rural living

Quote For The Week

“I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms. Those little teenage girls who work at Kmart and have a racist grandma- that’s really America.”

-African-American rapper Azealia Banks, in an interview with Playboy for their April 2015 issue

(Editor’s note: Ms. Banks indicated elsewhere in the exchange that, “As long as I have my money, I’m getting the fuck out of here and I’m gonna leave y’all to your own devices.” How about staying and putting some of that wealth to work fighting true racial injustice? Not that crap seized upon by race agitators these days.)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 Demographics, Quote For The Week, Racism No Comments

Project Prepper, Part 30: Status

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

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

To start, my girlfriend and I moved out of the city of Chicago last year to a house in the northwest suburbs- with an eye towards eventually settling down in Wisconsin.

I decided my preparedness education and activities will focus on a prioritized list of six “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast). This includes:

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

Concerning security, that’s something that’s been in the works for several years now. Like I wrote on this blog’s “About” page:

Survival And Prosperity is unlike other financial blogs in that SP focuses simultaneously on finance and personal safety, two areas Christopher Hill has spent a lot of time researching these past couple of years and which are intertwined in any serious discussion about surviving and prospering in tumultuous times. Case in point, an individual might pursue a strategy of wealth preservation and growth that would pay off handsomely in a financial crash. Yet, if personal safety was ignored in the process, that same individual might end up a victim of the social turmoil that is sure to accompany the economic collapse. So much for that new-found wealth, right?

(Editor’s note: Blog added for emphasis)

Decent strides have been made in the area of security, although plenty of work remains with all those “innate survival needs.” 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.

New Tools: United Cutlery Honshu Tantos

New Tools: United Cutlery Honshu Tantos

Purchased @ For $36.99 (Stainless), $39.99 (Black)

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.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Chicago-Area Lakes Hit By Bad Fish Kill

A number of Chicago-area preppers/survivalists might be planning to fish the local lakes to supplement their diet should TSHTF.

If that’s the case, be advised of the following, which I read in a weekly roundup section in my Sunday Chicago Tribune:

Fish kill worse than usual, expert says

Another legacy of the harsh winter: The fish kill in small lakes around the area was worse than what one state fisheries official said he’d seen in 34 years on the job.

Here’s hoping this won’t jeopardize my shot at landing a big pike or largemouth at my family’s place in southeastern Wisconsin this summer/fall…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Seen On The Streets, Part 11

Potholes. Tons of them. Christopher Borrelli reported on the Chicago Tribune website on Monday:

It’s officially spring. We’re deep into pothole season, which, like other holiday seasons, seems to grow longer every year. This pothole season could be the longest yet. Potholes are out of control. The Chicago Department of Transportation said last month that pothole complaints have tripled in the past year; and since New Year’s Day alone, the city has filled more than 350,000 potholes. And because, according to CDOT, which assumes there are at least five unreported potholes for each reported pothole, their conservative estimate of the number of potholes remaining is, well, about 60,000 potholes.

At the very, very least…

Personally, I think the roads have been crap in many places around the Chicagoland area for a number of years now.

One spot in particular that’s incredibly chewed up and which I drive through on a regular basis is that portion of Thatcher Road right outside the Oak Park Country Club in River Grove.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the report of the shotguns being fired nearby on certain days at the Club- in conjunction with the cratered road- reminds some veterans of being in a warzone.

As a high school kid, when I could scrape together several bucks I would buy the latest duPont REGISTRY (magazine of luxury autos for sale) at the old Crown Books on the corner of Harlem and North. Lots of daydreaming would ensue where I’d be piloting some hot sports car around Chicago.

A number of years have passed, and practicality along with fate has left me driving an older, high-mileage Toyota instead.

Still, my lust for a high-performance vehicle has never subsided.

Although, the crumbling streets I’d encounter around the Chicago area made me remark to my girlfriend one day that owning a nice sports car (or even a “regular” one) may not be practical around these parts. For starters, there’s the city traffic. Second, there’s the high price of gas- especially if the vehicle requires the premium stuff. Finally, the increasingly crummy roads will “eat up” the bottom of the vehicle.

Case in point. While watching the local news one day this winter, I spotted a reporter doing a live broadcast about how bad the potholes were in the city. As they were doing the shoot, a hipster’s car went over one of these holes, tearing off a big piece from the underside of her vehicle. I felt really bad for the young lady as she proceeded to talk about what just happened on camera.

Further evidence of just how bad the local streets have gotten can be seen in a post I saw the other day while taking in some car porn. From March 29:

Porsche 914 (1974) – $10500 (chicago)

Tired of winter and potholes, the car is 99% of the time in the garage…Selling my ’74 914,wide body from Sheridan Motorsports,custom interior,disk brakes front and rear,1.8l engine with double webers(40mm)pulls strong with no leaks,transmission rebuilt less than 500 miles ago,75k miles

Considering trading for a WRX of similar or lesser value…

“Tired of winter and potholes, the car is 99% of the time in the garage”

That trade request for a Subaru WRX makes sense, as things considered.

Still, even that rugged all-wheel drive vehicle may have too low of a ground clearance for some of the “surface anomalies” I’ve been spotting for some time now.

After I told my girlfriend about sports cars perhaps being impractical to own around these parts, I suggested for one to really experience what a sports car is really capable of performance-wise, one would probably have to head out to the back roads.

When I finally get my hands on one of these cars, “Escape to Wisconsin” will take on a whole new meaning for me…

Jamiroquai, “Cosmic Girl” (1996)
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Borrelli, Christopher. “Making potholes into art.” Chicago Tribune. 31 Mar. 2014. ( 3 Apr. 2014.

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Growing Illinois Fiscal Fiasco Makes Wisconsin Relocation More Attractive

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity may recall me blogging from time to time that as things stand, Wisconsin- not Illinois- looks to be my primary state of residence down the road. For example, I wrote back on January 29 of last year:

By the time I started this blog back in November 2010, I already had a pretty good idea I’d eventually be leaving the city of Chicago to reside someplace else. And every once in a while, I’d query the “best places” to live in America- should TSHTF or not. While the area of southeastern Wisconsin I’m looking at moving to in a few years is probably not “ideal” (even less so the suburbs of Chicago) from a prepper’s perspective, practitioners of modern survivalism would probably see more positives than negatives with the location. Keeping in mind that not only do I envision a certain lifestyle for myself down the road, but I also think I have a pretty good idea of what will be required to “survive and prosper” in America in the coming years, this part of the Midwest really appears to be a nice fit not only for me but my girlfriend as well. Here’s hoping it is…

Sure, certain Wisconsin taxes tend to be higher than in the “Land of Lincoln.” But at least it’s not a fiscal basket case, where I can envision Illinois one day leapfrogging our neighbors to the north when it comes to levels of revenue collection.

Chicago Tribune columnist Dennis Byrne reminded the paper’s readers just how precarious our financial situation has gotten here in Illinois… in addition to suggesting a state we might want to consider emulating. He wrote on the Tribune website on January 28:

Illinois is a stinking mess.

A steaming heap of suffocating debt, endless greed, blind self-interest and numbing incompetence. How we’ve been able to survive this long without plunging into the abyss is beyond me, and all reason.

No need here to document all of the state’s failures. Way behind on its bills. The nation’s worst credit rating. Higher unemployment than the nation. Business wanting to scram, fed up with an unfriendly entrepreneurial climate. Crushing pension obligations so far into the future that no one alive today, even if they ponied up every cent they made (after taxes, of course), will ever see the end of it.

Illinois is run by a self-renewing, power-hungry, piggish oligarchy so impervious to change (I hesitate to use the word reform, because true reform is as rare in Illinois as is the sight of Pike’s Peak) that it makes feudalism look good.

Don’t try to argue that a recent package of minor changes to the public employees’ pension system, grudgingly enacted by the serfs in the state legislature, is reform. Even if it were, it’s going nowhere because it will be dead on arrival in Illinois’ courts. That’s because the hoggish public employee unions were able, at the last minute, to ram into the state constitution a provision that guarantees their cupidity will be fed, well, forever.

What makes it all so vexing is how close the answer to our problems is: Wisconsin.

While Illinois is circling the drain, Wisconsin has saved itself from a similar fate and, in the aftermath of the longest-lasting recession since Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, is actually doing OK, if not prospering…


It’s been a long time since I’ve heard/seen that word associated with Illinois.

Which is too bad, because I really do love this state and my fellow Illinoisans.

But seeing as my goal remains not only to survive but prosper as the times become more tumultuous, Byrne’s observation further convinces me my future still lies up north.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Byrne, Dennis. “Illinois Should Look To Wisconsin.” Chicago Tribune. 28 Jan. 2014. (,0,5528813.column). 3 Feb. 2014.

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New Study: Rural America More Dangerous Than Big City

Anyone recall the lyrics to John Mellencamp’s 1985 song “Small Town”?

Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in a small town
Ah, that’s probably where they’ll bury me

“Gonna die in a small town.”

That may very well be the case, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, “Safety in Numbers: Are Major Cities the Safest Places in the United States?” was published on the website of the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Charles C. Branas, Brendan G. Carr, Benjamin C. French, Michael J. Kallan, Sage R. Myers, Michael L. Nance, and Douglas J. Wiebe authored the piece, which stated the following:

Study objectives: Many US cities have experienced population reductions, often blamed on crime and interpersonal injury. Yet the overall injury risk in urban areas compared with suburban and rural areas has not been fully described. We begin to investigate this evidence gap by looking specifically at injury-related mortality risk, determining the risk of all injury death across the rural-urban continuum.

Methods: A cross-sectional time-series analysis of US injury deaths from 1999 to 2006 in counties classified according to the rural-urban continuum was conducted. Negative binomial generalized estimating equations and tests for trend were completed. Total injury deaths were the primary comparator, whereas differences by mechanism and age were also explored.

Results: A total of 1,295,919 injury deaths in 3,141 US counties were analyzed. Injury mortality increased with increasing rurality. Urban counties demonstrated the lowest death rates, significantly less than rural counties (mean difference ¼ 24.0 per 100,000; 95% confidence interval 16.4 to 31.6 per 100,000). After adjustment, the risk of injury death was 1.22 times higher in the most rural counties compared with the most urban (95% confidence interval 1.07 to 1.39).

Conclusion: Using total injury death rate as an overall safety metric, US urban counties were safer than their rural counterparts, and injury death risk increased steadily as counties became more rural. Greater emphasis on elevated injury-related mortality risk outside of large cities, attention to locality-specific injury prevention priorities, and an increased focus on matching emergency care needs to emergency care resources are in order.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

At the conclusion of the article, it was stated:

When considering all mechanisms of injury death as an overall metric of safety, large cities appear to be the safest counties in the United States, significantly safer than their rural counterparts. Greater emphasis on elevated safety risks outside of large US cities is in order, alongside a changed perception of urban living as a relatively safe experience.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Big Brother has spoken. Rural folk continue to put themselves in peril by living out in the country. So move on down to the concrete jungle (for easier oversight and control).

Just kidding. I better check myself before I wreck myself while tooling around Wisconsin in my “free” time.

An interesting piece of research, which you can read in its entirety on the Annals of Emergency Medicine website here (.pdf file).

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (

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Project Prepper, Part 9: Prioritizing And Balancing My Preparedness Activity Going Forward

Back on February 7, I blogged about Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast-fame and his insistence on preparedness focusing on 6 “innate survival needs:”

• Food
• Water
• Shelter
• Energy
• Security
• Sanitation and Health

I declared:

I’ve come across similar lists in the preparedness material I’ve studied. But now I’m inspired to make these “needs” the focus of my “Project Prepper” series of posts going forward.

Where to begin, where to begin? Well, time to hit the prepping/survivalism-related books and material cluttering my home office and elsewhere around my pad for ideas.

Which is what I did. And according to editor James Wesley, Rawles, where to begin doesn’t seem to be as important as balancing the preparedness activity. He wrote in his book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Timesicon:

Don’t go overboard in one area at the expense of another. Preparedness takes balance… Maintaining that balance takes both focused planning and self-control.

Still, my gut feeling tells me right now I should be focusing on “Security” before other needs. Why’s that? Because this latest push for more gun “control” that’s going on in America right now could end up limiting my access to a number of tools and other accessories that I could use to construct an effective security setup.

Also, I’d feel more comfortable getting a jump on Water and Food (with water being more of a priority as a person can only last around three days without it, as opposed to around three weeks without food).

As for Shelter? Well, I’ve already done some work in this area as a number of readers already know, making plans to move out of the City of Chicago to the Northwest suburbs in late spring, with hopes of eventually acquiring a homestead in Southeast Wisconsin in a few years.

Finally, not much will probably be done regarding Energy and Sanitation/Health until after the move to the suburbs. But I do plan on getting some American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED instruction as soon as I can.

As a result, that list of 6 “innate survival needs” that my preparedness efforts will focus on has now been reordered to look like this:

• Security
• Water
• Food
• Shelter
• Sanitation and Health
• Energy

Still, I will strive to keep these efforts balanced, as Rawles suggests.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (

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Resource Of The Week: Living The Country Life Magazine

During the cold, gloomy days here in the urban jungle, it’s rather difficult to envision having a rural, self-sufficient homestead in the coming years.

And it’s just as hard finding motivation to work towards such a goal.

I like to get my inspiration from a number of places, including the latest material from Living the Country Life magazine, “Ideas and Inspiration for Your Place in the Country.”

When my girlfriend and I first got satellite TV, I noticed a show on called Living the Country Life– which I later found out was an offshoot of a magazine by the same name. I put it on once, and even though I’m a city-dweller, I really liked it. I mean really liked it. Perhaps it was because the neighbors were being especially loud that day. Or jumbo jets from nearby O’Hare Airport had been routed over my home. Or City Hall had gotten the City of Chicago into another fine mess. I can’t say for sure. But the show really inspired me to look into rural living, which I eventually decided to pursue.

From the website’s “Media Kit” section:

Living the Country Life inspires affluent rural homeowners to maximize their enjoyment of their place in the country.

The Living the Country Life brand includes a magazine, Web site, radio show, video solutions and database.

About that “affluent” part- that’s not really the case. I don’t think you have to be a rural property owner “of means” to appreciate, and more importantly, utilize the information provided in the quarterly magazine or by the other offerings of the “brand.” Although, be prepared for a healthy dose of ads in the print publication.

To give you an idea of what’s inside each issue of the magazine, here’s the table of contents from the Fall 2012 edition:

• From My Place To Yours
• Comments From The Country
• Saving Barns One Piece At A Time
• Cover Story: 5 Steps To Beautiful Fall Containers
• Top 10 Tools For Fall Cleanup
• Wheat By Design
• Product Guide: Utility Vehicles
• Feeding And Housing Birds
• 10 Fall Chores
• A Bit About Minis
• Recipes: Canning Pears
• Brent Olson: Settle In, Cherish Fall

Total number of pages: 40.

As each issue is typically around this size, don’t expect anything too in-depth about a particular topic. I often find myself jumping on the Internet to do more supplemental research into something interesting I’ve come across.

Another offering from Living the Country Life I take advantage of is their “Weekly Update Newsletter,” another great resource for information about rural living. From the latest e-mail, “26 mistakes to avoid on your acreage:”

• 6 acreage blunders
• 12 reasons electric fences fail
• 7 landscaping mistakes to avoid
• Step up security
• Mini-Course: Garden planning (Week 3: Build a raised bed cloche in 8 steps)
• Betsy’s Blog: What’s your sign?
• Recipes: 10 sweets for your sweetheart
• Country Homes: 11 mudroom organizational tips

“Acreage Security”
YouTube Video

Another offshoot of the magazine is the radio show. Living the Country Life is the largest rural radio network in the country, with 350 stations airing the show twice a day. It’s hosted by Editor/Host Jodi Henke and Editor-In-Chief Betsy Freese, and they share tips from experts across the U.S. “to help you around your acreage.” To give you an idea of the subject matter discussed, the last three radio shows were:

• Bovine respiratory disease
• Feeding piglets
• Country View: Keith Yearout- Bison Farming- Lake City, KS

Now, did I mention that all of this material is free? Yep. Even the magazine.

Even though I’m still a few years away from acquiring that homestead I want, I’m already starting to compile research. This includes information I’ve obtained from the Living the Country Life magazine and other offerings. I feel it will prove to be handy down the road. Hopefully, it might be of some use to you too.

Stop by the Living the Country Life website here for more information.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (

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Project Prepper, Part 7: Why Wisconsin?

By the time I started this blog back in November 2010, I already had a pretty good idea I’d eventually be leaving the city of Chicago to reside someplace else. And every once in a while, I’d query the “best places” to live in America- should TSHTF or not. While the area of southeastern Wisconsin I’m looking at moving to in a few years is probably not “ideal” (even less so the suburbs of Chicago) from a prepper’s perspective, practitioners of modern survivalism would probably see more positives than negatives with the location. Keeping in mind that not only do I envision a certain lifestyle for myself down the road, but I also think I have a pretty good idea of what will be required to “survive and prosper” in America in the coming years, this part of the Midwest really appears to be a nice fit not only for me but my girlfriend as well. Here’s hoping it is.

Truth be told, while I really should be focusing on finding and eventually nailing down a suburban residence in my remaining four months in the “Windy City,” I can’t help but check out properties north of the Illinois state line every once in a while to see what’s out there. Some nice 5-acre properties are available at what seem to be very reasonable prices.

If only my girlfriend and I could win the lottery. I mean, if only we could win the lottery sooner rather than later.

Check back Friday when I share a nice resource I came across recently while verifying the “Badger State” is the place to be for me.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (

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Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 Housing, Preparedness, Project Prepper, Shelter 3 Comments

Secure Barns, Garages, And Other Outbuildings Against Thieves

As times get tougher, those living in more rural areas with barns, detached garages, and other outbuildings on their property should be making sure these structures and their contents are secured against thieves from nearby urban centers and from within their own community. I was reminded of this last night while reading an article on the Chicago Tribune website about thefts being committed in Will County, Illinois- considered part of the Chicago metropolitan area. Ryan Haggerty wrote:

Ron Moe’s barn in rural Will County used to be the place he went to get away from the world for a bit, to lose himself in his hobby of rebuilding old race cars.

But ever since burglars made off with at least $20,000 worth of specialized equipment and supplies from his barn this month, Moe, 68, has struggled with different emotions when he walks inside.

“I’m really upset,” he said, standing between two toolboxes cleaned out by the thieves. “The last two or three days, I’ve been crashing. I don’t know how anybody could do this to me.”

Moe’s barn is one of about 15 barns, garages and other outbuildings in eastern Will County — mostly near Monee and Crete — that have been burglarized since late September, said Kathy Hoffmeyer, spokeswoman for the county sheriff’s office.

The burglars have made off with everything from riding lawn mowers and all-terrain vehicles to wire and scrap metal, all of which they are likely selling to make a quick profit, Hoffmeyer said. The burglars are generally striking at night and are probably using box trucks or trailers to haul away the loot, she said.

Investigators from the Will County Sheriff’s Office suspect the crimes are the work of multiple groups of thieves, who are not only casing their targets but going that extra mile to make sure they’ll be difficult to catch, driving over the grass in the middle of the night to avoid making noise on a gravel driveway, in once instance.

Such thefts have been the focus of our neighbors across the pond for some time now. A good primer on what can be done to secure and insure such structures and their contents can be found here on the website.


Haggerty, Ryan. “Police investigate burglaries to barns, residences in rural Will County.” Chicago Tribune. 23 Nov. 2012. (,0,818731.story). 23 Nov. 2012.

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Friday, November 23rd, 2012 Crime, Farming, Gardening, Public Safety No Comments
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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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