Wednesday, July 19, 2017

guest article post 2 of 2 today

This is post 2 of 2 today.

Prepping and hoarding and all that is good, but what about when the days turn to weeks, and in worst case scenarios perhaps even advancing to months, years, or even decades? Civilization-ending stuff. Unlikely that we will experience such, to say the least, but the concept of such long-term survivalism is fascinating none the less. We will want to make ammunition last as long as possible, and to be able to also make use of ammunition that we cannot use, a portable reloading setup would be ideal. Lee Hand Press, the necessary dies for the cartridge(s) that you'll be primarily using, bullets, and a powder scale that does not require batteries such as the Lyman 500 which Richard uses in my book. Comes in a convenient cardboard box for storage, and requires only a flat surface to set up. A small pair of pliers can also be useful, or even a plastic kinetic bullet-puller if you've got the space for the big hammer-like tool. With it, you won't risk marring the bullets themselves, so if you're pulling .30-06 to reload .308 you can use the like-new bullets, of if you're wishing to reload .303 British and happen upon some 7.62x39 or 7.62x54r then you should be ok to use the bullets of those Russian rounds in the British firearm.

So that's all well and good, it can certainly extend your ammunition to make it last as long as possible. To go one step further it would be most impressive if you can get a mould to make your own bullets out of lead, but it is advised to keep your ammo somewhere around the speed of sound. Too fast, and I hear the soft lead won't grip the rifling, basically getting lead shaved off in the rifling and causing large amounts of lead fouling, which is obviously not ideal. Due to this, manually-operated firearms would be preferable to semi-auto ones for truly long-term survival because lightly-loaded ammo won't influence reliability at all. If you have a bayonet, then even when you run out of ammo the firearm will still be a handy and durable spear.

Ideally, only use ammo for hunting, and in extreme situations like if someone is armed and actively attacking you. Or if we're going more in the realm of Science Fiction (why not? we're talking about the end of the world here) if you're surrounded by walkers. Just one or two, then deal with them using melee, like with a bayonet. If there's too many to deal with melee, try to avoid them. If they can't be avoided and are bearing down on you, flip the safety off and start shooting as calmly and steadily as you can, making every round last, but ideally the majority of your shooting is only for hunting. Avoid confrontations if possible. Smokeless powder won't last forever though, which is another reason why manually-operated firearms are ideal. Semi-auto firearms don't have the best trackrecord in the world with black powder, which is why semi-auto firearms and actual self-loading machine guns didn't start to really come about until after 1886 when the French blessed the world with 'Poudre B' which I believe is what they called it.

The Gatling Gun is another matter; it is for all intents and purposes a manually-operated firearm, except instead of turning a bolt, working a lever, or anything like that, you just turn a  crank. There's no trigger to my knowledge, just a crank. the idea of an automatic self-loading firearm is you just need to keep the trigger held down, or for semi-auto, just keep pulling the trigger, which is different from continually rotating a crank.

So what about when (not if; WHEN) that precious smokeless powder goes? Either by then you've either figured out the ancient process of making black powder, found someone who does with whom you can trade stuff with for their black powder, or you've reverted to the immemorial craft of bows and arrows. For those who are more technologically inclined, perhaps handy with woodword, a crossbow is a nifty bit of technology to get into. Bow and arrow requires MUCH strength, time, and practice to become good with, but not so with crossbow. Or at least, not QUITE so. As for black powder, at least two ingredients are required, a third is, to my knowlege, optional. Charcoal and saltpetre are the necessary ones, with sulphur being the optional one to my knowledge. The ratio I think is 75/15/10 for saltpetre/charcoal/sulphur, or for the simpler mixture if I had to guess (just to protect my ass as well as Jim's, imma say 'don't try this at home') is 70/30 or 75/25 for saltpetre/charcoal. Charcoal is simple, I've made it before myself. Get a clean paintcan, punch holes in the top, fill it with wood, stick it over a fire (can't remember how long), and you're basically baking the wood. Flammable air will be shooting out of the holes in the top so if you see fire spewing from the holes (again, gonna say not to try this at home just for legal reasons) it's ok.

As for saltpetre, I've never tried. All I know is you need stale piss, fecal matter, and lots of time to let it essentially rot. Mix it up from time to time, add more stale piss (possibly hay too?), and eventually it will be developing white fuzz and/or white crystals. Then I think you boil it down (I can only imagine the stench), somehow filter it to separate the solids from the liquids, and with the liquids you boil, boil, boil to get rid of the water. It's similar to the process of making sea salt from what I understand (I'll explain that simple process below*). So as you boil the mixture down it'll get thicker and thicker and thicker. Once down to a certain point you don't want to risk burning it on the fire so take it from the fire and put it into pans. Let the Sun do the rest, and the crystalline material left is the precious and necessary main ingredient of the thing that goes boom. Mix the ingredients as mentioned, and in theory, you should have a simple form of black powder to be more than likely used in muskets of sorts, maybe rifled if you're lucky, or even smoothbore would be acceptable. Matchlock or flintlock, it depends on your own capabilities.

As my Living amongst the Dead series continues (SPOILER ALERT! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!) once he finally gets to his desired destination, if he lives long enough to do so, then such experimentations will take place, and I will PERSONALLY make my own black powder from scratch as well as my own sea salt from scratch so that I will be writing from experience rather than writing from theory. I myself have owned a Lee hand Press, Lyman 500 powder scale, .303 dies, kinetic bullet puller (not seen in the book series), and so on, so it is all from experience thus far.

*Sea salt. You need LOTS of sea water, and I think stuff gathered farther out will be better than stuff directly from the coast but anyways, get the cleanest sea water you can. Gonna be spending a long time out by the fire. Boil, boil, boil, add more sea water, boil, boil, boil, add more, boil, boil, boil, and it will steadily become like a slurry or clear sludge of hyper-salty liquid. Once it gets to a certain point (I haven't made my own sea salt yet but i will some day), put it into pans, and let the Sun do the rest. You will end up with (hopefully) pure sea salt.

**BONUS CONTENT! Bottling meat! Again, haven't done this myself yet, but I've learned the process from a few sources both online and IRL. Get a perfectly clean Mason jar, fill nearly to the top with cubed-up meat, add a tablespoon of canning salt or sea salt (not iodized for some reason), no need to mix it in to my knowedge, put the lid on almost tight but not quite, and boil the bottle in water that I think is JUST shy from being over the lid. The meat will boil and cook, once cooked you turn the heat off and eventually carefully take the bottles from the water. I think you then tighten the lid down as it cools and then wait. In time, the dimple on the top will POP from being sealed. Richard bottles his own meat using Mason jars and sea salt but I've not described the process yet. I want to wait until I do it myself.

Well, I think that's enough from me, hopefully this has been interesting! If I'm mistaken anywhere, please inform me of such in the comments below. This is that writer fellow J N Morgan, just released my 7th book, 4th in the Living amongst the Dead series, it's titled "Living amongst the Dead: Struggles New and Old." As of writing this guest article on the afternoon of the 18th, Newfoundland time, the paperback is in the review process a second time because I had to make a quick two-word revision unfortunately, and after that I'll be putting the Kindle version through the review process which should take less than a day to correct. So availability MIGHT be a bit odd until, oh, by the 20th everything should be right as rain across the board. I've got another promotional offer coming, in fact already started technically!

Living amongst the Dead - July 22-23
When her No means Yes - July 22-23
Firearm Valhalla - July 22-23
Another One Please, to Dull the Pain - Perma-FREE on Lulu in the link below

Living amongst the Dead : Dark Days
July 18-23 USA - $1.99 USD
July 18-23 UK - .99 GBP
Otherwise - $2.99 USD

Living amongst the Dead : On the Road Again
July 18-23 UK - .99 GBP
Otherwise - $2.99 USD

Living amongst the Dead : Struggles New and Old
$2.99 USD

LatD : Stuggles New and Old might not be on my Amazon Author page yet. You can find that, my latest book, specifically in the link below if it is not yet on my author page.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the guest article, and if you check out my books then I hope you enjoy them! Once again, Jim was the first to buy my latest book, and as I've done many times already I thank him once again for his support over the months. A huge inspiration. Cheers!

Oh yeah, one last note, I started a Fiverr. If you'd like a custom story written, be it action, survival, post-apocalyptic, drama, erotica, or whatever, I might be able to come up with something good!

(Guest Article End)


  1. The sea salt recipe seems quite plausible. As long as there are no pollutants, the boiling process should render it pure. Sea salt is also much better, providing many essential minerals that processed salt eliminates.

    I made some black powder once when I was a kid. Back then you could get the salt petre over the counter at a pharmacy, and a friend’s mother got us some. I posted a link one time on how to procure sulfur and process potassium nitrate, but I don’t have it readily available at the moment. I do recall that it was a pain in the ass though.

    I like black powder guns a lot, and own several. The best of the bunch are the breech loading percussion guns such as the Sharps or the Smith Carbine, since you can load them quickly with a paper cartridge, and eliminate the need for brass. These guns are expensive though, unless you can figure out a way to handcraft something similar at home.

    1. I really need to get on that Forever Shotgun article. Since the BP guns are so insanely priced.

    2. I think the sea water farther out to sea is more pure than what's on the shore, but also if it's on a shore that has no people living near it I imagine it's not much worse than that that's farther out to sea. I can't wait to make my own sea salt, and I also look forward to when I've got land fit enough to grow crops no. Home grown cabbage and home made sea salt to make sauerkraut? Healthy as can be! In time, in time.

      Wicked that you made your own black powder, I'm jealous. I'll have to attempt it myself someday. You can find naturally occuring potassium nitrate (that's saltpetre right?) in really old barns or caves that are steadily populated, like bat caves.

      I've yet to have the pleasure of experiencing a black powder firearm. Smokeless for sure, I've fired over a dozen different cartridges I dare say, thousands of rounds from many designs, but not black powder yet. I love the idea of making my own matchlock, and perhaps someday a flintlock if I can get skilled enough for it. Cheers, thanks for the comment! Enjoying some rum now, celebration of Jim's awesome review of my book 'Living amongst the Dead: Struggles New and Old.' I'd say the bugger is being too kind but other than Firearm Valhalla his praise has been quite consistent. MORE RUM!

    3. Right J N; I think that saltpetre was merely the old timey word for potassium nitrate.

      @Jim; Yes, sadly blackpowder guns are hardly affordable anymore. I wanted to buy a few cartridge conversion cylinders for my cap and ball revolvers, but they cost what the guns cost, and for the price of one, you can buy around 6 of the cap and ball cylinders. If J N can make his own BP gun he’s ahead of the game. $1500 for a frigging flintlock musket? That’s insane!

      Funny when you think that as recently as the 1950’s, black powder enthusiasts were still actually using vintage Civil War guns. This was in the days before the Italian replica’s came along.

    4. Forever shotgun...have you seen these? I haven't used them but they seem to have a good reputation.
      Peace out

    5. It wasn't descriptive enough to get me excited. I can guess the purpose, but why not just use a regular shotgun shell? What am I missing?

  2. Regarding your meat canning advice. Meat MUST only be canned in a pressure canner. (That's a pressure CANNER not a pressure COOKER.)

    The amount of pressure needed depends on your elevation. At my elevation, I need 12 pounds. The time canned depends on the size of your jars.

    Botulism is a real problem if improperly canned.

    "The Ball Book of Canning" is only around $7 at Wal-Mart. It will give you step by step directions that are super easy to follow.

    Also, I think you meant a "TEASPOON" of salt per jar not a tablespoon. Personally, I don't like my meat too salty so I use 1/2 the recommended amount depending on the jar size. The salt is for flavor only and does not contribute to the preservation process.

    Please, please, please get correct information before someone follows your advice and gets really sick. Again, the Ball Book of Canning is what you want to follow.

    Idaho Homesteader

    1. I always took the advice as a short term post-apoc desperation measure, but I could be wrong.

    2. I'd rather use sketchy advice BEFORE the apocalypse while there is still emergency crews and hospitals to save my sorry butt, than after the apocalypse when there is no back-up.

      A pressure cooker is so easy to use and you can find them used at a reasonable price. And the Ball Book is so cheap and even shows step by step canning examples in pictures even!

      As with many things, it takes just as much energy to do this wrong as it does right. So why not do it right and not kill yourself.

      Food poisoning is nothing to mess with.

      I still shudder at that one guy's advice to dry hot dogs in a big kettle that you stir a couple times a day on a picnic table in the hot southern Sun.

      Idaho Homesteader

    3. The way my family bottles meat, it doesn't require pressure. Fair enough on my tablespoon instead of teaspoon mistake, but my family has bottled all sorts of meats more-or-less using the method I just described. Improperly bottled meat can most definitely be a hazard, I'm sure, but the method described works just fine. Also good for bottling mustard pickles.

      Here's a pretty good description of how we do it on the rock. Didn't know it took 4 hours, but there you have it. It might be a bit more rustic compared to how some people do it, but if it's not broke, don't fix it. Thanks for the heads up though. Like I said, I've never actually PERSONALLY bottled meat before, but I'm decently familiar with the process. Cheers!

  3. OMG!

    I refrain from commenting...but we are all thinking the same thing.


    1. I'm afraid to ask, but I must since I assume I'm not thinking the same thing as everyone else; what is it?

  4. Hmmm, As a child that was raised going to Rondevu Black Powder Shoots for weekends at a time for years and having the folks make private ranges on every farm (including the one my dad is still on). I have use many Black Powder related items. I have to admit that for fun, we did play around with making our own powder, of course for fun we also made our own cannon that would shoot cement filled 2 liter pop bottles LOL

    Anyway, its a timing consuming process even when you have the basic's to work with, I can only imagine how much hard it would be if you wanted to work with it at a even rawer form.

    As for the Sea Salt, the first thing I would like to point out is that you are assuming that where you are making salt from has lots of fuel tree's in order to boil the sea water with, might be true in many cases but not all.

    When I lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut (the only time I lived on the edge of sea) we did it with solar an wind and it worked well, you need a large pan, you pour your water to cover the pan and 24 hour sunlight and never ending winds will dry it out, you just pour fresh again and again, and by the time the very brief summer is over, you have a nice layer of salt on the pan, that you scrap down and I finished drying it in the oven to make sure it was both dried but also any bugs were cooked out or off the salt, which was unlikely anyway because its salt after all.

    It worked well enough doing it that way, I make maple syrup (an I have done birch) and it takes a lot of wood to do that never ending boil and up there.. no wood to burn.

    Last, I am going to second Idaho Homesteader on this one, currently the only safe way to can raw meat is to pressure can it, Raw packing is fine (no salt is required for the process, but again I agree with Idaho that a tsp per quart is normal) In my area, I run 15 pounds pressure for my meat loads.

    please use the proper pressure canner but if you are going to water bath can meat, then you must a) know that you are risking getting sick! b) the water must cover the jars by a min of a inch at all times (check your water levels and add boiling water to keep it topped up) per my grandmothers very old, now NOT recommended recipes, its 3 hours at full boil.. and D) Never eat this meat cold etc, you must tip your jar into your pot, not touching the meat or the juice till after its been brought up to a boil for at least 10 min.

    I always thought it odd as a child that there was such strong rules about boil or simmer boil so many things, now as a person that not only can's but teaches canning to new canners locally, I know that it was my grandmother trying to make sure that the food was safe on the back side by always re-cooking it.

    It would help to a point.. but pressure canners are not that costly, and you can easily set up a outdoor kitchen with a wind block to prevent pressure heat changes to be able to use them safely in post- apoc desperation.

    If you are smart enough to have stocked the lids and rings, then you can stock the pressure canner :)

    On the flip side if you can make salt, you can salt and smoke preserve your meat safely for longer term storage.

    Ps, just noted you are a fellow Canadian (waves from Ontario, born and bred in alberta, lived in NWT and NU for nine years between them and then hubby got transferred again) you will have lots of moose and woods. Congrats on your books.

    1. Sounds like good advice to re-cook the meat after opening the bottle, but I stand by the method that my family has used to can all sorts of meat for years. The USDA can have their say, but ultimately if it's good enough for Newfoundland, it's good enough for me.

      Also, right on, a fellow Canuck! My Living amongst the Dead series is actually based in Ontario. Yup, no shortage of moose, deer, or woods lol Thanks for the congratulations, and there's been a development, someone bought my first Living amongst the Dead book in EUROPE! Not just an eBook, I've gotten plenty of sales like that in Europe as well as over in Australia, but a PAPERBACK book has been sold/printed in Europe! So freakin' cool! Anyways, thanks for all the info, great comment, cheers!

  5. dear mr. morgan,
    on the meat canning, your method is condemned by the USDA which no doubt causes you to shiver in your shoes and see your life passing before your eyes! CYA!
    you might try 'ask jackie' , who is jackie clay atkison, at 'backwoods home magazine'.
    she is a great source and is sometimes unconventional.
    has a lifetime experience of gardening, foraging, canning, dehydrating, et cetera.
    i sometimes ask vicki at 'mom's scribbles' web site about canning.
    i have eaten, unwittingly, green beans canned in the oven and never died, although it is an out-of-date method condemned by the USDA. [shiver, shiver].

    salmonella. botulism.

    just a thought.

    1. I guess it's a good thing I'm not American, Ms. Harvey. My family has used the supposedly out-of-date method of bottling for years, probably generations. Many have cracked a can open and ate the meat right out of the can while it's cool since it's already cooked. Thanks for the info all the same though. People may look down on my sharing my family's method of bottling, as well as the fact I'll be using that method as well, but so be it.

      I hear the USDA has also made it illegal to make pemmican a certain way. If you make it in a manner that the vitamin C is left in the meat, it's illegal, but if you make it to USDA specifications then it somehow removes the vitamin C. Seen it in a video years ago, but anyways, thanks for the info. Cheers!

  6. Okay. If botulism doesn't scare you and you still belie e you want to can the way your grandparents did, let's try another persuasion approach.

    It sounds like your method calls for a kettle with enough water to cover the jars and must be boiled for 3 - 4 hours. Probably 2 - 3 gallons of water. Lots of water, lots of time, and lots of fuel. (All this to get a product that could have botulism. Boiling does not get hot enough to kill botulism spores.)

    Or you can do it the modern method using a pressure canner -- 2 quarts of water, 90 minutes of cooking over a medium to medium low heat (after you bring your water to a boil and bring it up to pressure, you turn the heat down to stabilize your pressure.)

    From a time, water, and fuel aspect, the modern method is better -and- produces a safe product.

    Idaho Homesteader

    1. Not just grandparents. My uncles on both sides of my family also bottle/can meat that way. Having taken a look at pressure canners, they do appear more expensive, bulkier, and heavier than a simple metallic pot, though I was also expecting there to be all kinds of fancy stuff and electronics and what not. Glad to see it looks pretty much straight-forward. Still, I intend to use the age-old method, at least starting out, in part due to family and also in part due to it being the method used in my works of fiction. I've done a bit of research into botulism, nasty stuff, and might somehow work it into the series someday if I learn enough about it, how botulism ends up in animals or meat in the first place, and the like.

      Needing extra water doesn't bother me (lots of lakes/rivers in Canada/Newfoundland), needing extra fuel doesn't bother me (plenty of trees in Canada/Newfoundland), and time isn't much of a bother either. After all, in my book, the typical way of things is that when an animal is hunted, any empty bottles are cleaned and prepared for bottling right away. Meanwhile, the survivors will essentially engorge themselves on the meat until either the meat's been finished or it seems to have gotten dangerously close to going off.

      As I learn more, who knows, maybe Richard will find himself a book on pressure canning, or canning in general, and will learn the dangers he had been unknowingly facing. Anyways, thanks for the heads up, I'll seek to learn more about it, but for now our unfortunate protagonist Richard will have to make due with bottling in his simple pot. Don't know how he keeps the bottles off the bottom, I think I might mention that he rocks in the base of the pot? This probably all sounds terrible but we're talking the end of civilization, majority of humans dead, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria! Jokes and references aside though, yeah, pressure canning does sound ideal, but I still intend on doing things the 'old fashioned' way if for no other reason than experience. Thanks again for the lessons!

    2. To keep jars off bottom of pan:

      I'm assuming your character has a regular cooking pot and not a canning pot with the wire jar holder?

      Solution: I've seen an antique canning kettle that had a wooden lattice to use on the bottom. The weight of the jars kept it from floating.

      Idaho Homesteader

    3. Right on, thanks a lot, I'll keep that in mind. Gonna have Richard make some sauerkraut one of these days too once he gets himself settled down. I've made sauerkraut myself, it's remarkably easy and remarkably healthy. All you need is a jar, finely sliced cabbage, and sea salt or pickling salt. Can't remember the combination EXACTLY, but I think it was something like a tablespoon per 5lb/2.3kg? I'll have to look it up again sometime. Great thing to have for preventing scurvy, like when winter rolls around, and Newfoundland can have pretty long winters.

      I've also lived in Fort McMurray for years and the winters there can last half the year, potentially even a little more than half the year. Pretty rough. Also, friendly reminder that I've got some free books going on starting today. All yours if you want 'em. You can download a Kindle app on a spartphone that would allow you to get them I'm pretty sure.

    4. To keep jars off the bottom of the pot, just use your extra rings from your other jars, lay them on the bottom of the pot, put the jars on top, raises them up just enough.

    5. I hate those obvious answers that make me think I'm retarded!

    6. Ah, thanks FG, good call.

      I know what you mean, Jim. Kinda sucks to be new to something; even seemingly obvious solutions are not information we're born with.

  7. jn morgan,
    not looking down on the recipe.
    went to the nfld hunting site and read with great interest. lots of recipes and a fount of all sorts of other info. made the site a favorite.
    the other info from other readers is good for CYA, as that is absolutely necessary in a litigious atmosphere here in the states.
    all kinds of info are useful in unusual situations. you never know what you may be faced with and the more you know, the better.
    i would never use such a recipe in the humid southland but nfld is cold enough to store many foods fairly safely. .
    that hunting web site is good reading.

    1. What does 'CYA' mean? As for Newfoundland, yeah, the temperatures here are usually fairly cool. The summers can still sometimes get quite hot, even approaching 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) which I think to most Canadians would be considered utterly and absolutely abhorrent and unbearable even though in parts of the US that's likely nothing difficult at all. The nights often get nice and cool though, even during the summer it seems common to go down to 14 Celsius (57 Fahrenheit) which is an absolutely lovely temperature.

      It DOES get humid though, it would seem. I don't know how it would compare to the 'southland', perhaps not as bad, but I've seen humidity get up to 80-100%, for whatever that's worth. I don't know how that might affect the recipes you'd use; as it would appear every reader here and their dogs have figured out, I am not overly knowledgeable in regards to canning. Never even done it myself. I've seen the process before but with mustard pickles (grandma's recipe done by my father) rather than with meat, but I'm fairly certain none of my aunts or uncles use pressure canners. As for my grandfathers, I wouldn't know, never really met 'em.

      Anyhow, glad you're enjoying the site, I ought to read more of it myself, but I just found it quickly to show the Newfie way of canning meat, typically moose but also deer or rabbit. Not a huge fan of rabbit but meat is meat. Perhaps Richard will do some snaring one of these days. Going to be including all the survivalist stuff I can in my series, and as I learn more of botulism I dare say I'll be mentioning it at some point in the books as well, who knows, maybe someone will even succumb to it but often it's something that afflicts a group of people since people often eat together.