Prepper Ponderings July 2, 2010

As I work on the blog this morning, the heat wave has broken and it is a beautiful 70 degrees. I am sitting on the back porch listening to The Survival Podcast and enjoying a Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 with a Diet Coke… I know, the DC is bad for me, but I am down to about three a day instead of the 6-8 that I used to drink. As for the cigar, my doctor (who is also a marathon runner) said he can’t tell me that a couple premium cigars a week are a health hazard. I don’t use any other form of tobacco, and my other vices are few.

I thought today I would start a new blog feature, Prepper Ponderings. This will be an occasional entry of short reviews, commentary or questions for items that don’t have enough information to make a whole post.

Update on my EDC Kit

I’ve been carrying the kit everywhere I go for the past week. Within just a day I had issues with the key ring/carabiner jingling and announcing my movements. I was deciding to cut a piece of bike inner tube to make a silencer for the keys when I realized that the fabric loop on the side of the pouch that the ‘biner clipped to was coming unwoven. So, I just cut the whole loop off and now either clip the keys to my belt loop or stick them in my pocket. I have added a half-sized Bic lighter and a CPR face shield as planned. I still need to swap out the flashlight with a Maglite Solitaire (I’ve decided to go with the LED bulb for long life). The kit is working as planned, and has not raised any questions or eyebrows at work.

Magazine reviews

I get folks asking me what are some magazines they can get to give them information that will help guide them to more self-sufficient living. From the early 80’s into the 2000’s, I read American Survival Guide (originally Survival Guide). I still have many back issues and refer to them sometimes. A friend and I even got an article published about our experiences in Kuwait during Desert Storm. ASG produced a slick magazine with great articles on topics as varied as wilderness survival, the latest guns, preparing food for long-term storage, and hardening your home. As I understand it, they sold out to a large publisher and it ruined the content, quickly driving the magazine to extinction. If you can get back issues on EBay or Craig’s List, go for it!

Jim Benson was the editor of ASG. He currently has an on-line only survival magazine, Modern Survival, but I haven’t subscribed. From the sample articles I’ve seen, it looks to be of the same quality as ASG. I just am not a fan of on-line magazines. If any of you subscribe, please leave your assessment in the blog comments.

I currently subscribe to two magazines that would be of interest to my readers, Backwoods Home and Mother Earth News. Backwoods Home is a newer mag, started by the publisher and his family back in 1999 (I think that year is right), and still a family run magazine. BWH is a great magazine. It has a similar range of articles as the old ASG, with less of a focus on guns (there is a monthly article by gun guru Massad Ayoob) and lots of Q&A. The publishers are unashamedly libertarian in their political beliefs, but confine that side of it to just a couple of pages a month. If you don’t lean that way, either read those pages to broaden your outlook or skip them. Don’t use that as a reason to avoid BWH completely. They offer a great series of books and annual anthologies as well.

Mother Earth News has long been a major player in the self-sufficient living sector. They do a lot on primitive and “green” living skills. Years ago, they had a reputation as strictly a hippie, commune-living, technology is bad magazine. Today, there are still a couple articles a month that have a point of view from that end, but like BWH, don’t read those articles if you want, but don’t use that as a reason to avoid the magazine completely. They also have a great selection of books, and you can get every issue ever made on a DVD for just $40-50. Look on-line for some really good deals on subscription rates.

There are a few other magazines I pick up a couple times a year at the bookstore. Wilderness Way, Back Home, and Countryside & Small Stock Journal sometimes catch my eye with the cover story, but I don’t get them frequently.

Ron Hood, a long-time leader in the survivalism field, has recently started a new magazine, Survival Quarterly. I haven’t seen an issue, but I have heard good things about it. I plan to send off my subscription soon. Again, if you get SQ, please post your review in the blog comments section.

How does my garden grow?

I’ve mentioned before that I am working on my first garden. I am growing everything with nothing but dirt, compost and water. No chemicals or other additives. I guess you could call it organic. My lettuce varieties are going great! I have several varieties and we enjoy eating them in salads. My carrots look good above the dirt, but I haven’t harvested any yet. I don’t know how to check if they are ready! My tomatoes (four varieties of heirloom) have not produced any fruit, yet. I have some flowers blooming, so I hope to get at least a few ‘maters soon. The cucumbers are out of control. They have overgrown their stakes; I have a few ready to harvest this weekend, and dozens of tiny cukes getting ready to burst forth. I’ll be eating cukes, giving them to neighbors and co-workers, and maybe even trying to put up some pickles.

On that note, I picked up the latest version of the Ball Blue Book, one of the best all around user guides to canning. My folks tried making relish, chow-chow and chutney back in the 80’s and my step-mom is going to dig out the pot, tools and jars from the attic for me.

That’s about it for today. Let me know if you like this format to intersperse with the longer, single topic posts.


  1. I prefer GRIT over M.E.N, or BWH. MEN has gotten too "green" and trendy for my taste, and I avoid BHM's mag simply due to it being too political. GRIT does have more articles on large scale farming and lots of recipes, but everything in between is incredible. I will recommend BHM's online forum though. I'm a log time member and know several from there quite well. (same user name as TSP)
    Our garden is exactly the same. I dug up the sod, tilled,and planted-that simple. No additives, no fertilizers, no pesticides. I hope canning goes well for you. It's not as hard as some make it out to be. Just be warned, it WILL get addicting!! lol

  2. Thanks Chris! I look forward to saying, "My name is Donald, and I'm a canner."

    I haven't checked on Grit in years. I remember when it used to be a news paper kids sold to earn points toward bikes, footballs, pocketknives, etc... It's published by the same folks as MEN, I'll check it out. I used to spend time on the BWH forum, but haven't been there in quite a while.


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