Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Candis Cantin Herb Walks...

I have been asked by many people to let them know about preparedness related events taking place...mostly in Northern California.  Instead of trying to email a multitude of people individually...I will post them here on my blog!  If you know of any that are open to the public...let me know about them...potentially to post here.

Here is some information on classes being put on by Candis Cantin.  She teaches herbology.  I am going on both of her herb walks she is doing this year...that you will see when you scroll down the "course" page.  If you want to learn about some "wild" plants from someone other than me...maybe you should go too!  They are inexpensive...local...and I have heard she knows her stuff.  Make sure you contact her to register.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Buckeye Gathering...

If you want to learn what true self reliance is...on the most basic of levels...then you should be looking primarily to the indigenous people of the land where you live.  Those people's knew and know how to make use of the resources provided by nature.  While there are still some of these cultures existing in remote areas...that have continued their way of life as it has been for thousands of years...many of the indigenous people's have assimilated into the dominating population and have lost their knowledge with each successive generation.  Thankfully......there are those that still preserve these "bushcraft"..."primitive living"..."Earth" skills.

Here is information on the Buckeye Gathering.  It's a week long camping trip that I will be attending that will teach a myriad of these skills!  The price is beyond reasonable...and it promises to be an incredible education and ton's of fun!  It is a family friendly event with a kids camp.  There will even be a fair where people will trade handmade goods.  Read from the link for all the details.  I hope to see you there!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sleeping Pads...Not Just a Luxury...

I've heard many stories of Prisoners Of War that are made to sleep on a stone floor for years...and upon release they come home...and prefer the hard floor by their bed rather than sleeping on a cushy mattress!

Few people in the US can really identify with this preference for the hard ground.  We love our high tech cushy mattresses!  A night on a hard and unforgiving floor would leave most of us sore and unrested.  Perhaps you have been there before...tossing and turning...lying on the cold earth...with a rock jutting up into your side!  With no amount of repositioning that could ever find that level of comfort that you are familiar with!

If you have experienced what I just was probably on a camping trip.  It is experiences such as those that have put sleeping on "Hard Ground" at the top of many people's complaints about going camping.  It is because of this that the market for camping sleeping pads has been so successful.  People don't want to feel like they are roughing it when they don't have to be.

But you know...sleeping pads are not just a luxury.  A sleeping pad could save your life!  That is because they help prevent the loss of warmth through conduction with the earth.  Temperature is transfered when there is a difference in temperature between the two objects...based upon the total surface area of the two objects in contact...and on the efficiency of the insulation that is between the two objects.

If you were to lie down on a nice cool the man in the photo...your warm body would transfer it's heat into the rock.  You would become the rock became warmer.  If you are ever in a survival situation trying to stay warm through the with the cold earth could sap all of your warmth away...even if you do have on nice warm clothing.  And it doesn't need to be a blizzard outside to make you cold enough to die!  Hypothermia can strike at moderate temperatures around 60 degrees, if inadequate clothing, dampness, high winds or prolonged exposure overcomes the body's ability to conserve heat.  A sleeping pad can effectively separate you from the earth...helping to keep your warmth where you need it...with you!

Sleeping pads have come a long way over the years.  It's not just that blue foam thing that everyone used to have.  Nowadays there are a myriad of options to choose from.

As you are looking at the are some questions you ought to ask yourself...

"Is this pad going to be used for car camping...or backpacking?"

With "car camping" pads only having to be carried from your car to your is no big deal if they are heavy and bulky.  A good ole' fashioned big blow up mattress like a coleman weighs somewhere around 10lbs...but who cares! will be sleeping on something in the ballpark to what you have at home.  Make sure if you go with one of those big inflatable mattresses...that you arrange to have a pump of some kind!  Blowing up an entire mattress with just your lungs is exhausting.

If you are backpacking...and need to watch every ounce that you carry...and need to conserve room...then you can go for the other extreme like this one from Thermarest that is the latest in light comfort.  The regular size only weighs 14 ounces!!!!...and it rolls down to the size of a water bottle.  The downsides are that it is expensive...and thin enough that you would need to watch what you rested it on to avoid puncturing it.

"Is this pad going to be used in rugged conditions where it needs to be built tough?"

Is it your intent to lie this pad directly on rock?  In the quest to make lighter and lighter weighted pads...many sacrifice durability.  Does the pad have a patch kit if it has a hole?

"How cold of conditions do I want it to be good for?"

Sleeping pads have different ratings for how well they insulate you against the ground.  Some will use the terminology "Summer" or "Winter" pads...while others give a temperature rating for how cold you can use the pad and expect to stay warm...or they use something called an "R-value".  Here...Big Agnes offers their summer version of a pad...and an insulated model for colder weather.

Mummy...or square...long...or regular...automatic blow up?...   

Make sure that the pad you purchase is big enough for your body and fits the shape of your sleeping bag!  Do you want to blow it up...or have that done automatically?  There are other bells and whistles that you may have to weigh the value of.

"What is my budget for a pad?"

If your budget is many of ours are could look on craigslist and find pads from time to time that might suit your purposes.  Or you could do like my family did...and instead of spending a wad of money on one or two pads...we spent the same amount getting pads for the whole family by purchasing these Alps Mountaineering pads from Sierra Trading Post.  They are heavier than some of the other backpacking pads...but least we ALL have pads!  They have great reviews...are durable...are self-inflating...and a great value.  These pads are our emergency evacuation pads...that will also be taken out for Boyscout campouts and the like.  Other than that...our family will continue to enjoy our $30-ish Coleman mattress!!

I just threw out some common names in the world of sleeping pads and mattresses...there are plenty of others out there that could do well for you.  I recommend going to a site like Amazon...and reading others reviews of the products to learn of their strengths and weaknesses before purchasing.  There are also all kinds of backpacking sites that review gear and can give you their two cents.

So...get together pads for your family...for both recreation...and emergencies!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sawyer Water Filter Group Order... I am really ready to start the ball rolling with the group order for Sawyer Water filters!!!

If you don't know what I am talking this article here.

Thanks to a reader named O'Hara for sharing his ideas that shaped how this is moving forward.

So here is the bottom line...

IF YOU WANT THE WATER BOTTLE - (I recommend this one for emergency you just scoop water and drink.)

Buy the (SP135) 34oz sport bottle filter with the .02 micron filter…from Wal-mart online.  I'm sure it is the best price you will find at around $64 after taxes.  Other places are selling it for $110!!  That price is even lower than the dealer price.  Have it shipped for free to your nearest Wal-mart.  (The SP135 is ONLY AVAILABLE ONLINE.  On the shelves at Wal-mart they sell the bottle with the .1 filter.)

IF YOU WANT A BUCKET FILTER - (I recommend this one if you plan on filtering gallons of water...not just 34oz at a time.  For use at your home...or "base camp".)

1.     Purchase the .02 bucket filter (sp190) through me for $100…which is $40 less than what you would buy it from REI (after taxes).


Option A – This will give you the bucket hook-up kit from the lower priced .1 bucket kit (sp180/sp181 doesn’t take out viruses) so that you can use it with your .02 filter out of the water bottle from Wal-mart…or just use it as a .1 filter.  The filters work interchangeably.

1.     Buy the SP135 .02 water bottle from Wal-mart.
3.      The total would be around $114.  So for $14 more than option A…you can have ONE MORE FILTER WITH A WATER BOTTLE!!

Option B – For do-it-yourselfers.  Save money by making your own bucket attachment kit to be used with your sport bottle from Walmart.  (The filter in the bottle is the same a the one for the bucket kit)

1.     Buy the SP135 .02 water bottle from Wal-mart.
2.     Described in the comments is some info on the parts available at most hardware stores…that you would need to construct the bucket attachment kit yourself.  I have not done it myself yet…but don’t see why it wouldn’t work.  You will also need to track down a syringe of some sort to back flush the filter.  You might be able to find one for a buck at the dollar store.   If you need a 13/18th's spade will probably cost and additional $4.00 or less.  The total should be around $70-$75.  


My arrangement with Sawyer is that shipping is long as we order in groups of at least 13 orders.  People are paying me...and then I am paying Sawyer at one time through a credit account they set up for my orders.  Ideally, I would like for people to pay in order...or cashiers check.  Personal checks are OK.  If you would like for me to write a receipt that I collected money from you...I'd be happy to do that.  Send the funds...a description of what you are ordering...and your contact Stephen Nix 110 Foxridge Drive Folsom CA 95630.

If you are local...when they arrive...I will contact you for you to pickup...or for us to make arrangements of how it can get to you.

If you live in another state or far away enough that you wouldn't want to drive to my home...if you can get together an order of 13 orders...shipping will be free.  If will get the same item will just have to pay an additional shipping fee.  It would come to one location...then you would divvy it up to those whom purchased through you.

If you have any questions...please consider asking them in the comments that other people who have the same questions can profit from the info.  Let me know that you are purchasing...or what you intend to get I know what to emailing me at  We can also discuss special circumstances if there are any.

Also...if there is anything else on the Sawyer site that you want to purchase...let me know...and we can get a deal on other stuff too.  Sawyer was eager to let us know that they offer other great products too!  They provide REI with mosquito repellent...first aid kits...etc...that sometimes bear the REI brand...though they are made by Sawyer.

I'd encourage you to let people know about this.  I might even make up a flyer to distribute if there is a need.


Monday, March 15, 2010

2 is 1...1 is none...

"Why do you need another gun...we already have so many?!"

"Why are you buying firesteels...when we already have matches in storage?"

"Why do we need another water filter...when we already have one?"

"Do you really need to go to a class on winter survival?!...I thought you knew that!"

"Don't you already have a bunch of knives??!!"

...said the spouse to his/her intensely preparedness minded spouse who always seems to be buying preparedness gear and investing time into learning!

Why does it seem that an insatiable desire to collect preparedness gear and gadgets could never be assuaged?!  Why do you need doubles of certain items?!!  Why can't you just read "Twilight" like regular people instead of reading "Survival Skills of Native America"!??

To the person who believes as I do...that the US is soon likely to be thrust into a primitive and dangerous way of life is hard to say if we ever have enough knowledge and "stuff" to be prepared.  To those that don't believe that the danger is real...I understand how it could come off a bit nutty.

In the world of preparedness...the saying goes..."2 is 1...and 1 is none". Meaning that if you are placing your preparedness planning eggs all in one may reap severe disappointment if something goes awry.  This means that one needs to have at least a plan "B"...or even a "C"..."D" and so on.

A person who is working to be completely prepared will ask..."Well...what if..."

What if...I plan on using a bic lighter to start my fires...and it get's cracked or runs out of fuel?  Then I will use some matches in an airtight container.  What if the matches run out or get wet...then I will use a firesteel.  What if that get's lost or stolen...then I could try my hand at making a bow drill.

If you jumped from a plane...and your life depended on your parachute opening.  Would you feel a bit better if you had a back-up parachute in case the one you wore failed?

Having extras of certain preparedness items is a good idea...

1.  For bartering with people who may need that item.
2.  To have ready for ill prepared family or friends.
3.  In case your item wears out...get's broken...stolen etc...
4.  To have the needed item in different places.  Like one at at hidden in a bucket out in the mountains!!  etc...
5.  To have various tools that work better for different applications.  Long knives for splitting wood...small knives for whittling...etc.

Stuff is important...and knowledge is even more so.  So get both together...before you REALLY need them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gardening with cups...knives...forks...and spoons...

Here is a flat of flowers and tomatoes that I recently planted with my children.  Now...instead of spending money on those little markers to mark the rows...I use plastic knives...forks...spoons...and Popsicle sticks that my children and I write on with a sharpie.  And instead of buying seedling pots...I use recycled party cups.

So how do I get all of those forks...knives...cups...etc?

Well...I attend family parties and so on.  If there is food involved I will ask to make an announcement (I'm not shy).  I will ask for everyone to put their empty cups and cutlery in a bucket by the trash.  (If you have could also have them put their leftover food in a bucket too!)  At the end of the night...I collect the bucket and take it home to rinse everything off.

When I see that the cotyledon leaves have come out on my seedlings in the flat...and the first "true" leaves have started to appear...I know it is time to transplant them into the party cups.  I prepare the cups by poking holes at the very bottom of the sides of the cups so that when I water the seedlings...the water flows out and doesn't drown the plant.  If the cup is a paper type...or foam...this just takes a poke with a knife.  If it is plastic like in the photo...I take a drill and pop some quick holes in each cup.  I put some soil in the cup and then I prick the seedlings out of the flat with a knife and then transplant them into the prepared party cups.  Finally I use a sharpie to write on the side of the cup the name of the variety of plant that is contained inside.  Transplanting in to a larger cup like this gives the plant some room to grow prior to the final planting in the ground. more thing...the popsicle sticks for marking come from the summer eating of popsicles.  The trick is to get them out of the kids hands before they chew them up!  I have also seen them at the dollar store in a big bag for a buck which would be a good option if you are anti-popsicle...which of course is un-american...which is a secret you might want to keep!

It is nice be able to recycle what was headed for the trash...and to not spend one more penny than I have to!

PS...Group parties are a great source for picking up soda pop bottles to rinse out and fill for your water storage!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Better at Your House...Than at the Store...

On a regular basis I run into people that see me as the "food storage guy" who ask me food storage questions.  During the conversation I probe...and  ask them how their food storage is coming along.  Many have similar responses. They want to start food storage...but seem to be waiting until they have the ideal situation to start.

They say things like...

"First...I want to build some shelves so that we can rotate the cans".

"I need to clean out underneath our beds first so we have a place to put the food".

"When I can free up some time...I'm going to go out to the cannery and put some food in cans".

"There is a certain kind of container I want to find for our water storage".

"I'm new to storing food...I want to make sure that I am doing it the best way before I get started".

"I want to do a cost comparison of the places I like to shop before I overpay for something".

While I do think that proper planning is wise...and that all of these statements have merit...I have great concern that there are many who "almost" get started...but never do.  Inevitably...I run into these people again...months or years later...and I ask them if they got all the stars to align to get started.  "No...not yet" they sheepishly reply..."but we will!!"

They have good intentions...they know it is important...but the demands and distractions of the day relegate this important task to a lower position on their to-do list. Days turn into weeks...weeks into months...months into years and yet their good intentions do not filled their pantry shelves. Occasionally they are reminded of the danger they are in when they catch the news of our day...but again...the "cares of this life" lull them back to sleep...and so they remain exposed to the dangers associated with calamities that can occur overnight.

It's Not Rocket Science

The thing is...short term food storage doesn't have to be a complicated procedure...

The church is advising us to start with a 3 month supply of what we normally eat...and to store water.

That means grab some extra cans of food when you shop at the store...and more of what you like to eat that is shelf stable (won't spoil too quickly).

Storing water doesn't require that you invest all kinds of money into buying big 55 gallon drums.  It can easily be accomplished by rinsing out and filling up some pop and juice bottles with tap water!  How to do it is described at

Now...when it comes to long term can buy premade long term storage items. Places like Walton Feed can ship you all you might want...already packaged to be put away for decades.

If you are wanting to save money...or want to practice your skills of can do it yourself (like I do).  You might check out my caveman food storage article for details on a really inexpensive way to do long term storage.

As far as any space concern guess is that anyone who says "I don't have a single place to put any food"...or "I want a good rotating system first" or something to that effect...will be able to think a lot of places they could have made it work...when they need to live on that stored food and have none.

Better at Your House...Than at the Store...

I purchase my long term storage food in spurts.  This last week for example..I went to the bulk foods section at Winco and picked up six 25lb bags of various beans that I had ordered (pictured above!). Honestly...I don't know when I am going to get to storing them for long know...with oxygen absorbers and all that jazz. Frankly I'm not really concerned about it. Just having them in my home gives me a lot of peace of mind knowing that I have more to feed my family. They may sit in a closet for a few weeks...or more...before I get to putting them away. In fact...I haven't even ordered the mylar bags that I plan on putting them in!  For now...I will pour the beans into some cleaned grade buckets I picked up at the donut shop until I get around to putting them away for long term.

Am I afraid of mice...not really. Do I fear bugs getting the beans...not really. Do I think that the beans will go bad?...No I don't. In fact...there is a good chance that many of the beans will be used in soups and with other foods before I get to putting them away for long term. Maybe they will never even see long term storage!

The truth is that many or most long term products aren't going to go bad overnight or even over an extended period of time if they aren't stored in long-term airtight containers. If they are kept cool and dry...and away from pests...there should be some time to work out the details.

I am not advocating just keeping all of your long term storage in the bags they came in...what I am saying is that I would rather see people not put off storing food for the perfect conditions...and to just buy the food...and have it in their homes...until it can be put away long term or find a place to put it.  Perhaps they will be tripping over a pile of bags of lentils and rice for a month in the hallway.  Maybe that constant reminder might get them to build some shelves!...or to take care of whatever other concern they have.  At least they would have food to eat.

Let's not wait for some perfect "Someday" to get food stored.  You want it in your home...not on the store shelves when disaster strikes.  Wrestling some soccer mom over the last can of vegetable soup at the store is a fight you might not win!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Search for Sock...

Not all socks are created equally.  Some are like the yugo of the sock world...while others are like the cadillac.  The problem is...that often times you don't know which you have purchased until you get them home and try them out for a while!  They can all look so much alike!

It doesn't generally take long to find out the quality of the socks you have some quickly get holy...or lose their elasticity...or  have a toe seam that rubs your feet the wrong way.  Perhaps you did well and got some that will last for years...and keep your feet nice and warm (if that is what you want) or they are nice and cushy.  Heavenly socks.

I think about the Pioneer children who sang as they walked...and walked...and walked...aaaand waaaaalked and how true that song is! Their little feet traveled some 1,300 miles...and many of them did it with no shoes on!! Their well as their adult companions...became blistered...bloody...sore...and frozen along the way. Can you imagine how things would have been different for the pioneers if they had access to our modern socks and shoes?!! What would they have been willing to give for such a luxury!

If you someday have to walk as they did...perhaps evacuating...or fleeing from city to city on foot...what do you want to have on your feet? The thin church socks you bought from the bargain bin...or some high tech thick hiking socks?

With as wimpy as most people's feet are in developed countries...chances are you would be better off getting the high tech hiking socks.  We have become like the princess and the pea when it comes to our feet.  The tiniest piece of anything in our shoes will irritate us to tears.  

Anyone who has hiked...or played a sport until their feet were raw...and then kept on going can empathize in some small way with what the pioneers went through. It is amazing how torturous walking with blistered and aching feet can be! Any podiatrist or chiropractor can also attest to how your entire well-being can be adversely affected by poor foot care.

It is because of this...that I think that of the places where one could stand to spend a bit more money when it comes to with foot gear.

In the past...I have been a real cheap-o when it comes to socks. All my socks came as a big bag that broke down to somewhere around a dollar a pair! A while back...I went ahead and bit the bullet and purchased some more expensive socks. Cabela's brand socks like these. For the price of what used to be a whole bag of socks...I got just one pair. Let me tell is worth it. As I sit here feet are cozy warm. If I was wearing my cheap feet would be cold. These socks...and others like them will change how you view socks...if you have never tried them. They hug in all the right places...they are well made...and should last a long...long time. They also are made with merino wool...which isn't in the slightest big itchy. Awesome.

I am also a big fan of the Smartwool sock brand...which are quality...quality socks.

One of the best places to buy socks like these is at the Sierra Trading Post. You can get the socks as factory seconds...overstocks...and so on...for a fraction of their price elsewhere. The challenge is getting what you want in the size you want.

I recommend keeping extra socks in an emergency least two pair or more.  If a pair get dirty or can clean and dry them while you wear the clean pair.  They don't weigh a lot or take up a lot of room...and can really boost your morale if things get grim.  I have ours in a ziploc bag to keep them dry and to compact the air out to take up less space.  So put some good to great quality socks in your won't regret it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wheatgrass...and Beyond...

When spring has sprung where I can step outside and hear the distant purr of lawmowers...and smell the scent of fresh cut grass.  Personally...I like that scent.  It fills my mind with fond memories of all of the fun things that happen in a season of warmer weather.  In all the years I have been smelling that scent though...never have I thought to myself..."I wish I could have a drink of that scent!"  While I still have yet to drink lawn clipping juice...I have had something that probably tastes a lot like it...wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass is just that.  Wheat that has been sprouted to the point that it resembles a lawn that needs to be mowed...and then it is clipped and juiced.  I have yet to meet a person who drinks wheatgrass because they love the flavor.  Most people drink it because it is super nutritious!!

The testimonials really are astounding.  People say that wheatgrass cured them of most every ailment out there.  I have no reason to doubt their testimonials.  I firmly believe that many of the ailments that we carry with us are directly linked to the nutritionally lacking...and even toxic food that we eat.  A blast of vitamin rich green drink could be just what is needed to revive the ill to health.

This knowledge has spread...and for some time food stores sell small swatches of wheatgrass sod....and businesses like Jamba Juice offer small shots of wheatgrass juice...if you have the money to buy it at a premium.

People who don't want to pay the high it themselves.  I've grown it in the past with plastic growing trays...some run of the mill potting soil...and some wheat from storage.  There are lot's of places on online that will give you directions on how to do it.  It can be done simply...or you can buy into all of the other miscellaneous things that people want to sell you to make it rock dusts...containers etc.  I do recommend that you do it in actual opposed to an artificial mat of nutrients like some people do.

After you have the need to get the juice out of it.  I own the healthy juicer...and have been pleased with it.  The only drawbacks that I can think of are the plastic construction...and the suction cup that keeps it to the counter.  I'd love to have one that is stainless steel and grabs the table.

If the day comes that you are living on food storage...and are unfamiliar with wild greens that you could eat...this could be a way to get some green in your diet.

And yes...the good ole' wheat from the cannery works just great.  White or red.  Just like with any time goes on...germination rates go down.  I have taken out old stored wheat and tried to sprout it without much success.  But you say "I heard that they got wheat to sprout from the mummies tombs in Egypt".  Even if you think that story is true...I wouldn't plan on your wheat sprouting if it has been stored for over 25 years in ideal conditions.  In fact...I would only attempt to sprout my newest wheat...and leave the non-sprouting old stuff for breadstuffs...because it is still good to eat...just not sprout.

NOW.  Having said all that...did you know that all grass is edible?  Not only is it edible...but it also has a high nutritional value (according to this book).  We don't have multiple stomachs like cows...and can't really handle all the fiber...but we can eat it in small amounts...or chew it to get the juices out...and then spit out the fibrous portion.  Or we could juice it! The reality is that I could actually be juicing my bluegrass lawn and enjoying some health benefits!  If you are going to juice grass from a wild or not so wild source...make sure that it is clean and hasn't been sprayed with anything detrimental to your health...and harvest the grass before it forms it's first node.  After that node (or knee) forms it is still edible...but more fibrous and less nutritious.  Harvesting wild grasses could save you the effort of having to grow your own...with similar results.  I'm going to juice some grass from the yard tomorrow!!

I went into my backyard and used some scissors to snip some grass from an untrodden area.  I filled up a mixing bowl and then juiced it.  It was a deep green...and was much more pleasant tasting than wheatgrass has been.  My wife mixed in some apple juice...and it was quite tasty!

It also dawned on me how someone could have a source of water most anywhere...with a simple hand crank juicer and some clumps of grass!

I am unsure of the species of grass that I I am a grass identification rookie.  I am left to wonder how the nutrition of various grasses stack up against each other.  I wonder if that information has been published?!  I will continue to drink it knowing that it is generically "highly nutritious".