As The Water Slosheth

We Prepare For The Aftermath

The other day there was a casserole dish, full of water, soaking in the kitchen sink. I was ready to wash it, so I lifted it and began to pour the water out. Immediately I realized I had misjudged and the majority of the water would miss the sink and land on the adjacent counter. I tried to jerk the dish back, but the water was already in motion and flooded over the counter causing a wet mess.

As I was cleaning up the spilled dishwater, I reflected on what had happened. I hadn’t meant to spill the water. The moment it started moving the wrong way I realized it and tried to correct it, but it was too late. The water was in motion and the consequences were unstoppable. There was going to be dirty dishwater all over the counter – all I could do is clean it up.

Though the spilled water, once in motion, was unavoidable, the consequences were mitigated by established habit and routine. There weren’t any dishes drying in the rack next to the sink, so nothing had to be re-washed. We don’t prepare food in that area, so no food was ruined. A towel is kept under the sink, so clean up was started immediately. Because of our kitchen ‘preparedness’ a potential disaster became just a minor inconvenience.

This happened in less time than it takes to tell about it. That is frequently how life’s disasters–big or small–occur. It could be a tornado, a fall, a car crash, a fire, an earthquake, a bicycle accident, or an explosion. Even if there are indicators (seen or unseen) the actual incident typically happens incredibly quickly.

As a prepper you’re not preparing to stop, or even survive, the disaster; you’re preparing to survive the aftermath. The disaster itself–once in motion–is unstoppable; you either die in the immediate “burst” (or very soon after), or live to face the aftermath.

In that aftermath, while those around us are panicking and searching for direction; we know what we need: food, water, shelter, security, and energy. Our goal is to have preparations in place with a plan to use them, and the knowledge that we many have to improvise that plan as needed.

We have very little control over most things in our life, but we will still be forced to deal with the consequences. Once things are set into motion all we can do is respond. Plan and prepare to survive the aftermath.

(Wednesday: Weathering The Storm)

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Walk A Mile In Your Shoes, Part 2*

Boot Selection and Common Hiking Injuries

Boot Selection

Before you walk too far–either by choice or circumstance–I’d strongly encourage you to get a good pair of hiking boots. What I believe you need (as an individual striving to be prepared) is a heavy boot made of leather, at least six inches tall, with a quality sole, and preferably with a water-proof lining. These boots will be a relatively expensive initial investment, ranging from $200 – $300. But, if well cared for, they will last for years and you (and your feet) will never regret that purchase.

A trail shoe, or light weight boot may feel very comfortable, but it won’t hold up to serious walking; especially off-trail and/or for multiple days. A heavy boot will be rigid enough to support your feet (arch and toes), will provide shock absorption for your joints (all the way up to your lower back), will provide good ankle support, and it will last.

If your feet get wet and/or cold you will be miserable. To keep your feet dry, I recommend you buy a boot with a waterproof (such as Gore-Tex) lining. To keep your feet warm, insulated boots are available. Boots insulated with 200 grams of Thinsulate will keep them warm in temperate climates, 400 – 600 grams will work well in cold climates, 1000 grams will ensure warm feet in extreme conditions.

The biggest disadvantage of a heavy boot, other than the initial cost (and the weight), is that they are stiff and require a break-in period. We’ve discussed before that you can’t  buy stuff to have ‘just in case’; this is especially true with a heavy hiking boot. You need to walk in them, start with shorter walks and build up. Figure out how to adjust and lace them up comfortably, and what kind of sock(s) to wear. As endurance improves, start going on longer walks, on dirt trails, carrying a pack.

Common Hiking Injuries

Blisters are formed when skin is damaged by friction (this is accelerated by wetness). Fluid collects between the upper layers of skin, attempting to cushion the tissue underneath and protecting it from further damage. Wet feet, poorly fitted boots, boots not properly broken in, and unconditioned feet all can result in blisters.

Shin splints–pain when you lift your toes to take a step–are frequently caused by a muscle imbalance, specifically tightness of the calf muscles and weak shin (tibialis anterior) muscles. Too quickly increasing intensity and duration of walking causes these lower leg muscles to become fatigued and makes it difficult for them to absorb the shock of the impact from each step. This impact is worse when walking uphill, downhill or on hard surfaces; wearing poor or worn-our shoes also contributes.

In addition to muscle soreness in your feet and legs, your lower back muscles can become fatigued and sore as they are forced to stabilize, along with the abdominal muscles, the upper body each step you take.

Once you throw on a pack your shoulders and neck may become sore from the additional weight. Loading a pack efficiently, with proper weight distribution, takes practice and experience. Remember to use the waist strap, and consider using the chest strap, to redistribute the weight.

We take our ability to walk for granted. We assume that if we need to we can walk as far as is required. But–in the modern, inactive, motorized world we live in–distance walking is becoming a lost skill. But it’s an easy one to regain: invest in a good pair of boots, break them in properly, and start walking.

(Friday: What I Did This Week To Prep)

*review Walk A Mile In Your Shoes, Part 1

Goals For 2012

Writing down goals–especially that others will see–is kind of scary. It takes them from being loose ideas and possible projects to specific committed tasks. Doing so will hold you accountable; peer oversight/review is a powerful motivator.

So here is my list(s). I recommend you write your own; then share it with someone. Feel free to post your goal list here in the comments, or on Trace My Preps facebook page, or even email them to me personally (email can be found in the “About Trace” tab at the top of the page). At the end of 2012 we can look back, quantify our results, and see what we did with some focus and hard work.

Major Goals

  • become debt-free
  • raise rabbits for meat
  • keep honey bees
  • add some solar panels to recharge battery bank
  • get storage unit near potential BOL*
  • buy older, diesel pickup truck (with cash)
  • continue blog through September (1 year) – then reevaluate
  • get bicycle, start cycling

Minor Goals

  • learn to make soap
  • learn to make yogurt
  • learn to brew beer
  • buy and learn to use pressure cooker
  • grow cabbage, make sauerkraut
  • store extra food for others/neighbors
  • plant ground nuts (Apios americana)
  • learn to fish
  • learn to identify local wild edible plants

To Do Goals (ongoing)

  • update evacuation/emergency documentation notebook
  • inspect and rotate BOB and other potential perishables
  • get 1/2 cord of firewood

(Wednesday: Walk A Mile In Your Shoes, Part 2)

*For my list of abbreviations and other information, open the above ‘Check Here…’ page tab.

Trace My Preps fan page

Happy New Year!

Just a short post to introduce our new facebook fan page: Trace My Preps.

I say “our” because if it were only me I could just continue using my personal facebook page. A fan page is a more comfortable place to interact, especially with someone you only know via the internet. It feels less intrusive posting and commenting there than on someone’s personal page. I encourage you to “like” it; then make comments, share your thoughts, and post relevant material.

I’d also like to show my appreciation for the man I consider to be my prepping mentor and my second biggest motivator, Jack Spirko, and his The Survival Podcast, by starting off 2012 with my new favorite quote from him:

“How you think is more important than what you know. What you know is more important that what you have. What you have is more important than what you don’t have.” -Jack Spirko

What I Did This YEAR To Prep

2011 In Review

(This will be my final post of 2011. I’m taking the last week of the year off to enjoy some quiet time, peace, and, of course, family – I encourage you to do the same. My first post of next year will be: Goals For 2012.)

2011 was our first full-fledged prepper year. I got back on the prepper bandwagon in the fall of 2010. By January 2011, we had pretty much adopted it as a lifestyle.

When I say we, I mean my wife Sarah and I. I consider our partnership–and our ability to discuss and share goals–our biggest prepper accomplishment. I feel fortunate to have such strong support from my wife. I’m so glad she understands my need to keep our family safe and prepared; [in her words] “That’s how he shows his love for me.” We work together to decide what purchases are made and what activities are undertaken. She’s my biggest prepper asset, and I love her very much.

The other, similar, accomplishment was getting my kids involved. They’ve helped, showing varying degrees of willingness, with many of our smaller activities and all of our major ones. They accept the fact that their dad is “that guy” and don’t roll their eyes nearly as much as they used to. They will even acknowledge that some of the things have been “fun” and “kind of cool.”

Since this was our first real year, there were a lot of big goals and priorities. Anytime you start a new project, especially on that is such a lifestyle change, there’s a lot to acquire and learn. We got more “stuff” this year than I’m sure we will in subsequent ones. I assume future years will involve more fine tuning, including smaller purchases and developing the items we have and projects already in place.

A big advantage we had was that we were both gainfully employed, and that we were willing to cut back on our spending and live a more austere lifestyle. Almost all the extra money we spent this year was with the goal of getting out of debt and building our preps. Also, on the financial side of things, I sold my 2003 Road King Harley Davidson motorcycle; Harleys hold their value well and we were able to get a good price for it. From the sale, half the money went to preps and the other half went to pay off debt.

Goals accomplished in 2011:

  • Grow a ‘learning’ garden. We grew an adequate garden. We learned a lot and will expand it next year. We also spent time improving the soil.
  • Store food, both LTS* and SWYE. We purchased, and have stored a good amount of LTS (blog post), this involved several trips to the Mormon cannery. We also created, and developed a good rotation of SWYE foods (blog post).
  • Buy a deep freezer. And develop a tracking system so stuff doesn’t get lost in there (blog post).
  • Build a compost pile. I don’t feel it’s as efficient as it could be yet, but it’s there and being used.
  • Buy a dog. Kate, our now four-month old, Border Collie. (blog post)
  • Develop a backup power system: generator and batteries. Bought, and learned to use, a Generac generator, AMC batteries, and an inverter/charge controller. Then successfully (with some help) hooked it all up to the battery bank. (blog post)
  • Create BOBs. We put together a total of three BOBs, one for each vehicle. I think they came together well, we put them in good packs in a modular setup. They’re built so one person could eat for 10 days. They are probably too heavy.
  • Develop BOB documentation package. We put a completed one in each BOB, one in the house, and one was given to the kid’s mom. Didn’t cost anything, but took a lot of time.
  • Buy non-electric heating source. Mr. Buddy Heater. A propane heater that can be used indoors. We also purchased several 5-gallon propane tanks.
  • Buy non-electric cooking source. Volcano II stove. A collapsible, portable stove that can cook with propane, charcoal, or wood.

In addition we also:

  • Bought a set of MURS radios. To be used as a backup form of communication (short-range). We used them extensively on our two car road trip to Lake Tahoe.
  • Bought, and learned to use, a straight razor. (blog post)
  • Bought a Berkey water filter.
  • Bought a coffee percolator, a french press, and a hand grinder (and stored plenty of coffee).
  • Bought, and installed, fire extinguishers (blog post) and a CO2 detector.
  • Added fish antibiotics to our collapse medicine preps. (blog post)
  • Learned the basics of canning (canned jelly and salsa).
  • Developed a ‘blackout kit”: flashlights and lighters stored in a central area, also lanterns (with fuel) and candles.
  • Bought extra gas cans and stored gasoline. (blog post)
  • Bought, and regularly use, a cast iron pan, pot, and dutch oven.
  • Added crutches to our collapse medicine preps (blog post)
  • Bought Emberlit Stoves for BOBs (blog post)
  • Bought an Airsoft pistol (blog post)
  • Built a rain barrel water collection system (blog post)
  • Began writing this blog (TraceMyPreps.com)

What did you do this YEAR? (Please leave a note in the comments!)

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

*For my list of abbreviations and other information, open the above ‘Check Here…’ page tab.

Walk A Mile In Your Shoes, Part 1

The Importance of Conditioning Yourself To Walk

Walking. Our ancestors have been doing it since, well, a long time ago. We tend to underestimate the amount of energy and muscle exertion that goes into walking; especially when carrying a pack. We take walking for granted, heck we do it every day what’s the big deal? But do you walk any distance on a regular basis? When was the last time you took a good long walk? How did your body feel after that walk? How did your body feel the next day? Do you believe you’re in good walking condition?

To train yourself to walk any significant distance, you must condition yourself – by walking. Without proper conditioning you’ll feel it–after a long walk–in your feet, legs, and lower back; if you were carrying a pack, in your neck and shoulders also.

Keep in mind that walking, whether you work it into your plans or not, is your backup mode of transportation. We don’t carry a backup transportation system other than our feet. If a vehicle can’t get you there, for whatever reason – then you’re walking.

I work 45 miles from home. If disaster strikes when I’m there, my ultimate plan is to get to my family. Assuming there is no other transportation available, I’ll grab my BOB*, put on my good boots, insure I have plenty of water and WALK home. I’ll plan to stop and spend the night along the way. Can I do it? I believe I can…I know I could 15 years ago.

Am I in the same condition for walking as I was, 15 years ago, when I was going through Army Special Forces training? No, I’m not. So recently I’ve started a walking regime; it coincided well with getting a new dog who needs and loves to walk daily (dogs are great motivators). Kate, our four-month old Border Collie, and I have begun walking regularly about two miles. Soon I’m going to incorporate a pack, weighing about 30 pounds, and increase our walks to three miles and more.

In Part 2, I’ll cover choosing good footwear, the muscles involved in walking, and how to avoid and treat injuries. But for now, just get out and walk. Walking will help you get in better condition, burn calories, help clear your head, and your dog will love you for it.

(Friday: What I Did This YEAR To Prep)

*For my list of abbreviations and other information, open the above ‘Check Here…’ page tab.

The Family You Choose

What Is Meant When We Say Family

Our immediate family

I talk a lot about the importance of family. How we are doing this (prepping) for our families and how we have these responsibilities because of our families. But what does family mean?

Ryan my biological son & Chanse our 'chosen' son

There’s a quote I like that says, “There are the families that we are born into, and there are the families that we choose – our circle of friends.” Another says, “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” When I use the term ‘family’ I don’t just mean the family I was born with and the family I brought into this world, I also include the friends I choose to call family. I believe family is how you define it.

As preppers it is important–and I believe may become much more important–to develop significant family support. Hopefully our families will be there to assist, defend, educate, and care for us. If possible, now while things are ‘normal’, coordinate with your family. Discuss with family members what your evacuation plan is, let them know when and where you will go. Encourage and assist them in developing their own – possibly one that mimics or overlaps with yours. Talk about possible BOLs*. Do you want to find a place together? Is it better to simply be close enough for mutual support? If a family member lives in an urban area and you live in a rural area, encourage them to bug out to your home. And, if that is the plan you decide on, coordinate with them in the interim to store extra food and supplies at your home (or vice versa).

We all have family members who aren’t interested in prepping at all and see the whole concept as somewhat idiosyncratic if not downright crazy. If pushed, their entire prepping plan is to “worry about it later”. If you love them, and know that if they come knocking on your door you will let them in, then plan for them. Plan to welcome them and, to the degree you are able, prepare for them now. In a world where human labor may be required to provide food, water, shelter, security and energy; additional people–who you know and trust–will be an asset.

Booth family reunion

Adams family reunion

Just as the last couple of generations have mostly forgotten about the importance of being prepared and of “laying up stores for the winter”, many have also forgotten about the strength, support, and love that their chosen family can provide.

(Wednesday: Walk A Mile In Your Shoes)

*For my list of abbreviations and other information, open the above ‘Check Here…’ page tab.

(added 12/29/11) Great family quote: “Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life. No matter what.”