Living IS Surviving!

This guest post is by Desert Fox  and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

I’ve been lucky in my life by having begun it elsewhere in the world. I remember as a child the bullets my parents had to dodge so they could be in the bread lines to provide food for their children. Now that I live in such an abundant country, I revel in the memories because they serve me well.

Surviving has always been a part of my life. Always having a stash of extra canned foods,extra flour, extra dried milk, even the luxuries of extra sugar and extra coffee! Having lived in many parts of the US I’ve learned a little of a lot. I’m definitely not a master of anything and cannot repair a car, but I get by when minor things need to be done around me. As I gain in age, it does limit me a little — I no longer pack a 40-60 pound backpacks but know I still can if I need to.

Pluck a chicken? Skin a rabbit or deer? Those were lessons I learned by necessity. The first time I skinned a rabbit it took me a few hours (a little at a time)! Now I know it can be done in less than fifteen minutes by cutting at the base of the tail, the inside of the legs and remove the skin like a sock! I’ve had friends who could not even hear how a chicken was butchered and cleaned. They were happy just to go to market and buy one! Cut the head off and put it in a 5-gallon bucket until it stops kicking then pour boiling water on it to soften the feathers for plucking. Of course remove the insides and the talons and voila`! Well, it’s not pretty but necessary! Get acquainted on butchering wildlife or domestics. You don’t have to do it now,but at least know that you can do it. The skins alone will be valuable in winter. As I’m finding out, there are videos and books on just about how to do anything on the internet!

Having the supplies is not enough, however, for when the necessity arises. If you have wheat berries, you need to learn how to turn it into flour and then turn it into bread, and a grinder is not that cheap but a necessity. They are available today as opposed as later when everyone wants one! Learn to make a sourdough starter or get some from a friend for leavening bread; You can bake sweeter breads (pumpkin or squash) in a mason jar and preserve it for a very long time (it’sdelicious!). Just make sure you compile your supplies according to what you and your family like. There is no need to have some dried mushrooms if no one will eat them ~ Iremember when I was young, having rice pudding every day for dinner for a few weeks as it was easier to get rice and canned milk than meat and potatoes (and us kids didn’t mind one bit!)

Teach your young kids or grandkids to eat what is put in front of them. A lot of small children are given passes at the dinner table when given a food they’ve nevertasted. I’ve always told my kids that I will cook one meal for dinner and not one for each kid. It’s okay not to like a specific food, but is also important that kids learn to appreciate what you can provide for them–it might be the only thing they’ll have at the time.

I’ve lived in Alaska a while and learned to can fish and chicken and make jerky. A Little Chief Smoker is a great plus for a household. (You can find it at most hardware stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart) Smoking meat is an alternate to preserving it in the absence of refrigeration. Brine the meat in a mixture of soy sauce,garlic and brown sugar for a couple of hours (longer if you want it saltier – but not too long or it will be salty!) and smoke it for about 5-7 hours. You can then can it or vacuum pak it. Fruit trees (apple, cherry) are great as smoker chips as well as Alder. I made the mistake of using yellow cedar once (long ago) since it was easy to burn and it smelled great! – it turned the meat a beautiful reddish color and I was so happy and proud of my product until I tasted it… it was bitter! Yuck!

Don’t forget to add to that gun arsenal some fishing tackle(at least some fishing line and various sizes of hooks) and, a very usable and seldom thought of… slingshot! Squirrels and birds are eatable too! Oh yes, just a thought, dogs and cats when not fed regularly will become wild too! So beware.

Have you thought of saving some needles and thread to make repairs on your clothes? These items are rarely mentioned in any survival lists! Today we just throw our socks away when they get holes or give our clothes to Sally’s when they rip a little (isn’t that true?). Your Bug Out bag should have some needles and thread as well as a pair of scissors and heavy-duty thread to make repairs on shoes or traps. Extra buttons are also a good thing to have – you can always cut a small piece of twig to use as a button (but you’ll need that needle and thread!).

By the way, also remember to put aside some good books,paper and pencils, a few games and deck of cards. Kids love colored pencils (have a small sharpener with it). Your mind, specially, needs to stay sane and happy so you can emit good energy around you. Add a small harmonica too!

I’ve learned to make soaps and candles. I save a lot of candle leftovers and friends give me their leftover candles. Ire-melt them in a quart can with a squeezed side for a spout and put the can in a double boiler (a pan with water). Pour the melted wax into smooth-sided tin cans (the cans have tobe smooth on the inside so you can take the candle out!). Put a hole in the bottom of the smooth tin can for the wick (a thin cut of cotton cloth will do) and cover the hole and wick with duct tape to keep the wax from escaping after you fill it. Tie the other end of the wick to a nail or skewer to keep it taught at the center of the can until the wax has cooled. I usually place the tin can in a bowl of cold water when pouring hot wax as it helps to catch spills. As the candle cools in the tin can, it will sink in the middle and create a hole;you will need to pour more melted wax to refill the center (this can be optional – but it makes the candle whole).

Another way for used candles is to put small pieces in your tin can (mold) and pour plain melted wax on top of the pieces to cover. They make pretty candles and you can add some scent and color to the plain wax before pouring. Although when in survival mode all you want is light; a favorite scent is not bad for your wellbeing. As for the soaps…I’m researchingon making my own lye and getting a

As much as you think you are prepared for anything, it is very easy to fall into a false security. It has happened to me once in a while.As time passes in your daily living, you might borrow somethings from your survival pockets for an immediate need and unless you religiously replace the item, it might get left out altogether until you must have it and it’s nowhere to be found.That’s why it is very important to schedule regular checks and balances.

Don’t prepare just for the future while you wait for those“worse times” to come, or keep all your supplies in one place.We read books or go to the movies to be transported to another exciting world; little do we recognize that our own lives can be just as exciting.As we gather our necessities we can really imagine we are elsewhere and even in dangerous situations that we need to get out of.I have a favorite novel I read every now and then to bring me back to reality and remind me it’s again time to prepare.

Life is an unstoppable adventure!

basic recipe in terms that will be usable when I can no longer get what I need by mail. Soap is one of the most important things we can have in times of emergencies for prevention of illnesses and sanitation.

I just recently realized I don’t have “goodies” instorage. My granddaughters reminded me the necessity of “feel-good” food…chocolates, cookies, puddings and so on. Those are easily packed for long-life storage by vacuum packing them in canning jars. A vacuum packer is an excellent investment! specially the ones with a jar attachment, or just ziplock bag them and remove as much air as possible, rotating them once a year. Add a little oil to the ziplock opening before sealing to prevent air to coming back in.

As much as you think you are prepared for anything, it is very easy to fall into a false security. It has happened to me once in a while. As time passes in your daily living, you might borrow somethings from your survival pockets for an immediate need and unless you religiously replace the item, it might get left out altogether until you must have it and it’snowhere to be found. That’s why it is very important to schedule regular checks and balances.

Don’t prepare just for the future while you wait for those“worse times” to come, or keep all your supplies in one place. We read books or go to the movies to be transported to another exciting world; little do we recognize that our own lives can be just as exciting. As we gather our necessities we can really imagine we are elsewhere and even in dangerous situations that we need to get out of. I have a favorite novel I read every now and then to bring me back to reality and remind me it’s againtime to prepare.

Life is an unstoppable adventure!

This contest will end on August 7 2012 – prizes include:

First Place : 1 Year Subscription to AlertsUSA, 1 Radiation Safety Package consisting of the following;  (1) NukAlert Radiation Monitor and Alarm (5) Radsticker Peel and Stick Dosimeters (1) Box Thyro Safe Potassium Iodide. All courtesy of AlertsUSA. A $150 gift certificate for Federal Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo. And a British Berkefeld water fillter system courtesy of  LPC Survival. A total prize value of over $700.

Second Place : A six pack Entrée Assortment courtesy of Augason Farms, a Nukalert courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply and a WonderMill Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $550.

Third Place : A copy of each of my books “31 Days to Survival” and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of The Survivalist Blog dot Net and “Kelly McCann’s Inside the Crucible Set” courtesy of Paladin Press. A total prize value of over $200.

Contest ends on August 7 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. The early memories of hunger and danger, provide a solid foundation for looking ahead and planning ahead. It makes me a little concerned, for this next generation, that was raised in such safety and wealth.
    Good article, thanks.

  2. JP in MT says:

    Good points.

    I think that the more I prep the more natural it becomes. I am less concerned with the next techno widget and consider what will be more helpful in 5 years (or the next crisis). My life is no longer a muddled rush, but a determined path to be better prepared by the end of today than I was this morning.

  3. Great article! Thank you for your time and energy on this. It’s great information for those who may have just started prepping, and has lots of reminders for those of us (like myself) who sometimes get fixated on having enough “beans and bullets” and forget some of the other things necessary for truly being prepared.

  4. SurvivorDan says:

    Great stuff Desert Fox. I was born in the USA but the D.O.D. sent me to a bunch of other countries where life was hell compared to my relatively pampered up-bringng here. I cursed the DOD recruiter at times but as the decades have passed I realized how much the experience gave me. I’m still a bit of a jingoistic flag waver because I can appreciate the ‘easy’ life I have here.
    Last year on a trek it was hammered home to me to periodically check all my gear as I was missing something I needed that I had ‘borrowed’ from that pack months earlier. Hard lesson.
    As to the needle and thread ….. all the former combat grunts in the WolfPack are nodding their heads. Fix your gear in the field. I had to sew a strap back onto my pack while in the White Mountains last month. Would have been a messy duct tape job had I no needle and thread.
    Nice post with a lot of good points and tips.

    • I generally carry several needles and several hundred feet of dental floss. You get a lot of floss on a little spool and it not only works as thread and floss, but is pretty tough for other cordage requirments.

  5. thatAway says:

    MD. aka Mr. Prepper
    On the average, how long do most of your smoked and sealed meat
    a meal stay fresh for??? And Is there much difference with wild game verses store bought??

  6. thatAway says:

    Whoops Question should have one to desert fox.. sorry MD….


    • Desert Fox says:

      First I’d like to apologize for the cut up at the end of the article, I read it upteen times but who knows what happenned! On your question…have you ever bought a bag of beef jerky at the store? It keeps for quite a long time at room temperature as long as it does not get damp and longer if you vacuum pack it.

      While living in Texas long ago, I had a chance to four wheel into Mexico (for fun) and traveled through some villages; and since there was no refrigeration or electricity, they dried their meat in the sun. 😉

  7. thatAway says:

    Desert Fox

    I am not sure if my question went thought to so I will send again..
    How long does the smoked meat last on the average when sealed
    up in a seal a meal with no refrigeration..
    And I would not think wild game or store bought would make any
    difference..Or does it.. And does different game last longer??
    when smoking and sealing??


    • Desert Fox says:

      I don’t think there is any difference in the kind of meat you smoke. Wild game has less fat. I’ve done both, including fish (salmon and halibut). I haven’t stored for longer than a few months, since it got eaten. Of course, as with all your products, you need to check it periodically to make sure the seal is okay.

  8. CountryGirl says:

    I grew up poor and my parents were married in the depths of the great depression. Didn’t have to dodge bullets but gardening and canning was a part of my childhood. As a young child I pulled a little wagon from house to house collecting rags and newspapers to sell for $.05 for 100 lbs. Shoveled snow for spending money, dried cars at the carwash for a few hours each saturday and caddied at the golf course. Worked as a mechanic, a machinest, construction, kitchen help and cook all before I was 21. Spent 20 years in the military and another 25 working various jobs. I have done so much for so long with so little I am now qualified to do anything with nothing.

    • Pineslayer says:

      CountryGirl, sounds like you are an expert on “Improvised Living”. It reminds me that I need to push all my girls harder to do the little things they take for granted in case I’m not around.

      DesertFox thanks for sharing and keeping us grounded in our preps/life.

  9. Wonderful article except this: “You can bake sweeter breads (pumpkin or squash) in a mason jar and preserve it for a very long time (it’s delicious!).”

    It is not accurate. There is no known approved method to “can” cakes or breads, as it is not “canned” at all. It is merely cooked in the jar. That is a far cry from real “canning”. What is happening is the lid is simply sealing, giving the impression it’s properly “canned”, when in reality it is merely in a vacuum. Unfortunately, botulism likes a vacuum, so unless you have risen the temperature in the jar as you would while pressure canning, it’s dangerous.

    Please warn people not to “can” breads or cakes.


    • Pam,
      Botulism spores are killed at a temperature of 240 degrees F for 10 minutes or in an acidic pH less than 4.6. If these breads are canned, then I would agree. If however, they are actually baked (in a glass jar vs. a glass dish) then they will generally be in the 325-350 range for 20 or more minutes, which should more than meet the requirements to kill the spores. Perhaps Desert Fox can elaborate on the process in use.

    • Desert Fox says:

      Pam, I’m not advocating in doing anything you don’t feel comfortable with. All I am reporting are things I’ve done in my life that have helped me in being the person I am today. A few months ago I discovered a couple of canning jars with my zuccini bread that I had in storage for ten years and ate it. I must admit it did not taste as good as freshly made but was safe for me to eat. I have never cooked cake in a can.

      I’ve read of preserving eggs by oiling them and storing them in their carton. I’m experimenting with it now. I will crack them in six months and report on it. 😉

  10. Great points, enjoyed your article very much. This is the push I’ve needed to try smoking meat. Bread in jars sounds like fun too.

    Thank you for your time and effort really appreciate it.

  11. Canadagal says:

    Thanks Desert Fox. Good info for newbies & reminders for the more prepared. Just yesterday I was thinking of things I’d have to tell my family if things get tough & they had to come home. Things you only know if your life has already had some tight spots so you’ve gained experience in that area. 3 of the many things I thought of were don’t throw out the tp rollers as they can protect cabbages from cut worms, don’t throw out vegetable cooking water as it is great soup stock & don’t throw out the ragged dish cloth as it is useful as a grease wiper in the shop or even a bottom wiper in the outhouse. I don’t always do this now but have in the past when it was a necessity. I’m thinking of making a booklet so I don’t forget until too late some of these lessons I”ve learned & so my family can use my experiences and not have to learn by the school of hard knocks. Thanks again Desert Fox. I enjoyed the read.

  12. Good ! Thanks. Two sites that i wish to recommend are: . FIsh mox fish for purchasing antibiotics)
    Doom and Bloom .com Dr Joseph and Amy Alton (his wife and a nurse) have exc. medical inf. I recommend their book .The Doom and Bloom Survival Medical Handbook
    Homesteader asked for a list of their recommendations / supplies. I will type a few up a.s. a. p. and add it for all the Wolves.Arlene

  13. Mds books : I enjoyed 31 Days to Survival very much. This book is informative, easy to comprehend and 153 pp long. MD covered the essential topics in a concise manner and included photos and illustrations which were helpful. I have given this book as a gift and will continue to do so for birthdays etc. I will be setting out my copies(to browse through ) at our 4th of July picnic along with other handouts should folks wish to avail themselves of good inf. I will try to resist the temptation to preach about survival (smile !) Arlene

    • SurvivorDan says:

      arlene: If anything, I only preach emergency natural disaster / civil disorder preparedness. Goes over better than a larger Collapse scenario. Recently I actually got a couple of friends and family to stock up for short term emergencies. It’s a start……

  14. Inspiring post and well written. Wheat berries can be used whole in most rice recipes just double the soak time. Wheat pudding with raisins and cinnamon is a favorite. A mill is handy, grind anything with a metate and mano and you’ll be looking for a better way. All muscles and joints from fingers to knees will thank you for not repeating that adventure.

  15. thanks for a great article. I like the part most on curing the meat with soya, garlic and brown sugar which we have a lot here, I shall be experimenting on this. Be careful though with cutting chicken heads, they can escape and run around headless! my mama would tie both legs first. The taste of free range chicken in our lemon grass soup is fantastic!
    Have a good week ahead everyone!

  16. Chris in Michigan says:

    Great article. I was lucky to be raised in a time of relative peace in the U.S.A. However three tours in Afghanistan as a Infantryman gave me a greater appreciation of what we have here in America. And like you said, you need to be able to make field expedient repairs to your equipment because when TSHTF there’s no running out to the store to buy replacement gear. Needle and thread, 100 mph duct tape, and 550/ parachute cord are a grunt’s best friends in a field situation.

  17. SurvivorDan says:

    Thanks for your service Chris.
    My youngest son (jarhead) has been to the same 9th century sh*thole. Welcome back and thanks. Olde ex-grunt,

  18. I think a lot of Americans would suddenly embrace vegetarianism if they had to catch and clean their own meat instead of buying it ready to cook. I have to admit a deer would be a challenge to take from whack to wok.

    Not only is it smart to know these things for a crisis, it’s way cheaper to buy intact and clean it yourself or divide it into its components. Chicken here runs 99 cents a pound for whole ones on sale, $4.99 a pound boneless, to $8.99 for a precooked roast chicken that looks more like a Cornish Game Hen every day and won’t even feed my small family dinner unless rice and vegetables are added. It’s definitely worth it to take a deep breath and start cutting.

    • Rain23,
      “I have to admit a deer would be a challenge to take from whack to wok.”
      The challenge is actually from whack to freezer. After that, freezer to wok is no different than anything you cook right now. There’s also a really good feeling looking at all of that meat and realizing that you brought it home from scratch, and could do it again if and when required.

    • Desert Fox says:

      Just a tale…a friend a few years ago, asked me if I wanted a deer as he and his son hunted (his first hunt) and got their quota. I, of course, said “yes!” I thought he meant a small limb or so…when I got home, I found the whole deer in my back porch! Good thing it was winter as it did take me a couple of days to butcher it. It had been a while for me…but I got it done! and certainly appreciated having the meat in my freezer! 🙂

      • One other thing to keep in mind when butchering a Deer or other large animal is that traditionally there is a “proper” way to butcher and certain cuts of meat of which we are all familiar. If however you’ve never actually butchered a large animal and don’t know exactly what you’re doing, as long as you get most of the meat cut up and cleanly wrapped and preserved, then you will have meat to eat, even though it may not resemble the classic cuts of steak, roast, etc. You’re packing away protein here, and making cuts for a gourmet presentation can be learned later in your spare time.

  19. Desert Fox,
    “I have a favorite novel I read every now and then to bring me back to reality and remind me it’s againtime to prepare.” I’m afraid you can’t get away with a statement like that without at least the title of the novel, LOL.

    • Desert Fox says:

      It’s an old book “Alas Babylon” It openned my eyes years ago. It’s a novel by Pat Frank about a nuclear war.

      • Desert Fox,
        Alas Babylon is a classic. I first read it perhaps 35 years ago and have also re-read it a few times since then. For those who haven’t read it, it is available as a free downloadable pdf. Just Google “alas Babylon pdf” and download the entry that says: “[PDF] ALAS, BABYLON Pat Frank”.
        Another good one that I read on occasion is Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

  20. Thanks for the great article and all the helpful comments!

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