The California Drought and How it Affects You


Dead orchards caused by the lack of water

Yesterday my wife had to make a quick trip to Southern California to help her aunt who is in her late 80’s.  Over the years, she has made this trip many times and is familiar with the central valley area.  She called me after arriving and said that she was shocked at how dry the country was and how few crops were being grown because of the drought.

With this being the third consecutive year of drought, the water reserves both federal and state are almost gone and the farmer’s only possible source is wells.  The water levels of the wells are dropping to levels that have never been seen before.  Who knows how much longer they will last.

Fergus Morrissey, a water engineer from the Orange Cove Irrigation District, said the following about the drought.  “Unlike a (Hurricane) Katrina, which kind of happens all at once, a drought is a slow moving disaster and you almost don’t recognize what damage it’s going to do until you’re far into it and it’s already passed. So it’s a very slow, slow sort of death,”.


Dry lake beds

Poor government decisions have magnified the effects of the drought.  In dry Southern California, they still watering their lawns and living life as always and some of the cities are still threatening to fine people for not watering their lawns.  Large amounts of water are being dumped into the Pacific Ocean in order to save a small 3-inch fish as a result of court orders.

California’s San Joaquin Valley provides the majority of fruits and vegetables for the entire nation. California produces 80 percent of the world’s almonds and is a major producer of many other crops including strawberries, walnuts, celery, leaf lettuce, spinach and cattle.  Now I know that some of you are saying this doesn’t affect me.  However, in reality it will affect almost everybody in the United States.

Food prices are already being affected and will continue to increase.  More food has to be imported from third world countries.  In some cases, this food is not of the same quality and may have been grown using chemicals that are not good for you.

Now whether or not this is being done as part of a plan to destroy this country as some claim, it will cause great damage to our economy.  I strongly suggest that you do what you can to improve your food storage now.  If this drought lasts one more year, it will be very devastating financially.



Block and Tackles, Something Every Prepper and Homesteader Needs

block and tackleThe other day when I was posting about ropes, I mentioned using a block and tackle to gain an advantage when lifting heavy objects.  A block and tackle is a system of two or more pulleys with a rope or cable threaded between them.

The pulleys are assembled together to form blocks (snatch blocks) and then blocks are paired so that one is fixed and one moves with the load.  The rope is threaded, or reeved, through the pulleys to provide an increased mechanical advantage that increases the force applied to the rope making it easier for you to lift a heavy object.

block and tackle

Block and tackle on peak of a barn


Block and tackles were widely used before the advent of power tools and still are often seen around construction sites.  In the past, they could be seen at the peak of every barn, where they were used for lifting bales of hay into the loft.  A block and tackle hung from beneath a tripod was used for many things including pulling well pumps from their shafts.  Large animals were hung with them to make it easier to dress and skin them.  You can use them to pull loads up ramps, move rocks and many other things.

block and tackle

Block and tackle used to lift log to keep it out of the dirt while cutting it up into firewood

The increased mechanical advantage can help you move loads that one person would normally be unable to handle.  The  increased mechanical advantage of a block and tackle can be determined by how many times a rope passes through the pulley system.  One pulley equals one advantage; two pulleys equal two, and so on.  If you want to lift a 100-pound weight, a one-pulley system would still equal 100 pounds.  A two-pulley system would require half the energy or fifty pounds and a three pulley would require a third the energy or a 33-pound lift on the pull rope.

There is no way that I can explain all the possible uses of block and tackle in a short post.  There are literally hundreds of different uses.  I strongly suggest that you obtain a good set of block and tackles for your storage.  They are available with rope, chain and cables; it is my suggestion that you should have a good set of the rope ones.  They are much more versatile than either cable or chain. The chains get twisted and are mainly used on the ones for lifting engine blocks. Cables are normally used on heavy equipment and cranes.  It will pay you to stock extra rope that will fit the blocks that you purchase.

block and tackle

Multiple rope blocks

Block and tackles have a learning curve.  Take the set that you get out and play with them, see what you can move.


An Interview with Honeyville Farms

HoneyvilleLike I promised a few days ago, here is an another interview with  major long term food supplier.  Here is what Chris Ondatje from Honeyville Farms has to say.


Chris – Thanks very much for reaching out.  I’ve answered the questions you posed as clearly as possible.  We do have a pretty diverse product line, so for the sake of clarity, I’m answering the questions based on the #10 Food Storage Cans that we offer, which seems to fit your intended audience the best.  Thanks for the opportunity.  Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions.

How long have you been in the food business?

Chris – Honeyville is a privately held, family-owned business in operation since 1951.  So, in short, 63 years.

What is your main motivation for staying in business?

Chris – General preparedness is an important tenet within our employee group and ownership.  Food storage was a natural cross-over from the wholesale commodity trade that is at the core of our business.  We strive to make food storage of the very best quality available to the public.  We do aim to make a profit so as to grow and sustain the great Honeyville team and their families.

Do you have a military background?

Chris - I do not personally, but many of our valuable Honeyville team members are ex-military.

What Brands of Food do you sell?

Chris – Within the Food Storage market we mostly stick with our own branded product in #10 cans and smaller, pint-sized cans.  We do support those products with offerings from Wise, Nutriom, Water Brick, Life Straw and other brands we trust.

What is your favorite brand?

Chris – My personal favorites are the Freeze Dried Meats (Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Ham, Sausage, etc.) under the Rancher’s Cut Honeyville brand.

What is the oxygen level in the brands of foods that you carry?

Chris - We use Oxygen Absorbers in every sealed can, so we’re getting 0.2% residual oxygen and better than that in some cases.

Has your food been independently tested?

Chris – Yes.  Our facilities are SQF Level 2 (Safe Quality Foods) Certified, in addition to a number of 3rd party, industry certified standards required to produce food at the highest possible quality level.  We send out product for 3rd party lab testing to ensure that we are consistently delivering on our product specifications.

Why doesn’t nitrogen flush work?

Chris – I don’t think that nitrogen flushing doesn’t work.  I just think that it has to be properly done and frequently tested.  We don’t currently use nitrogen flushing, but we may add it to the mix, in addition to our oxygen absorber protocol.

What method do the brands that you carry use to control the oxygen levels?

Chris - Oxygen absorbers.

Are there Chinese foods in the products you sell?

Chris – We steer clear of China and the Orient.  It means that we run out of domestic supply from time to time, but we stand behind the products we sell and are not comfortable with the FD Fruits, Veggies, and Meats coming out of China to date.

What about foods from Mexico or other countries?

Chris – In an effort to offer great produce year-round, you have to look outside of the US to Europe and South America.  We’ve had consistently great results with produce from these areas and, of course, our predominantly US domestic product.

What would you warn consumers to look for in purchasing foods?

Chris - Be sure to compare apples to apples.  Freeze dried food storage is expensive.  That said, not all FD product is created equal.  Make sure you have a vendor that you and others trust.  Know where your food is coming from, and shop based on that information and price per ounce.  Bottom line:  buy from a company that absolutely stands behind their product.

Why do you think people should buy long-term storage foods?

Chris - We’re not a doom and gloom company.  That’s just not our style.  Food storage is just smart policy.  It’s a way to prepare for the unknown, store a little peace of mind, and hedge the cost of food.  When was the last time you said, “Remember 10 years ago when milk and eggs were so much less expensive?”  It just doesn’t happen.

What size serving do the foods you carry have?

Chris - Most of our food storage products are sold in #10 cans.  A #10 can holds about 10 – 12 cups of product.  Most freeze dried products have a serving size of ¼ to ½ a cup.

Why should people buy from you?

Chris –  We have a 63 year track record of honesty and integrity within the food commodity world.  We absolutely stand behind the food we peddle, the lightning-fast shipping from our 2 Distribution Centers, and an eagerness to make certain that you get what you pay for.

Chris Ondatje, Vice President – ECommerce, Honeyville, Inc.

Rope, Twine and String, Why Preppers Need It

rope, twine and stringBeing a bit older than many of you, I sometimes try to think back to my childhood and try to remember things that have been replaced by our modern society.  One thing that came to my mind this morning is ropes and string.  Now most of you probably have some 550 cord and some ropes for tie downs.  But how many of you stock rope, twine and string.

When I was a child, rope, twine and string were in every home, if you wanted to mail a package, you wrapped it in brown paper and tied up it with string.  Tape was nowhere near as common and not very good. String and twine was used for things like a plumb line, tying back plants, emergency shoe laces and for tying plants up in the garden.

I can remember my grandmother would save all the odd bits of cord so that they could be reused.  Most houses had a string ball on which you saved recycle pieces of strings.  Jute twine was used in the garden and for all types of temporary fixes; I have even seen it used for a temporary car repair. String and twine will prove to be very useful and are recyclable unlike most of our modern day throwaway products.

Rope work with block and tackle were used to lift many things that today are lifted by mechanical means such as folk lifts. Tripods with block and tackle were common on the farms for lifting everything from rocks to motors.  If you are planning to function off grid without modern power tools, you need to learn a bit about the use of a block and tackle and have them in your preps.

Here are a few links to previous posts that may help you. All About Knots, The Care and Maintenance of Ropes and String and Twine.

Rope, twine and string are easy to get now.  If you are around constructions sites, you can often get rope for nothing.  Store all you can it will be very valuable when the grid is down.  I will write a post on the use of block and tackle in the near future.



The New World Series by G Micheal Hopf , a Review

new world seriesTo my way of thinking, there are basically two types of apocalyptic fiction, the ones that consist of a good story and are educational like the Patriot and the Survivalist series and the second type that is just a story.  The New World Series, consisting of The End, The Long Road and the Sanctuary are about the results of an EMP attack on this country.  To me this series falls into the category of just a story.

The story is told by the daughter of our hero much later in her life.  If I had not made a commitment to read these books, I would not have finished the first chapter of the first book, The End.  It started out very slow.  My wife made it about a quarter of the way through the first book.

I will admit that after the first chapter The END got more interesting.  The New World Series is heavy on violence and to me the main character was not likable and did not take care of his family.  Be warned that the books use a fair amount of bad language.

If you are or were a Marine, you will not like the books since they show the Marine Corp in a bad light.  They are disloyal and mutinous.

I wanted to like this series, the subject is one I normally enjoy reading about and I like the publishing company.   But I cannot say that I really enjoyed this series nor would I recommend it to my friends.  My apologies to G Michael Hopf the author, but I am not a fan of this series.

I do have one set of the New World Series to give away.  If you still want them send me an email at with suggests for a future post and I will enter your name in my drawing.


An Interview with FreezeDryguy

freezedryguyFor a while, I have wanted to interview the owners of some of the various food distributors to learn about their products.  So this is my first attempt.  I sent these questions to Freezedryguy and here are his answers.  In the future I will sent similar question to many of the other foods suppliers.  If any of you are distributors and want to be interviewed let me know.


How long have you been in the food business?

FDG 1 month short of 44 years in the food storage business

What is your main motivation for staying in business?

FDG I wanted to assist others to become better prepared to face hard times.

What is your military background?

FDG 26 years overall; Army SF, and the balance of my career as a Combat Engineer

Is mountain House the only food that you sell?

FDG No, Mountain House is my primary product but I also have a limited variety of my own products under the Pack Away label such as Freeze Dried Pineapple, Dehydrated Milk, Butter, Cheese, Peppers, and Dehydrated Pinto and Black Beans.

Why do you like Mountain House Foods?

FDG Mountain House pioneered the Freeze drying industry, are the oldest and largest Freeze Dried food company in the world and their products have the best taste levels and the longest proven shelf life of any product out there; all without the use of chemical preservatives. Additionally, they possess the finest business ethic I have ever experienced.

Do the other foods that you sell maintain the same standards as Mountain House?

FDG We have a Freeze Dried Pineapple that we market under our own Pack Away Foods brand and the quality of this item is right up there with the Pineapple Mountain House used to Freeze Dry many years ago. They also do not produce a Dehydrated line as we do under the Pack away line such as dairy items, various beans like pintos, black beans, chili beans and Bell Peppers but we adhere to the same high oxygen removal standards that Mountain House does which will provide some of the longest storing foods available..

What O2 level do you recommend in foods?

FDG The lower the better but definitely well under 5% for good results; less than 2% is exceptional. Actually Mountain achieves well below 1% and much closer to 0%; as Pack Away does.

Why doesn’t nitrogen flush work?

FDG The nitrogen back flush is a good method, whereas a perfect vacuum is drawn on the pouch or can, then back flushed with oxygen to arrive at the less than 2% residual oxygen level is achieved.

It is the nitrogen flush where nitrogen is merely blown into the container that can be questionable. In independent testing, this method has often produced residual oxygen levels that ran from around to 5% to 15% and beyond remaining oxygen levels.

What is the difference between the methods used by Mountain House for nitrogen compared to nitrogen flush?

FDGThe method Mountain House used for decades (which was even then the highest in the industry) was the nitrogen back flush but in later years, they went to an absorber method that achieved the even higher standards of oxygen removal they provide today.

What about Pack Away Foods, do they maintain the same high standards that Mountain House does?

FDG Yes, we use the same oxygen removal method they use.

Are there Chinese foods in the products you sell?

FDG I have a great aversion to selling foods from China for several reasons but one example is of the toxic contamination issues such as melamine that we experienced a few years ago here in the U. S.  I do not accept foods from Mexico due to their poor track record in many cases.

What about other countries?

FDG I have no problem with other countries in Central or South America as they produce some of the finest fruits and vegetables grown in some of the richest soil available anywhere.

What would you warn consumers to look for in purchasing foods?

FDG Find a vendor who has been in the business for a long time. Ask what the residual oxygen levels are. I would absolutely require less that 5% residual oxygen; 2% would be very good and 1% would be ideal such as we provide. Remember, with all other things being equal, the lower the oxygen levels the longer the shelf life.

Why do you think people should buy long-term storage foods?

FDG It should be self evident; we are in a cycle of disastrous weather patterns that our country has never experienced. Drought is on the increase and food production is down; just look at the crisis taking place in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the largest producer of fruits and nuts in the United States. The economy is still not stable and many knowledgeable feel the worse to come. What better investment these days can we make than to put aside a few months of good tasting, highly nutritious, long storing foods that you only have to add hot or cold water to, to have an excellent meal..

Why should people buy form you?

FDG We are really, really nice people? (NO PROBABLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH!)  We carry the finest, longest storing foods with a proven track record you can buy.  Our Preparedness Counselors are highly knowledgeable, courteous, honest and patient.  We treat every customer as if we were providing a food program for our own children.

Freeze Dry Guy

Homemade Mouthwash for Dental Hygiene

homemade mouthwashA friend sent me this recipe for homemade mouthwash, that he says works great. I am going to try it, hope it works for you.


Most Store bought mouthwashes are usually made with a sharp mint flavor to make our breath smell fresh and pleasant. However, mint only masks the smell and actually feeds the odor-causing bacteria with more sugar. Also, most commercial brands of mouthwash are made up mostly from synthetic colors, flavors and chemicals that are nowhere near good for you.

Instead of just pretending to freshen your breath, you can make your own homemade mouthwash at home using natural ingredients that will clean your mouth from the bottom up. This mouthwash is made from ingredients that you likely have a home, so give it a shot (literally) and get to know the homemade goodness you’ve been missing!

About the ingredients:

Honey: This ingredient has a number of anti-bacterial properties that kill off all the bad bacteria in your mouth, instead of feeding them with sugar. Also, adding honey makes the wash taste better. Use organic or raw honey for the best results.

Cinnamon: A miracle spice in every way, cinnamon gets rid of odor by killing off the odor-causing bacteria in one blast. The International Association for Dental Research found that people who chewed cinnamon gum had a 50 percent decrease in oral bacteria versus people who chewed mint gum.

Lemon: The last ingredient of this mouthwash is a given; lemon is strong, refreshing and cleansing, so it will wash all the hidden food and bacteria from your mouth. It has whitening properties. Just make sure not to add too much lemon because it can erode your enamel if not used properly.

Recipe makes: One small bottle of mouthwash

Ingredients for homemade mouthwash:

  • Juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 or 1 teaspoon baking soda (more whitening properties)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 cup of warm water (to melt the honey)
  • A clean bottle or jar with a lid

Mix together all of the ingredients and give it a shake. Swish or gargle 1-2 tablespoons of the mouthwash for a minute after brushing your teeth or whenever you want to freshen your breath. Don’t use the mouthwash more than once to twice a day (the lemon is very acidic).

Enjoy your fresh breath and clean mouth and take pride in your fantastic homemade mouthwash!



How do You Entertain Your Children After TEOTWAWKI?

children after teotwawkiChildren today are used to being entertained almost every single minute of the day.  Between school activities, television, computers, tablets, phones and electronic games, they are always being entertained.  As a family we have encouraged our grandchildren to learn to read and spend time outdoors as much as possible, but it is hard with all the distractions they face.  So how will you entertain your children after TEOTWAWKI?

In the past, most children had to work and they only had a few homemade toys.  They had to use their imagination, which I believe helped to make them creative.  Children of my generation learned to read and many of us grew up with a love of books.  Today I still see many people reading, but it is on Kindle or some other electronic device.  Now I am not saying don’t use electronic devices where they make your life better.  I have a Kindle and use it often; it is an easy way to carry books with me.  However, the important books that I need for survival I want backed up on paper.

If things collapsed tomorrow, how would you educate you children after TEOTWAWKI?  Do you stock paper, pencils, pens schoolbooks etc?  I go to garage sales all the time and am always seeing great books for sales for a few cents.  How about an old typewriter, I see them for sale all the time and cheap.  There is always good sales on school supplies at the end of the school year.

Just because the system fails does not mean that your children should not be educated.  The means and type of education may change.  One thing that they will have to learn will be to work, which is something that most of today children do not learn.  Reading writing and the other traditional forms of education will still be important and you may have to be their teacher.

What about entertainment?  Children and even adults will need some form of entertainment to help keep their moral up.  Board,card games and even musical instruments are possible solutions.  I see them every week for sale cheaply in garage sales.  Fill a cardboard box up with games and put it in your storage.  After TEOTWAWKI, the games will be new and exciting to your bored kids and maybe even grandparents.

Both you and your children will have to adapt to a new life style, a little pre-planning can make this transition easier.


Cornbread, Here is My Wife’s Excellent Recipe

cornbreadWhile I was thinking about what to post for this morning, I realized that I have never posted a recipe for one of my favorite foods.  That is cornbread; I love it with butter and honey or with beans or practically anything else.  My wife makes great cornbread. It is always good.

Cornbread is easy to make and can be cooked in a Dutch oven or cast iron frying pan over an open fire.  It doesn’t take many ingredients.

        • One cup corn meal
        • One cup all-purpose flour
        • Sugar ¼ cup or 1/8 cup honey
        • 1-teaspoon salt
        • 1-tablespoon baking powder
        • One cup buttermilk, regular or powdered milk can be used.
        • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or 2 tablespoons lard or bacon grease.
        • 1 egg
        • Optional, chop up a couple of fresh jalapenos depending on your taste buds.
        • Optional, chopped pimentos, onions or paprika

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Mix your milk, oil and egg in a separate bowl.  Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir.  Now you can add your optional ingredients.  If you choose jalapenos, the jalapenos should be coated in flour so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Cook in your preheated oven at 400 degrees 20 -25 minutes.  It can also be in a solar oven, a thermal oven or over an open fire.  to check and be sure it is cooked, stick a fork in the middle and it should come out clean.

Personally, I like all the optional ingredients.  But if you are short of supplies, you can leave out just about everything but the cornbread, salt, baking powder, lard or grease and milk.

Try it with all the optional ingredients and you will like it.  Just be careful you don’t make it too hot.



A Good Customer Experience from Goal Zero

goal zero

The complete package including the Nomad 7 and the Guide 10 battery pack..

Lately it seems like everywhere I go the customer service is lousy, so today’s experience was a breath of fresh air.  I have a Nomad 7 with the Guide 10 battery pack.  It has given me good service, but I ran into a problem of my own making.  I wanted to charge some AAA batteries and found out I had lost the adapter that lets them fit into the guide 10.

Feeling kind of bummed out I called Goal Zero and explained that I had lost the adapter and needed another.  Melissa the polite young lady that answered the phone said sure.  She took my address and said it would be shipped on Monday.  I asked how much and she said no charge.  I was floored they did not know who I was or that I write a blog, they just treated me decently.

Good customer service is hard to find so I decided to tell all of you about it.  In addition, here is a link to a post I wrote about them a couple of months ago.  A Good Portable Solar Charger, the New Goal Zero Nomad 7  The more I use mine the better I like it.

If any of you have either good or bad experiences with some of the companies you have dealt with let me know and we can give them credit or warn others to stay away. So Melissa at Goal Zero you did a good job today.  Thank you for making my day.