Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Nation Undone

We are a nation seeking liberty. But not the liberty that you would think.  Although we will tell you that we are freedom loving, ruggedly independent, hard working, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of folks, nothing could be further from the truth.  We are a nation of mere peasants, offering obeisance to the king in exchange for scraps from his table.

Oh, we seek liberty, but not the liberty to be free from the constraints of tyranny.  We seek the liberty to collect regular welfare payments, state provided health care and housing assistance.  We scream foul about not being part of the "1%"  while refusing to rouse ourselves from in front of the television long enough to hold down a job.  We bellyache and complain about government spending and frivolous excess, while we mortgage our souls for new cars and designer handbags.

It is easy to look at our leaders and blame the mess that is our nation on them.  But they are nothing more than a microcosm of "we the people".  We are an undisciplined, self-indulgent generation who demands to have it's cake and eat it, too.  We hold our government to a standard that we do not expect of ourselves.

This cannot be.  The only way to right a nation is to right its people.  The responsibility for this nation is yours.  And it's mine.  If we intend to become slaves, we are well on our way.  When we give up the liberty of maintaining our own employment or paying our own debt and instead rely on the "king" to provide for us, we have moved from the realm of freeman to the realm of slave.  When we accept "benefits" and "assistance" from the state, we give the state authority over our person.  And that authority comes with too high a price.

We ought to be a nation seeking liberty. But we need to be seeking the liberty to make our own way, make our own mistakes and work through our own consequences.  If we expect our leaders to guide this country with wisdom and discipline then we need to live our lives with wisdom and discipline.  And then, perhaps, we can begin to heal a Nation Undone.

Monday, April 22, 2013

For Sale: Thriving Home Business


A number of months back I mentioned scaling back on the blog - or even discontinuing it altogether.  After a lot of consideration, Sir Knight and I have come to the conclusion that something has to give, but it won't be the blog (or the book), but the business - Naturally Cozy.

I began Naturally Cozy (reusable feminine hygiene and incontinence products) 4 years ago with a sewing machine and a dream.  Little by little, the orders came in, 1 or 2 at a time, and then by the handful.  Soon, my inbox was overflowing with orders and I have seen my little business blossom into a thriving home business, keeping myself and many others busier than we could have ever imagined.

As the years have sped by, we have gotten progressively busier.  Due to the increase in business over the past couple of years, my other duties have began to suffer.  I'm not doing any of my jobs as well as I would like.  I have re-evaluated my priorities and have come to realize that my job as wife and mother comes before any other.

And so, we are selling Naturally Cozy.  If you are interested in moving to the hinterboonies and need a thriving, mail-order, preparedness oriented home-based business, I encourage you to email me for details on Naturally Cozy.  I will be selling the business name, along with the URL, patterns, existing stock, an established customer base, (almost) free advertising on the unparalleled SurvivalBlog and 1 year of free advertising on Paratus Familia Blog. For more details and information, please email me at

Naturally Cozy is ready to be expanded.  Maybe you are just the person to do it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Training with the Ghost


As I have mentioned before, it seems to me that there are two very distinct type of "Preppers" - those who want to buy all of the cool gear and talk about prepping, and those who want to get their hands dirty and REALLY prepare.  Sir Knight and I want to stand firmly in the latter classification.  And so, in that vein, numerous members of our little clan spent the weekend training with John Mosby, "The Ghost", AKA xxxxx  xxxxxxxx.

John Mosby has what he calls a "Combat Rifle".  This was a three day event, held in xxxxxxxxx, Idaho, commonly known as xxxx  xxxxxxxx, which included everything from dry fire drills and trigger controls to a live fire exercise in the dark.  We mentioned this class in "10 Things to do Until the Revolution", and we knew we had to give it a try.

Acquiring a target while moving forward
First of all, let me say - this is like no class you have probably every attended.  Despite being hard work (12 hours days in biting wind and cold, and even snow) it was a tremendous experience.  If you are an expert at the "Fighting Carbine", I almost guarantee you will learn something new in this class.  If you are a beginner, this will be more than instructive - it will be critical.  I believe, especially for the beginner, this course could very well safe your life and those of the people you love.

Runnin' and Gunnin'

About the instructor:  This is a link to his website - Mountain Guerrilla.  When you read his blog, you'll find that his language may not seem family friendly, however, when we took the course, there were several young "juniors" attending and no foul language.  Believe it or not, this is a family affair.  If your whole family has the notion, you can bring your wife and your children (of appropriate age).  John is very patient with children (the only shouting is over the sound of the shooting and he doesn't do the whole "drill instructor" thing) and the other students are so pleased to have youth in their midst that they go out of their way to be kind and helpful.  Juniors come out of this class competent and confident in their handling of firearms.  Any exotic weapons brought to the class will be demonstrated and any interested parties will be allowed to examine the weapons and possibly fire them.

This isn't Hollywood - you actually have to reload (on the fly)

A father encouraging his son
Suggested gear and equipment is listed on his blog as follows:

Combat Rifle: A three-day class designed to teach you the reality of fighting with the modern fighting rifle or carbine, at realistic combat ranges from 0-300+ meters, under combative conditions. You will learn to run your gun with or without optics, how to perform common combat weaponcraft tasks under stress, and how to keep your gun running in field environments. This will also cover the effective set-up of an effective and efficient fighting weapon.
Equipment requirements include:
Students provide their own ammo: 500-1000 rounds of rifle ammunition (more is recommended)  Editor's Note:  Due to the price of ammunition, John has adjusted the round count on this training to 400 rounds per student.
Hardware – A functional and practical carbine or battle rifle chambered in a fighting caliber, with a mounted white light. If available, a spare weapon system is also an excellent idea. A cleaning kit and tools that are compatible with the weapon system(s) in question is also a must. Each student should have a minimum of 5 working magazines.
  • Note pad, and pen/pencil
  • Clothing suited to strenuous activity as well as being seasonally appropriate
  • Rain gear / cold weather gear (seasonal)
  • Ear pro (electronic preferred) / Eye pro
  • Baseball style hat recommended
  • Proper belt to support equipment
  • Carbine magazine pouches, Battle belt, or Chest rig
  • Tools that work on your weapon
  • Weapons lube
  • hydration
  • Knee and elbow pads (optional)
  • Gloves (optional)
  • An open mind

A few notes on the gear list - gloves and knee pads are not optional!  You may also find that the gear you planned on using is wholly inadequate or does not fit properly or does not allow proper movement.  Prepare to rethink your gear in the middle of this class!  Another thing that is not optional is the open mind.  You must be willing to learn new methods and procedures.  If you have been to Appleseed or other traditional firearms courses that use "Camp Perry" style shooting, you are going to be shocked and amazed at your ability to acquire targets with the speed and accuracy learned through this course.

Transitioning to secondary weapon - pistol

xxxxxxx, where this class is facilitated, is primitive.  Bring toilet paper and your own e-tool.  Plan on bringing weather appropriate clothing and shelter and adequate food stuffs to last your three day excursion.  Facilities are rough but well worth the privation.

And then again, you may say, "We don't want to travel to xxxxxxx, Idaho".  Not to worry, John Mosby will come to you.  If you have a group or even a large family that would like to take this excellent rifle course, he will travel to you (for a fee, of course).  You will need to contact him directly for pricing and scheduling availability, although, I must admit, I found his prices to be more than fair.

I can't express how much we enjoyed this course.  While the course itself was outstanding, the new skills are perishable.  Use them!  John will teach you what you need to know, but it is up to you to develop your skill.  Many of the drills can be conducted under dry-fire conditions, which should be used to improve trigger control.  One more important note - this class is about fundamentals of shooting.  Seal Team Six will not be calling you to sit in on one of their missions after three days at this class.  But, this course should not be missed if it can be helped.

As of Tuesday, I am still a little sore!  To quote John Mosby "Get that gun back in the fight!".

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Prepared to Fail

Living an off-grid life makes us highly connected to our electrical power.  While the majority of Americans have little understanding of what it takes to deliver electricity to their light switches and outlets, we get our hands dirty with the process every day.  Literally.

One of the benefits of living off-grid is never taking electricity for granted.  Our electrical power system was built one step at a time.  At first, we had no power of any kind.  We learned to love the silence, to rise with the sun and to sleep with the night.  With no electricity to complicate the perfect rhythm of nature, we embraced life's simplicity and wholesomeness.  Ours was a life in perfect tune with creation.

But, life is never static.  We longed for what most people take for granted.  Running water, flushing toilets and electric lighting.  Although our life was simple, it was hard.  Hauling water, lighting lamps and heating water on the cookstove takes time and energy.  Washing clothes by hand may be somewhat therapeutic, but it is a whole, heck of a lot of work!

And so, Sir Knight began plotting our course out of the 19th Century into the 21st.  He began by wiring our "shouse" for electricity.  Once the wiring was done, my husband started our generator, flipped the breaker, and brought light to our previously dark existence.  Oh the joys and wonder of electricity!  While the generator ran, I was able to enjoy an almost normal lifestyle.  I washed laundry in our washing machine, filled the tub to bathe little people filled our pressure tank with water.  I flushed the toilet, listened to music and danced and sang my way through my housework.  However, after hours of listening to the hum of the generator, it was sweet relief to shut it down.

No longer satisfied with electricity only when the generator ran, we knew we needed batteries to furnish our electrical needs when the generator was off.  Batteries added a whole new dimension to our off-grid life.  More than just a matter of securing batteries, we needed inverters, cables, charge controllers and a battery charger.  Buying a used inverter/charger off Craigslist, Sir Knight bought cable and spent a weekend bringing us ever closer to independence.

Of course, once we had batteries, we were convinced that we needed another method of charging.  While our generator had it's place, we wanted a less expensive, more independent method of charging our battery bank.  A wind turbine was our first "alternative energy" investment.  Although not thrilled with it's output, the wind turbine sold us on the economic benefits of alternative energy.  Soon, we were constructing a large solar array in our front yard.  With the addition of solar panels, we had to buy a larger charge controller, larger breakers, a huge DC disconnect and yet more cables.

With our fully integrated off-grid system, it sounds like we have it made - right?  Well, the truth of the matter is that, like any electrical system, our alternative energy system is fragile.  If any component in our system fails, the whole system goes down.  We are always on "Red Alert" when it comes to electrical power.  If the generator dies and it is the dead of winter, we are done.  If a cell goes bad in our battery bank, we are done.  If an inverter dies, we are done.  If our charge controller goes out, we are done.  And it is never a matter of "if" a component goes out, it is a matter of "when".  No alternative energy system is fool-proof.  Every component is capable of failure.  And they will always fail at the worst possible time.

These failures have been good for us.  We have had generators (to numerous to count) fail.  Even our backup has failed!  We have had batteries die, inverters give up the ghost and charge controllers fail right out of the box.  Basically, every aspect of our alternative energy system has, at one point or another, failed.  Why has this been good?  Because we have learned how to make do, how to take nothing for granted, how to always have another way to do just about everything.  We have never had the opportunity to get lax in our preparedness efforts.  While for most people, an off-grid scenario is something they plan and prepare for, we live it every day.

One of the most valuable lessons we have learned while living off-grid is how to respond to "emergencies" quickly and efficiently.  We have learned to trouble-shoot, make do and find another way.  These are skills that our children will take with them throughout life, regardless of their circumstances.

Living off-grid has taught us that there will be failures, there will be challenges and there will be hardships.  But, we are connected to life in a way that few will ever know.  Our failures, challenges and hardships have been good for us.  They have strengthen our faith, honed our intellect and prepared us for the bumpy road of life.

Our off-grid life has taught us that part of being prepared is being prepared to fail - and that's O.K!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Great Division

Our nation is rent in two and the ever-widening chasm threatens to destroy our carefully preserved inheritance of liberty.  Our countrymen, answering the call of their souls, have divided themselves into two distinct encampments, readying for battle.  As they prepared for the coming onslaught, both camps worship at the feet of their god - one serving the god of State, the other, the God of the Bible.

The war cries grow louder, the rattle of sabers more intense.  True believers, both of the State and of the Living God, gird their loins and prepare their minds and bodies for the battle that is at hand.  In these first few skirmishes some will fall away.  Having neither the stomach nor conviction to stand their ground, they become one among the masses relegated to weeping and gnashing their teeth.

The State is strong, its victory is sure - but only for a time.  Our enemy is not the State, but the enemy of men's souls.  Be strong and courageous - fear not, for God is with thee.

No longer are we fighting to preserve our nation or our heritage - we are fighting for the souls of men.  Our conviction comes not from a loyalty to a political party or an ideal, but from a heart reborn, filled with the spirit of God himself.  This is a battle we were born for - created for.  Do not lose heart.

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you, 
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Versatile Wheat Berry

Friday is baking day here Providence Farms.  Weekends often find us very busy, leaving little time for kitchen pursuits, however, I like to have a full pantry, just in case we have unexpected guests - not to mention my children complain mightily if they happen to find the cupboard bare!

Yesterday found me in the kitchen up to my elbows in wheat berries.  I like to have treats to put out with tea, or for my family to nibble on when they are feeling peckish, but I'd rather have them eat something with a little substance than filling up on junk food. With that in mind, I have made it my business to find recipes that not only use whole grains, but actually taste good.  Now, I'm not bashing anyone's efforts at whole wheat baking, I'm just saying that sometimes the end result is more akin to sawdust than it is to a heavenly confection.

Over the years, I have tried whole wheat based recipes too numerous to mention.  Although the flavor is often acceptable, the consistency is usually less than desirable.  There is no mistaking the end product for "healthy".  Inevitably, my family will flatter me with kind words, take a few bites and leave the rest of my efforts to mold in the cupboard.  But, not one to quit, I just keep plying my long-suffering kinsmen with one failed experiment after another.

Knowing that there may come a time when we no longer have access to cheap white flour and become completely dependent upon our wheat supply, I felt compelled to have at least a handful of really good, dependable whole wheat recipes on hand.  Lifestyle adjustments will be challenging enough without adding inedible food to the list of hardships!

One of my favorite whole wheat recipes comes in the form of Applesauce Cake.  I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Applesauce Cake, but it is an old-time favorite.  My Great-Grandmother used to make it in her pioneer kitchen (she died at the ripe old age of 103!) and it has long been my Dad's favorite.  It is an excellent "prepper" recipe because the fresh ingredients can easily be altered using stored foods.  The flavors combine better after sitting a day or two and because the applesauce is a featured ingredient, the cake stays moist for at least a week.  To tell you the truth, I can't tell this cake is comprised completely of whole wheat flour.  The crumb is moist and tender, not the least bit grainy or course.  I ground Hard White wheat for this recipe.  If you are using Hard Red, the result will be more nutty and "wheaty".  This recipe would also be a good place to use soft wheat, as it doesn't require a lot of gluten (which yeast based recipes need).  Give it a try - I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Whole Wheat Applesauce Cake
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C shortening (or butter or home rendered lard)
2 eggs (or 2 T egg powder & 6 T water)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 3/4 C. whole wheat flour (freshly ground)
1 C unsweetened applesauce (home canned, of course)
1/2 C raisins (optional)
1/2 C walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350°

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and shortening.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add applesauce and mix.  Add the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves.  Mix just until moistened.  Add raisin and walnuts and mix until combined - don't overdo it.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 5x9" loaf pan and bake for about an hour or until a wooden skewer, inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.  Wrap tightly to store.
Freshly ground Hard White flour

Mixing the cake ingredients

Prepared loaf pan

Ready for the oven

Tests done!

Another recipe that I have found works extraordinarily well with whole wheat flour is Survival Bars.  Using whole wheat flour instead of white flour makes these cookies a veritable nutritional powerhouse!  As I have mentioned before they are the perfect "survival" cookie.  You could live for days on these breakfast-like bars.  Filled with whole wheat, rolled oats and homemade jam, they will see you through even the longest, most taxing of days.  When I use whole wheat in these cookies, I don't notice the slightest difference in texture or taste.  The whole wheat does make them more filling (you certainly can't sit down and eat a handful of these beauties!), but other than that, you will have no way of knowing they are actually good for you.

Awaiting the top layer
And what is whole wheat without mentioning Simply Perfect Whole Wheat Bread?  Every time I make this bread I am astounded at it's tight crumb and moist texture.  It is simply perfect!
Simply Perfect Whole Bread
Freshly ground wheat berries aren't just for bread anymore.  With a little experimentation and practice, you can use whole wheat for everything, and enjoy it too.

In the humble, versatile wheat berry, God did indeed provide us with the staff of life.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Infidel Body Armor - Survive the Engagement

In 10 Things to do Until the Revolution, I encouraged you to check out the new AR500 body armor and even consider adding it to your preparedness arsenal.  Having never seen the armor up close and personal, Sir Knight and I were relying on the reviews we had read and videos we had seen, to determine whether the AR500 body armor was all that it was cracked up to be.  Well, recently, Infidel Body Armor sent us a plate to test for ourselves.  Wow!  You can only imagine how much fun we had sending hundreds of rounds down-range, putting Infidel Body Armor through its paces!

This is the first in a number of articles we will post about our AR500 body armor experiments.  We thought we would start with the smaller calibers - the ammunition we would be most likely to encounter, and work our way up to the big boys - .308 AP, 30-06 AP and even ..... something bigger!

Wanting to get a really accurate idea of how Infidel Body Armor would perform in the field, Sir Knight framed it in 2x4's and stapled cardboard around the 2x4's.  The idea was to be able to shoot the armor center-of-mass and have the cardboard absorb any potential "spall" (spall is essentially ricochet - the bullets coming apart and the fragments exploding).
Framing the plate

Frame complete

Adding cardboard to recover evidence of spalling

We originally learned of the existence of Infidel Body Armor from SurvivalBlogs product reviewer Pat Cascio.  He had a great, comprehensive review, which you can read in entirety here.  After reading his review, we determined that the AR500 body armor had numerous advantages for the prepper, specifically, that it was capable of taking literally hundreds of hits without failing.  In a TEOTWAWKI scenario or even a short period of civil unrest, that fact alone puts the AR500 body armor heads above the standard military issue ceramic plates (which are rated to take 3 hits only and must be replaced if dropped).

So, back to the fun part - field testing!  Sir Knight and Master Hand Grenade got the shooting range ready.  We set the shooting bench up at 50 yards, hauled out an AR-15 (5.56/.223 AP), a 12 gauge shotgun (with 1oz. slugs), an AR-10 (7.62x51/.308 win) and a 1911 (.45 acp).

AR-15, 12 gauge shotgun, AR-10, 1911

Looking downrange
We started with the AR-15, using M855 .62 gr. ammunition with a steel penetrator (technically, this is not armor piercing, however the steel penetrator is a formidable projectile).  Shooting off the bench, Sir Knight put 5 rounds in the center of the plate.  Once the range was cold, we headed up to the target to inspect the plate.  The first thing we noticed was that the coating on the outside of the plates had completely absorbed all evidence of spall.  There was absolutely no impacts on the cardboard surrounding the plate.  The small black debris we found on the cardboard was little pieces of the coating - there was no metal at all.  At the point of impact, the M855 ammunition caused two large splits in the coating, however, we could find no deformation at all when inspecting the back of the plate.  It looked like brand new.  The plate survived the engagement.


M855 .62 gr. ammunition

Sir Knight with the armor in his sights

Splits in the coating after being hit with steel penetrator

Tiny bits of the coating from the plate

A better look at the damage

Next up was the battle rifle - the AR-10, chambered in 7.62x51 (we were shooting standard military hardball - 147 gr. FMJ).  With Miss Serenity behind the scope, 5 rounds found their way downrange.  They hit center-of-mass.  Interestingly, the damage to the outer coating, with the larger and heavier .308, was extraordinarily minimal.  The dimples no larger than a pencil point, however, the spall did cause the coating to separate from the plate, and on careful inspection, we could feel small indents in the steel plate itself.  When turning the plate over for further inspection, it still showed no sign of impact whatsoever.  And still, our cardboard (what was left of it) showed no sign of spall.  The impact of the .308 (after 10 rounds) did break the 2x4's and send the plate flying to the ground.  The plate survived the engagement.


7.62x51 (or .308)

Taking aim

The plate is on the ground, but undamaged

The coating split

Tiny dimple where the projectile made impact
After having our fun with the AR's, we moved on to the .12 gauge - loaded for bear.  Shooting from approximately 20 feet, and using 1 oz. lead slugs, Sir Knight blasted the armor at close range.  The slugs shook the target, flinging what was left of the cardboard into the field as the sound rang through the valley.  I'll tell you what - that left a mark!  But really, the impact left two neat, round circles in the coating of the armor, but that was it.  After inspecting the plate, we found a dent in the steel, however it wasn't enough to damage the coating at the back of the plate.  The back still looked like new.  Again -  the plate survived the engagement.

12 gauge shotgun

1 oz. slug

From about 20 feet

The slug holes are obvious but only penetrate the coating, not the plate itself

And the back of the plate (this would be next to you)

An interesting note on spall.  We made no attempt to repair the coating before shooting the plate with the .12 gauge slugs.  We found some spall on the cardboard, right at the bottom of the plate where the coating had split, but even at that, it did not penetrate the cardboard, but left small impressions in the top layer.  If we had repaired the coating with duct tape, I believe that this would not have happened at all and the coating would have continued absorbing the spall.

This is spall that came out of the bottom of the plate, between the steel and the cover.
It did not penetrate the full thickness of the cardboard - just some little
particles on the surface
On to our final weapon of the day (hey, you always have a handgun as backup right?!), the 1911 .45 acp.  Master Hand Grenade was behind the trigger this time, shooting from about 20 feet.  He was using 230 gr. jacketed hollow points.  He put a number of rounds downrange in quick succession and we all gathered around to see the damage.  Truthfully, there was not much damage to see, although the .45 did make holes in the coating about the size of a pencil eraser, or a bit smaller.  We were able to recover a jacket from between the coating and the plate, but that was the extent of the damage.  And once more,  the plate survived the engagement.

1911, .45 acp

Ready, Aim, Fire

Can you see the small indentation in the upper
right hand corner?

Fragments from 230 gr. hollow point ammunition recovered from between
the coating and the steel plate
Our field test of the AR500 Infidel Body Armor was a success in every way.  Now, for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Infidel Body Armor plate - still standing
The Good:  First of all, how could you not love a company called "Infidel Body Armor"?   Second, the plates are affordable.  They are more versatile, sturdy and infinitely more practical than ceramic plates.  I don't know about you, but I can't afford to resupply after dropping my plates.  So far we have found no ammunition that will penetrate these plates.  If you do not have a plate carrier, Infidel Body Armor can be ordered with a plate carrier (more about this in a future post).  The coating can be repaired in the field.  The curve seems perfect - they are very comfortable to wear.

The Bad:  This body armor is heavy.  There is just no way to get around it.  Each plate weighs 8 lbs., and typically, you would carry two plates (front and rear).  Although in real life they are the same, or only slightly heavier than Threat IV rifle plates, Threat IV is considered multi-hit 30-06 AP.  We will be putting these plates through that test in another post - however, these plates are only rated for Threat III.

The Ugly:  Just because you are wearing body armor doesn't mean you can't get killed.  We had one round of .308 that just clipped the edge of the plate and would have been a fatal shot.  There is no "silver bullet" when people are shooting at you.  Infidel Body Armor is awesome - but, you can still be killed.  You are not bullet proof - you can still be shot were the armor is not protecting you and you can die.  You are wearing body armor for real - you are not in a video game - you will not "respawn".

In our humble opinion, if you are wearing AR500 body armor, you will survive the engagement.  I pray you never have to.