Archive for March, 2011

A few years ago I had a sort of vision of things to come, and was pressed upon to pen this prose as a way to present the puzzles of prophecy as they concern the United States of America. A puzzle this prophecy shall remain, at least until the tale is told. But as I write my blogs and books, and blunder along life’s trail I find the vision being played out even now. A recent email column from Chuck Baldwin, The American Redoubt, underscores the gravity of the situation in this country, and leads one to query as to whether we have much time before this prophecy becomes fulfilled.

It is certain that serious conflict, probably resulting in more bloodshed via a second civil war in this nation that seems inevitable, given the political, economic and societal disparity pressed upon us by varied special interest groups. But one thing is certain, and that is that this nation is beginning to separate into opposing sides, and we need to decide which side we wish to be allied with today.

I’ll leave it to you, and the voice of your conscience to decipher what you will from this piece below. But as I saw the vision then, and as I see things today, I can see that this vision of the future of America will be correct. The only question is the timeline involved in its fulfillment.

Who is who?

And which is you?

Alas alack, what are we to do?

Here’s the vision:

The Prophecy of the Eagle

Ere the time turns ten, the Eagle shall be torn asunder

And unto five it shall be divided

And three shall be as one, but separate

And the two shall divide and be as one

 

When the time turns ten and five, the serpent shall strike

And shall strike at the heel of the one of three

And the one shall die, and be reformed

And shall feed the serpent of its young

 

Then the dragon shall stretch forth its talons to strike the two of three

And shall spitteth its fire upon them

And shall devour the two as the snake of one

And both shall reign over the three

 

Ten and ten shall be the age for the two as one to rise

And the dragon and the serpent shall conspire

And they shall become as one to squash the two

And the One shall divide the two

 

Ere the time becomes five more, one of the two shall fall

And shall be devoured by the serpent

And shall be fed upon by the dragon

And the one shall be alone

 

When the time becomes five more, the One shall then prevail

And shall strike against the one of two

And shall prevail against the serpent

And cause the dragon to waver

 

Then shall come the time of strife, of which has not been seen

And the One shall pursue the world

And smite the dragon and serpent unto their hearts

And shall pour the fires of destruction upon the world

 

Ten more shall be the time of despair

And the One shall prevail

And shall grow unto a mighty power

And shall in time destroy the serpent

 

Ere the time of destruction of the serpent, the dragon shall come to flee

And shall leave its young to die

And shall come to be smitten by the One

And the One shall begin to return

 

When the light begins to grow, the True One shall return

And the righteous shall prevail

And yet the blind shall still not see

And the deaf shall still not hear

 

Then the time of peace shall be upon the five

And the blind shall still not see

And the deaf shall still not hear

And shall tremble upon the earth

 

Ten times ten shall be the time

And the fires shall fall and devour the third

And the righteous shall prevail

And the One shall come

 

Ere the time I’ve told is past

When the time is true

Then the mystery shall be told

Ten times ten times ten shall be the clue

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One of my goals here is to convince all of you preppers and survivalists that it isn’t a good idea to remain in a heavy urban environment if you really want to survive the coming times. I have long said that we are on the threshold of a new age, and as we agonize over the nuclear threat in Japan, war in the Middle East, the coming struggles we are getting into in North Africa, skyrocketing food and fuel prices, dwindling financial resources on the state and federal level and the rise in the virtual world we seem to be moving into, I think you’ll agree with me.

History shows that those who have taken care of their assets, had land of their own, and possessed a diversity of skills have always risen above the failures around them and came out of tragedies in a better place than those who have not. Suburban communities can be made livable in spite of the hard times upon us, but will take more effort to achieve the desired results. The best plan is to relocate your family to a place where you can grow your own food, raise your own meat and breathe the fresh air of freedom.

But many haven’t a clue as to where to start planning for the development of a survival homestead or farmstead. In “Surviving the Times” I’ve shared some of the things we need to prepare for and how, and in my next book, “Survival Homesteading”, I’ll go into more in depth discussion on how, why and where to set up your ultimate survival home for the coming times.

For now, you’ll have to settle for some research material I’ve put together in these posts that can help you get started. This first one, which I’ve split into two posts, deals with farm layout and planning for the construction of needed outbuildings on a farm. You probably won’t be building or planning for a large scale farm as this piece refers to, but the concepts are the same. It’s set on a 160 acre plot of land, which few of us can afford today, but it’s a goal to work towards. I’d like to see an increase in the numbers of small farms in operation instead of the declines we have been experience these last few decades. Small farms, in sufficient numbers, can reverse the problem of food shortages and increasing prices we’ve been experiencing. But more importantly, with enough land, and utilizing heirloom quality seeds, you can grow your own sustainable food supply.

This first piece is from the Breeders Gazzette;

FARM BUILDINGS.

LOCATION AND GENERAL ARRANGEMENT.

The planning and construction of farm buildings should be done with regard to the surrounding outside features as much as to the interior arrangement and convenience of the rooms. It is a common error to see little forethought taken in the placing of the buildings, in their relation to one another or to the surrounding conditions; the total disregard of a fine outlook that might have been had from the windows that are most frequented; many errors in the proper way to approach the house from the highway, and many times the utter absence of any attempt at ornamentation in the way of tree planting—nothing save bare sides and sharp angles of buildings open to all winds, storms and sun heat, or the opposite extreme, burying the house in a dense shade of loneliness.

Now this should not be so. When the advantages and increased value of the property as a whole are considered it is at once apparent. Anyone can distinguish between a nice farm and a place where it would be a pleasure to live, and on the other hand one that is bare and uninviting. The cost is a matter of forethought on the part of the individual at the beginning in the planning of the work, and the actual material to be used in beautifying the grounds almost always can be had for the gathering. One may easily find the time to do the work when once he has tasted of the pleasures there are in surroundings that are made attractive with trees and plants arranged to make a landscape that is ever improving and changing in scene.

When a beginning is made toward embellishment of the home surroundings then there is a new birth given, the feeling of attachment that reflects back into pleasant and longing recollections of the happy lives passed there, and the far-reaching influence of cheerful home surroundings on the character and future life of the growing generation toward the good and high of ideal life is above any estimation, besides being a source of interest and everlasting joy and pleasure alike to the owner and to all who enter here.

Farming is not all corn. There are many fine farms that are only such from the fact that there is a quiet natural park like effect resting over the home place, and if favored with a fertile soil and kind climate how much more blest we could be if we would bring about us more of the natural beauties so abundant everywhere. This need not detract an instant from the economical operation of the farm, but if practically planned should add many fold thereto.

We can assume that the residence and other buildings are already placed, or that building is to be done at some future time. With respect to the all-important question of choosing the house site, the custom in the city seems to be the law without recourse in the country, in that the house must stand facing square, with the best rooms toward the public road. If a better exposure or a fine scene lies in another direction, reverse the order regardless of the highway. Again, houses are dropped in a hollow, carried to the top of a bare hill, or placed too near dusty roads or stables, making things more disagreeable than convenience would compensate. The house should not be put on a poor or waste piece of ground just to gain a little extra tillable land.

Personal preferences should of course be taken into consideration, but as a rule many desirable locations are ignored. Among the specific directions to apply in selecting the home site are good sanitary conditions. These demand air and quick drainage of water. All this is secured on a dryish soil, slightly elevated if possible and fairly open to admit a free circulation of air. Any protection against prevailing north and west winds in the winter season, such as hills, trees or any other natural objects in the track of regular storms, should be made use of, but cool and refreshing winds should not be hinder ed in their direction during the heated season.

The distance from the highway is hardly a matter of importance. If the best place is 400′ from the road it should be chosen over another less desirable, though 200′ nearer. Besides this an entrance approach of reasonable length, if properly laid out among a grove of trees, will add much to the dignity and bearing of the place. The relation of the house and barn should be such that they do not appear as a part of each other, and in driving to the house one is not led first through yards and past gaping barn doors. The barn should occupy a position so that the prevailing winds will carry the stable odors away from the house, and not toward it, as is often the case. The exact position and arrangement of the outbuildings and enclosures will be according to their use, and to be convenient should be few, compact, and not scattered over a wide area. Pens, sheds and stacks should not be conspicuous in a general view of the farm.

In country houses broad simple design is much to be preferred. All about a house of this order there is a quiet dignity and homelike restfulness that is in pleasing harmony with every rural landscape. The rooms should be few and large. The veranda is right if one steps up from the ground and at least 10′ wide, and a porte-cochere or carriage porch should be part of every country house, as it is surely a comfort when rainy or windy to drive up to the door under a roof.

If you are fortunate enough to already be on a piece of property that you can utilize, or turn into a survival homestead, there are some projects you should really plan on starting to complete the self reliance requirements to achieve a true survive in place homestead.

There are several areas of need that a more or less permanent survival homestead requires to achieve that state whereby you can be truly self-reliant in the coming times. I break them down into a few different major groups. For one group you have security and safety. For another group we have water, and then food as a third major group. I call these groups the SaWaFo pyramid. Or –Safety, Water, Food. That’s our three basic commodities, if you will, when it comes to discussing preparedness and survival issues. Each of these three groups can be further broken down into subcategories, but consider each of these as separate building blocks in your long term preparedness plans.

So what can we plan on for the coming summer months for projects around the homestead? Your main project should be to complete your plans, but for starters, let’s look at the first building block in your plan; safety. Safety around your homestead is a paramount concern. Safety includes security. Check out all areas of your property to look for things that may cause some problems if left unattended. For instance, is your perimeter fencing in good repair? Do you have your foliage and trees trimmed so that falling branches won’t pull any overhead wires down? Are the yards around your home free of debris? Have you removed bushes or other hiding places from around your house? That’s just for starters.

Let’s look at your water situation for a moment. Do you have a means of storing and collecting large amounts of water? Have you got a rainwater collection system in place? Do you have a cistern or other containment system to store your water in? Do you have backflow valves installed on your public water and sewerage systems? Do you have a good quality filtration system such as the British Berkfield drip system in place? If you have a well, is it secure from contamination? Do you have a backup hand pump installed on the well? Do you also have a pump on the inside of your home?

And what about your septic system if you have one; is it clean from excessive sediment buildup? Is your leach field operating at peak efficiency? Do you have plans to convert to a composting or incinerating toilet? Are you able to separate your gray water from your black water discharge to lessen the load on your septic tank?

Let’s look at the food issue now. Have you prepared your property for gardening by tilling and manuring the soil? Do you have animal control fencing or other measures in place to protect your food supply? Have you considered small livestock for your homestead such as goats, rabbits and chickens?

But more importantly, have you gotten the heck out of Dodge yet? The biggest project we can plan on for this coming summer is to find a piece of property we can develop into what is commonly referred to as a survival homestead. I prefer the term survival farmstead, myself. Over the next few weeks I’m going to start posting on finding and developing that perfect piece of land in the country that you can make into your own little self contained kingdom. Look over the questions I’ve posed above, and ask yourself whether or not you have included these things in your long term planning needs and goals. Take a look at what’s happening in the Mideast, Japan, Mexico and the Ivory Coast. Hard times are coming on strong, brother, watcha gonna do about ’em?

Winter is finally fading away, and for those on a survival homestead a new season of maintenance and housekeeping awaits for the coming spring weather. One of the primary concerns of a homesteader, as well as anyone else that may use a wood-burning stove, fireplace or other device that utilizes those grand old chimneys that adorn so many homes is cleaning them out of the seasons soot. A lot of folks prefer to put the chimney sweep act off as long as possible, but I believe it should be done in the springtime, and as early as possible.

Why do I suggest springtime for cleaning your chimney? Because it will still be fresh from use and the buildup of soot and creosote will not have had time to harden up. Most of the pros I’ve talked to say it’s a lot easier for a homeowner to clean their own chimney if the soot is fresh, and preferably warmish. They say that if you have an open chimney you may have a sort of concreting or hardening of the accumulation near the top of the chimney if it gets repeated moistening from the rain. Covered chimneys apparently don’t have that problem.

Cleaning chimneys is a relatively easy task, provided you don’t mind getting dirty and you’re not afraid of heights. It’s a simple matter of obtaining a properly sized and shaped brush for the opening, and sufficient brush extensions to allow you to reach the entire length of the chimney.

Simply climb to the top, insert the brush and work it up and down a few feet at a time until you’ve brushed the entire length. It’s sort of like brushing your teeth before bedtime. To make things easier, if you have a fireplace open to the room indoors, tape a layer of plastic sheeting around the opening to keep the soot inside the fireplace. When you’re done brushing, take a shop vac and suck out all of the soot from the fireplace, the stovepipe, and/or the cleanout chamber at the bottom of the chimney.

Remember that soot is a very fine dust, so make certain you have a very fine filter on your shop vac. If you don’t you will end up blowing a fine cloud of soot all over the house, and believe me, it ain’t a breeze to clean up after that happens.

Check out some of the websites that specialize in this sort of thing, and also some of the chimney brush dealer’s sites. There is a lot of info by way of tips and suggestions that can be found.

While you are cleaning your chimney, check it out for loose masonry, disintegrating mortar and cracked flue linings. If you do this in the springtime, you’ll have all summer to obsess over it before you get it done.

Here are a few old timers’ tips for dealing with your chimney;

Suggestions for Repair Of Old Unlined Chimneys

1. A chimney in any existing building that becomes too hot to hold the hand against comfortably is dangerous if there is woodwork touching it. Have it carefully inspected by a reliable mason, and apply the protection prescribed by this ordinance as far as is possible.

2. The smoke test is strongly recommended as the best method for discovering defects in chimney walls which always indicate danger. If smoke escapes through the chimney walls at any place the chimney should be re-pointed or rebuilt as conditions may warrant.

3. Where soft coal is used it is often necessary to rebuild unlined chimney tops every few years, and all unlined chimneys, irrespective of fuel used, are very liable to become defective through disintegration of the mortar joints. In order to ascertain if chimneys need rebuilding, climb to the top and look inside. If mortar has begun to fall out from between the bricks it will soon do so all the way through the wall. Take an ice pick, a table knife, or other sharp implement and try to push it through the mortar; if you can do so, rebuild at once as follows:

Tear the chimney down to a point where mortar joints are solid, but at least 18 in. below the roof, get fire clay flue lining of the same size as the inside measurement of the chimney, set it in the top of the flue and build up with good brick and Portland cement mortar. This will make a solid chimney through the roof where there is greatest danger, and is the best that can be done unless the chimney is completely torn clown and rebuilt. Preserve a clear space of at least 1 in. between the woodwork of the roof and the chimney wall, and connect the chimney with the roof by metal flashings. Build to a height above the roof sufficient to clear nearby ridgelines and other obstructions.

Cleaning Chimney Flues

For efficient and safe operation of heating apparatus it is extremely important that both the flue and the smoke passages in the heating device be free from soot. When bituminous coal is used for fuel, soot accumulates quite rapidly and frequent cleanings are necessary.

Accumulation of soot in a chimney introduces the risk of a chimney fire with the consequent danger of sparks being thrown upon the roof or penetrating cracks in the chimney walls. This is a very great hazard and is the reason why chimneys should never be purposely burned out to clean them. The burning out of a tile lined flue is liable to crack the lining.

A common and efficient method of cleaning a chimney is to sweep it with a properly weighted bundle of rags or a bush attached to a rope and worked from the top, but because this operation is troublesome, chimney cleaning is frequently neglected.

Other methods of chimney cleaning recommended as simple and efficient are as follows:

1. The U. S. Fuel Administration [no longer exists as such] has strongly advocated the use of salt. The fire should he put in good condition with a substantial body of hot fuel. Well dried common salt is then scattered over the incandescent fuel in quantity depending upon the size of the furnace. For a household furnace, a pound at a time is ample. The- dampers should be kept open to maintain the furnace temperature until the fumes entirely disappear. This usually takes about half an hour. The soot is disintegrated by the action of the salt fumes. Repeat the application as necessary.

This method is highly endorsed for cleaning boiler tubes and furnace passages. It does not interfere with the operation of the plant and neither brickwork nor metal is deteriorated.

It is known that a layer of tarry soot 1/16 in. thick on boiler tubes or furnace passages will decrease their heating efficiency 20 per cent, hence the necessity of keeping them clean. It is claimed that an occasional use of salt as described will keep both heating apparatus and flue free from soot.

2. An ex lire chief recommends firing a revolver loaded with one or two blank cartridges up a chimney flue to remove soot. He asserts it to be very effective and that no injury to the flue results. Precaution should be taken to shut off the flue opening or fireplace with an old blanket or piece of burlap to prevent the soot flying back into the room when it falls following the shot. This method requires that the fires be extinguished before it is applied.

3. Scrap zinc thrown on a hot fire is recommended as a soot remover. The zinc fumes are said to disintegrate the soot.

Zinc compounds are also sold for this purpose, but as several pounds of these zinc materials are recommended to be used at a time, they would be somewhat expensive.

EXTINGUISHING CHIMNEY FIRES

A handful or two of powdered sulphur thrown on a fire is claimed to be effective in extinguishing a soot fire in a chimney. It produces sulphur dioxide which extracts the oxygen from the air supply and so prevents combustion.

A few pounds of salt thrown in the flue at the top is an old and excellent remedy for a soot fire. Even a pail of sand, earth or ashes is helpful. Such materials, however, should be used with much care, if at all, when a fireplace connects with the chimney flue, for they would be liable to scatter the burning soot into the room where the fireplace is located.

There are many in the prepper/survivalist community who believe that society as a whole will ultimately disintegrate, for a slew of varied reasons, and that we will be forced to return to the land into a pre-industrial world of non electric living. That may well be the outcome, but I have my doubts as to whether the plunge will be that severe. We will, I believe be in for some surprises, but I don’t believe that it will be a severe a decline as some are praying for.

But at any rate, I got to thinking of what life would be like in those extreme circumstances and started researching how things were done before we became spoiled with today’s easy living. Clothing has always been a need, and I looked at how some of the fabrics of our life came to be used in keeping our backsides under cover from the weather. Leather has long been a fabric of choice, and I found a short piece from 1871 that describes some of the crude ways leather was processed for use as clothing. Remember, this piece is 140 years old, so you may have a hard time finding things like powdered alum, but the processes will work today as well as they did a century and a half ago.

DRESSING AND TANNING SKINS AND FURS

J.D. Hardin

Dressing Skins with Fur or Wool on

The cheapest and readiest as well as the best method of dressing skins for use with the hair or wool on, is to first scrape off all the fat with a knife rather blunt on the edge, so as not to cut holes into the hide, upon a round smooth log. The log for convenience sake should have a couple of legs in one end, like a trestle; the other end should rest upon the ground. After the fat is well cleaned off, take the brains of the animal, or the brains of any other recently killed, and work them thoroughly into the hide. This renders the hide pliable.

Then to preserve from the ravages of insects scatter on it some powdered alum and a little saltpeter. If the hair side has become greasy, a little weak lye will take it out. Sheepskins may be dressed in the same way, though the wool should be cleaned with soapsuds before using the brains. Another way, but more expensive, is to use a paste made of the yolk of eggs and whiting instead of brains, working it in the same way, letting it dry and brushing off the whiting. Then add the powdered alum as before. Deerskins and even small calf skins are often tawed us the process is called with the hair on for garments. If it is desired to give the deerskin a yellow color, yellow ocher or chrome yellow may be used in combination with the brains or yolks of eggs, and afterward brushed off.

If it is simply desired to preserve skins until they are sold, it is only necessary to dry them thoroughly. If the weather should be damp and warm, salt the flesh side slightly with fine salt.

Indian Mode of Tanning Buffalo Skins

Theo. K. Davis, in Harper’s Magazine, says: “The hard and incessant labor that is necessary to properly ‘Indian tan’ a robe is not easy to realize unless one may see the work go on day by day from the first step, which is to spread out the pelt or undressed hide upon the ground, where it is pinned first by means of wooden pins driven through little cuts in the edge of the robe into the earth. The flesh side of the robe being uppermost is then worked over by two, and sometimes three, squaws. The tools used are often very rude, some being provided simply with sharp stones or buffalo bones. Others, wealthier, have something that much resembles a drawing knife or shave of the cooper. The work at hand is to free the hide of every particle of flesh, and to reduce the thickness of the robe nearly one half, and sometimes even more. This fleshing, as it is termed, haTing been satisfactorily accomplished, the hide is thoroughly moistened with water in which buffalo brains have been steeped; for ten days the hide is kept damp with this brain water. Once each day the hide is taken up, and every portion of it rubbed and re-rubbed by the squaws, who do not have recourse to anything like a rubbing board, but use their hands until it would seem as if the skin would soon be torn off. There seems to be no definite rule as to the length of time which the robe shall occupy in curing. The squaw labors until the hide becomes a robe, which may require the work of one week or two, sometimes even more; but I think that ten days may be considered as the average time which it takes to properly cure a robe.

“I have not the space here to go into a lengthy account of the different modes of dressing the skins which the Indians use for tents (tepees) and clothing. Some skins from which the hair has been removed are as white as the paper upon which this article is printed.

“The painting and decorating of the robe is the work of much time, and for the extremely rude materials employed, by the squaws in the work a result is attained which is highly creditable to the uneducated and somewhat savage wives and daughters of ‘Nasty Elk,’ or whatever euphonious term the master of the lodge may seem fit to designate himself by. But this work increases the price of a robe, and is generally only expended upon a robe that is to be used in the family, and not as a means of obtaining sugar, coffee, calico and other coveted articles which are of use to the Indian, and serve as an indication of wealth on the part of the possessor, who takes care to make great parade of all such articles as may be likely to excite the envy of the habitants of neighboring tepees.”

Without the Wool or Hair

Sheepskin, deerskin, doeskin, calfskin, etc., for gloves, etc., are also tawed, but the hair must be taken off. The skins are first soaked in warm water, scraped on the flesh side to get off fat, and hung in a warm room until they begin to give a slight smell of Hartshorne. The wool or fur then comes off readily. The hair side should now be thoroughly scraped against the hair. The skin is next soaked two or three weeks in weak lime water, changing the water two or three times. Then they are brought out again, scraped smooth and trimmed. Then rinsed in clean water, and then soaked in wheat bran and water for two or three weeks. After this they are well stirred around in a pickle of alum, salt and water. Then they are thrown again into the bran and water for two or three days. Then stretched and dried somewhat in a warm room. After this they are soaked in warm water and then worked or trodden on in a trough or pail filled with yolk of eggs, salt, alum, flour and water, beaten to a froth. They are finally stretched and dried in an airy room, and last of all smoothed with a warm smoothing iron. This makes the beautiful leather we see in gloves, military trimmings, etc. The proportions for the egg paste are as follows: 3 pounds salt, 5
pounds alum, 21 pounds wheat flour and yolks of nine dozen eggs. Make a paste with water, dissolving first the alum and salt. A little of this paste is used as wanted with a great deal of water.

Chamois skin and deer skins not wanted for gloves are similarly treated up to the point of treating with egg paste. Instead of using this process they are oiled on the hair side with very clean animal oil, rolled into balls and thrown into the trough of a fulling mill, well beaten two or three hours, aired, re-oiled, beaten again and the process repeated a third time. They are then put into a warm room until they begin to give out a decided smell, then scoured in weak lye to take out superfluous grease. Here the intention is merely to get a thick felt-like skin of good color; a nicely grained surface is not required as in gloves. The skins are finally rinsed, wrung out, stretched and dried, and when nearly dry slightly rubbed with a smooth, hard round stick.

These are the fine processes. A dried skin oiled so as to become smooth and pliable will retain the hair or wool a considerable time. Or it may be made more durable where the color of the flesh side is no object by scraping, washing in soap suds and then putting directly into the tan pit. For ordinary, purposes rabbit, squirrel and other small skins can be efficiently preserved with the hair by the application of powdered alum and fine salt, put on them when fresh or if not fresh by dampening them first. Squirrel skins when wanted without the hair will tan very well in wheat bran tea, the fat and hair having been previously removed by soaking in lime water and scraping. Old tea leaves afford tannin enough for small skins but they give a color not nearly as pleasant as bran. Almost any of the barks afford tannin enough for small skins, willow, pine, poplar, hemlock of course, sumac, etc.

Preservation of Furs

While in use, furs should be occasionally combed. When not wanted, dry them first, and then let them cool, and mix among them bitter apples from the druggists, in small muslin bugs, sewing them in several folds of linen, carefully turned in at the edges, and kept from damp. Camphor or pepper used in the same manner will have a similar effect. Well cleaned furs are much less liable to be attacked by moths, than those affording rich repasts of dried flesh, though no furs are absolutely safe without extreme watchfulness on the part of their owner. Wrapping well in good brown paper, and keeping in a tight paper box, are all helps to the preservation of furs. Sunshine and fresh air kill the fur and wool moth grub. Hence taking out the furs occasionally and airing, sunning, and beating them is necessary.