Sunday, February 13, 2011

How Would You Handle The "Brass Horde"

During the age of the Mongol Empire, the Mongol armies spread across Eastern Europe and Russia raping, pillaging and basically leaving whatever was left as a waste land. These invaders were come to be known as "The Golden Horde."

Fast forward today and we remember the LA Riots, New Orleans looting, I even experienced it myself during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. During all the confusion and the aftermath instantly after the quake, masses started stealing from the shops who's windows were broken and all within an arm's reach.  It got so bad that in some areas a "shoot to kill" order was issued. The earthquake struck at approximately 5:00PM, that night turned into hell on earth in some parts of the San Francisco bay area.

The horde was released.

In the prepper community we see " the Golden Horde" as a loosely organized mass of urban refugees streaming out of the cities in search of food and shelter after a natural disaster or social / financial collapse. Like locus, this mindless mass could possibly overwhelm local defenses,  "raping and pillaging" the country suburban area and stripping it of many of its resources while destroying everything in its path.

Now this sounds bad and is a situation that would most likely take place in the movies, but in real life a situation like this does not happen… in most cases.

But to be honest I am not worried about a mindless mass of people. These people are hungry  and pretty much are acting on instinct. They are not going to be very well organized, and lack really any true leadership. Some may be armed, but not willing to really "take a bullet" when it comes down to the rubber meeting the road. 

It is the group's "mass" that gives the "horde" its power. 

Aggressively confront then divide the mass and it will quickly give up and move on to another "easier" target.

But who I am worried about are the bugged out  Rambo wanna-be's traveling in their RVs who's idea of preparedness is cases of ammo, Spam & Budweiser. 

Let me introduce to you...The Brass Horde. 

The Brass Hordes are small groups of people, probably all deer hunting buddies who go out and play paint ball on the weekends and call it survival training. Now, nothing against deer hunting and paintball, I am a hunter as well; can't say I have played paintball though. Now airsoft wars are fun, but I am digressing here.

What these folks have neglected for maintaining good health and welfare, they have made up by being obnoxiously well armed. Thing is when the Spam and Budweiser runs out,  they will turn to what they love most their guns and ammo.

These are the groups I worry about.

Here is a very interesting story, one that is real world. The author who goes by the handle "BigBear" painted a very realistic picture. 

After reading this, I want to ask you, how would you REALLY handle this situation?  

I would like for you to hear your "end to the story" comments, so please post them below. 

The Brass Horde 

The Brass Horde at least tried to prepare.  They had a plan to leave the city, some supplies and a large stockpile of weapons. Their intent was to relocate to a remote site as a group and hunt for food. The small group is made up of family and close friends occupying the trailers used to escape the city. Unfortunately their resources are limited and unwisely thought out.

At first they have good luck taking a deer and several rabbits for a stew, all looks good. But after a week or so their water rations are getting low and their expensive filter systems are useless on the frozen lake. They are able to melt some water over the fire pit and on propane stoves but this consumes critical resources. Most of their daily man hours are spent collecting and transporting ice blocks to melt for water. The meat is running low, they are exhausted.

The Horde elders decide that a couple of the women should visit a nearby cabin and ask to fill their water jugs. The established local, not wanting to seem rude, invites the ladies into the warm cabin...the aroma of fresh baked bread fills the air. Warm cinnamon rolls and hot coffee are served over light conversation next to the wood stove. The ladies fill their water jugs from the solar powered well, thanked the local and reluctantly venture back out into the cold, it was the first time they had truly been warm since leaving the city.

That evening the women huddled around the fire telling the others of their days experience. A strong north wind brought frigid temperatures and a heavy snow started around sundown...the Horde retired to their campers to weather the night.

Then the propane runs out!

The temperatures quickly plunge after the heater went out in the far north trailer of the circled compound. The father whose survival skills were honed by many hours watching the discovery channel, decided to start a small wood fire in the oven to keep him and his wife warm. The ensuing inferno consumed two of their trailers and damaged the other six as over 10,000 rounds of ammo cooked off in the conflagration.

In the blinding snow the elders huddled for warmth around the smoldering ruins of their grand scheme...they knew what had to be done. After arming themselves and securing the women folk in the remaining heated camper, the horde took off for the neighbors cabin. The howling winds of the blizzard masked their plunder as they made off with six twenty pound bottles of propane, a chainsaw and five gallons of gas. The blowing snow filled their tracks as they retreated back to the compound confident in their escape.

Unbeknown to the Brass Horde the local had witnessed the entire thing from the warmth of the bedroom after being alerted by his growling dogs. Shouldering his gun he realized that confrontation was dangerous against eight heavily armed men and there was a good change he would die if shooting started. The local also realized that this was the first of many visits by the armed bandits who, made confident by their guns, would steal what they failed to store through proper preparation.

So he….. started baking cookies.

"Good morning, I have fresh cookies and hot coffee" shouted the local from his truck as he pulled into the Horde's compound. "You all look like you could use a treat on this cold morning" he continued. The men leerily looked at each other assuming that the local man had not yet discovered the robbery and was just being a good neighbor. The local waved and yelled "God Bless You" as he drove away. Over their snacks and wicked strong coffee the Horde laughed at how easy a target this cookie baking fairy would be...

Looking through the rifle scope from his vantage point in on the hill he saw no movement...the last one fell several hours ago.

Later that evening the local man returned to the compound, collected the bodies and placed them neatly in the largest trailer. Gathering the stolen items plus the Hordes guns and abundant ammunition for barter he proceeded to pour gas in each of the remaining campers then burned everything to the ground. Cyanide in the coffee and cookies.

A heavy snow that night covered over the remains and the evident "mass suicide" was not discovered until later that springs. It was chalked up to collapse related further investigation.

My Own Thoughts

How would you have handled the group and the situation?

Remember there are no police that are going to come to the rescue.

What would you have done differently?

Now this one struck me hard. Why? Because I am a God fearing Christian who has submitted his life to the Lord.

Several verses in the Bible that come to my mind is...

1 Timothy 5:8(KJV)  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Exodus 22:2 (KJV)  If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.

What Do I Believe?

In the simplest terms, a believer is absolutely justified in the use of deadly force if faced with a grave threat to him or his own family or members of his own church (his extended family). Not to do so is a violation of both Jewish and Christian's reverence for life.

Deadly force does not mean that the results necessarily ends in death. It may be simply the presentation of the weapon that provides the necessary deterrent against violence on the part of the offender.

Christianity is not pacifism. There are pacifists who are Christians, but a clear reading of Scripture doesn't imply pacifism at all. We seek peace and pursue it; we earnestly prefer to avoid violence, but we don't stick our heads in the sand. We live in a world where violence is commonplace; it's been that way since the fall.

Violent people have absolutely no restraint on their behavior; a believer needs to be at least as aggressive in defending himself and others. Whatever it takes. If you have to shoot someone and drop them to the ground, that's most unfortunate, but you didn't ask to be attacked. 

Please go to the "COMMENTS" section and tell me what you thought and how you would handle it.

Finally, do you have a pit in your stomach like I did after I read that?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home Dehydrated Food Shelf Life

Many people know that I am a huge fan of dehydrating. There are so many benefits and the shelf life is amazing. In fact, lets take a look at the four major factors that will affect the shelf life of your home dehydrated foods.

   1. Temperature
   2. Moisture
   3. Oxygen
   4. Light


Temperature affects storage time the most. The cooler the better. Most official guideline statistics for shelf life are based on ‘room temperature’, or 70 degrees F (21 C).

Each drop of 10 degrees F (5.5 C) will double the shelf life! That is pretty significant.

60 F instead of 70 F will double a 1 yr storage to 2 yrs, which may simply be the difference between storing your food upstairs in the pantry or downstairs in the basement (assuming you have a basement).

Likewise, when foods are stored in warmer temperatures, you will lose shelf life at the same proportion. 80 F instead of 70 F will halve the storage life. This fact may be more of a concern for those that don’t have a basement to conveniently store food in a cool environment.

One thing that I miss, having moved from the Northeast US to California more than a decade ago, is having a basement. Many homes here are built on slabs, where outdoor temperatures don’t freeze to extremes like other parts of the country (where deep foundations are required, and thus a basement). Without a basement, use your common sense and simply beware of storing food in places where temperatures will be higher than normal.

The process of dehydrating removes most of the moisture from foods while retaining much of the nutritional value and flavor. It is a great method to preserve your harvested fruits and vegetables for later consumption off-season.

Fruits will typically contain about 75 percent moisture when fresh, and should be dehydrated to a 20 percent moisture level, the point at which they become leathery and pliable. Apparently, it is OK for fruits to be dried to this ‘pliable’ level rather than a lower ‘brittle’ moisture level because the natural sugars and acids in fruit act as an added preservative.

Vegetables must be dehydrated to a moisture level around 5 percent, the point at which they become crisp and brittle, and will break if bent.

Oxygen will interact with, and break down fats and proteins resulting in poor flavor and eventual spoilage. Fruits and vegetables only have small amounts of fat and protein but will still oxidize over a period of time when stored in an environment containing oxygen. Oxygen absorbers are commonly used inside long term food storage containers.

Photons from light will also eventually break down fats and proteins as well as vitamins in the food, resulting in poor flavor and possibly eventual spoilage.

Dehydrated Fruit and Vegetable Shelf Life

‘Shelf Life’, when referring to survival food storage, is typically defined as the maximum amount of food storage time whereby the food will not spoil and still contribute to keeping you alive. Shelf Life, when referring to grocery store and typical food packaging labels, is defined as the length of time that the food will still taste its best and retain most all of its nutritional value, usually far before actual spoilage. Having said that, shelf life is a subjective thing, and may fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

Generally speaking, home dried fruits will have a shelf life of about 6 months to 1 year, if stored in glass mason jars and in a dark, dry, and cool environment (the cooler, the better).

The shelf life of home dried vegetables vary depending on the vegetable itself, but some say it is about half that of home dehydrated fruit. I believe it’s safe to say that it will generally be between 6 months to 1 year. Some claim storage life success of several years, but again, storage conditions will change storage life by either increasing, or even decreasing if stored poorly.

Store-bought dehydrated fruits and vegetables processed specifically for long term storage will be prepared, dried, and packaged in processes that bring moisture content down to as low as 3 percent, and will store much, much longer (I’ve seen claims of 25 years in #10 cans if stored properly).

My opinion and experience with home-dehydrated storage and shelf life is that 6 months to 1 year has been fine for me because the following growing season I am growing all new foods. So as long as they last during the off-season, which is quite simple to achieve, then I’m personally okay with that (some of my long term food storage supplies are not home dried, but professionally manufactured). As long as I am able to grow my own food each year, our home dehydration method works just fine.

Vacuum Sealing, Mason Jar, or Zip Lock Bag

In my opinion it is debatable whether vacuum sealing home-dehydrated food will add significant shelf life in most practical situations. Common sense tells me that it will definitely add some storage time, but I’m not so sure how significant that will be assuming we’re talking about foods that are already dehydrated, and are being stored in normal conditions (cool, dark, dry – mason jar), and will be replenished during the following growing season.

Granted that opening and closing a mason jar lid to remove some of the product when needed, will reintroduce fresh air and oxygen into the jar. However, so long as the air in the room isn’t laden with moisture, it would seem not to be such a big concern. If you live in a very humid environment, I can see an advantage though. Some vacuum sealers also have an attachment for mason jars to remove the air. Vacuum sealing in vacuum seal bags will definitely save space too.

Having said all that, I just don’t think it is a huge difference to vacuum seal versus using a mason jar when we’re talking about foods that will only last a year or so anyway… (although some claim to get several years from home dehydrated fruits and vegetables when stored well).

I believe that Zip Lock Bags are a fine alternative too. They take up less space than jars. I am a little leery about the effectiveness of the seal when compared to a mason jar with the nice lid. Quite often I have experienced these bags not holding a nice seal, even after ‘burping’ the bags quite efficiently.

I personally like the mason jars because I can easily see the foods inside while on the shelf, and they are convenient and easy to handle and use. Again, since I’m only dealing with shelf life requirements of 1 year maximum for my home grown foods, I don’t feel a need to use vacuum sealed bags. Don’t get me wrong, we love to use vacuum sealed bags on other items around the homestead, like on some of our other storage items such as 5 pound bags of flour – for convenience – although storing in 5 gallon buckets with Mylar is even better for longer term storage. We’ll save all that for another post some other time

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Prepping 101 - Where Do I Start?

For those of you wishing to be a little more prepared the biggest question is "Where do I start?".
The answer is quite simple. Don't buy anything until you've inventoried what you do have. It makes no sense to have an abundance of one item and a complete lack of something else. A good inventory of what you currently have on hand will show you the direction in which your preparedness efforts should be going.

If you're an avid hunter,with a fairly good arsenal already, buying more guns may not help you if you run out of food or water before the ammo plays out. Perhaps you're into gardening and canning and have a lot of canned items sitting on the shelves in your pantry or storeroom but don't own a gun. Either way you could have problems. So take an inventory! See what you have and write down what you need.You will also need to have a balance in your preparations.

Once you know where you stand on the basics of food, water,health, shelter and clothing, gear, education and protection, the next step is to develop a budget and a plan to get there. Next allocate a portion of your budget to each phase of your preparations. Then proceed toward being better prepared. It's easier than you think.

Prepping 101:

1.) Take an inventory of FOOD items you have in stock and compare it with your daily use to
determine the quantity needed to meet your short or long term goals. (dry goods, canned goods, etc.).

2.) Determine the items you have that will cover your WATER needs (storage containers, filters, purification methods, etc.).

3.) Figure out the items you need to address any HEALTH issues (glasses, prescription meds, first aid kits, etc.).

4.) Check your SHELTER status (temporary and permanent) and CLOTHING inventory (for both summer and winter) to determine any deficiencies in either category.

5.) Sort through your GEAR and equipment (camping, household items, and tools) and decide where you can improve things. Special Note: GEAR should always include the ability to make a fire for cooking and heat.

6.) Provide for EDUCATION materials (books, seminars, traing classes, etc.) so that you can increase your skills and knowledge base.

7.) Finally make sure you cover any needed items for your PROTECTION (guns, ammo, etc.).

8.) And above all other things, practice SAFETY at all times in your food storage, your medical preps, using your tools or your guns.

So determine what your budget will be and work towards your short or long term goals.

Hopefully, this will get you started towards being better prepared.