Friday, March 27, 2020

Book Review: Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal

By Timothy Gamble

https://amzn.to/2QpFVVX
Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal, is a popular health advice book from the editors of Reader's Digest, that is now in its Third Edition (released in April 2018). I have all three editions, which is an indicator of how much I like this book.  This book takes the approach of connecting the foods we eat to the ailments that they cause/worsen or help heal. This food-health connection is extremely important, and is a natural way to deal with our health issues. 

The book is set up like an encyclopedia, with alphabetical entries for various foods, ailments, and conditions. The third edition has 170+ foods entries, 100+ ailments, 50+ healthy recipes (the first edition lacks these recipes), and a number of special features covering topics like GMOs, pesticides, high-fructose corn syrup, and food & drug interactions, among others. 

Each food entry starts with a summary of how that particular food may cause harm, and how it may heal. For example, the entry for grapefruits list possible harms as allergies, canker-sores, and drug interactions, and with healing benefits to high cholesterol, cancer, inflammation, and for weight control.  The remainder of the article fills in the details. It also gives tips for eating, buying, and storing the foods.

The enteries for ailments follows a similar format. For example, under Eye Problems, the summary list foods that harm as those with high saturated fats, and foods that heal as carrots, corn, leafy greens, and fish. The rest of the article then fills in the details. Ailment entries close with a section called Beyond the Diet. In the Case of eye problems, this section mentions shading your eyes from the sun, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, not smoking, and controlling your blood pressure as important steps to take to protect/heal your eyes.

Our healthcare system will only continue to get more expensive, and government intervention will likely lead to problems such as rationing and doctor shortages. Taking care of our health so that we minimize our need for professional medical care is the best solution to an expensive and increasingly dysfunctional system. This book will help you accomplish that goal. 

Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal is available on Amazon for about $14. It is well worth that price, in my opinion.
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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Soft Skills Preppers Need to Develop


By Timothy Gamble (December 28, 2018)

Soft skills are general skills that are often seen as part of our personality, and as such are typically self-learned without realizing it while we are growing up. Examples include listening skills and getting along with others. Hard skills, on the other hand, are technical skills that are intentionally taught to us by others, usually in the classroom or on-the-job. An example would be computer skills.

In prepper and survivalist circles, most talk centers around the hard skills we need: first aid, water purification, bushcraft skills, shooting & self-defense skills and so forth. But soft skills can also be very important, and fortunately they can be developed if we realize the need.

Communication and Listening Skills

More than just the ability to talk, good communications skills include both active listening and the ability to explain ideas to others in a way they can understand.

Social Skills / Networking 

A huge complaint I often hear in the prepper community is the difficulty in finding or forming community. Networking and social skills are about finding, meeting, and getting along with others. (Related Article: Why Preppers Have a Hard Time Building Community)

Teamwork

Are you a team player, or a lone wolf? Do you follow the rules, or do you insist on doing things your way and only your way? Is cooperation and compromise in your vocabulary, or do you see them strictly as "dirty words?" Working together with others to achieve goals, such as security and survival, is important.

Leadership Skills

Leadership is very different from just being the boss.  And it has nothing to do with forcing others to do what you tell them to do. (Related article: There's a Major Difference Between Being a Leader and Just a Boss)

Creativity / Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is especially valuable during the chaos and confusion of a disaster or crisis. Disasters are unpredictable in both their nature and their consequences. The ability to think outside the box and to come up with solutions for unexpected problems could easily be the difference between life and death.

Logic / Critical Thinking 

Disasters cause confusion and panic that can lead to purely emotional responses, which are usually not the best responses. The ability to remain calm, think clearly, and use reason in responding to the disaster is critical. (Related article: How To Not Panic In An Emergency)

Organization / Time Management

There's so much to do in terms of planning and logistics that it can be easy to get overwhelmed and let things "fall through the cracks." The ability to manage your time and to be organized is a highly underrated skill. (Personal note: This is one of the soft skills I most need to work on myself.)

Adaptability

Adaptability, the ability to recognize, accept and deal with change in a positive way, doesn't come easy for most of us, but fortunately it is a skill that can be learned. (Related article: Adaptability - The Key to Urban Survival)

Responsibility / Work Ethic

Taking responsibility for your own life and having a strong work ethic are closely related. The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now. Having a strong work ethic is a major key to success in life in any situation, not just in survival situations.

Learning and developing these soft skills can be done. Start by realizing the importance of these skills, then make an honest assessment about your own skill level for each of these categories. Decide which skills you need to develop and start researching those skills. There are lots of articles and videos about these skills on the Internet, and entire books have been written on each. You might even be able to find courses on soft skills being taught at your local community college. Most importantly, soft skills are best learned the same way hard skills are - through practice.
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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Urban Survival: Networking and Building Community

By Timothy Gamble (January 23, 2019)

If you live in the city or suburbs, and for whatever reasons (usually family or financial) don't want to move to a more rural area, here is my best advice to you:  Connect with trustworthy, like-minded people near you and together start preparing and planning for difficult times. This type of survival network is often called a mutual assistance group, or MAG, and can be as formal or as informal as you want it to be.

Advantages of a Survival Network:
  • Provides mutual encouragement and accountability, enabling you to stay on track.
  • Allows all parties to draw on different experiences and skill sets.
  • Can divide up tasks among members.
  • Can divide up responsibilities.
  • Can make and split bulk purchases, reducing costs for all involved. 
  • Can split the costs of certain purchases for which your group only needs one - such as a ham radio.
Also, if the group is successful, at some point you may even consider going in together to buy a few acres of rural property to use as a bug-out retreat.

Many skill sets need to be learned by all group members (examples: basic first aid & CPR, self-defense). But you can assign certain advanced or specialized tasks to certain members. Something like this:

"Sam & Emily, you'll be our medics so you need to get advanced first aid and medical training. John, you'll be our ham radio operator and communications expert, so get the equipment and training. Bill, you have the only pick-up truck in the group, so you need to get a hand truck and dolly and be available to group members for hauling. Mary, since you're already into sewing, you'll be the group's seamstress so make sure you have plenty of supplies to repair our clothing after the SHTF."   

You get the idea. When you go it alone, you have to do it all yourself. When you are a part of a group, those responsibilities can be divided up.

You should also plan how you will provide mutual aid to each other both during a disaster and after. Plan for both natural disasters and man-made disasters. Discuss and write down these plans and expectations to prevent misunderstandings. The more detail, the better. Review these plans often.

Who should be in your network? 

Well, I did say trustworthy, like-minded people near you. You're not looking for folks with certain skill sets (worry about skills later). Rather, you're looking for folks who share similar worldviews, concerns, and goals. Start meeting people and talking to them. Look first to those already around you: nearby family & friends, neighbors, fellow church-members, co-workers, and so forth. 

I say "nearby" because you need people who are physically near your location. Its great to have a survivalist buddy who lives in another state, but transportation with be difficult when the SHTF, and will likely become even more difficult post-collapse as gasoline runs out and infrastructure breaks down. The absolute best situation is someone who lives within eye-shot  of your place. Next is someone within reasonable walking distance of your place. You can expand your search outwards from there.

How do you find "like-minded" people?

Look for clues as to their attitudes and mindset. The guy at work with a NRA sticker on his truck might be a good prospect. Your neighbor who still has the "Hillary For President" bumper sticker on his Toyota Prius, probably isn't. Pay attention and you will pick up lots of clues, good and bad.

Once you find a prospect, start feeling them out. Mention watching a hunting show, or a rerun of Dual Survivor, or something similar, and see how they react. Negative reactions, move on. Positive reactions, keep the conversations going. It will probably take several conversations as both parties feel each other out before building enough trust to get into preparedness and survival topics. 

Religion and politics do make a difference. Someone diametrically opposed to your views on these topics will make a poor fit for your group. Have discussions on these topics early on. Believe me, you'll quickly figure out if they are incompatible with you.  

A few warning signs to watch out for:

1- Addictions.  Addictions of any kind are a MAJOR warning sign.  Do not make them a part of your group until they have successfully and completely overcome their addiction.

2- Nuts/Crazies.
  I'm not referring to people who are a bit unusual or marching to a different drummer, but those who have actual serious mental problems. Avoid them. Remember, at some point in a crisis, their meds will run out. Besides, the stress and chaos of a crisis will likely make their illness even more serious.

3- Bizarre or Unusual Requests Early On. If you are just getting to know someone and they hit you with a bizarre or very unusual request, tread carefully. Bizarre requests might include asking to borrow a significant sum of money, or to quickly make a serious commitment, or to do something illegal or unethical.

4- Dishonesty. Its a good thing to be guarded with personal information, and concerned with maintaining your privacy. Its something else entirely to outright lie, especially about major issues. Don't expect someone to completely open up to you and tell you everything about their life, especially early on. But you should expect them to be honest in what they do tell you.


Some positive indicators:

1- Stability.   Look for signs of stability, or the lack of it, in their lives. If they are holding a job – its a good sign.  If they bounce in and out of work often or spend large stretches of time unemployed  - it may be a bad sign. Same goes for other areas of their lives – friendships, relationships, living arrangements, and so forth. Of course, context matters, so use common sense.  However, generally speaking, signs of stability in their lives are good, and signs of a lack of stability are warning flags. Look for trends within their life, not one time events.

2- Friendship.  If you cannot be close friends with someone, it doesn't make sense to include them in your group, no matter what skill sets they bring with them. You will be working closely together, depending on each other on a daily basis in very difficult and stressful times.  If there is  something about their personality that annoys you, it will only get worse in any collapse scenario.  If you don't like them, don't expect to be able to "put up with" them over the long-term, especially during stressful times. It will go wrong at some point. Some questions to consider: Do you enjoy being around that person?  Can you have a good time together? Are you both comfortable around each other?

3- Trust.  Do you trust that person?  Do you feel you can tell them anything without them judging you, telling others, or spreading gossip?  Do you trust them to always tell you the truth? Do you trust them enough to always tell them the truth? Can you trust them to not put themselves above the group in a crisis? Can you trust them to take care of tools and other things belonging to the group, every bit as well as they take care of their own personal property? Can you trust them to make the same commitment of time, effort , and finances to the group that you are willing to make?

4- Reciprocity. By this category, I mean how they treat you and others Is your relationship with them reciprocal (involving give and take on both sides)?  Do you get as much out of it as they do?  Are they a good host AND a good guest?  Are they a giver, taker or balanced? Do they try to live by the golden rule, treating others  in the same way they want to be treated? As you get to know each other, do they seem willing to sacrifice (time, money, effort) as much for the group as you are?

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https://amzn.to/2SsuH29
Prepper Community: A Group-Based Methodology for Planning and Operating a Survival Retreat - What will you do if the supply chain goes down? What is your plan if the infrastructure fails? How will you survive if the delicate fabric of civilized society begins to tear apart?Stockpiling food, water, and supplies is only a small piece of the puzzle. From the most basic survival needs to the state of mind needed to make surviving seem worthwhile, you cannot do it alone. When it comes to living after the fall of society, mason jars full of potato flakes just aren’t going to cut it. Life is a community effort, and living after a societal collapse is no exception. In a scenario where the lights may never come back on, like-minded folks will need to band together and establish their own autonomous and independent survivalist colonies.Planning a post-SHTF community is no small task. The survival of your group depends on the careful consideration and preparation of every foreseeable concern, including food, security, sanitation, and everything in-between. This book aims to serve as a road map for planning the creation and operation of your survival community.
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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.

Navy SEAL Survival Technique to Avoid Panic

By Timothy Gamble (March 1, 2019)

Someone I know recently faced a really bad, scary situation. Without going into details, at a time in which she needed to remain calm and clear-thinking, she panicked and had an anxiety attack. This only made matters worse. Fortunately, some other people were around who kept their heads and things turned out okay. 

She feels bad about panicking, and worries that it will happen again. Next time, others might not be there to help. What can she do prevent another panic attack at a critical moment? I suggest she learn and practice a Navy SEAL technique called Box Breathing.


Navy SEAL Technique: Box Breathing

You should practice Box Breathing often under normal conditions so you'll be able to remember the technique under pressure, which won't be as easy as you may think. Instructions for Box Breathing:

  • Inhale deeply for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath (lungs full) for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath (lungs empty) for 4 seconds
  • Repeat as needed
This is more than just a psychological trick. There is actual medical science behind this technique. By using Box Breathing, you are increasing the nitric oxide levels in your blood, increasing your blood flow, and reducing your blood pressure. These are physical changes that will help you regain or remain in control of your emotions.
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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Money Mistakes of the Poor & Middle Class (plus solutions)

By Timothy Gamble (May 18, 2019)

Common money mistakes typically made by folks in the lower and middle classes can "lock them in place," preventing them from improving their circumstances. These mistakes tend to be learned by example, unintentionally passed on from one generation to the next, thus dooming generations of the same family to the same financial struggles. The mistakes made are different between the classes, but are easily identifiable, as are the solutions.

The Poor

The money mistakes made by the poor are mostly related to the desire or need to get quick, easy money for a myriad of potential reasons - anything from an unexpected repair expense to "the rent is due and I don't have enough cash to cover it."  This problem is caused by a combination of poor planning and lack of capital  (savings). Here are some of the specific mistakes the poor make in trying to get quick cash:
  • Playing the Lottery - Studies have shown that the majority of lottery tickets are sold in poorer zip codes. Lotteries really are a sneaky tax on the poor. Other forms of gambling fit here, too.
  • Pay Day Loans - These loans are easy to get and therefore very popular, yet with their extremely high interest rates and short pay-back periods (the next paycheck), these loans trap folks in never-ending cycles of doom.
  • Car Title Loans - A high-interest way to lose your car.
  • Pawn Shops - Ever notice that these flourish in and near poor areas? There's a reason for that...
  • Rent to Own - High-interest installment plans on furniture and other items that were already overpriced to begin with.

Middle Class 

The money mistakes made by the middle class are mostly related to living beyond their means, often keeping up appearances to impress others. The more their friends and neighbors do it, they more they feel pressure to buy new cars, the most house they can afford rather than the house they need, take impressive vacations, and so forth. Here are some of the specific mistakes the middle class make while trying to "keep up with the Joneses":  
  • Credit Cards - There is over a trillion dollars of credit card debt in America, the vast majority of which is owed by the middle class.
  • Student Loans - There is nothing wrong with going to college, but there is something wrong with racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt to get a degree in18th century French Poetry, Gender Studies, Social Justice, or some other useless major.
  • Car Payments - New car fever grips the middle class, with excuses like "I need it for work" and "safety and reliability." But, in reality, a well-maintained used car can be just as safe and reliable as a new car. Keep it clean and washed, and it'll probably be fine for work, too. Also in this category are payments for boats, motorcycles, ATVs and other expensive toys.
  • Loans or early withdrawals from retirement funds - Not only does this deplete your retirement savings, but may have severe tax implications.

Solutions

Reading through the above lists, the solutions should be obvious - Don't do those things! But how to get there from where you are now is the real question. Here are three ways to get there:

  • Build capital (emergency savings) - This is HUGE to your financial success. Do whatever it takes to build savings: Work extra hours, get a second job, have a massive yard sale, sell those expensive toys (ATVs, boats, home gyms, and so forth), downsize your car to get out of the payment, maybe even downsize your house if it is more than you really need... 
  • Be happy living within your means - This is an attitude adjustment, which is especially hard for many people. You CAN be happy without a brand new car, or without taking a Caribbean cruise this year, or without yet another pair of $300 shoes. Don't worry about what your neighbors have, or what your friends might think about you. Live within your means, and be happy with it.
  • Delayed gratification - Back in the days before credit cards, installment plans, and payday loans, if you wanted something you had to save money until you had enough to buy it outright.This meant you had to wait to get it. These days, Americans feel entitled to whatever they want, and entitled to it NOW! Banks and credit cards companies have made fortunes off this entitlement attitude. Developing a little patience will go a long way to you making your fortune!
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https://amzn.to/2HpwVLk
Need help with debt and personal finances?  I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's books, website, and radio show. 









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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Here are the symptoms of Covid19, seasonal flu, and the common cold

This post also appears on my news website TimGamble.com

The following chart comparing the symptoms of Covid19, seasonal flu, and the common cold is being shared on Twitter by the US Space Command (twitter), and is based on information from WHO and CDC. 

According to the CDC, Covid19 symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure. Call your healthcare provider for medical advice if you think you've been exposed to Covid19 and have developed symptoms. Do NOT just show up at your doctor's office or the emergency room if you think you may have Covid19. Call first for advice.

Click or download the image for a larger view. 


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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist. 

Preparedness Secrets of the Ultra-Wealthy

By Timothy Gamble (May 28, 2019)

Think what you will about the morality of the ultra-wealthy, but they tend to be financially- and politically-astute individuals who are highly "plugged in" to current events and trends, both nationally and internationally. I suggest, therefore, that it would be  good idea to be aware of their concerns and preparations, as doing so may reveal clues to our future. 

What the Ultra-Wealthy Are Expecting

Conspiracy theories aside, it has been well reported even in the mainstream media that many of the ultra-wealthy are preparing for major economic, political, and military problems, and even "the crackup of civilization" as a recent article in the New Yorker magazine put it. Many of the ultra-wealthy aren't just concerned about another recession (which are cyclical and the next one is a little overdue), but are expecting economic doomsday, political collapse, and even the death of Western Civilization, at some point within their lifetime. 
"Some of the wealthiest people in America—in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond—are getting ready for the crackup of civilization." - New Yorker, 1-30-2017
The ultra-wealthy realize that the welfare state, the model of current Western Civilization, is simply unsustainable over the long term (though most publicly support the welfare state and socialism, an incongruity I am unable to explain). They realize that the global debt bomb, as it is called by financial reporter Paul Farrell, that has been created by massive government debt is now so large that it cannot be paid off by increased taxes or economic growth. 

Total world debt is estimated at about $60 trillion dollars, and this is just government debt. Add private debt (credit cards, student loans, mortgages, etc.) and business debt, and the total worldwide debt bomb is about $230 trillion. 

What the Ultra-Wealthy Are Doing To Prepare

Before his death in 2012, hedge fund manager Barton Biggs, considered one of the world's top global investment strategists, advised his clients to expect the "possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure". His advice: Make tons of money. Buy an isolated farm in the mountains. Protect your family against the barbarians.
"Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food ... It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson." -- Barton Biggs
Please realize that this isn't advice from some survivalist guru to militia-type folks. Instead, this is advice from a respected hedge fund manager and financial insider, to his ultra-wealthy clients.

The ultra-wealthy, realizing that an economic collapse is inevitable (only the timing is uncertain), are making as much money as they can right now, often using short term tactics (and creating a frothy stock market in the process), and reinvesting that money into hard assets such as productive land, gold, silver, agricultural and other commodities, as a protection against future collapse. In short, they have become preppers.

There are two ways to look at this advice: 1) the ultra-wealthy are selfish, greedy scumbags who are trying to take advantage of dire situations to their benefit; or 2) the ultra-wealthy see what is coming, realize there is nothing that can be done at this point to stop it, and are simply doing whatever it takes to protect themselves and their families. Greedy, honorable or both - you decide.

What This Mean For Regular Folks

Regular folks, who don't have billions or even millions in extra cash, can still follow this advice on a smaller scale:
  • Maximize your income during the "good times" we are currently experiencing
  • Buy an isolated retreat or bug-out location (think productive land, adequate rainfall, good growing season, and relatively sparse population)
  • Develop it in terms of productivity (plant fruit & nut trees, create garden space, build a greenhouse, install an off-grid well or water system, etc.) and security (fences, gates, security doors, etc.)
  • Stock up  on food, water, and other supplies (medical, first aid, seeds, tools, etc.)
  • Buy guns & ammo - learn to shoot - take defensive shooting courses
  • Learn first aid and other useful skills
  • Prepare yourself and your family physically (health & fitness) and mentally (deal now with any addictions & mental health issues, develop your relationship with God)

The Bottom Line:  The ultra-wealthy are in a position to know what is coming, and they are preparing for something major. We should be, too.
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Of Interest:

Going Galt: Surviving Economic Armageddon

Going Galt: Survival Gardening - Sustainable High Yield Gardening

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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist. 

History for Preppers: Problems Faced by Late-1800s Backcountry Farms

By Timothy Gamble (June 1, 2019)

We, as preppers and survivalists, have much to learn from history. Of course, modern disasters and SHTF events won't be exactly like historical examples, but there are still lessons to be learned. We would be foolish to ignore the past. This article is the second in a series of articles I am writing on History for Preppers (see the bottom of this article for a link to the first article). 

Problems Faced by 1800s Backcountry Farms 

After Congress passed the Homestead Act in 1862, many Easterners moved West, eager for the opportunity to farm their own land. The 160 acres of land for free (if you lived and worked on the land for five years), along with the recently completed transcontinental railroad granting ready access, made their dreams seem easily within their reach. However, they quickly found out that they would face many problems and hardships. 

Economic Hardships

One surprising hardship was money. Despite getting the land for free, there were still costs associated with starting and operating their farms. Large-scale farming in the late 1800s was expensive. Farmers had to buy seed, fertilizer, tools, and even machinery (gang plows & sulky plows appeared in the 1860s, deep well drilling equipment in the 1870s, and horse-drawn combines in the 1880s, just to name a few). They also had to buy their everyday household goods. 

It is a romanticized myth that these farmers were 100% self-sufficient and produced all of their own food, clothing, furniture, cookware, and other goods. They still had to buy many goods elsewhere, most of which were produced back East. The added distance these goods had to be shipped only increased their cost (Amazon didn't offer free shipping back then). Even after mail-order catalog companies came into existence (Montgomery Ward in 1872; Sears and Roebuck in 1893) the costs remained relatively expensive, and the selection relatively limited, compared to the markets back East.  

Many of these new farmers quickly went into debt setting up and operating their free homesteads. This debt became difficult to pay off after the success of the Homestead Act resulted in overproduction of crops causing the prices paid on the food markets to decline sharply under the glut.  

Nature and Isolation

The new farmers also faced problems caused by nature. Many parts of the Great Plains experience very hot, dry summers and extremely harsh winters. Both drought and insect blights were common.  Predators such as bears and wolves, as well as poisonous snakes, only added to the difficulties. Working the land was long, difficult, and tiring, and there was little help available beyond the farmer and his family.

With 160-acres plots, the nearest neighbor was quite a distance away. The isolated nature of the homesteads meant that farm life could be quite lonely and monotonous. Also, the isolation meant you were on your own. There was no way to call for help in an emergency, no 911 services, and no nearby neighbors to quickly rush to your aid when needed. 

Finally, the new farmers, due to their isolation and relative poverty, lacked political power. And politics did affect them, despite their isolation. They were largely ignored by the politicians, and often taken advantage of by the railroads and banks with little or no recourse. 

Conclusion

Rural agrarian lifestyles, represented by the modern homesteading movement, as well as the isolated bug-out retreat, offer many desirable benefits, but also many potential hardships. This article is in no way meant to discourage folks from pursuing their dreams of homesteading or leading self-reliant lives away from the big cities.  On the contrary, I share those dreams. Rather, I intend this article to de-romanticize the idea so that we can make realistic, practical plans with our eyes wide-open.

Researching this article, here are my take-aways:
  • Homesteading/farming might seem like a "simpler life," but there are still expenses and hardships
  • Homesteading/farming, even done off-grid and "on the cheap," is still expensive to get into (even if the land is free, which it isn't in today's world)
  • 100% self-sufficiency is impossible - we will still need other people 
  • Being isolated from others is both safer AND more dangerous at the same time
  • You can never 100% insulate yourself from being affected by politics

Liked this article? You may also be interested in my article 1800s Backcountry Homesteads: Most Important Crop/Food Staple

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If you are interested in preparedness, gardening, homesteading, and country skills, check out The Encyclopedia of Country Living. This large book is a treasure trove of useful information on your journey to a simpler, more natural, more sustainable life of self-reliance.




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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The 7 Core Skills of a True Survivalist

By Timothy Gamble (June 26, 2019)

Survival isn't something that just takes place in the wilderness or during an extreme emergency. Survival also takes place in everyday life, during good times as well as bad times. There are many, many specific kills that are useful for survival in particular circumstances, but there are seven core skills that any true survivalist needs to master.

1 - Health and fitness is a skill, because it is something that doesn't come naturally, especially in the modern world. Like any skill, it must be learned, and takes time and effort to develop. It can't be bought from Amazon and delivered to your front door the next day, like you could buy your food storage. Developing the skill of health and fitness requires work, sacrifice, and time. Perhaps that is why its still on many preppers' "to do" list, still waiting to be checked off when we finally get around to it. Well, its time to get around to developing this fundamental survival skill.

2 - Self-reliance is an attitude put into action, thereby becoming a skill. Like the skill of health and fitness, self-reliance doesn't come naturally for most people today (in fact, modern society is intentionally set up to discourage self-reliance, but that is a discussion for another article). Self-reliance must be learned, and takes time and effort to develop. I've previously identified these key components to self-reliance:
  • Assume responsibility for your own life.
  • Take the blame for your own life.
  • Be informed.
  • Know where your going.
  • Make your own decisions.
  • Know where your going.
  • Learn skills.
  • Gain experience.

3-  Problem-solving is a series of closely related skills, and flows out of our self-reliance. This means if we don't develop our self-reliance, we'll never become a good problem-solver. Problem-solving means recognizing when a problem exists, taking on the responsibility to solve the problem yourself (not waiting for someone else to solve it), analyzing the problem to understand what is really wrong and what needs to be done to fix it, and then actually doing your part to fix it. Fixing the problem usually entails using previously developed skills and/or learning new skills.

4 - Situational Awareness is another skill that doesn't come naturally because modern civilization has made us used to being relatively safe as we go about our day-to-day lives. We depend on the government, laws, and societal norms to keep us safe. We expect the police and other "authorities" to be only moments away, waiting to rush to our rescue should we need them. But this is largely an illusion. The world is a dangerous place, and situational awareness will help us to safely navigate it. 

Situational awareness is much more than just paying attention to what is going on around us, although that is an important starting point. It means paying attention, knowing what to look for, and knowing how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings.

5 - Self-Defense, as well as the tools used for self-defense, is an unalienable right, a Biblical concept, and guaranteed by the US Constitution. We have the absolute right to defend ourselves and others from unprovoked violence and aggression. But, to do so successfully, we must learn how. Self-defense, both in both its lethal and non-lethal forms, is an important core skill we must learn and develop. 

6 - Financial Management is a basic skill needed in our everyday lives, but it is one that is rarely taught and therefore is missing from most people's skill sets. A broad topic, financial management includes living within our means, controlling our impulses, being employable, goal setting, budgeting, avoiding and/or getting out of debt, developing an emergency fund, saving for retirement, saving for major expenses, and generally managing our money to best benefit us and our families. It doesn't just include dealing with money, but all forms of wealth, which could include our homes, land, businesses, food, and supplies.

7 - Soft Skills are often overlooked, but can be extremely important for survival. Soft skills are general skills that are often seen as part of our personality, and as such are typically self-learned without realizing it while we are growing up. Examples include communication skills, team work, creativity, and getting along with others, but there are many others. Although typically learned while growing up, they can be developed as adults.
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http://amzn.to/2fkJR78
Ad: Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook, by Peggy Layton, has detailed information and lists for everything from an emergency car kit, to a 72-hour emergency kit (aka "bug out" kit), to building stockpiles of food, water, medicine and other necessities. Included in the book is a section on ideas for apartment dwellers and others with little storage space. LEVEL:  Beginner to Intermediate. I consider this a CORE BOOK for most preppers. 

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Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist. 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Here's how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic: Stay calm and take commonsense precautions.

By Timothy Gamble

(This article also appears on www.TimGamble.com

3-1-2020 - If you're wondering what you need to do about the Covid 19 pandemic, its actually quite simple: Stay calm and take commonsense precautions.

Covid 19 has certainly become a true pandemic, regardless of when WHO gets around to labelling it as such. It is currently in 67 countries, many of which are now experiencing sustained local transmission. At least 3,000 people have died (and likely many more since China is known to be severely under-reporting their numbers). 

But there is good news. First, as diseases go, Covid 19 is not particularly deadly. It is less deadly than SARS, MERS, or even the Flu. Yes, Covid 19 can kill, especially the elderly and those with already weakened immune systems, but the vast majority of healthy adults who do get Covid 19 will live.  

Second, most people won't get Covid 19. Think of it this way: In China, the epicenter of the outbreak, there are 80,000 official cases, but we know China is lying about their numbers. Most epidemiologists believe the real number is between 4X and 10X the official Chinese numbers. Even in the worst-case scenario, there are only about 800,000 actual cases. This sounds like a lot until you realize China's population is slightly over 1.4 billion. So, less than 1% of the population is infected. In the US, between 5% and 20% of the population get the flu each year, depending on the severity of the flu season. So, even if the US has a major sustained outbreak of Covid 19, you are still more likely to get the flu than Covid 19. There is no need to panic.

But no one likes to get sick, so there is need for a certain amount of concern. But what should we be concerned about? Three things:
  • Physical health (we don't want to get sick)
  • Physical safety (we don't want to go shopping when people are starting to panic)
  • Economic concerns (supply chain problems, shortages, market downturns)
Physical Health - There is no need to fear the virus itself. It is not particularly deadly. For the vast majority of otherwise healthy adults, you are under no more of a threat from Covid 19 than the flu. Simply take the normal commonsense precautions as you would for the flu:
  • Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with those who are sick. Avoid crowds.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect all surfaces. 
  • If you are sick, avoid contact with others.
  • Stay home when sick and for two days after symptoms stop.
  • Do not prepare food for others if you are sick, or may be sick.
Physical Safety - You don't want to go shopping for food and other supplies if shortages occur and people start to panic. There have already been food runs in Germany, Italy, and Spain.Videos from Europe are circulating that look like Black Friday videos here in the United States, with customers rushing store doors and fighting over the last canned ham on the shelf. You need to have at least three weeks of food and other basic necessities at home so you don't have to go out into the crazy crowds that might be panicking at some point. 

Economic Concerns - If you are an investor, don't panic over the recent market drops. This is an event driven drop, not one based on bad market fundamentals. Event driven drops tend to have V-shaped recoveries - a sharp drop followed by a sharp rise. Even with the sharp market drop last week, it would not be surprising for the markets to end 2020 higher. This is not 2008. Don't panic.

Also, event driven drops typically do not erode jobs. The stock market drop of last week, and probably this coming week, will not lead to massive lay-offs. Again, this is not 2008. Stay calm.

What is likely to happen will be some shortages caused by problems in the supply-chain with China's production largely shut down, combined with panic-induced buying as people start stocking up over coronavirus fears. In the coming weeks it will become increasingly difficult for stores (including Amazon) to keep the shelves fully stocked. We are already seeing some shortages in facemasks and other basic medical supplies, some auto parts, and even some canned goods on Amazon. This is why people should have at least three weeks of food and other basic necessities at home.
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http://amzn.to/2fkJR78
Ad: Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook, by Peggy Layton, has detailed information and lists for everything from an emergency car kit, to a 72-hour emergency kit (aka "bug out" kit), to building stockpiles of food, water, medicine and other necessities. Included in the book is a section on ideas for apartment dwellers and others with little storage space. LEVEL:  Beginner to Intermediate. I consider this a CORE BOOK for most preppers. 

--------------------
Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.