.

Yes, I have a bug out bag (for short-term survival in the wild) and you should too – just don’t make it your first line of defense against disaster.

After a major widespread disaster many others will have the same idea some will even ban together, if you are alone you’ll probably end up robbed, raped and cannibalized.

Unless you are sure staying home (bugging in) will lead to your eminent death you are better off to stay home. Good book – bad long-term plan…

3. Off The Grid: Inside the Movement For More Space, Less Government, And True Independence In Modern America by Nick Rosen :  A British journalist “Rosen” travels across American interviewing various people who are  living off the grid, sounds good. 

It was a good idea, however the author fails to raise the subject or the interviews up to their full potential.

His “I’m better than you” attitude and constant attempt to make the book more about him than those he is interviewing, made me want to reach into the book and slap him.

 I don’t think anyone interested in moving off the grid will gain any benefit from reading this book and would be advised to spend their money elsewhere – for instance on a copy of The Backyard Homestead.

4. When There Is No Doctor: Preventive and Emergency Healthcare in Uncertain Times by Gerard S. Doyle, MD: This is one of those books that almost make it onto my “must have” list. It is a good book with a lot of easy to understand tips, advice and details to help keep you alive.

As the author, states on the back cover “”I will not teach you to be a lone survivalist who anticipates doing an appendectomy on himself or a loved one on the kitchen table with a steak knife and a few spoons, although I will discuss techniques of austere and improvised medicine for really hard times.” to that end When There is No Doctor is a success.

I suggest you get this one after putting copies of Where There Is No Doctor, Where There Is No Dentist (both are available as a free download from, The American Red Cross First Aid Guide and The Merck Manual into your medical survival library.

5. Defensive Shooting Series (DVD) by Jim Grover: In my opinion this is one of the best instructional DVD’s of this type – this three DVD set covers everything you need to know to use the handgun as a defensive weapon (with real live-fire training and practice of course) including grip, stance, trigger control, reloading, use of cover, malfunction clearances, shooting on the move, low light shooting ect.

If you are looking for information on using the handgun in a defensive matter, I highly recommend this series.

What Did You Do To Prep This Week

Before we start today, I would like to thank C Farley and   Benjamin R for their donations this week – thank you. While I greatly appreciate your support, please be sure you can afford to do so before contributing, I don’t want anyone putting themselves out to help me.

Since releasing my survival CD this past Sunday, I’ve been swamped with over 400 orders so far and they’re still coming in at a rate of several per hour. I’m working as hard as I can to get every order out as fast as possible, but since I can only burn around 50 a day it may be a couple of days before I can get your order in the mail.

Remember, Feb 202011 (tomorrow) the price of the CD will go to $29.95 and you’ll need to order it today to take advantage of the discounted price. If you’ve received your CD please let me know what you thought of it. 

Now, let’s see what did I do to prep this week…

  • Bartered for a Bushmaster AR-15
  • Built a light weight folding wire box trap (look for post in a few days)
  • Turned the soil in my garden to get it ready for planting in spring
  • Added three cans of coffee to the pantry
  • Bought two 25 round boxes of 12 gauge #6 shot
  • Ordered a copy of Pocket Ref by Thomas J. Glover
  • Ordered a copy of Boston on Surviving Y2K – I know Y2K is over but, the book still has some good information that is applicable to prepping for other disasters.

What did you do to prep this week…