Tuesday, May 20, 2014

guest article


Nightshift’s journey towards preparedness

            I am writing this to perhaps trigger some ideas and actions among the readers. “Food for thought” if you will. Some of it is quite detailed with my specific situation but hopefully anonymity will help protect OPSEC.

            I can remember being a teenager and thinking how great it would be to go out and live in the wilderness as depicted in so many movies and television shows. Build a cabin, live off the land, and I still occasionally think about how great it would be to live in Alaska. Then reality sets in…

            As a teenager I imagine many of us built a survival kit that by today’s standards would be quite amusing. I remember the fixed blade knife, pocket fisherman, the worthless first aid kit consisting of a few band aids and cotton balls.

            Other than reading “Survive” magazine and a few library books I didn’t do much with it. I hunted and fished and spent time in the woods but did little in the way of preparedness or as it was called then, survivalism.

            I went in the military after high school and didn’t think much about it although I did learn a few useful skills. Field skills, navigation, NBC, ect.

            I got into law enforcement in the early 90s and did 20 years. During that time I got quite an education in reading people and street survival. I worked some of the hardest hit areas during Katrina in south MS. Sorry New Orleans flooded. We had concrete slabs for miles but the media only spoke of New Orleans.

            I was doing storm type preps prior to Katrina and had a generator and some food and firearms. My wife (ex) and I fed 23 people for 10 days after the storm. It got me off my ass and into real prepping. I also started watching the alternative news and found Lord Bison, and learned a great deal from his ramblings.

            I am going to break this article down into the usual areas of preparing.

Guns and ammo (Defense)

Shelter and property

Food storage and production and water




            Let me state one thing. I am by no means uber prepared. I am strong in some areas and weak in others. What I intend to do is as the title states, show my journey in all facets of survival preparedness. If you find an idea that works for you, great. Have constructive criticism, great. I want comments.

             In some areas I have reached the destination so to speak. In others I am at an intersection trying to decide which way to turn. Yet other areas I have only planned the trip on paper. For example, solar power. I have 2 different sized systems all planned out but the $2500 to $4000 setups are not in the budget yet. (Note, the 30% federal tax credit for solar ends either in 2014 or 2015. I’m aiming to buy before the end of the year) Perhaps I am missing some ideas altogether.

 I do not live 100% by Lord Bison’s rules of pit and camper living. Don’t tell him but I have a motorized gas burning vehicle and at this moment don’t even have a bicycle. This does not imply that I don’t respect his philosophies and use some ideas and file the rest away for later. Jim’s plan is my fall back. My land is banker free and my mobile home is paid for.  My current living arrangement was established while I was still married and we all know there is a standard that spouses usually want in a lifestyle. I have been fortunate in that I have always been able to make a decent income. I have worked more than one job my entire adult life since I got out of Active Duty. Since my divorce I have had to regroup but things are getting better on the budget front for me.

GUNS AND AMMO (Disclaimer: all my firearms were lost in a tragic boating accident. Any similarity to an actual weapons collection is coincidental)

            NOTE: I admit that I have a lot more firearms than most people and I am not trying to impress anyone. This is just what I ended up with. I have enough for my kids kids.  I do not want to start a pissing match about right or wrong on my weapons choices.  Any gun beats a sharp stick. I have a core group of guns that I consider my first line and a decent group of back-ups. I have a group of other weapons that were either passed down to me or are collectible. One would go broke today trying to match this level but I have done this over 30 years of adult life.        Here goes.

Most everyone likes guns and ammo talk. I do subscribe to Jimbo’s firearms philosophies but I wanted to expand on it with my collection. I have had firearms since childhood. When I was growing up I had a bolt 22, a 20 gauge and a 30-30 single shot. On my 18th birthday I became the proud owner of a brand new Ruger Mini-14. This was in the mid 80’s before the AR craze. I purchased it myself and it was my Go To rifle till the early 90s. I traded up to a stainless ranch rifle with a synthetic stock at that point and it spent time as my Patrol rifle. I bought a PTR-91 which is an HK clone and a great rifle in 308. My department did not want to let me qualify with it as they were all AR-15. I sold it and bought my first AR. I was not satisfied with the lower power round but it was my only option. I later picked up a second  AR at a steal from another officer who was going to get one issued and couldn’t see tying his money up in one of his own. Uh OK?

            I had also acquired a few more guns, 2 30-30 levers, 4 10-22s, couple of shotguns. My step-father gave me a couple of revolvers and a bolt rifle.  My friend and lawyer was doing some legal work for me and mentioned a desire to get another AR. All he had was an old Eqyptian Maddi AK-47. I offered to trade him and he accepted and didn’t charge me for fees so I started my Commie gun collection. During the recent gun panic of 2012, I sold my other stock AR, 10 mags, and 900 rounds of 40 year old surplus ammo for $2400. At least half of that was profit. That money, along with trading a Glock pistol  I acquired another AK, 2 SKSs for back ups, 2 M-44 carbines and a wee bit of ammo. That’s like Lord Bison and his wee bit of grain.

            I admit, before the boating accident I was gun heavy. But I can justify it partially by the fact I had the means to acquire them. I got good deals, They really are an investment in that I could sell a few if cash got tight. In fact I have one buddy that has dibs on a few of my guns if I ever sell. Plus several of my guns are already promised to my kids.

            You wonder how I subscribe to Jim’s gun philosophy with all these?

            I have 2 .357 caliber revolvers. One being an indestructible stainless GP-100. A forever gun if any modern firearm can claim that.

            I have the 2 Mosin M-44 carbines in 7.62x54R. A workhorse in a caliber that hits like a 308 or 30-06. I also have a long barreled MN-91/30. I bought up a supply of non-corrosive ammo while it was cheap. I traded one of the M-44s for a compact .380 recently to my neighbor. He had been trying to horse trade for one since I got them and caught me at a weak moment.

            I have a great little scoped 6mm for longer ranges if need as well as a 308 military surplus bolt. Unfortunately it is next to impossible to scope.

            I have multiple 22 caliber rifles with one being a bolt action.


            I have ammo for each.

            So I think I covered Jim’s requirements. 22 rifle, heavy revolver, military bolt action, shotgun and ammo. Yes I covered it in depth but I have back ups. Most of the above weapons were acquired because of Jim’s teachings.

            Now, going beyond the wise teaching of Lord Bison’s frugal ways I have a collection of more advanced firearms and ammo to support them. I tend to try to acquire my firearms in pairs when possible for redundancy. These firearms are more tactical if such a need arises. If you ever get in an OH SHIT situation, say traveling, I think it is hard to argue the fact that having a semi-auto high capacity option is a plus.

            I have 2 Glock 40 caliber pistols with nightsights courtesy of my law enforcement career. I have 2 AK style rifles with all the support accessories. I have 2 SKS rifles for ammo compatibility and I picked them up during a gun ban panic. I figured that the SKS was grandfathered in Kalifornia so they may stay legal. They are rugged and load and shoot faster than a bolt. I also have a couple pump shotguns and a side-by-side coach gun that is just a cool gun that a dear friend gave me. I have a few 10-22s including a break down model. I have some odd ball stuff and a couple collectables that were handed down. I could sell some of the odd ball guns but I figure they are better than money in the bank. Plus having a few odd balls in common calibers like the 308 for example will provide a means to utilize any acquired ammo in those calibers.

            I still have some room for improvement in this area. Not on actual guns or really ammo but need a couple more slings and holsters. I’m halfway there in that area. What is my recommendation (opinion) on the frugal side of life? A decent revolver or auto pistol in an adequate caliber. A pump 12 gauge shotgun. A 22 rifle (a semi auto gives a lot more firepower) A solid bolt action centerfire rifle, and if you can swing it a military style semi. I’d say that is pretty darn close to Jim’s idea if you can afford it.

SHELTER AND PROPERTY (Retreat location if you prefer)

            I lived in a neighborhood in a town of maybe 15,000 on the Gulf Coast. After Katrina we planned to move out to some land in the country. Started with about 9 acres and put a mobile home on it with plans to build one day. The equity from selling the house paid for the trailer, well, 300 sq. ft. shed, and other improvements. All I had was a small land note held by a friend.

My friend the realtor called me one day about 6 months later and asked me if I was interested in the 13 acres next door. I told him I couldn’t afford it as I had seen the listed price on the property plat. He laughed and said “but I haven’t told you a price”. Well preparing myself to say no he quoted exactly half the asking price. I said “Damn”. He replied that it was a good price and I laughed and said it was. It was to good to pass up. I called my friend and he loaned me the cash for the 13 acres. He said that my guaranteed interest was safer than stocks and better than the bank. I now had 22 acres of nice wooded property and a bonus. A spring on the 13 acres.

 I only had the original one acre cleared where my trailer was sitting and I started looking at all the pine trees sitting there. Or should I say standing there. Folks pay for trees and it would clear a lot of my land. My property at one time had been timber land so the level areas had pines and the hilly areas are assorted hardwoods. I did some checking around and signed an agreement for a man to pay me $10 a ton for the privilege to cut my trees. He estimated about 300 tons. He finished cutting after 950 tons. $9,500 in my pocket which the now ex-wife disposed of most of it. I was left with about 10 acres of wooded land and the cutters left most of the non pine trees standing so it looks pretty good.

I thought that was the end of my land acquisitions until a couple years later my realtor friend called yet again. 10 acres with a well septic and singlewide on it bordering my land. $30,000. I countered with $25,000. We met in the middle after I inspected the place. It needed cosmetic work but was solid. I put flooring and kitchen cabinets with appliances in it and am selling it to a friend who is also a prepper with many skills for a small profit but way below market value.

I will be left with the 22 acres which currently has my trailer on it. It’s a newer model and pretty well insulated. It was 2 years old when I got it and its holding up quite well. I do plan to build something eventually. Debating on if I should build here on the original plot and reuse the well and septic and sell the trailer or on the 13 acres and rent the trailer. My folks are retiring and may winter here. The building is a few years down the road if it happens. I plan on building on the small side but am required to go at least 800 sq. ft. Definitely not a McMansion. I don’t want to retire in a trailer that will fall apart eventually. If I get to build I can incorporate some ideas for long term collapse living. Wood and solar heat. Solar electric, water catchment, you get the idea. If building does not work out I can do a lot of it in the trailer although I placed it on a north south axis instead of an east west. I hurt my solar heat ability greatly but the original plan required me to leave room to build a house. My other plans are for a “root cellar” which will also provide a storm shelter. Hurricanes won’t hurt me where I’m at but they spin off tornados up here. A pole barn or garage of some type is also in the plans.

My property, while not junk land will provide me water, firewood, perhaps some game for a while, and areas for food production. I am also developing a close network with the neighbors. Got real lucky there. I may also build a small cabin (Shed sized) off grid style on the back of my 13 acres. Just in case something ever happened to my trailer I could camp comfortably. Kind of an extra insurance policy. My taxes are only $360 per year with the trailer. A house would change that a lot.

Drawbacks to the property? 14 miles to the nearest store and town. I am about 37 miles from work. I expect to pay a lot of my income for gas if it goes crazy (when it goes crazy) and will likely buy a motorcycle this year. I get 25 mpg with my 4 banger truck but doubling that or even tripling that may make it reasonable to commute in the future. There are 500cc bikes that get 70 mpg. If gas goes to $15 bucks a gallon I could still commute.


            Let me preface by saying food production takes time. I work full time and have a one hour one way commute plus I mow and maintain 8 properties. It is a great extra income but takes a lot of my time.

I am slacking by some standards here. I’ve been on this land near 5 years now and do not have a garden. I plan to do something this year. I did plant  2 pear trees and a plum, peach and Satsuma tree. Only the pear trees survive but in 4 years I only had fruit started one time and they disappeared. Deer or my late fertilizing ended that. For you Yankees, a Satsuma is like an orange but better all around. Sweet, peels easily and delicious. I will plant some more but not the dwarf variety.

            I will be planting blueberries and some more fruit trees. I have a ton of wild dewberries which are like black raspberries and delicious. I currently have a few hens and a rooster but only collect eggs. I have not tried to hatch any chicks yet but it is a very necessary skill in my book. Have to have meat production and you can’t beat chickens for eggs and meat. If you free range them the feed requirements are minimal.

            What are my plans for expansion in my food productions? Fruit and nut trees and bushes. Hatching chickens. Pygmy goats. A garden. A potato tower or two. Permaculture type plantings that grow back every year and need little input. I eventually want to be mostly self sufficient in food production.

            There is good game on and around my property but I realize that that will disappear if things collapse and everyone starts hunting. I have squirrels, rabbits, deer, turkeys, hogs and black bears are moving into the area. Have predators like bobcats and coyotes too.

            I am planning on a one or two acre pond on the property too for fish and all the other wildlife it will attract such as turtles, frogs, birds, ect. Plus being spring fed the water should be good with minimal filtering.

            Food storage is good for maybe 2 or 3 years by myself. I have stored rice, beans, pasta, a few hundred pounds of grains and a year of freeze dried. A lot the freeze dried are things like tomato powder, meat and the lower priced items.  I keep a couple months of canned goods that I rotate as well as toilet paper, coffee, seasonings, ect just in case. I have a Big Berky that I bought before learning about filters and 5 gallon buckets. I keep quite a bit of propane and have a grill, camp stove and 22 acres of woods for cooking on. I also have a cool cast iron hibachi grill that I think will pay for itself in time and a good collection of cast iron cookware for an open fire.

            I have two grain grinders. One of Jim’s cheap corona copies and a nicer unit. I have a bread maker that my folks gave me but I haven’t tried it out yet and a dehydrator. I have manual kitchen tools too.

            Rainwater collection is also part of my plan. I have 7 55 gallon drums. If I build I will go with an all metal roof but have 300 square feet of metal shed roof now. I need to pick up 40 feet of gutters and some pluming fittings and I would be good to go with my current set up. I plan to expand that surface area with some lean to roof attached to the shed to keep items protected from the weather or even a carport. 10’x20’ extensions would provide an additional 400’ of rainwater collection at a reasonable cost.

            Don’t forget I have a pretty reliable spring on the property. I eventually want to build a good size pond and have the heavy equipment next door at cheap rates. Till then a couple hours of shoveling would suffice for a watering hole to fill and haul buckets for flushing and filtering.

            I know this kind of rambling but I think it shows my thoughts and may give a few folks some ideas.


            I love living in the boonies. I am 14 miles from the nearest country corner store or anything else for that matter. I am also 37 miles from my job. I won’t be riding the Dakin peddle express anytime soon. I sold my full size V-8 truck that got 18 mpg and bought a 4 banger that gives me an honest 25 mpg.( If I didn’t need a truck I could have got something like a Toyota corolla that I could get 40 mpg out of. That’s what I got out of my exes car.)  But it still takes 3 gallons of gas a day to go to work. By today’s prices that is a hair over $10 a day to go to work and takes 1/8th of my take home pay. I combine trips as much as possible and really only go to town on days I work so little extra mileage is involved. When gas doubles and triples, it will put a major dent in my cash.  I believe that unless we face a full grid down collapse, gas will be available although at a much higher price. I plan for gas at $10 to $20 per gallon and realize that at some point commuting may not be practical.

What is my option? Long time readers of Jim’s site know that I am a proponent of the smaller displacement motorcycles. NOT SCOOTERS AND MOPEDS.  A 750cc cruiser is capable of 56 mpg. 65 mpg is not hard to achieve for some bikes that are capable of running on the interstate. Some scooters get 80-100 mpg but are under powered and will cause kids to laugh at you. I’m actually looking at a 500cc bike that gets over 60 mpg and would make commuting affordable. In the south it is feasible to ride most of the year, albeit with some discomfort. At gas prices now it is not financially reasonable for me to buy a bike for money saving reasons alone but they are fun to ride, would pay for most of the expenses and will be golden if gas escalates. I priced out insurance and am looking at $10 to $20 a month depending on the type of bike I get. You can get a good used bike for $2,500 on up, maybe less.

Ironically the best mpg bikes only achieve about 75-80 mpg and are small displacement (250cc) only capable of barely hitting highway speeds with no room to spare. But by giving up a few mpg to the low 60’s range it opens up a lot of options. Also consider that the smaller displacement single cylinder bikes have a shorter life span. With my commute distance I need something a bit more comfortable than a small bike. Keep in mind that ideally you need saddle bags or a rack on the back to carry more than what you can in a back pack. I only grocery shop every 2 or 3 weeks so this isn’t a big issue for me and would use the truck. I could do it monthly.

If I was closer to work and didn’t have to worry about highway speeds I would consider a smaller 250cc bike that would reduce my costs further but then gas would not be as much of an issue. Perhaps when I get some bills paid off I will look for a job in the town 14 miles from me and reduce these costs and align more with Jim’s philosophies.



            My philosophy is in line with Lord Bison’s in respect to reducing costs and eliminating debt. I too have the burden of child support that our Lord endured for many years. I will be done with one in about 2.5 years although I have a decade on my other child. This is a price we pay for divorce but on the bright side I can live how I please now. Not much I can do about these expenses but in time daycare cost will end.

            I also owe the ex a significant amount of equity from the divorce. It is split into a bank note and an amount I pay her monthly. Worst case I pay it off in a little over 26 months. I am trying to at least pay off the bank at its higher interest rate by December.

            I also paid off a credit card that I put a lot of improvements on for the place I’m selling. I still owe on the flooring but have less than 8 months to go on it at 0%. It will be paid sooner though. All these payoffs mean I can concentrate on other debts and leave myself more room to weather the coming economic/inflationary storm.

            I have a pension from my law enforcement career. I also hope to see a military pension from my years in the military active and reserve at age 60. Social Security? I may see something although it most likely will be worthless. I don’t plan to have this so I plan to be debt free and mostly self sufficient by retirement. What little income I do get may be enough. I will still be in better shape than most folks as will many of Jim’s readers who heed his wisdom.

            Precious metals? What do you all think? I am buying silver as I can. At my current property tax rate I am good for almost 4 years. I’m still building on this. I don’t know how much barter value precious metals will have but imagine we will be able to pay taxes with them. My other precious metals are brass and blue steel. No explanation required.

            My side jobs can net me as much as a thousand dollars a month in the mowing season….8 months here and I am pouring every bit into debt, silver, cash and preps. Depending on several factors I could live on my pension alone in a year but will keep working while I can. May not be an option eventually. If the guy buying my other place decides to pull his retirement and pays me lump sum, I can have everything except my land paid off. With the excess cash and no other debts I could knock that out too.


             First aid, fire starting, wood heat, ect. I could make this a book if I’m not careful. There is a million things to consider. A lot of great ideas have been well covered in Jim’s blogs over the years and a lot of laughs too.

             My journey was not always efficient, or logical, or smart. I also have felt the need for some gadget or gun only to have buyer’s remorse later. I have really cut back buying except to maintain my stocks and am working hard to get out of debt and have a pad of cash and assets. You still need to have cash on hand and it double as insurance for life’s surprises. I’ve made mistakes but try to head in the right direction over all.

            There are many other things to consider in prepping for collapse, alien invasion or whatever your fancy  The trick is to cover what you can and remember to have some fun.  


  1. What's your real name? Where do you live?


    1. I'm sure this was meant humorously- but come on! An article like this probably took six hours or so to write. Please respect the work it took.

    2. six hours to write this? maybe, he is a former LEO.

      les moore

  2. Sounds like you are doing an excellent job. Keep up the good work!!!

    I have lived with solar for 20 years. The nice thing about it is that you can do it in stages as you can afford it. Start with a couple of deep cycle batteries, a charge controller, and a solar panel. Now you have DC power. Add a cheap inverter and now you have AC power. Add more solar panels,when you get the money. Keep upgrading parts of your system when you have the cash. Save all your old stuff for back up.

    Idaho Homesteader

  3. Hey Jim I had sign in issues and sent you an email to delete my two other comments. Ironically Google added my real name. Shirley I know you can do better than that. I do hope you at least were slightly entertained if not inspired. Thanks for posting Jimbo

  4. Great article!

    As far as first aid is concerned, I think that Red Cross/EMT courses are something that every survivalist should have. Stock up on over the counter, and even prescription meds, such as pain killers if you can? Alcohol and ether will suffice as a primitive anethesia if it has to. Learn herbal medicine. Download "Where there is no doctor" "Where there is no dentist" for free, the last time I checked? Purchase a surplus field surgery kit, and hope that you do not need it? This training will put you on par with a 19th century doctor, which is significanly better than nothing.

    The motorcycle sounds like a fine idea. For myself, I would probably get the federal minimum CC rating for highway use (250cc I believe?) as my main purpose for switching to a bike would be for maximum economy, low cost insurance, up keep, etc. Since the big bikes do not really get much better mileage than some of the smaller cars (And in some cases, no better) I would not give up climate control, enclosed cab, etc, unless there was a significant cost reduction in getting a bike. In the latter case I'd go with a Geo Metro, or something similar.

    1. When I was a lad, I took my 80cc Honda Passport on the highway. Not sure if you still can.

    2. Wayne, I got my EMT a long time ago and learned alot when I worked part time security in an ER. Good advice though.

      Thanks all

  5. " I do not live 100% by Lord Bison’s rules of pit and camper living. Don’t tell him but I have a motorized gas burning vehicle and at this moment don’t even have a bicycle."

    I'm not at the Lord Bison level either but I think we can all be at least partly there. How much does a bike cost? Get a used one from Craigslist for $20. A solar panel from Harbor Freight runs $45 for one 15W panel. I'm assuming your car has a batter that you could charge with it. While the Bison method is best (already using the bike and solar panels on a daily basis) there's no reason we can't cheaply squirrel away the basics.

  6. Nice article. You getting chickens?