Project Prepper

Project Prepper, Part 45: Top 3 Threat Priorities

“As a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with ‘prepping’ via a sustained ‘hands-on’ program of learning and doing, which I’ll call ‘Project Prepper.’

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you…”

Survival And Prosperity, “Project Prepper, Part 1: It Begins,” October 24, 2012

This week’s “Project Prepper” post is going to be a little different. While I’m currently working on a number of projects related to fulfilling seven “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast):

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

Today I’m going to talk about threat priorities. As a forty-something homeowner residing with my girlfriend in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, in 2016, “I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones).” Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I blog about them frequently. But from my vantage point, here are the “top 3” I’m mostly concerned about:

1. Severe Weather
2. Financial Crisis
3. Terrorism

Concerning severe weather, here in the Chicagoland area residents have to contend with spring and summer storms that can consist of high winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes. Winter can bring along with it ice storms (not too often), significant snowfall/blizzards, and brutally-cold temperatures. Consequently, structural damage, utility outages, hazardous travel conditions, and other threats to life and property accompany such events.

Case in point, prior to my girlfriend and I moving into our house in 2013, a large part of the Chicago metro area suffered significant damage from a “derecho” (widespread, long-lived wind storm) event that left many area homeowners without electricity for several days. A real nuisance for most of those affected, but potentially deadly to those with serious health issues- like my elderly father. And in case readers think I’m talking about those far-off “suburbs” of Chicago here (I remember one real estate agent referring to Rochelle- approximately 80 miles west of Chicago- as a “western suburb” during the housing boom last decade), these extended outages were taking place in near “North Shore” enclaves. I remember watching one furious Northbrook homeowner being interviewed on the local televised news, saying how he had been without power for a number of days and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been restored yet considering the high taxes he paid to live in such a nice area. Anyway, severe weather tops the list for me. Not as “sexy”- as some would say- as preparing for the “Zombie apocalypse,” but oh well.

Financial crisis. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity and its predecessor know I’ve been on the lookout for coming “tough times” for some years now. From this blog’s “About” page:

Back in 2004 when SP’s creator/editor Christopher Hill was surveying the economic and investment landscape in support of his own investing activities, he concluded from his own research that the United States was heading towards a financial crash. Deciding that this was something other Americans might want to know about, Mr. Hill launched the independent financial blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog on Wall Street,” on Memorial Day Weekend 2007 with the purpose of warning and educating others about the approaching U.S. economic crash. He has been credited with calling last decade’s housing bubble and subsequent bust, the 2008 global economic crisis, and the “Great Recession” as a result of his work on this project. Chris wrote over 1,500 posts on Boom2Bust.com during its nearly three-year run, with many of these picked up and republished on the web sites of The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Fox News, Reuters, USA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times group, the Austin-American Statesman, the Palm Beach Post, and the West Orlando News, among other media outlets. Chris was also interviewed for a May 2009 MSNBC.com article as a result of his work with the blog.

Since Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve stood by and watched as the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble and subprime mortgage crisis was quickly followed by carnage on Wall Street in the autumn of 2008 and a “Great Recession.” I also observed how the Washington politicians and the Fed responded by “papering up” the mess with massive government and central bank intervention. But as everyone knows, you can only “kick the can down the road” so far. And my concern is that the road is rapidly coming to an end. Visit this blog often enough and you might get that sense as well.

Consequently, I’ve come to believe that the U.S. financial crash I still see headed our way won’t be like an airplane that suffers a sudden, catastrophic failure and plummets back to Earth like a rock. Rather, taking into account the abilities of the federal government and central bank to keep the aircraft aloft for quite some time, the crash may be more akin to a slow- yet-unavoidable descent into the ground. At which point, Americans might be left pondering what had happened to them, just like Argentines did after their economy crapped out in the early 2000s after prosperous times.

Making matters worse is the fact that I still reside in Cook County and Illinois, whose financial troubles are well-publicized. While I’ve left Chicago, I still haven’t made Wisconsin my permanent home address.

When the “balloon goes up” locally and nationally, I suspect everyday living is going to get particularly gritty around these parts.

As terrorism is concerned, post-9/11 I found myself working in the public safety field. As part of my duties at a local fire department, I catalogued potential terrorist targets in the area in the hunt for money to upgrade the agency’s response capabilities. It was my belief that the threat was real then, and it remains so today. Even more so in 2016, as U.S. border security is quite suspect at a time when those who would wish to harm the “homeland” continually make their operational capabilities and future desires for wreaking death and destruction known.


“Border Patrol Admits US Citizenship Doesn’t Matter”
YouTube Video

Like I’ve repeatedly said before on this blog, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the United States suffers terror attacks possibly resembling what occurred in Beslan (Russia) in 2004, Mumbai (India) in 2008, and more recently in Paris and Brussels. And a terrorist strike rivaling or even surpassing the carnage of September 11, 2011, is not out of the question as far as I’m concerned. New jihadists continue to replace their fallen predecessors in this “War on Terror,” and the religious duty of killing “infidels” remains the same. On May 6, 2011, I wrote:

In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al-Qaeda Connection, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These days, the Islamic State has stolen the headlines from Al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremists. But such religious fanaticism as a whole remains a top concern for me.

Severe weather, financial crisis, and terrorism are natural and man-made threats that register the most on my radar. But this doesn’t mean I discount other potential dangers to life and property either (pandemic, severe space weather, and war would probably be the next three on the list). As such, an “all-hazards” approach is emphasized in my “Project Prepper” activities.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 44: Backup Heating For House Update

Back on February 25, I started discussing backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013. I blogged:

Last Friday, incredibly strong winds (max gust speed 62 mph) pummeled the Chicagoland area. Not surprisingly, we lost power for a few hours- along with the heat. As I lay in bed recovering from the flu and buried under the covers, I thought to myself, “It’s a good thing it isn’t that cold outside today considering its February in Chicago.”

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again…

I initially thought a vent-free natural gas heater, installed on a basement wall adjacent to the utility room, was the solution. But as I wrote in my last “Project Prepper” entry:

I’m starting to like the idea of a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator above and beyond the vent-free heater. The standby generator would allow us to keep using the furnace to heat the house and run other essentials in the event of a power outage…

Now, our HVAC guy did come out to the house to discuss a new heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system for the structure- which my girlfriend and I subsequently agreed to purchase. But not before I confirmed the setup could be tied into a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator down the road. When asked if he knew someone qualified to install such a generator, he informed me his brother-in-law does such work. Nice.

In the meantime, while the Chicagoland winter was pretty tame this year (especially when compared to the last two), I’d still like to bridge the gap with some temporary backup heating setup until we can afford to buy a stationary generator. I’m leaning towards picking up a Big Buddy Portable Heater by Mr. Heater after reading a number of decent reviews about the product. From its “Description” page on the Mr. Heater website:

The Most Popular Portable Propane Heater in North America. This patented radiant 4,000-18,000 BTU Liquid Propane heater connects directly to two 1 lb. cylinders and is the perfect solution for heating enclosed spaces like cabins up to 400 sq. ft. An integrated fan increases the heating capacity of this unit, blending radiant and convection style heat to give you the best of both worlds. Two swivel regulators give you the ability to adapt usage from disposable cylinders to a remote gas supply with the purchase of a single hose and filter. To light the unit, simply push and rotate the knob. The built in Piezo sparking mechanism will take care of the rest. With the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over safety shut-off, you can be sure that you will enjoy years of comfortable indoor safe heat.

• 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTU per hour
• For use with propane gas
• Heats up to 400 sq. ft.
• Single control start knob
• Hi-Med-Low heat settings
• Swivel regulators
• Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
• Accidental tip-over safety shut-off
• Connects to two 1 lb. cylinders
• Connects to a 20 lb. cylinder with optional hose
• Fan operates on 4 – D batteries or AC adapter, both sold separately


“Big Buddy- Operation and Accessories”
YouTube Video

I like the fact that the device can be used for emergency home heating. From its product page on Amazon.com:

The Big Buddy Propane Heater by Mr. Heater is the latest evolution in portable heat-with the capacity to heat up to 400 square feet. It combines radiant heat comfort with fan-powered convection heat for maximum heating efficiency, providing safe, reliable heat anytime. Use it for emergency situations, workshops, garages, storage buildings, construction trailers, barns, tents, patios, porches, cabins, fishing shanties, truck caps, barns — anywhere you want to stay warm. May also be used inside your home in case of a power outage

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some more research is required on my end. Still, it’s nice knowing there might be a temporary backup heating option available for the house until a stationary generator can be put into play.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 43: Standby Generator For Heat, Other Essentials

In last week’s “Project Prepper” post, I blogged about backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013.

You may recall I talked about how strong winds knocked out power- and heat (electricity needed for furnace blower)- for a couple of hours late last month. I wrote:

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again…

As we already use a natural gas furnace, I initially thought a vent-free natural gas heater would be a good backup heat source. Based on that initial research I did, I still think it is.

However, I’m starting to like the idea of a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator above and beyond the vent-free heater. The standby generator would allow us to keep using the furnace to heat the house and run other essentials in the event of a power outage. David Agrell reported on the Popular Mechanics website on January 25, 2013:

Standby generators offer a steadfast solution to extended outages. Unlike portable generators, they’re installed permanently on a concrete pad in your yard and will provide uninterrupted backup for days. That’s because they’re connected directly to your home’s electrical panel and powered by an external fuel supply, such as natural gas, liquid propane, or diesel. Smaller, air-cooled essential-circuit units… are slightly larger than portable generators and can energize just a few circuits at a time. Larger, liquid-cooled whole-house systems will do just as their name suggests—they’ll comfortably power an entire home…


“Standby Generator”
YouTube Video

According to the Generator Buying Guide (February 2016) on the Consumer Reports website, stationary generators range from roughly 5,000 to 20,000 watts and cost from $5,000 to $10,000. Yikes! Add to that the cost of professional installation. Plus there’s this from the folks over at Consumer Reports:

Guess What: You Need a Transfer Switch

What’s that, you say? Well, the short answer is that it links the stationary or portable generator to your circuit panel in one cable. Skipping it could cause appliances to fry, endanger utility workers, and damage the generator.

We recommend that you have a pro install it, and it could cost from $500 to $900, with labor…

Other items that might need to be addressed include:

• Maintenance
• Municipal ordinances
• Noise
• Physical placement

I get it. This would be somewhat of a complex and costly project to carry out.

Still, at first glance a natural gas-powered stationary (standby) generator looks to fit our anticipated needs better than just a vent-free heater for backup heating.

I’ll bring up the subject again after looking into it some more.

Stay tuned…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Agrell, David. “Should You Buy a Standby Generator?” Popular Mechanics. 25 Jan. 2013. (http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a8523/should-you-buy-a-standby-generator-14880060/). 3 Mar. 2016.

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Project Prepper, Part 42: Backup Heating For House

The last two “Project Prepper” posts consisted of a recap of what the series is all about and a status report for the project a little over three years in the works.

Today I want to move forward and talk about backup heating for the house my girlfriend and I purchased in 2013.

Last Friday, incredibly strong winds (max gust speed 62 mph) pummeled the Chicagoland area. Not surprisingly, we lost power for a few hours- along with the heat. As I lay in bed recovering from the flu and buried under the covers, I thought to myself, “It’s a good thing it isn’t that cold outside today considering its February in Chicago.”

Later on I started thinking about what my girlfriend and I would do if the electricity had been out for a longer stretch of time while the outside temperatures were more “seasonal.”

I decided to look into a backup heat source for the house once I was up and about again.

Fast forward to tonight. Currently, the structure is heated solely by an older natural gas furnace. And as I mentioned before, when the electricity goes, so do the comfy indoor temps.

Not good in these parts at this time of year.

Thankfully, I may have found a solution:

A vent-free natural gas heater


“Vent-Free Gas Heaters”
YouTube Video

I’m thinking of something along the lines of Mr. Heater’s Vent Free Blue Flame Natural Gas Heater (Model# MHVFB30NGT). From the Cleveland, Ohio-based heating product manufacturer’s website:

This Blue Flame 30,000 BTU Natural Gas Vent Free heater is the perfect supplemental heating solution even on the coldest days. This heater is conveniently equipped with a thermostat for superior control of the temperature in your space. Also, with a battery powered electronic ignition, starting it is a breeze – battery included. This unit can be permanently mounted to the wall or securely fastened to the floor with included mounting brackets and fasteners. A clean burning blue flame tube burner uses the natural convection of the burn to circulate warm comfortable air. With a factory standard Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), rest assured this heater will provide you with years of comfortable and safe heat.

• 30,000 BTU per hour
• For use with Natural Gas
• Heats up to 750 sq. ft.
• Blue flame burner for even convection heat
• Quiet integrated blower for gentle circulation of heated air
• Thermostat for automatic temperature control
• Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
• Legs and wall mounting hardware included…

From the Amazon webpage for this family of Mr. Heater products:

Our Vent Free heaters need no external power, great for power outages and applications with no electricity…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Bingo. Just what I’m looking for.

And consider this from Rich M. over at the Off The Grid News website some time back while discussing a different natural gas-powered heater used in the home:

There are two huge advantages to using this type of heater. First of all, they don’t need electricity, and secondly, you don’t have to stockpile natural gas. Natural gas pumping stations provide their own power, so they will probably still be operating even if there is no electricity. About the only way that they can go down is if the gas pipes are damaged…

I’m pretty sure the above applies to the vent-free natural gas heaters too.

In a significant SHTF event, natural gas may or may not be flowing to the house unimpeded. Still, for reliable backup heating after a winter storm/other emergency knocks out the power- and main heating source- for several hours or more, this type of heater might fit the bill.

More research is necessary. As luck would have it, our HVAC guy is scheduled to stop by at the end of next week to talk about a different project. I’ll make it a point to ask him what he thinks about vent-free natural gas heaters as a backup heat source around these parts, and will report back to Survival And Prosperity readers with what was discussed.

Stay warm…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 41: 2016 Status Report

Last week in the “Project Prepper” series of posts I recapped what the series is all about for those who didn’t already know.

Today, I’m going to talk about where the project stands a little over three years in the works.

Originally, I decided my preparedness education and activities would focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat-tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). That included:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

In May 2015, I split up “Security” into “Physical Security” and “Financial Security” (following Spirko’s lead). The revised list now looks like this:

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

After its adoption I blogged on May 20, 2015:

“Physical Security” is still priority number one because I predict the push for more gun “control” will continue while crime simultaneously gets worse. “Financial Security” breaks into the list at number two because the most likely disaster I see on the horizon is an economic one. “Shelter” now brings up the rear as I’ve completed that move from my Chicago apartment to a house in the suburbs (plus there’s my family’s place in Wisconsin where I spend time).

In my last “status report” (December 10, 2014), I wrote:

Decent strides have been made in the area of security… Physical security on the exterior/interior of the new house has been improved, particularly with landscaping, lighting, and locks. Personal safety gear, supplies, and tools have been acquired, with training having commenced a few years back.

Concerning water, the foundation for an emergency water supply is now in place. While utilizing some water storage containers I had prior to this project, I’ve acquired additional containers. To maintain the quality of the water for an extended period of time, I purchased aerobic stabilized oxygen. I’ve also kept a couple of cases of bottled drinking water on hand, along with an emergency water containment system that holds up to 100 gallons of fresh water in a bathtub standing by in the wings. At present, my girlfriend and I have close to a week-and-a-half supply of emergency water each (based on federal government guidelines of one gallon per person per day). Even though this is significantly more than Uncle Sam’s 72-hour recommendation, I’m not comfortable with this amount.

Concerning food, the foundation for an emergency food supply is also in place. Taking advantage of price drops and gift cards, my girlfriend and I scored a relatively-inexpensive 1-week supply of high-quality freeze-dried meals each. Like with the water though, I’d like to increase that amount commensurate with the potential emergencies I’ve identified.

Concerning shelter, purchasing that house last spring was a pretty big “prep.” And it was certainly an improvement over the multi-family housing arrangement where my girlfriend and I used to live. As much as I love the city of Chicago and would have liked to stay in our northwest side neighborhood, my girlfriend and I are much better off here in a close-by suburb, all things considered.

Concerning sanitation/health, not much work has been done in this area yet. As health is concerned, I’ve acquired a good deal of basic first aid supplies and instructional material in the last couple of years. But it’s been too long since I’ve had any training in this area. It’s one of my goals in 2015 to complete an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit- as well as having the knowledge/skills to use it. In addition, while working around the house has been good for the body, I really need to improve my physical fitness. Not only will it help me cope with the difficult times I see coming down the pipeline, but hopefully it will keep me from having to rely on our floundering health care system as much as possible.

On sanitation, an unforeseen (and somewhat costly) improvement was carried out late last year on our sewer line going from the house. I’ll spare readers the details, but a new cleanout was added on the front of the home, and with it, a check valve. Should the city’s sewer system fail for any reason (extended power grid failure?), the valve should prevent sewage from backing up into our house and through the toilets. At least, that’s how I understand it should work. When it comes to people having to “go to the bathroom” in an extended grid-down scenario and dealing with the waste, I’m already researching a number of possible solutions.

Finally, as energy is concerned, for short-term blackouts I’ve been looking at portable generators to use at first until my girlfriend and I can afford a standby generator that can be hooked up to the natural gas line coming into the house. I’m also exploring if we can’t utilize renewable sources of energy somehow. I really hope so, because it’s probably what we’ll be forced to turn to in a long-term grid-down situation. That being said, we are limited by what we can use due to our location in a major metropolitan area.

So that’s where I stand with “Project Prepper” as 2014 draws to a close. Decent progress has been made in tackling those “innate survival needs,” but there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done. Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.

“Hopefully, time and money will be on my side in the new year.”

Regrettably, “time and money” were not on my side. That being said, I was able to make some progress on “Project Prepper.” Going down that revised list of “innate survival needs”:

1. Physical Security: Additional lighting has been added around the property to illuminate the exterior of the house. More personal safety tools and gear have been acquired, along with training material purchased from affiliate marketing partner Paladin Press.

2. Financial Security: No progress, although efforts have been ongoing since 2004. More on this another time.

3. Water: Additional water storage containers have been purchased and acquired. I bought one Reliance Products Aqua-Pak 5 Gallon Rigid Water Container
via Amazon.com to try out (review forthcoming), and have been stockpiling empty 2-liter plastic bottles.

4. Food: Nothing’s been added to the existing emergency food supply. Although regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might remember the “experimental” food garden my girlfriend and I grew last year using heirloom seeds from My Patriot Supply’s Survival Seed Vault.

Cucumbersaurus Revisited

Cucumbersaurus Revisited: It was DELICIOUS, by the way

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Despite a number of rookie mistakes and other challenges, I’d say it was a success, and I can’t wait to grow another, more expanded one this year.

5. Sanitation and Health: I wasn’t able to take that American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class and build a comprehensive first aid kit in 2015 like I wanted to. I have started a new workout regimen though in an effort to improve my physical fitness. I blogged back on August 26, 2015:

As for the standards I’m shooting for, I’m leaning towards those embraced by Blackwater, Inc. Founder and former CEO Erik Prince talked about them in his recently published book entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror:

Our employees may have been retired from the military, but Blackwater didn’t hire your typical “retiree.” After the eight-week Moyock training programs that turned those veterans into diplomatic security professionals, our final physical fitness test standards required men to run one and a half miles in less than ten minutes, forty-five seconds; execute twelve pull-ups in a row, seventy-five push-ups done in two one-minute sets, and seventy-five sit-ups in two one-minute sets; and drag a 175-pound dummy eighty feet in under one minute

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

6. Energy: No progress.

7. Shelter: No progress. But to be fair, the house in the Chicago suburbs was a pretty substantial prep.

I’m disappointed I didn’t accomplish more since that December 2014 status report. Particularly as I believe time is ticking before the “balloon goes up.” From this point on, I’ll need to get “time and money” back on my side to keep “Project Prepper” moving forward. I’m up to the challenge.

More next week…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 40: 2016 Recap

Tonight I’m reintroducing the “Project Prepper” series of posts on Survival And Prosperity. And since it’s been some time since my last post, I’m going to do a recap this evening about what this series of posts is all about for those who don’t already know. On October 24, 2012, I wrote:

Back in early 2007, I decided to launch a blog that warned anyone who would listen of a coming U.S. financial crash.

By 2010, many Americans had tasted the type of carnage I predicted three years earlier. And it was at this time I decided to take my blogging in a new direction, from simply warning about the coming storm to providing information and possible solutions for coming out on the other side of the maelstrom in decent shape.

For almost two years on Survival And Prosperity, I’ve addressed that information component. As I see it, the writing is on the wall concerning where our economy and larger financial system is headed. As such, it’s time to really focus on potential solutions- those things that might help protect and grow self and wealth in these uncertain times and down the road.

Enter “Project Prepper.”

Once in a while I blog about preppers/survivalists, and as a result, I’m often mistaken for one. The truth is, I’m not a “modern survivalist.” I’m just an independent researcher and blogger currently focusing on economics, finance, investing, and personal safety.

That being said, as a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with “prepping” via a sustained “hands-on” program of learning and doing, which I’ll call “Project Prepper.”

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you.

By doing this, I’ll also be able to make more progress in providing readers of this blog those possible solutions I talked about earlier in the post.

Will I end up being a “prepper” at the end of it all? Who knows? If anything, I should be able to glean a good deal of useful knowledge from this venture.

Knowledge which I hope to share with you…

More next week as I talk about where “Project Prepper” currently stands after writing the above a little over three years ago.

2015 Test Vegetable Garden

2015 Test Vegetable Garden

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 Preparedness, Project Prepper No Comments

Project Prepper, Part 39: Food Garden Latest

Last time I published a “Project Prepper” post, I discussed how I planted a small food garden back in late June using some non-GMO heirloom seeds from Salt Lake City-based My Patriot Supply. I was pleased the seeds from the Survival Seed Vault were actually germinating, and the food garden producing. In that September post, I noted cucumbers had already been harvested, and “everything else looks well on its way (fingers crossed!)”

Well, here’s what’s transpired since then…

The weather’s been pretty decent except for a cold spell that lasted a couple of days (ended yesterday) and not much rain (I’ve been pretty religious about watering the food garden however). Even nicer weather is supposed to be headed our way.

As such, a good portion of the raised bed behind my garage has become a tangled green “mess.” I wrote on September 23:

I planted those cucumber and watermelon seeds in 2 different “mounds” (12 inch diameter) with 3 seeds per mound (a couple of inches apart). Based on the significant growth that’s taking place, I’m pretty sure the size of those mounds and spacing between the seeds should have been quite a bit larger.

Now I know for sure that the size of those mounds and spacing between seeds should have been larger. I fear I “suffocated” growth in that area of the food garden as a result.

A couple of watermelons were growing pretty rapidly in the raised garden bed. The local wildlife claimed two of them. Two more were really beginning to fill out when I did something stupid. In an attempt to raise them off the ground a little bit to protect them from critters, I must have bent the joints (where the melon attached to the vine?) too much, causing them to break completely off the plant shortly thereafter. I was left with two small, unripe watermelons as a result.

Small Watermelons

As these Crimson Sweets were supposed to reach 24 pounds on average, looking at those tiny melons I couldn’t help but think of that scene from the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap where the rock band commissions a Stonehenge set but mistakenly asks for a model with a height of 18 inches instead of 18 feet. Comical stuff.


“This is Spinal Tap- Stonehenge scene”
(Warning! Language)
YouTube Video

Now, I have had further success with the food garden. Particularly in the sweet corn department. Last week, I harvested a couple of ears of corn. They were delicious- even thought I suspect they may have been just a tad overripe. I usually eat sweet corn with butter slathered all over it. Not this time! It was great plain.

First Sweet Corn

Alas, certain inhabitants of our “wildlife refuge” (my guess is the squirrels) also have discovered how good garden-fresh corn is, and the remaining unripe ears are now history. Along with the stalks. Vicious bastards.

One last thing. By late summer I noticed a good deal of discoloration among a number of corn stalk and cucumber leaves. It’s especially more pronounced with the cucumber plants, where leaves turned yellow to brown, dried out, and eventually shriveled off- but the actual cucumber wasn’t affected. I’ll definitely be looking into why this is going on.

That’s it for now. I like to refer to the small food garden as the “experimental” garden. I knew from the onset that there would be ups and downs associated with it. And sure enough, that’s been case with this project. Still, it’s producing (would have liked a watermelon however) and the knowledge I’m gaining from actually growing a food garden has been substantial.

More soon…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 38: Food Garden And Survival Seeds Update

Back on March 30, I blogged about starting a food garden. From that post:

I hope to achieve a number of things from this food garden:

• Better nutrition
• Better health
• Improved food security

I went into more detail about that garden on April 27. I wrote:

I purchased heirloom seeds put together by My Patriot Supply, an affiliate marketing partner of Survival And Prosperity (discussed here). In particular, I purchased a flagship product of theirs called the Survival Seed Vault. From the website of the now Salt Lake City, Utah-based “Patriot Owned Survival Store”:

The Survival Seed Vault contains only the highest quality heirloom vegetable survival seeds. These Patriot Seeds are 100% Non-GMO, open-pollinated and placed in specially sealed packets allowing for long term storage…

• 20 varieties of hardy heirloom survival seeds passed down from our forefathers.
• Survival seeds rated for 5+ years of storage at 75F, longer at lower temperatures.
• No hybrids, GMOs, or outdated survival seeds. All harvested seeds are reusable.
• Each seed bank is hand-inspected and packed by our American staff to ensure quality.
• Includes detailed survival seed saving guide.

Survival Seed Vault contents

Survival Seed Vault contents

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In that April post I mentioned “I plan on starting small with the food garden.” And that’s what I did. In June, my girlfriend and I prepped two areas in our fenced-in backyard which receive lots of sunlight. The first consisted of an existing raised bed along the east-facing rear wall of our garage, while the second was originally part of our lawn, in which grass was removed and transplanted elsewhere. In both areas, my girlfriend and I mixed in Dr. Earth-brand organic soil to the existing soil, along with some peat moss.

On June 27, the following went into this concoction within the raised bed:

• Scarlet Nantes Carrot- about two dozen or so heirloom seeds of over 800 provided in the Survival Seed Vault
• Marketmore Cucumber- 3 heirloom seeds of over 150 provided
• Golden Bantam Sweet Corn- 8 heirloom seeds of over 250 provided
• Crimson Sweet Watermelon- 3 heirloom seeds of over 60

Ringing this all in was a plastic safety fence donated by my girlfriend’s sister stapled to several scrap wood “posts,” with a few marigolds strategically placed within to help deter rodents (or so I’m told).

Into the other garden bed (not raised) went two blueberry and two raspberry plants, also with a number of marigolds “protecting” them.

Food garden- July 2015

Food garden- July 2015

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Here’s how everything’s been working out so far:

• We initially lost a number of seeds/seedlings to the “wildlife refuge” on our property. That includes a bunch of carrots, 3 sweet corns, and 1 cucumber. I only replaced those 3 sweet corn seeds (about 2 weeks later).
• Animals managed to chew several openings in the plastic safety fence and take 2 small watermelons (as far as I can tell). Chicken wire is a better fencing option.
• The marigolds have been doing great. So good I think they’re interfering with the growth of the raspberry plants.
• I planted those cucumber and watermelon seeds in 2 different “mounds” (12 inch diameter) with 3 seeds per mound (a couple of inches apart). Based on the significant growth that’s taking place, I’m pretty sure the size of those mounds and spacing between the seeds should have been quite a bit larger.

Despite all the above, the food garden is producing. Right now, only cucumbers have been harvested, and they’re delicious!

Cucumbersaurus

Cucumbersaurus- when you let these babies grow!

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While there’s been nothing from the blueberry/raspberry plants, everything else looks well on its way (fingers crossed!).

Food garden- September 2015

Food garden- September 2015

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Hopefully, The Old Farmer’s Almanac forecast of above-average warmth for the area in September and October holds.

I’ll report back on the food garden in a later “Project Prepper” post.

In the meantime, I’m pleased to know I can grow something else besides that lima bean plant from Mrs. Muldoon’s 3rd grade class.

In all seriousness though, I’m grateful for the knowledge towards achieving food security this experience is providing me.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015 Agriculture, Food, Gardening, Preparedness, Project Prepper No Comments

Project Prepper, Part 37: Getting Back Into Shape

As I approach another birthday, I smile when I think back to the early nineties when a friend and I would head down to Chicago’s lakefront and regularly jog a good portion of the 18.5-mile Chicago Lakefront Trail for exercise. I was in my late teens at the time, and in the best shape of my life.

Day Off Jogging Lakefront Car Show (Summer 1991)

Day Off Jogging
Lakefront Car Show (Summer 1991)

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Fast forward to today. I’m nowhere near the same kind of shape I was almost a quarter of a century ago. Not countering the effects from years of living a sedentary lifestyle and working in front of computer screens for hours on end has taken a toll on my physical fitness.

That being said, I decided some time ago that as part of the “Project Prepper” series of posts, I’d work hard at getting back into shape. From the beginning of my ongoing education about prepping, I realized not being “fit” could be a serious hindrance to what one’s trying to achieve by prepping. For example, let’s say I’m employed in an office building in a major U.S. city, and I’m prepping for a significant emergency/disaster that could happen while I’m at work. If the event occurs, there’s a good chance I may end up needing to hoof it out of that location (possibly within a certain amount of time) in order to reach safety. If I’m not up to the task physically, I could be in real trouble.


“911 WTC people in chaos taking shelter – with sound part1 – archival stock footage”
YouTube Video

So I’m going to get back in shape. I’ll be putting together the regimen of exercises in the coming days. As for the standards I’m shooting for, I’m leaning towards those embraced by Blackwater, Inc. Founder and former CEO Erik Prince talked about them in his recently published book entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror:

Our employees may have been retired from the military, but Blackwater didn’t hire your typical “retiree.” After the eight-week Moyock training programs that turned those veterans into diplomatic security professionals, our final physical fitness test standards required men to run one and a half miles in less than ten minutes, forty-five seconds; execute twelve pull-ups in a row, seventy-five push-ups done in two one-minute sets, and seventy-five sit-ups in two one-minute sets; and drag a 175-pound dummy eighty feet in under one minute

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Now if I could just find a 175-pound dummy…

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking right now. I am certain about one thing though. It’s imperative I get back into shape pronto, not only because doing so allows me to explore prepping more fully as part of these posts, but also because I’m at that age (40-something) where looking after my health needs to be more of a priority than it has been in the past.

Until next time…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 36: New Gear For Around The Property

Getting back on track with the “Project Prepper” series of posts, I want to talk about some new gear I’ve picked up. As a somewhat-new homeowner, I understand there will be times when I’m forced to investigate God-knows-what around the property, day or night. And as my girlfriend and I have come to discover, we have quite the wildlife refuge going on outside our house. As such, I’ve acquired some items in case an encounter with a four-legged (or two-legged) creature isn’t exactly a “pleasant” one:

Outdoor Security Final

Maglite S6D015 6-D Cell Flashlight (Amazon.com, $24.88)

Some specs compiled from Amazon.com:

• 163 lumen Krypton 6-cell bulb
• 19.5 x 2.9 x 2.8 inches
• 2.8 pounds
• Machined aluminum
• Self-cleaning rotary switch, 3 position, On, Off and Signal (manual momentary on-off)
• Spare lamp safely secured in tailcap
• O-ring sealed for water resistance
• 1/2 turn, cam action focus, spot-to-flood

A favorite among old school cops/security guards. After popping 6 D cell batteries into the flashlight and wielding it for the first time, I now understand why. This 19.5-inch machined aluminum device is a beast, and bright to boot. No creature (two- or four-legged) in their right mind would want to mess with this thing.

I also picked up an accessory pack (Amazon.com, $8.68) for the flashlight, and have already affixed the terrific anti-roll device.

Tact Gear Tactical Vest (Sportsman’s Guide, $26.99 with member discount)

From the Sportsman’s Guide website:

16 pockets for mags, radios, flashlights, pepper spray and more.
Rugged 8 1/2-oz. 60/40 Poly / Cotton blend with DuPont™ Teflon® fabric protection
Concealed crossover backup gun pocket with VELCRO® brand closure
Brass zip front
Brass D-ring
Badge tab.

I don’t know if it’s possible to ever run out of pockets with this vest. I’ve treated it with water repellant and have it hanging in a coat closet for fast, easy access. The last two items are contained in the vest.

Mace Brand Pepper Spray Police Strength 10% Pepper Foam (Amazon.com, $14.19)

From Amazon.com:

• Compact yet powerful model is a convenient size for carrying.
• Flip Top Safety Cap
• 10% Foam Spray
• Contains UV Dye for marking assailants for easy identification

I bought a two-pack of Mace Pepper Foam some time ago for potential use indoors (supposed to reduce chance of area contamination). This is one of those canisters. Since the device may have to be deployed in close quarters, I’m sticking with the pepper foam outdoors for now.

Enlan Bee M024A Folding Knife (Ebay, $10.61)

From vendor hellogiftshop’s web page:

Producer: Enlan Cutlery Co.,Ltd
Model: M024A
Blade: 8Cr13MoV (58HRC) stainless steel
Handle: Aluminium+ Stainless Steel; Money clip
Size:
Whole length: ~170mm(6.7″);
Blade’s length: ~71mm(2.8″);
Closed Length: ~100mm(3.94″)
Liner Lock
Net Weight: ~99g

I was on the look out for a good-yet-inexpensive knockaround folding knife that wasn’t “scary” for these parts to keep in the vest. I’d heard decent things about Enlan Cutlery out of China, and came across model M024A (drop point, dual thumb studs, liner lock, realistic-looking wood grain, legal in municipality/Cook County/Illinois) for a measly $10 and change. Like every other piece of gear I talked about in this post, I still have to put my Enlan knife to the test. However, my first impressions of the folder are positive. I would have preferred to buy American here, but was unable to tick all the required boxes.

More next time…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Items added to “Gear And Supplies” page)

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Survival And Prosperity
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA
Christopher E. Hill, Editor

Successor to Boom2Bust.com
"The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street"
(Memorial Day Weekend 2007-2010)

This Project Dedicated to St. Jude
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