Archive for August, 2010

Welcome to the bookstore! We’ve got a few of my titles here, and to order simply click onto the title links to go to our secure ordering site. You can see more of our offering at

Surviving The Times
Print: $24.95 Download: $12.00

Surviving the Times takes you through the steps to make your own preparedness planning binder. You’ll learn how to gauge the level of various threats as they relate to your preparedness planning by using the three P’s of preparedness, the SaWaFo pyramid and more.

A Handy Disaster Preparedness Guide
Print: $14.95 Download: $10.00

A compilation of tips and how to’s on developing an emergency preparedness plan, and how to get ready for natural and man-made disasters. Also includes a comprehensive listing of state and federal agencies to contact for more help and assistance in dealing with emergency planning and dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.


Maine After Midnight
Print: $20.00 Download: $10.00

Collection of original ghost stories as well as some research notes on Sasquatch and sea serpents in Maine.

Is Plum Creek Right For ME?
Print: $24.50 Download: $15.00

In this book the author discusses the issue of large scale development in the state of Maine. The issue of the Plum Creek Timber Companies plans to develop Maines Moosehead Lake region into a mega resort area has been a divisive issue in this state. Follow along as the pros and cons are addressed, even as the deal to steal the Maine Northwoods from future generations of Maine’s children is signed and sealed. What lies in store for the future of Maine as we become a state mired in a service level economy.


Salt & Pines
Print: $20.00 Download: $10.00

Salt & Pines: tales from bygone Maine is an anthology of stories and poetry about living in Maine’s bygone days. From the Islands of Casco Bay to the backwoods of Maine you’ll find tales to bring memories of your own to mind. Join us as we share Maine’s bygone days with; Allen Sockabasin, Ann Allen Brahms, D.L. Soucy, Dave Sargent, Doris Doggett, Jeanne Mason, Linda Aaskov, Luthera Dawson, Patricia Smith Ranzoni, Philip Candelmo, Philip Turner, Rene Cloukey, Roberta Gomez Ricker, Roy Fairfield, Ruth Richardson Maloney, Terrell Crouch, Thomas Carper, Tim Sample, Tom Fallon, Trudy Chambers Price, Salt & Pines, a taste of the ocean, the sound of the wind in the Maine forests….a combination you cannot find in any other state.


As we prepare for the coming times we will be facing an increase in the numbers of people saying they have the answer. Of course, they may not have the answer that is right, but they have an answer. We need to accumulate knowledge on all subjects to better prepare for the next few years, and in order to prepare correctly, instead of just drifting in the wind on a strand of the spiders web. Glenn Beck is a highly popular media talent that says some right things, and because of this he has an ever growing following. But is Mr. Beck saying the right things, or just the right things that people want to hear.

I received the following bulk email from Brannon Howse’s Worldview Weekend Ministry program. I suggest you check out the entire article before you decide whether or not you want to blindly follow this media talent or any other media talent as well. Saying what we want to hear is not necessarily saying the right things. Research the facts behind what you hear on the TV and radio before blindly plunging through the brush after what you think you want to find. You may just run into some critter you’d rather not deal with.

Can We Better Understand Glenn Beck’s Divine Destiny Agenda By Understanding What the Mormon Church Says About The Constitution, America, and the Last Days?

By Brannon S. Howse

Understanding the end-time beliefs of the Mormon Church and their view of America and the Constitution may help us better understand “Glenn Beck’s Divine Destiny”.  Brannon’s guest on his radio program today was Ed Decker, a former Mormon for twenty years before becoming Christian. On today’s program Brannon plays sound bites of a speech given by Mormon President Ezra Taft Benson entitled “Our Divine Constitution” and Ed responds. Please remember that Glenn has said that he is a Mormon and to our knowledge has never publically renounced his Mormon religion.

Glenn Beck said on his TV program on August 26, 2010, that the event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday August 28, 2010, will not be a political event. A few days before this Glenn said the event will not be a Christian event but a God event. What God are we talking about? Is Glenn acknowledging that it is indeed all about a spiritual agenda that has been well laid out by leading Mormon leaders including the now deceased President of the Mormon Church, Ezra Taft Benson? Glenn said that the money for this event was raised months ago. Did the Mormon Church assist in covering the costs for this event and if so for what purpose? Here are the sound bites we played on the radio program today from the speech given by Ezra Taft Benson.

Ezra Taft Benson: I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval upon it. I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has now sent other choice spirits to help preserve it.

Brannon Howse:  This is out right heresy! We are told in Deuteronomy 4:2 not to “add to the word which I commanded you, nor take from it.” Saying the Constitution is “akin to the revelation of God” is adding to the Bible and is for sure lowering the supremacy of the Word of God and thus heresy. If the Constitution is akin to the Word of God, why has it been changed so many times? Notice also that Taft says that God “sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government.” Understand that Mormons believe that God, who was once a man, has eternal sex with his goddess wives and sends spirit babies to earth and the founders were some of “His choicest spirits.”

Ezra Taft Benson: I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith….It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church-among others-men and women who understand and abide the principles of the Constitution.

Brannon Howse: It is the Mormon Church and “enlightened” Mormons that will save America? If America is to be saved it will not be by the false gospel and false Jesus of the Mormons following the principles of the Constitution that they have elevated to being equal to the Word of God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says that “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Part of the wickedness America needs to turn from is following the Jesus of the cults or the Jesus of Oprah’s pagan spirituality. The very thing the Mormons are doing, and many Christian Americans are following, will actually not reclaim America but bring God’s judgment.

Ezra Taft Benson: We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City).

Brannon Howse: The Mormon Church, in recent years, has found itself in another public relations problem so Ed Decker says they have backed away from this belief. However, all Mormons know of this prophecy by Joseph Smith and believe the Mormon Church and its “enlightened members of this Church” will restore America’s honor. Sound familiar? Is this the goal of Glenn Beck’s restoring America’s Honor rally? Is Glenn Beck committed to this Mormon movement that will restore America and usher in the “Kingdom of God” on earth?  What does Glenn Beck mean by God? Does Glenn reject the Mormon god that was a man of flesh and bone that evolved to be the God of this universe by living a good Mormon life? Does Glenn believe he can become a god with many goddess wives and populate his own planet? Does Glenn believe that Jesus is the brother of Satan that was voted by a council to come to earth? Glenn has said that 80% of his life revolves around the Mormon Temple. Glenn owes it to all of us that have watched him to answer these questions particularly since Glenn has challenged the president to be clear about his religious beliefs.

Click here to read the complete article, post your thoughts, and hear these sound clips for yourself:

Worldview Weekend received a phone call today from a nationally known Christian leader thanking us for Brannon’s article which helped him to understand the Biblical reasons why he must not participate in “Glenn Beck’s Divine Destiny” on Friday night. We also received an e-mail from a Christian leader’s office, as well as a phone call from the friend of a Christian leader stating that these individuals have declined Glenn’s invitation to participate in the Friday night service. Please continue to pray that more Christian leaders will make the Biblical decision in an age of pluralism.

Click here for the article: Following Glenn Beck’s Divine Destiny or God’s Word

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In keeping with my historical theme regarding survival and wilderness skills I came across this piece on building Navajo huts, or “Hogans” as they are more properly called. It is actually part of a larger treatise by Cosmos Mindeleff and can be found here: Navajo Houses, by Cosmos Mindeleff. Cold weather will be soon upon us and if we do in fact wind up in a long term bug out situation we may need to build a shelter for the winter months. This article describes just one such structure, but there are many other designs as well. I’ll be posting more designs as time passes along with some other historical information that can be of use to us in an extreme situation. We tend to forget the old ways with all of our technology, and that’s too bad. People were surviving the seasons with much less than what we have available today, and yet they survived and thrived. I think we should step back in time and learn more about the past as we learn to survive the coming times.( I apologize for some of the Navajo writings and the incorrect characters, but I was not able to place the correct characters here with my word processor and upload intact.)


The Navaho recognize two distinct classes of hogáns—the leqai or winter place, and the kejt’n, or summer place; in other words, winter huts and summer shelters. Notwithstanding the primitive appearance of the winter huts, resembling mere mounds of earth hollowed out, they are warm and comfortable, and, rude as they seem, their construction is a matter of rule, almost of ritual, while the dedicatory ceremonies which usually precede regular occupancy are elaborate and carefully performed.

Although no attempt at decoration is ever made, either of the inside or the outside of the houses, it is not uncommon to hear the term beautiful applied to them. Strong forked timbers of the proper length and bend, thrust together with their ends properly interlocking to form a cone-like frame, stout poles leaned against the apex to form the sides, the whole well covered with bark and heaped thickly with earth, forming a roomy warm interior with a level floor—these are sufficient to constitute a “qogan nijoni,” house beautiful. To the Navaho the house is beautiful to the extent that it is well constructed and to the degree that it adheres to the ancient model.

There are many legends and traditions of wonderful houses made by the gods and by the mythic progenitors of the tribe. In the building of these houses turquoise and pearly shells were freely used, as were also the transparent mists of dawn and the gorgeous colors of sunset. They were covered by sunbeams and the rays of the rainbow, with everything beautiful or richly colored on the earth and in the sky. It is perhaps on account of these gorgeous mythical hogans that no attempt is now made to decorate the everyday dwelling; it would be batsic; tabooed (or sacrilegious). The traditions preserve methods of house building that were imparted to mortals by the gods themselves. These methods, as is usual in such cases, are the simplest and of the most primitive nature, but they are still scrupulously followed.

Early mention of house building occurs in the creation myths: First-man and First-woman are discovered in the first or lowest underworld, living in a hut which was the prototype of the Hogan. There were curious beings located at the cardinal points in that first world, and these also lived in huts of the same style, but constructed of different materials. In the east was Tieholtsodi, who afterward appears as a water monster, but who then lived in the House of Clouds, and Icni’ (Thunder) guarded his doorway. In the south was Teal’ (Frog) in a house of blue fog, and Tiel’jin, who is afterward a water monster, lay at that doorway. Acihi Estsan (Salt-woman) was in the west, and her house was of the substance of a mirage; the youth Co’nenili (Water sprinkler) danced before her door. In the north Cqaltlaqale’ made a house of green duckweed, and Sistyel’ (Tortoise) lay at that door.

Some versions of the myth hold that First-man’s hut was made of wood just like the modern hogán, but it was covered with gorgeous rainbows and bright sunbeams instead of bark and earth. At that time the firmament had not been made, but these first beings possessed the elements for its production. Rainbows and sunbeams consisted of layers or films of material, textile or at least pliable in nature, and were carried about like a bundle of blankets. Two sheets of each of these materials were laid across the hut alternately, first the rainbows from north to south, then the sunbeams from east to west. According to this account the other four houses at the cardinal points were similarly made of wood, the different substances mentioned being used merely for covering. Other traditions hold that the houses were made entirely of the substances mentioned and that no wood was used in their construction because at that time no wood or other vegetal material had been produced.

After mankind had ascended through the three underworlds by means of the magic reed to the present or fourth world, Qastceyalci, the God of Dawn, the benevolent nature god of the south and east, imparted to each group of mankind an appropriate architecture—to the tribes of the plains, skin lodges; to the Pueblos, stone houses; and to the Navaho, huts of wood and earth and summer shelters. Curiously enough, nowhere in Navaho tradition is any mention or suggestion made of the use by them of skin lodges.

In building the Navaho Hogan Qastceyalci was assisted by Qastceqogan, the God of Sunset, the complementary nature god of the north and west, who is not so uniformly benignant as the former. In the ceremonies which follow the erection of a Hogan today the structure is dedicated to both these deities, but the door is invariably placed to face the east, that the house may be directly open to the influences of the more kindly disposed Qastceyalci.

When a movement of a family has been completed, the first care of the qaskin, or head of the family, is to build a dwelling, for which he selects a suitable site and enlists the aid of his neighbors and friends. He must be careful to select a place well removed from hills of red ants, as, aside from the perpetual discomfort consequent on too close a proximity, it is told that in the underworld these pests troubled First-man and the other gods, who then dwelt together, and caused them to disperse.

A suitable site having been found, search is made for trees fit to make the five principal timbers which constitute the qagan tsaci, or house frame. There is no standard of length, as there is no standard of size for the completed dwelling, but commonly pinon trees 8 to 10 inches in diameter and 10 to 12 feet long are selected. Three of the five timbers must terminate in spreading forks, as shown in figure 230, to the left. But this is not necessary for the other two, which are intended for the doorway and are selected for their straightness.

When suitable trees have been found, and sometimes they are a considerable distance from the site selected, they are cut down and trimmed, stripped of bark, and roughly dressed. They are then carried or dragged to the site of the Hogan and there laid on the ground with their forked ends together somewhat in the form of a T, extreme care being taken to have the butt of one log point to the south, one to the west, and one to the north. The two straight timbers are then laid down with the small ends close to the forks of the north and south timbers and with their butt ends pointing to the east. They must be spread apart about the width of the doorway which they will form.

When all the timbers have been laid out on the ground, the position of each one of the five butts is marked by a stone or in some other convenient way, but great care must be exercised to have the doorway timbers point exactly to the east. Sometimes measurements are made without placing the timbers on the site, their positions and lengths being determined by the use of a long sapling. The interior area being thus approximated, all the timbers are removed, and, guided only by the eye, a rough circle is laid out, well within the area previously marked. The ground within this circle is then scraped and dug out until a fairly level floor is obtained, leaving a low bench of earth entirely or partly around the interior. This bench is sometimes as much as a foot and a half high on the high side of a slightly sloping site, but ordinarily it is less than a foot. The object of this excavation is twofold— to make a level floor with a corresponding increase in the height of the structure, and to afford a bench on which the many small articles constituting the domestic paraphernalia can be set aside and thus avoid littering the floor.

The north and south timbers are the first to be placed, and each is handled by a number of men, usually four or five, who set the butt ends firmly in the ground on opposite sides at the points previously marked and lower the timbers to a slanting position until the forks lock together. While some of the men hold these timbers in place others set the west timber on the western side of the circle, placing it in such a position and in such a manner that its fork receives the other two and the whole structure is bound together at the top. The forked apex of the frame is 6 to 8 feet above the ground in ordinary hogans, but on the high plateaus and among the pine forests in the mountain districts hogans of this type, but intended for ceremonial purposes, are sometimes constructed with an interior height of 10 or 11 feet, and enclose an area 25 to 30 feet in diameter.

At this stage in the construction the house shows only the three principal timbers of the frame, securely locked at the apex by the interlacing forks (as shown in figure 231, to the right) and firmly planted in the ground. The two doorway timbers are next placed in position, with their smaller ends resting on the forked apex of the frame, from 1 to 2 feet apart, and with the butt ends resting on the ground about 3 feet apart. The whole frame, comprising five timbers, is known as tsaci, but each timber has its own specific name, as follows: South timber, cacaace naai. West timber, ininance naai. North timber, naqokosce naai. Doorway timbers (two), tcinecince naai. The appearance of the frame as seen from below is shown in figure 231.

These names afford a good illustration of the involved nomenclature which characterizes Indian languages. Naai means a long, straight object, like a piece of timber. The first word in each of the terms above is the name of the cardinal point, the place it occupies (south, west, and north), with the suffix ce, meaning “here” or “brought here.” The same words are used with the suffix dje, instead of ce, as cacaadje naai for the north timber, dje meaning “there” or “set there.” The west timber is also specially designated as bigidje nabkad, “brought together into it,” an allusion to its functions as the main support of the frame, as the two other timbers rest within its spreading fork. The two doorway timbers are also designated as north timber and south timber, according to the position each occupies, and they are sometimes called tcinecin binini’li, “those in place at the doorway passage.” A full nomenclature of Hogan construction will be found in another section.

When the tsaci, or frame of five timbers, is completed the sides are filled with smaller timbers and limbs of pinon and cedar, the butt ends being set together as closely as possible on the ground and from 0 to 12 inches outside of the excavated area previously described. The timbers and branches are laid on as flat as possible, with the upper ends leaning on the apex or on each other. The intervening ledge thus formed in the interior is the bench previously mentioned, and aside from its convenience it adds materially to the strength of the structure.

While the sides are being enclosed by some of the workers a doorframe is constructed by others. This consists simply of two straight poles with forked tops driven into the ground at the base of and close inside of the doorway timbers, as shown in figure 232, to the left. When in place these poles are about 4 feet high, set upright, with a straight stick resting in the forks. Another short stick is placed horizontally across the doorway timbers at a point about 3 feet below the apex, at the level of and parallel with the cross stick of the door-frame. The space between this cross-stick and the apex is left open to form an exit for the smoke. Sometimes when the hogán is unbearably smoky a rough chimney-like structure, consisting of a rude cribwork, is placed about this smoke hole.

The doorway always has a flat roof formed of straight limbs or split poles laid closely together, with one end resting on the crosspiece which forms the base of the smoke hole and the other end on the crosspiece of the door-frame. The whole doorway structure projects from the sloping side of the hogán, much like a dormer window. Sometimes the doorway roof is formed by a straight pole on each side of the smoke hole crosspiece to the crosspiece of the door-frame, supporting short sticks laid across and closely together with their ends resting on the two poles.

The sides of the projecting doorway—that is, the spaces between the roof and the sloping doorway timbers—are filled in with small sticks of the required length. Sometimes the ends of these sticks are bound in place with twigs of yucca, being made fast to the door-frame, but generally they are merely set in or made to rest against the outer roof covering. Usually the larger timbers are roughly dressed on the sides toward the interior of the hut, and the smaller poles also are stripped of bark and rough hewn.

The entire structure is next covered with cedar bark; all the interstices are filled with it, and an upper or final layer is spread with some regularity and smoothness. Earth is then thrown on from base to apex to a thickness of about six inches, but enough is put on to make the hut perfectly wind and water proof. This operation finishes the house, and usually there are enough volunteers to complete the work in a day.

It is customary to make a kind of recess on the western side of the hut by setting out the base of the poles next to the west timber some 8 to 15 inches beyond the line. This arrangement is usually placed next to and on the south side of the west timber, and all the poles for a distance of 3 or 4 feet are set out. The offset thus formed is called the “mask recess,” and when a religious ceremony is performed in the hogán, the shaman or medicine man hangs a skin or cloth before it and deposits there his masks and fetishes. This recess, of greater or less dimensions, is made in every large hogán, but in many of the smaller ones it is omitted. In the construction of a hogán all the proceedings are conducted on a definite, predetermined plan, and the order sketched above is that ordinarily followed, but nothing of a ceremonial nature is introduced until after the conclusion of the work of construction.


This report is republished with the permission of

Drought, Fire and Grain in Russia

By Lauren Goodrich

Three interlocking crises are striking Russia simultaneously: the highest recorded temperatures Russia has seen in 130 years of recordkeeping; the most widespread drought in more than three decades; and massive wildfires that have stretched across seven regions, including Moscow.

The crises threaten the wheat harvest in Russia, which is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters. Russia is no stranger to having drought affect its wheat crop, a commodity of critical importance to Moscow’s domestic tranquility and foreign policy. Despite the severity of the heat, drought, and wildfires, Moscow’s wheat output will cover Russia’s domestic needs. Russia will also use the situation to merge its neighbors into a grain cartel.

A History of Drought and Wildfire

Flooding peat bogs appears to be bringing the fires under control. Smoke from the fires has kept Moscow nearly shut down for a week. The larger concern is the effect of the fires — and the continued heat and drought, which has created a state of emergency across 27 regions — on Russia’s ordinarily massive grain harvest and exports.

Russia is one of the largest grain producers and exporters in the world, normally producing around 100 million tons of wheat a year, or 10 percent of total global output. It exports 20 percent of this total to markets in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Cyclical droughts (and wildfires) mean Russian grain production levels fluctuate between 75 and 100 million tons from year to year. The extent of the drought and wildfires this year has prompted Russian officials to revise the country’s 2010 estimated grain production to 65 million tons, though Russia holds 24 million tons of wheat in storage — meaning it has enough to comfortably cover domestic demand (which is 75 million tons) even if the drought gets worse.

The larger challenge Moscow has faced in years of drought and wildfire has been transporting grain across Russia’s immense territory. Russia’s grain belt lies in the southern European part of the country from the Black Sea across the Northern Caucasus to Western Kazakhstan, capped on the north by the Moscow region. This is Russia’s most fertile region, which is supported by the Volga River.


Though drought and wildfires have struck Russia over the past three years, they have not affected its main grain-producing region. Instead, they struck regions in the Ural area that provide grain for Siberia. Those fires tested Russia’s transit infrastructure, one of its fundamental challenges. Russia has no real transportation network uniting its European heartland and its Far East save one railroad, the Trans-Siberian. While its grain belt does have some of the best transportation infrastructure in the country, it is designed for sending grain to the Black Sea or Europe — not to Siberia. The Kremlin began planning for disruptions of grain shipments to Siberia during the droughts and fires of 2007-2009. During that period, Moscow established massive grain storage units in the Urals and in producing regions of Kazakhstan along the Russian border.

This year’s drought and fires do not primarily affect Russia’s transportation network, but rather the grain-producing regions in the European part of Russia that make up the bulk of Russia’s grain exports. These regions lie on the westward distribution network, with the port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea handling more than 50 percent of Russian exports.

Russia has focused largely on being a major grain exporter, raking in more than $4 billion a year for the past three years off the trade. This year, the Kremlin announced Aug. 5 that it would temporarily ban grain exports from Aug. 15 to Dec 31. Two reasons prompted the move. The first is the desire to prevent domestic grain prices from skyrocketing due to feared shortages. Russia’s grain market is remarkably volatile. Grain prices inside Russia already have risen nearly 10 percent. (Globally, wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade have risen nearly 20 percent in the past month, the largest jump since the early 1970s.)

The second reason is that the Kremlin wants to ensure that its supplies and production will hold up should the winter wheat harvest decline as well. Winter wheat, planted beginning at the end of August, typically fully replenishes Russian grain supplies. Further unseasonable heat, drought or fires could damage the winter wheat harvest, meaning the Kremlin will want to curtail exports to ensure its storage silos remain full.

Russia’s conservatism when it comes to ensuring supplies and price stability arises from the reality that adequate grain supplies long have been equated with social stability in Russia. Unlike other commodities, food shortages trigger social and political instability with shocking rapidity in all countries. As do some other countries, Russia relies on grain more than any other foodstuff; other food categories like meat, dairy and vegetables are too perishable for most of Russia to rely on.

Russia’s concentration on food volatility has a long history. Lenin called grain Russia’s “currency of currencies,” and seizing grain stockpiles was one of the Red Army’s first moves during the Russian Revolution. In this tradition, the Kremlin will husband its grain before exporting it for monetary gain. And this falls in line with Russia’s overall economic strategy of using its resources as a tool in domestic and foreign policy.

Exports and Foreign Policy

Russia is a massive producer and exporter of myriad commodities besides grain. It is the largest natural gas producer in the world and one of the largest oil and timber producers. The Russian government and domestic economy are based on the production and export of all these commodities, making Kremlin control — either direct or indirect — of all of these sectors essential to national security.

Domestically, Russians enjoy access to the necessities of life. Kremlin ownership over the majority of the country’s economy and resources gives the government leverage in controlling the country on every level — socially, politically, economically and financially. Thus, a grain crisis is more than just about feeding the people; it strikes at part of Russia’s overall domestic economic security.

Russia’s use of its resources as a tool is also a major part of Kremlin foreign policy. Its massive natural resource wealth and subsequent relative self-sufficiency allows it to project power effectively into the countries around it. Energy has been the main tool in this tactic. Moscow very publicly has used energy supplies as a political weapon, either by raising prices or by cutting supplies. It is also willing to use non-energy trade policy to effect foreign policy ends, and grain exports fall very easily into Moscow’s box of economic tools.

Russia is using the current grain crisis as a foreign policy tool even beyond its own exports, prices and supplies. It has asked both Kazakhstan and Belarus to also temporarily suspend their grain exports. Belarus is a minor grain exporter, with nearly all of its exports going to Russia. But Kazakhstan is one of the top five wheat exporters in the world, traditionally producing 21 million tons of wheat and exporting more than 50 percent of that. The same drought that has struck Russia also has hit Kazakhstan; production there is expected to be slashed by a third, or 7 million tons.

Kazakhstan traditionally exports to southern Siberia, Turkey, Iran and its fellow Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. For the first time, Kazakhstan had planned to send grain exports to Asia. It had contracted to send approximately 3 million tons of grain east, with 2 million of those supplies heading to South Korea and the remainder to be split between China and Japan. The drought has forced Kazakhstan to reassess whether it can fulfill those contracts along with contracts for its immediate region.

Russia’s request that Belarus and Kazakhstan cease grain shipments does not seem primarily connected to Russia’s concern over supplies, but instead looks to be more political. The three countries formed a customs union in January, something that has caused much political and economic turmoil. Kazakhstan sought to lock in its president’s desire to remain beholden to Russia even after he steps down, while Belarus reluctantly joined as Russia already controlled more than half of the Belarusian economy.

For Moscow, however, the union was a key piece of its geopolitical resurgence. The Russian-Kazakh-Belarusian Customs Union was not set up like a Western free trade zone, where the goal is to encourage two-way trade by reducing trade barriers, but as a Russian plan to expand Moscow’s economic hold over Belarus and Kazakhstan. Thus far, the Customs Union has undermined Belarus and Kazakhstan’s industrial capacity, welding the two states further into the Russian economy.

Since the customs union has been in effect, Russia has quickly turned the club into a political tool, demanding that its fellow members sign onto politically motivated economic targeting of other states. In late July, Russia asked both Kazakhstan and Belarus to join a ban on wine and mineral water from Moldova and Georgia after continued spats with each of the pro-Western countries. Russia has added another level of demands in light of the grain shortages. As of this writing, neither Astana nor Minsk has accepted or declined the demands from Moscow, with grain exporting season just a month away.

Given current Russian production and storage supplies, Russia doesn’t actually need Belarus or Kazakhstan to curb their exports. Instead, it is seeking to use the drought and fires to create a regional grain cartel with its new customs union partners.

And this leads to the question of the other former Soviet grain heavyweight, Ukraine. Ukraine, which does not belong to the customs union, is the world’s third-largest wheat exporter. In 2009, Ukraine exported 21 million tons of its 46 million-ton production. Also hit by the drought, Ukraine revised its projected production and exports for 2010 down 20 percent, with exports down to 16 million tons. Some fear Ukraine will have to slash its export forecasts even further. Moscow will most likely want to control what its large grain-exporting neighbor does, should it be concerned with supplies or prices. Despite Russia’s recent actions with regard to Belarus and Kazakhstan, however, Ukraine has not publicly announced any bans on grain exports.

If Russia is going to exert its political power over the region via grain, it must have Ukraine on board. If Russia can control all of these states’ wheat exports, then Moscow will control 15 percent of global production and 16 percent of global exports. Kiev has recently turned its political orientation to lock step with Moscow, as seen in matters of politics, military and regional spats. But this most recent crisis hits at a major national economic piece for Ukraine. Whether Kiev bends its own national will to continue its further entwinement with Moscow remains to be seen.

Read more: Drought, Fire and Grain in Russia | STRATFOR

As some of you may know, I’ve been doing some research into what we call the old ways of living to see what skills and procedures, as well as equipment, tools and the like can be utilized in a long term survival situation today. There are several credible reports making the circuits today that indicate we may be very near a major catastrophic event that will cripple the nation’s infrastructure and make life as we know it today very uncomfortable. If we are to continue to be self reliant and not fawn on the government for our daily bread we need to learn the same skills and philosophies that our forbears relied upon, and one of the primary areas of concern is food and food storage.

I came across a book called Food and Freedom, A household book by Mabel Don Purdy from way back in 1918. The book is geared towards dealing with the need to ration and conserve assets because of the First World War, but the ideas on preserving food and nutrition contained within these pages are nonetheless relevant today.

I’ve taken part of the book for this space in the hopes that it will enlighten those who may be still wary of the process of home canning. Home canning is an excellent way to preserve your own harvest, and make you less reliant upon others for your food needs. Growing your own garden and harvesting food for your own table gives one a feeling of satisfaction that you cannot achieve in any other way. Read the piece, and then browse the web for more information on canning and food storage. And remember to place what you have learned into the section of your preparedness binder on nutrition and foods.

These are just a few tips and some of the information may not be relevant entirely to your equipment or needs, so make sure you familiarize yourself with your own equipment and requirements for food preparation and storage.


Prevent food waste by being ready to can, preserve, dry, pickle, salt, or store surplus fruits and vegetables. See that everything needed is at hand and ready to use. Do not have an empty container in your home as winter approaches.—From United States Department of Agriculture (c.1918).

If food products are left in their natural state, most of them spoil in a few hours or a few days, owing to the growth on their surface or in their tissues of bacteria, molds, or other organisms of decay. If such organisms can be killed, and the entrance of other organisms prevented, the food can be kept in good condition practically indefinitely.

There are many methods of preserving surplus food against future need—canning, drying, jelly-making, sweet “preserves,” salting, smoking, pickling, also natural storage and refrigeration. Of these, canning, drying, and storing are, perhaps, the most economical and practical for general home needs and common practice; jellymaking, and some forms of pickling, are desirable at times. The proper curing of meats requires special knowledge and skill, and should not be attempted without this. Under the present food stress, whatever method will best conserve possible food waste and produce greatest returns for the time and money spent—including materials, fuel, and containers—should be favored. Food not properly preserved, whatever the method followed, is wasted rather than conserved.

Reliable instructions and excellent recipes for all usual home methods of preserving food may be found in the books and bulletins listed at the close of this chapter. The following summary of principles and methods used in canning, jellymaking, drying, and storing may be helpful, however, and serve as a background for the successful application of more detailed knowledge.



The important point in the canning of foods, whatever the method employed, is the destruction of all organisms—in any state of development—which may be present on or in the food, and to prevent, by means of proper protection, all farther contamination. In canning, this destruction of organisms is accomplished by means of heat, and is known as sterilization.


The cold-pack method is now accepted as the easiest, quickest, and sorest method of canning fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and soups. It is taught by the United States Department of Agriculture to farming clubs all over the country. It is also the method in use in commercial canning factories. The sterilization, completed in a single period, is done after the food is packed in jars or cans, and partly sealed, so that bacteria or spores cannot enter containers again after sterilization is completed. The process is the same for all foods, the only variation occurring in the preparation of the food previous to packing, and in the time required for complete sterilization. This cold-pack method includes the following steps:

Assembling equipment; cleaning containers.

Grading, washing, special preparation of food as necessary.

Blanching in live steam, or boiling water. This is similar to parboiling; it varies in time from one to possibly fifteen minutes, according to quantity handled; it cleanses, removes bitter qualities, softens fiber. A cheese-cloth bag or wire basket is used for holding the food.

Quick dipping in very cold water—about fifty degrees Fahrenheit; draining.

Packing in clean, hot jars; adjusting new rubbers; filling jars at once to overflowing with boiling water or syrup; adjusting covers immediately; partial sealing.

Placing hot jars at once in canning outfit, and surrounding with hot water as required, according to outfit used; covering outfit.

Sterilizing in water-bath or steam-pressure outfit, as preferred, for such time as may be necessary.

Removing jars from outfit, securing lids; inverting to cool, testing joints, labeling, wrapping, storing.

Equipment for cold-pack canning:

For sterilizingj either a home-made water-bath outfit, or a commercial water-bath, water-seal or pressure-cooker may be used.

For small-quantity canning, the home-made outfit is practical. For this either a wash-boiler, large tin pail, or aluminum double roasting-pan may be used. It is necessary to place a rack in the bottom of the kettle on which to rest the jars. The rack used must permit water to circulate underneath; wood is best; do not use straw or cloths. Lifting-handles and a tight cover are essential. The water must surround every jar, circulate between the jars, and cover tops of jars by at least one inch. Count time after water begins to boil or jump over entire surface; see that water continues to boil during entire sterilizing period.

For large-quantity canning, commercial canning outfits are most efficient. The water-bath outfits are frequently constructed for out-of-door work which can be of great advantage; these are operated in the same way as the home-made outfits.

Commercial pressure-cookers save time and fuel, and are well adapted for corn, meats, and other foods where complete sterilization is sometimes difficult, and a temperature higher than the boiling-point is desirable. When using a pressure-cooker, water must come up to rack or platform, but not over it; the cooker must be steam-tight, and operated and regulated according to directions furnished with the particular canner used.

For containers glass jars are best for home use. Rubbers must be new when used, of the best quality, and tested before using. Other necessary equipment includes a sharp paring-knife, measuring-cup and spoons, a wooden spoon, a wire basket or cheese-cloth bag for blanching and dipping, clean towels, a “lifter” for hot jars, a pail for scraps, a good alarm-clock, and a stove or heating device.

Time for complete sterilization depends upon condition and variety of fruit and vegetables, upon altitude, and upon the type of canning outfit used. Freshly gathered fruit or vegetables require slightly less time than those which have been allowed to stand several hours. For altitudes above one thousand feet, time, as commonly given for sterilration, should be increased 10 per cent, for each five hundred feet. When a water-seal or steampressure is used, less time is required than when the water-bath outfit is used. A time-table is supplied with each commercial canner sold. When using a home-made water-bath outfit, time as follows:

Soft berries 12 to 16 minutes

Peaches 12 to 16

Apples 16 to 20

Hard fruits 20

Corn ‘ 180

Peas and lima beans ‘ 180

String beans 120

Greens 120

Sweet peppers 90

Tomatoes 22

Typical Recipes (See Farmers’ Bulletin 839):

String beans: Grade; string; blanch in live steam 5 to 15 minutes, according to quantity; dip into very cold water; drain; pack immediately into clean, hot jars; adjust rubbers; fill jars to overflowing with boiling water, adding one level teaspoonful salt to each quart; seal partially. Place jars in canning outfit; surround with hot water as required for the particular outfit used. Sterilize in water-bath outfit one period of 120 minutes; or in water-seal outfit, 90 minutes; or in pressure-cooker—under 5 pounds—60 minutes; or in pressure-cooker— If very young and freshly gathered, less time may be required.

under 10 pounds—40 minutes. When sterilization is complete, remove jars at once, tighten covers, invert to cool, test, wrap in paper, store.

Clear boiling water, with one level teaspoonful of salt to each quart, is used for all vegetables with the exception of tomatoes; these require no water.

Peaches: Wash, grade, peel, halve and remove stones, leaving a few for flavor; rinse. Pack fruit at once into clean, hot jars; fill jars to overflowing with boiling syrup—thin or medium thin; adjust rubbers; seal partially. Place in canning outfit, and surround with hot water as required for the particular outfit in use. Sterilize in water-bath outfit, 16 minutes; or in water-seal outfit, 10 minutes; or in steam-pressure outfit —under 10 pounds—5 minutes. Remove jars at once, secure lids, invert- to cool, test, wrap, store.

Fruit may be canned with clear water, sugar syrup, or in cases, with a diluted corn syrup. In making sugar syrup, the density may vary from thin to medium or thick, according to kind of fruit to be canned, special need for economy, or individual taste. For sweet fruits—sweet berries, peaches, cherries—use thin syrup; for sour berries and other sour fruits, use medium-thick syrup; for hard fruits—pears, apples, quinces—thin to medium-thin syrup may be used.