Sunday, December 18, 2011

Food: Why It Is A Key Priority

Got food?  Like several years worth?

Really ought to be a priority for you & your family.  Might also consider acclimating your family to what you are storing.  If your bunch has never eaten hot cereal mush for breakfast on a routine basis, Winter is a good time to begin serving breakfasts like Oatmeal, BearMush/Farina, Cracked Wheat Cereal, MaltoMeal, and Rice breakfast cereals.   Hot cereals served with Molasses, raisins/dates/prunes, Nuts especially Walnuts & Pecans, and sweetened with Brown Sugar, Honey, or Maple Syrup  can be not only nutritious but also very filling and substantial source of energy to begin your day.  No refrigeration required.  Forgot to mention Yellow and White varieties of Grits.  Cornmeal makes some very tasty cornbread and a slab or two of cornbread with butter and honey is especially tasty with any meal.

Don't overlook Peanut Butter and Jelly/Preserves on homemade wholewheat bread as another breakfast that gives lots of protein and calories which spell energy.

Unless you have lots of refrigeration and freezer capacity, plus the AE to generate the power to run them; your diet and food prep menus will have to change.  If you own a ranch/farm or enough land to keep a few cattle, hogs, and other meat livestock, your protein supply will be limited.  Lots of guys figure to hunt their meat....   Not really viable, in my estimation.

Many armchair preppers and best-case scenario survivalists figure hunting will be a resource.  Not me.  Unless you live extremely remote and have formidable barriers that isolate your area from interlopers, there will be lots of folk pursuing their next meal in the woods.  Game tends to be quickly killed-off or leave an area with significant hunting pressure.  What you're likely to find in the woods is someone more stealthy than you who will follow you home and survey your situation, coming back at a time when the Surprise Visit they've planned has been coordinated and planned.

The first year and likely first 2 years, you'll need to be self-sufficient in every aspect of your food supply; just to maximize value of your time and be present to dissuade those Surprise Visitors...

The idea of "hunting" is really a pipedream.  What you're looking for is killing game animals, not spending time finding a track or trail and then stalking for the kill.  Gathering Protein is the name of the game.  All the illegal practices outlined in your fish & game handbook are going to yield results.  Baiting animals is a possibility.  Fish traps come to mind.  Actually, the best way to gather Protein is by trapping and snaring.  You set 25 traps out on a trapline and you've got 25 different likely spots being "hunted" 24/7.  Snares take game quietly.  Don't want to be firing weaponry unnecessarily in The Aftermath...

Before there is an Aftermath, there will be The Main Event.  Your food supply must be such that you're able to stay off the radar and Out Of The Line Of Fire.  Even a good idea to use oil or kerosene to heat your home, propane for cooking in that first year etc so you don't attract Surprise Visits who got wind of your homestead by smelling your woodsmoke.  Woodsmoke also provides a pretty visual picture, and if barometric pressure is low, it won't rise much above chimney level.  Hungry and desperate folk have nothing better to do than search out where their noses lead them.  Be sure it isn't to your back door...

In an earlier article, we discussed how home canning, home packed storage of whole grains, and using a dehydrator can combine to give you a dependable resource of high protein foods.  Sprouts and Wheatgrass offer a very high vitamin content and can be grown in small areas indoors.  Healthfood stores offer many varieties of sprouting seed these days.  Wheatberries will yield wheatgrass when planted in a tray of potting soil and kept in sunlight a few hours everyday.  Sprouts have more nutritional value than mature vegetables.

Learn now to make your own bread.  Breadmachines are excellent for mixing dough and saving you the time an effort of kneading dough.  For $10 or so at a resale, hard to go wrong.  Having 2 of the same type enables you to process that much more dough.  Easy to bake 4 loaves as it is to bake one, more efficient use of your oven also.  Takes 4 cups of flour to make a 2lb loaf.  Use at least 2 cups of Hard Red Winter Wheat flour, AKA Whole Wheat, to be sure your bread has a decent level of protein.  3 cups hrww to 1 cup white gives a good consistency.  Might look up the recipes for Ezekiel Bread to get even higher protein levels in your bread which will be a diet mainstay.

Brown Rice is The Primary Dietary Superfood.  More protein than any other whole grain and combined with beans it yields a Complete Protein.  You want to store a lot of Brown Rice, preferably Organic Short-Grained variety.

Meat can be used sparingly.  Stir fried and in stews, small amounts of meat are very filling and do not over-tax your digestive tract.  Eating whole grains will have beneficial effect on digestive and elimination tracts.  You want your food to build your body's health and immune system, not merely to taste yummy...

Eggs store very well when kept refrigerated.  Probably can hardboil them and keep them in a pickling solution for many years, but I have never partaken of such "bar food", pickled pigs feet included.  Still, if you got eggs and no way to keep them below 55F; you do what you can.  If you've got a chicken pen in the backyard then you are set, and fresh eggs keep several days easily at room temperature.  Might look into digging a root cellar, or if you have a nearby stream, doing a food submersion box for keeping stuff cool.

Gotta have a way to cook once your utilities are down.  Maybe you have a propane setup now, but will your stove work w/o electricity?  Many of the basic jobs these days use electronic ignitors and unless you have AC power, the stove won't function.  A 2 or 3 burner campstove with a 5gal bulk tank, hose and adaptor is a decent solution.  Maybe you want a couple of  campstoves and a Coleman camp oven to bake in?  Or maybe you have a BBQ-Smoker out on the patio?

Kurt Saxon in The Survivor discusses using a Stanley Thermos as a slow-cooker for morning cereal.  Couple ounces of grain, add in the correct amount of boiling water and tightly cap the thermos and in morning have warm, ready to eat cereal.  Easy to make soup or reconstitute jerky.  Can't have too many Stanley Thermoses...

Gonna need potable water for drinking and cooking, not to mention handwashing.  Coleman makes their blue plastic 5gal jug with a spigot tap and vent which is ideal for using on countertop and can be stacked 2 or 3 high.  A new or fairly clean 30gal trash can will also hold water reliably.  Fill with a hose and you can use a two-wheeler dolly to move around.  Put a clean trash can liner bag inside before filling, and don't forget the lid and a ladle or pump.  Can likely find 55gal soda syrup drums if you live near a softdrink bottling plant.  Clean out the residue and add a little bleach, then rinse and fill from your garden hose AFTER you've moved the barrel where you want it located.  Gotta have water stored and don't forget water for hygeine as well.

Need a place to keep your foodstuffs out of excessive heat and humidity.  5gal plastic buckest with gasket seal lids are very durable and don't admit moisture or conduct any condensation.  Gotta use the CO-2 packing method detailed earlier to be sure, but that is easy to do.  Plastic jars of gallon size are ideal for storying loose grains, pasta, beans and herbs & spices.  Honey is especially long-storing and much better in the nutrition dept than is sugar.

More to come on this subject....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quick Overview About Shortwave Listening

 Knowing what is going on at a time when internet has gone away/shutdown will be critical.  News in the USA media is so poor that shortwave offers much to consider.  There is alternative media, albeit questionable, and Amateur Radio net discussions, plus Pirate Radio and freecasters.  Not going to discuss transceivers in this comment, or scanners, nor satellite sideband listening.  There are many Ham Bands above the -0- to 30,000 Herz coverage range of the Shortwave Receiver.  No discussion of those here either. 

 What you can find in the airwaves using a decent quality, selective tuning and contemporary designed Shortwave Reciever include Utility Bands, Commercial Bands, AM broadcast, Amateur Bands, Military Transmissions, Time broadcasts by USA and Canada, and other Government functions and Agency Networks.   Many of the same functions from foreign broadcasters and users. 

Knowing when to listen is also important.  Shortwave propagation depends on skip and solar radiation to excite the signal and bounce it around the earth.  We are supposedly entering a Solar Maximum period again, so SWL will be good with many signals heard that otherwise could not be.  Basically, the 0-8khz spectrum is an evening proposition. If listening to 120 meter band 1,800 to 1950 hz, you won't get decent reception until after the sun has set.  The 40 meter band from  6950 to 7200 is good late afternoon until morning.  The higher spectrum bands come in during daylight, and need skip to be very active.  The long-band frequencies can be decent most any occasion, but have limitations. 

The American Amateur Relay League  ARRL has great amounts of information in their huge compendium of publications and especially the ARRL Handbook.  Lots of websites done by Hams that explain propagation and how-to make a proper antenna and setup a listening post.  Google is your friend, or look at your library and the publications cited below, especially Monitoring Times published by Grove Enterprises.

As to radios, none of the small traveler size World-Band radios are worth much in my experience.  I have broken 3 Sony radios over the years, back when I used them often.  Touch pads break or the computer chip goes defective.  They are just not made for regular SWL service.  Once in a while use, maybe they hold up.  For sure, if going this route, buy the AC adapter and some kind of earphone or set of headphones.

There are lots of inexpensive/cheap chinese radios sold these days.  Back in Y2K era, Grundig and others came out with crank-dynamo gizmo radios often incorporating a flashlight and other functions.  Avoid these like the plague.  The original BayGen handcrank radio may be an exception, but other emergency radios are just going to disappoint.  For the money, no big deal if a $60 unit (or cheaper) craps-out, but do you have a Real Radio and a Real Antenna, plus decent headphones to aid your listening?  A digital display Shortwave Receiver is what I'm talking about, or an Amateur Transceiver that covers all bands from 50-30,000 hz.  Don't need a ham ticket to own a transceiver.

Aside from listening to the international SW broadcasters, you'll need Upper and Lower Sideband capability.  A BFO or beat frequency oscillator was the high-tech means of tuning up/down on a given signal 50yrs ago.  Now electronic switching and mode selection do the chore way more effectively.  Great fun to tune-in a signal, but slow and demanding.  To my mind, you listen to Shortwave for information and you may only get one shot at hearing it.  Don't mess around with old gear.  There are enough challenges to hearing a weak signal as it is...

Even the big table-top consumer rigs are way more robust than the miniatures.  Talking a bout the Sony 2010 and various Grundig Satellit models from 500 to 800 series.  Supposedly some guy is selling refurbed Zenith Trans-Ocean radios on ebay.  They were cool in their day, but even the Panasonic 2800 from the 70s had a digital readout.  Really don't want the old BFO control if your in a survival situation.  You may only get one shot at hearing a message/broadcast in the clear.  As far as old Hallicrafters and earlier hobbyist gear, forget them.  Many are collectible, but not for ease of use or signal processing clarity.  Old Collins gear and other legendary receivers would be great for collector or to serve an advanced listener who knew the machine and how to employ it, but for our purposes we want fast signal processing, immediate access to clarity and ease of use.

If you take your communications needs seriously, you get something like a 90s era Drake R8, Icom, Yaesu, or Kenwood general purpose receiver and if it needs an adapter to run from a 12v battery you get it.  You also get a real antenna like a tuned dipole with a balun as your connection point and run PL259 terminated balanced feedline.  The best deal of all time was the Drake R8 series because of the standard 4 filter widths and other top-notch features like dual antenna inputs and dual vfo, 100 memories in the first models and variety of modes and search/scanning; not to mention, computer interface.

There are plenty of computer interface software which mimic a Shortwave Receiver, yet relying on one of these is foolish.  Pretty damn impossible to repair a motherboard or other computer component.  Ham type SW sets are more repair friendly.  If buying used, I'd recommend buying from a bonafide Ham Dealer that guarantees they've inspected and done a 24hr continuous play test of the gear to ascertain function.  Also specify you want any computer interface also tested and would like to acquire software and cabling with your unit.

The large table-top portables that Sony and Grundig, also Motorola and Phillips sold are also very decent; just not as serviceable and robust as the Ham Quality Gen Purpose Receivers.  Your gonna need a real set of quality headphones with full-size not a mini plug.  The lightweight stuff, even expensive senheiser, sony and other will not take the constant usage.  You want full-enclosure and padded ear cups, not the foam junk made for gizmo electronics.

Something else you might want is a tape recorder you can run while listening.  A VHS machine can be used to record up to 8hrs on extended mode using 160 tapes.  Maybe you have software to record to a RW DVD with a straight line-in function?  Even better.

Got a Frequency Guide?  Monitoring Times still publishes shortwave broadcaster time logs in every issue.  Kinda spendy these days, but worth it if you don't know who and where to listen.  Grove Enterprises used to publish a large bound book detailing all the General Coverage frequencies with a large section on Government Agency Networks and military bands.  Can probably find various frequency lists on the internet if you search.

To get an idea about pricing, ebay is pretty much a dead horse compared to years ago, but some still sell there.  Amazon might be another venue to watch, but ebay will give some idea of prices and show some obscure eqpt/accys.  Icom and Yaesu seem to be the strong ham-gear survivors.  An FRG 8800 or 7700 is a decent rig, the Icom R-71 and 75 series are better.  Kenwood R2000 and 5000 were in-between the Yaesu and Icom in their day.  Be sure of parts and continuity if buying Kenwood.  I have an R1000 and it has been dependable and robust.