This weekly Snippets column is a collection of short items: responses to posted articles, practical self-sufficiency items, how-tos, lessons learned, tips and tricks, and news items — both from readers and from SurvivalBlog’s editors. Note that we may select some long e-mails for posting as separate letters.
I’m pleased to report that the waterproof 2005-2023 Archive USB sticks are now being mailed, a full week ahead of schedule. We expect to mail out about 150 sticks each weekday. We’ve already received more than 750 orders for more than 1,400 sticks, and dozens of new orders are coming in daily, so it may take up to four weeks to clear the order backlog. Thanks for your patience. – JWR
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Andreas Bull-Hansen: This Makes You A Rebel Now.
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A very useful Wranglerstar instructional video: Why Special Forces Gear is Wrong for You!
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Reader Robert W. sent the link to this very useful map: U.S. Power Outages.
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My old friend Pete in Switzerland suggested this video: An Alternative to Cap & Ball For Self-Defense. JWR’s Comments: I sell a lot of S&W top break revolvers, at Elk Creek Company. No FFL is required. But check your State and local laws, before ordering.
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Readymade Resources (one of our original advertisers) will be hosting Shoot, Move, and Communicate courses at their training facility which is on their 40-acre homestead near Tellico Plains, Tennessee. For details, see their course calendar. Check that page often, for updates on additional classes.
SaraSue sent this snippet:
“I can’t wait to read “Lumin’s” updates!
The arctic blast arrived in Tennessee this past week with a good 6-8” of snow here on the farm. Wind chill factor brought it well below zero. As I write this, it is -8 degrees and no wind. However, it is forecasted to be -15 due to the wind chill factor before this is over. Weather will improve soon with lots of rain and temps up towards 60 degrees.
Tennessee doesn’t have regular snow plowing capability. Volunteers, county employees, and state employees worked around the clock to just keep the main highways clear which varies county to county, but no other roads are attended to. Most businesses just shut down. Schools closed for the week, as did county services, and banks struggled to open for a few hours each day to keep in compliance with federal regulations. Most folks just stayed home, but neighbors offered to help one another.
I had stalled my feeder pigs in the barn with deep straw and hay, hoping to keep them protected, but they lifted the large stall gate and tossed it within 24 hours, making it difficult for the cows to get in and out of the barn. I think they each weigh about 200-250lbs now. Heave ho!! I pushed and pulled that gate out of the barn and out of the way. I had an extra round bale of hay delivered before the storm, but am wondering if we are going to make it until the roads are passable and more hay can be delivered. I have extra square bales stored in the barn, but long term not enough. I brought as many of my barn cats/kitties as I could find into the garage and made little boxes with blankets for them to hide in. Several of them took up residence in the hen house which was winterized before the storm.
The hardest part has been boiling huge pots of water on the stove, pouring that into 5 gallon buckets, and lugging that out to water troughs every few hours during the day. The cows couldn’t break through the thick layer of ice with their noses, but the boiling hot water could melt a hole for them. I can only fill the buckets halfway due to weight, so it was laborious. I wasn’t strong enough to break the ice with a 2×4 or hatchet.
I didn’t lose power and I am grateful. The house HVAC has struggled to keep up – I could keep the house at about 64 degrees most of the time – good enough. I taped up drafty windows and closed curtains. I brought in firewood from the barns and kept a hot fire going in the fireplace, and it really helped keep the house warm although very inefficient. Having an all electric house, in my opinion, anywhere, is risky. The best I can do is get a fireplace insert – I haven’t done that yet. There’s not a good spot for a wood cook stove, but I wish I had one. I opened all the water faucets enough to get small drops of water going so the pipes have not frozen. Net-net: I have electricity, Internet, heat, and water. That’s a best-case scenario. My dogs who were born and raised in Idaho love the snow and cold temps. They would race around barking and playing as much as I would let them.
What I learned on this go round is I did not have enough animal feed stocked up for peace of mind. I had just enough to get through the week. Very unlike me to be caught unprepared. I guess I assumed this would be a two day event rather than 1.5 weeks. Normally, I buy 600 – 750 lbs of feed at a time. This time I had only purchased 400 lbs. Animals need more food in the cold, so the feed went faster than normal. All the cows need are hay and water, and in a pinch I can cook up oatmeal, rice, peas, and beans to feed the chickens, piglets, and pigs because I have plenty of that stockpiled. I have been warming up milk for the barn cats, but diluting it so it lasts. I did not take into account how exhausting it can be to haul out water every few hours. I did little else other than prepare meals, tend the fire, and keep animals alive. This coming week, we are forecasted to have a lot of rain and temps near 60 degrees. Thankfully. I do not envy my Northern neighbors.”
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Reader Slate Creek sent these snippets:
“Winter has set in finally here in Ohio with bitter cold prior to last week for a good ground freeze and now several inches of snow. The wife and I have been cleaning and downsizing for a possible move in a year or two depending on retirement. Working on indoor repairs and improvements and keeping the wood on the fire, winter is a peaceful time for us. Chili or soups on the wood stove and warm baked bread with butter and catching up on reading. She’s has been stacking next year’s firewood and I’ve been cleaning the barn.
I am in the process of building a GMRS repeater for the neighborhood and have all of the parts to assemble. Trying to determine the best frequency to use for this site and the future site where we will be moving to so I don’t need to change frequencies on the radios and duplexer. I also have been experimenting with a wireless mesh network for encrypted text messaging without the use of a public system such as the internet or cellular. Each node placed in the neighborhood allows individuals to Bluetooth into the network with a tablet, computer, or old cell phone and send direct or group messages to others. Once I have some results from testing I’ll contribute an article on how to build and operate such a network.
My wife and I often will watch on rare occasions Newsmax or Epoch TV times during dinner but usually YouTube videos to learn something new. Mostly cabin builds such as “My Self Reliance”, off-grid builds, Bible sermons, or videos on how to make cheese, bread, or canning (skills we already have but always room for improvement).”
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Reader Mike D. wrote:
“I read that you had frozen pipes and had to go under crawl space. That happened to me once. Under our sink though. It was a brutal cold winter that year, 06, 07, 08 (?). Anyway. I simply opened vanity doors. AND wrapped pipe in what was available—a pool noodle, the kind kids use. Anyways, you can cut to fit your pipes under in crawl space. It’s cheaper than the pipe insulation that’s similar and sold at big box orange hardware store. Just attach it with duct tape. Also, you can try Styrofoam insulation sheets. Cut them in lengths and make long boxes or triangles over pool noodles or pipe insulation. Marty Raney from the Alaska shows used it to cover his water pipe underground. He said it was equivalent to a foot or more of earth. Good luck, stay warm.”
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At Lew Rockwell’s site: The Tradwife Tragedy.
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Lumin in north Idaho offered this snippet:
“I survived my first week of subzero temperatures in a newly built log home that was completed in 2023, meaning that it had never been tested at such cold temperatures. Temperatures here were below -10°F for most of the week with the coldest night at -14°F.
The only issue I had was that my kitchen water pipes froze. I woke up one morning to make breakfast and to my surprise no water came out when I turned on the kitchen water faucet, which gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach once I realize what had happened. Did all of my water pipes freeze? Did my water wellhead freeze?
I quickly checked all of the other indoor water pipes like the bathroom sinks and showers, but they worked fine. It was only the kitchen water pipes that had frozen. I discovered that there was one small section underneath the kitchen sink where the water pipes were resting against one of the house logs. Opening up the cabinet doors beneath the sink and blowing a hairdryer on the pipes thawed them within a few hours. For the rest of the week I ran a trickle of water and kept the cabinet doors open so that warm air from the house would circulate beneath the sink which kept the kitchen water flowing until the weather became warmer.
Other than the frozen water pipes, my wood-burning stove, made by Blaze King, kept the house warm and I was snug as a bug in a rug.
I knew that the cold weather was coming because I follow the weather forecast like a hawk using www.weather.gov which lets me put in the coordinates of the area where I live. I had used my log splitter several days beforehand to prepare plenty of wood for the cold spell.
Here is a pro tip for you Californians who are thinking about moving to Idaho like me: There is “California fit” and “Idaho fit”, and they are different. Going for a run every day and doing push-ups and sit-ups in California did not prepare me for moving logs around and splitting them and stacking them. The first time I split wood several months ago put my back out of commission for a week. I quickly learned to always lift with my legs and to take my time and enjoy the chore.
Another lesson I learned from my first winter in Idaho, and particularly the recent freeze, is the problem of having mounted my solar panels on the roof which are too high for me to reach safely. The solar panels are often covered with snow that I cannot clear, which forces me to use my backup propane generator to keep my house batteries charged. Fortunately, there is some warm weather forecast that should clear my solar panels of snow.
My plan for next summer is to fix this solar panel issue. My ideas are to either keep them on the roof and find some way to warm them using either a heliostat or maybe something similar to my Starlink dish, or to mount them on a platform near the ground so that I can reach them to clean the snow off.
If other SurvivalBlog readers have faced a similar problem with out-of-reach roof-mounted solar panels and have successfully solved it, then I would very much like to hear from you.”
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Over at Notes From The Bunker: Quest for Fire II: Match Game.
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Reader D.S.V. sent this link: When a Man is a Woman and the Law is Not the Law.