Have a Grid Down Weekend

You’ve prepped for the “big one”, you have your emergency food rations, water, and lighting, along with a lot of other “tools” to help you get through a storm, disaster, civil unrest or just plain old WTSHTF .

The big question is, have you tried to eat those rations, and used the emergency lighting and other items in “real time” to see just how effective they are?

If you answered no, then you’re in for a rude awakening. Having things on the shelf “in case” is a lot different than using your tools and skills during a real disaster.

A friend of mine recently decided to put his “prepping” to the test and go a weekend without power to test his gear. He pulled the main breaker on his house on a Friday to see where it would lead, and two weeks later he’s still “off grid”. I also consider this guy the “Yoda” of prepping, as he has the skillsets required for a broad range of contingencies from plumbing, electrical, building, solar, gardening, emergency medicine and so on.

Up here 7000 feet in the mountains, we’re used to power outages and major storms. Over the past two weeks, we’ve had several storms that have dumped well over three feet of snow, my powerless friend reported four feet on his roof, and twelve-foot drifts, and he’s heating and cooking with wood only and doing fine.

When the power goes, I go to the box that has “power Outage” written on it and pull out temporary emergency lights for each room, while I prep the solar generator for a longer outage if necessary.

The bottom line is, if you think everything will work exactly as the sales pitch on the emergency gear you purchased and put up, you are in for a shock. The first thing you will probably notice is that you don’t have anywhere near enough light to feel comfortable. The darkness is unnerving, to say the least, and if you think your emergency flashlight or candles will provide enough light, you’re mistaken.

With a solar generator, and numerous rechargeable LED lights, coupled with my Ryobi work lights, we have unlimited lights in the house, enough to carry on as usual, and top them all off the next day, in perpetuity.

The reason we have such an overkill of lighting is due to the storms we’ve weathered without power showed me just how much light is necessary to feel comfortable.

Give it a shot, see what a weekend without power, lights, or internet or TV will do to your sanity and your preps. I guarantee unless you’re like my friend, you will go to the store on Monday to bolster your prepping gear.

Nothing shakes out the junk from the useful gear like use.

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Avoiding the Prepper Con

We’ve all seen them, survival battery packs the size of a phone that will start a jumbo jet with power to spare, flashlights that are so powerful they will burn your retinas and start fires from a mile away. How about the family survival food package that will feed a family of five for a month, and it all fits in a 5-gallon bucket.

The old adage still applies, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I know that there are going to be a lot of “prepper” websites that will either pooh pooh what I have to say or not run it at all, however, the sites that are genuine, won’t have an issue with it.

There is a plethora of high quality, genuine prepper equipment out there. Great battery packs, super bright flashlights, emergency rations and so on, but how can you discern what is the real deal, and what isn’t?  It isn’t easy, and one good way to start is to do your homework. Between the star rating system on Amazon and other sites, and forums, you should be able to track down serious prepper gear and flush out the junk.

Just because someone sez it’s great, don’t make it great. Beware of endorsements as opposed to genuine product reviews, and even when reading a review, if it’s too sugar-coated, dig deeper.

In my heyday as a tech editor of a very large magazine, I tested numerous products, and while the vast majority were good quality, none of them were absolutely perfect, and I would say so. Beware of terrific reviews that slobber on and on about a product and don’t point out its shortcomings.

If you spend money on a product, make sure it has a guarantee, If you order a Chinese hand crank radio and the plastic arm snaps off when you unwrap it, you might want to get a refund. If a company doesn’t offer a guaranty, find another company, and another radio.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK! The prepper market has become so ubiquitous and in many cases, hi-tech, and that’s great for preppers, but remember a few simple rules:

It has to work under adverse conditions, whether rain, sleet, snow, EMP and on and on.

It has to last. I believe WTSHTF it will be prolonged simply due to the complex nature of our society, and the sociopaths in Congress.

It has to be affordable, that said, it’s better to have a good basic product than none at all.

It has to be serviceable. If you buy a product that will wear out, make sure you have replacement parts.

It has to follow the 3 is 2, 2 is 1, 1 is none rule. One power supply is good, but if it croaks, where is your backup, and your backup’s backup?

TRY it OUT! Don’t buy all this junk and put it on the shelf thinking that WTSHTF you will seamlessly transition into an off-grid lifestyle without issues.

I strongly recommend you have an “Off Grid” weekend to see what your gear does, and I guarantee you will have changes after you have tried your lights, cooking and sanitation systems in real time.

We are in uncharted territory due to the fact that during the great depression, people were “hands-on” and very self-sufficient. Now you get 911 calls because someone didn’t get their chicken nuggets.

There are a lot of other things to take into consideration when purchasing, mine are just some of the basics.

Prepping is a lifestyle, and for many of us, it is a daily way of life, chickens, cows, goats, gardens and all the other things that make life so enjoyable.

If you haven’t started, get going, it’s never too late to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on others.

The “Godfather  Prepper” is the best selling author of the Pocket Partner, an emergency response book for law enforcement, emergency services, and the military, with over 250,000 sold worldwide. A former police chief and guest on Nat Geos Doomsday Preppers, his website http://www.proficientprepping.wordpress.com is loaded with “hands-on” projects.

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The Ranches New Bulldog


Bought this UTV last summer, and I am really impressed with it. Take a minute and see why HERE.

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Growing up a Boomer



photo courtesy of GM


Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of being a baby boomer was growing up in a country that wasn’t just exceptional, it was spectacularly exceptional. The common thread that united all of the varied ethnicities was the English language. The sense of unity in the community was tangible. Almost everyone in the classroom and on the block knew each other.

Violence in school was virtually unheard of, gum chewing was the big problem. We were taught things like manners – to open the door for the girls and let them enter first, saying please and thank you was a given. If a student used bad language, it was off to the principals’ office for a reprimand.

Most of us kids owned a BB gun at some point, and dad would take us to the country and teach us to shoot with his shoulder breaking 30-06 that he purchased as war surplus.

God was still part of life and prayers were common. Religious carols were sung, school Christmas programs depicted the birth of Jesus. The Ten Commandments were taught, and then came Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

We went to church every Sunday, and most businesses were closed out of respect, and to allow employees time for God and family. On Friday, fast food restaurants served fish out of respect for Catholics.

It was an honor to be bestowed the duty of leading the pledge of allegiance at school, facing the flag that our dads, neighbors and family members had recently fought and died for. My dad rarely talked about the war, most soldiers who saw real action didn’t.

When it came to sports, everyone played outside, every moment they could, like in “Sandlot”. We kept score and if you or your team sucked, too bad. I always dreaded being called last when the classes’ most popular students chose sides for dangerous games like “Dodgeball” but you learned early on that life was full of disappointment.

The playgrounds had actual steel equipment, things like towering swings and slides, and merry go rounds and teeter-totters, death traps all, but what a ride.

Growing up, there was one big threat, atomic weapons the “commies” had. We had regular drills and practiced getting under our desk in the event of a nuclear war, I felt confident a ½” thick Plywood desktop would prevent me from being crushed when tons of flaming irradiated rooftop, ceiling, and 200 pound light fixtures with monstrous 250-watt bulbs came crashing down.

In those days, and since the dawn of humanity, it was simple and scientific. There were two sexes, male and female, not the 71 genders Facebook claims. It was the American dream to fall in love, get married and then have a family, buy a house and enjoy this great country.

Detroit was some faraway wonderland, a place with plenty of great jobs and even greater cars. Gas-guzzling monstrosities with steel bumpers that had bullets built right into them (often called Dagmar bumpers). Bumpers then weighed more than most foreign cars do now. Smog was unheard of. Muscle cars had muscles.

I remember my dad bought a 57 Plymouth station wagon that held 8 for us to go to grandmas some 2500 miles away with all six kids. The back seat faced rearward and the entire rear window rolled down, leaving half of the back wide open so my little brother and I could breathe those lead rich exhaust fumes for weeks on end. There were no such things as seat belts, and the dash was soft steel, loaded with pointy metallic knobs. In the event of a crash, mom would stick her arm out to prevent you from flying through the windshield. I remember roughhousing with my brother once and the door opened up and he rolled out, fortunately, we were only doing 35 so mom pulled over and went back and retrieved him. At the gas station, you were greeted with a smile, and at .28 cents a gallon, you would cheerfully get your windows washed, oil, radiator, and tires checked, a free map and some S&H green stamps, that you could save (and eventually lick) so your mom could get a new iron or mixer. Sodas and large candy bars were a nickel, and I remember when a new place called “Taco Bell” opened up and everything was .18 cents.

Entertainment consisted of 3 TV channels, all at the whim of the antenna. Often, the 200 pound, 19” black and white television set would be on a TV tray with spindly metal legs or teetering on some other piece of furniture. Cartoons were great, had heroes and villains, and a moral. Comedy was funny, not dirty. In fact, the married couple in the Dick Van Dyke show slept in separate beds.

Crime wasn’t an issue; you could go downtown anytime day or night and not worry about it.

Patriotism was a good thing. We were proud of America, proud to be Americans.

We were taught to remove our hat when the pledge of allegiance was recited. We were taught to cover our heart with our hand when the flag presented itself in a parade or other patriotic ceremony. We gave thanks before every meal.

Astronauts were heroes, and the space race was awesome.

As a rule, politicians were respected, and you felt that they really did have your best interest at heart. They knew you were their employer and any scandalous behavior would have them looking for a new job. Policemen were friendly and could be trusted. Teachers taught things like math, reading, and writing, and if you didn’t meet expectations, you went to summer school or repeated a grade. High school graduates knew how to read had a good grasp of history and math with hands-on skills learned in wood, metal or auto shop.

Gambling was seedy, you worked for your money. If you did want to gamble, you went to Vegas with all of the mobsters. The thought of a state taxing casinos and lotteries to acquire revenue, then using the proceeds for “education” was absurd. Drugs were a taboo, and marijuana was terrifying to those of us who listened in health class. The thought of a state allowing dope to be sold and taxed, then using the proceeds for “education” was again, absurd.

Sports heroes were just that, these were real people who would spend time with fans after a game, signing, laughing, telling stories, grateful they had a job that allowed them to do what they enjoyed.

I am saddened that my Children and grandchildren will not experience what an exceptional, wonderful, powerful, inventive, creative,  generous country America used to be, not always perfect or right, but always trying to be better. I am truly grateful for the fact that I did grow up in a time when America was at its best, and can only pray that we will once again experience it.

From the blog “preparedness is fundamental”

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The Prep Money Can’t buy

It’s Ironic that for several years now, individuals and families that have felt the need to prepare with extra food and other necessities have been maligned by the MSM as fringe, radicals, doomers, extremists, and numerous other pejoratives.



If you get kicked by a mule once, it’s a teachable moment, twice, you lack common sense.


Yet, when the elite from silicone valley, Hollywood and Wall Street feel the need for prepping and buy missile silos, apocalypse-proof bunkers, and farms in New Zealand; they are hailed as enlightened progressives and other smarmy accolades.

There is one absolutely essential intangible, however; that all of the money in the world can’t purchase WTSHTF and that is quite simply common sense.

Common sense is defined as good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.

Mark Twain said “Common sense is very uncommon,” and that was over a century ago.

For many “preppers”, it simply makes sense and is a lifestyle that affords you peace of mind that the “herd” doesn’t have. Preparing for natural and man-made disasters, Acts of God, and the like requires a lot of forethought and common sense planning. In my seminars, I have found that the absolute VAST majority of preppers are very hands-on, capable, common sense people.

Now let’s get one thing straight, this is not a blanket indictment of these elitists. I am sure there are some that are quite grounded, but they are few and far between. In my business dealings, I have worked with millionaires and billionaires, and while most of them are nice guys, they haven’t a clue. And being clueless WTSHTF will not be an asset.

Over a decade in law enforcement taught me that in general, people lack common sense. It has been gradually bred out of us by a government that has policies to handle everything from cradle to grave, requiring only a compliant society.

A fantastic example of a total lack of common sense was when a propane truck driver on main street drove off with the hose attached, pulling the valve off the huge bulk tank. The ensuing high-pressure stream of volatile raw propane, several hundred gallons a minute, shot well over 150 feet across the main highway. When I arrived on scene to block the highway, there were people, some with kids, driving through the cloud, completely enveloping their cars. Thank God, the stream didn’t ignite, but it was incomprehensible that anyone could have such a dearth of common sense.

Can everyone learn common sense? Probably not, but if one has even a modicum, and wants to sharpen their skills, it needs to be practiced and used regularly. Common sense can help in almost every area of your life, from what not to say to your spouse when you are angry to what to spend your last buck on (No not a lottery ticket).

If you get kicked by a mule once, it’s a teachable moment, twice, you lack common sense.

If you look on YouTube, you can find thousands of examples of people lacking common sense, one being a guy intentionally jumping into a cactus.

Perhaps the easiest way to start working on common sense is to think before you act.

Run scenarios in your mind; if this happened, what would I do? What action or reaction on my part would have the best outcome? Sometimes common sense could be as simple as deciding not to drive through a flooded roadway,

One of the best assets a prepper, or for that matter, anyone could possess is a well-developed trait of common sense, it just makes sense, doesn’t it.

Thanks for your time.

Please sign up for my blog, I will be starting to have regular giveaways in the near future, and please feel free to share this article.




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No Cost to Low Cost Tractors and Yard Equipment



The Case 444 pulling my wife’s stock trailer, which she picked up on a yard sale site for $400.00


One of the many facets of self-sufficiency and prepping is having the proper equipment to get your tasks and chores done effectively and efficiently, however for those of us on a limited budget, some creativity and elbow grease can get you the equipment you need, or a reasonable facsimile.

Over the years, I have been able to collect a vast assortment of either free or dirt cheap tools to help with tasks around the property. From light garden tractors to Stihl chainsaws to rototillers, there are deals out there that, given enough patience, anyone can take advantage of.

One of the benefits of the Web is the proliferation of recycling and freecycle types of websites. I placed an ad on Craigslist for a “Garden Tractor, working or not” and ended up purchasing an LGT145 Ford tractor for $75.00! It had been sitting in the back forty and he wanted to get rid of it. It came with a working PTO, rototiller, front blade, mower deck and vacuum attachment with a separate engine.


After getting it home and cleaning out the carb, I was driving it with only a couple of hours of work. To this day, it is the tractor of choice for tilling our gardens.

Just last summer, I was driving on a back road when I passed a really nice looking wood chipper with a sign that stated “free, hard to start, but runs good”


I got it home and realized it was a carb issue, so $23.00 later, a new eBay replacement carb showed up and “presto” I had a killer chipper shredder. I had some old tires from a junked John Deere garden tractor that I installed along with a hitch, and now I add amendments to my garden, pulled by a Craftsman Lawn tractor that was given to me because it didn’t have a deck. (note the new feedbag tractor seat cover).

My son called me last spring to tell me that he had seen an ad for a Case 444 tractor on a local “Facebook Yard Sale” site so I gave her a call. She said she wanted $300.00 for it and sent me a photo. I told her sold, and drove 55 miles to pick it up. When I got there she showed me a bucket of spare parts and told me it had a plow and rototiller as well. My wife said it was “in a million pieces” and didn’t want it rusting behind my shop. I tackled it that weekend after downloading a manual and within half a day had it up and running and it is a snow pushing beast.

One simple note, the lady said she had numerous calls for it, and for a lot more money, however as I committed over the phone and was on my way, she would hold it for me. The moral is, don’t delay on a bargain, other people will snap it up if you don’t.

Granted, most but not all of the items I get do require some work, however, in the vast majority of cases, it is carburetion, due to the addition of ethanol in today’s’ fuels.

I floated an ad in freecycle saying I was looking for a chainsaw (as mine had finally died) and was given not one, but two 18” Homelite saws, both like new. When a friend gave me a Stihl, I gave the working saws away.

Keep your eyes open for equipment that just has weeds growing up around it. If you are respectful and ask the owner, a worst case scenario is a simple “no”.

Find and join local sites like Craigslist, Freecycle, trash nothing and the free section of the local paper. Remember, you have to be timely and follow through. Before I got my Case to push snow, I saw a freecycle ad for a running Craftsman riding garden tractor with a blade, mower and snow thrower. The owner was moving and didn’t want to hassle with selling it. It was gone in a heartbeat and he had dozens of calls before he could remove the posting.

There are deals to be made, and I have done my share of bartering as well, with much success. I’ve also been able to repair and donate mowers and other equipment to people that needed it.

Another tip, wait for the right season to start looking. In the spring, when people can’t start their weed trimmers and mowers, they often prefer to get another out of frustration.

As far as wheelbarrows, shovels and other hand tools, they are everywhere. I have several barrows and found they usually simply have a flat tire. Wal Mart has a super heavy duty tire for $10.00 (or at least they used to) and in several cases, I simply replaced the tire with a marathon flat free tire.

For shovels and rakes, I simply replace the broken handle with a steel tube that I tack weld in place. It’s a lifetime repair.

As I stated earlier, gas equipment, mowers, tillers and the like will probably have a carb issue. To find out, just give the air filter a squirt of starting fluid and give it a tug. If it fires then dies, it’s probably the carb. Brand new knockoffs are available on eBay for $10.00 up, depending on the type.



 It’s remarkable that a new carb is so inexpensive. In some cases, it is less costly to buy a new carb than to rebuild an old one.


Swapping out a carb is easy, and usually, it fixes the issue. To keep your carbs from getting damaged, get some non-ethanol gas before you put them up for the winter, and add a shot of sta-bil or another gas preservative. Chances are when Spring rolls around a couple of pulls and you’ll be on your way.






Let me know if you’ve ever gotten a piece of equipment for a deal or if you have any tips.


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Emigration versus the USA

Some of you have noticed my absence for a while, and one of the things keeping me busy was some travel. When I travel, I talk with a lot of people. During my last trip, I gave away 80 flag pins to Australians I struck up a conversation with. Funny, how I found many if not most of them liked Donald Trump and asked me my opinion on him. After watching their news I could see the effects our corrupt news companies had on theirs. I also had a chance to see a lot of ground and the bottom line is, the good ol USA is still great. take a minute and see why I think hanging around for the fireworks is the way to go. See the video HERE

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