Monday, April 9, 2018

AR Optics

The price of a Top AR can be low compared to what you can spend on a scope or sight.  For this reason, it is important that you make informed choices.  There are a large number of low cost options, too many to properly test, so our focus here will be on products with established reputations for Quality.


Like the many different types of Firearms, there are may different optics for different needs. A long range scope is not good for Close Quarters Combat (CQC). Products suitable for Night Vision may not work in daylight. While there is no one best product, some combinations work well together.

  1. Trijicon ACOG Scope - This is a popular civilian version of a scope that the US Military uses. It has a optic tube that captures light and illuminates the reticle, with out the need for batteries.  It also has a holographic  Reflex sight for CQC.  This is a good combination optic for day and low light use.
  2. Aimpoint Red Dot Sight - A CQC sight with an amazing battery life (years) and is Night Vision compatible, providing you have a night vision monocle.  This low power system is a good Prepper choice along with some Rechargable batteries for a SHTF scenario.
  3. Laser - A laser sight is a good addition to any firearm for the fastest target acquisition, even when shooting from the hip. Unfortunately, most of them are cheap and will not stay on target. The DBAL-A3, another quality US Military product, has IR and Visible laser beams.
  4. Holographic - The EO Tech is another US Military choice for CQC and the model 552 is Night Vision compatible.  There is a magnifier available that extends the range beyond 100 yards.
  5. Thermal Scope - This is the ultimate day & night scope performance wise and cost wise.  It also takes a lot of batteries.  Rechargable batteries and Solar Power to charge them would be necessary in a SHTF or EMP situation.
  6. Night Vision -  Any NV is better than nothing at all, but a Generation III is the best.
  7. Iron Battle Sights - Last but not least, these are simple, affordable, reliable and never have the batteries go dead.  For this reason, every AR should have a set of these available, at least as a back up.  If you want to use them as an installed backup, then consider the 45 degree offset AR sight design.  The flip up sights are the most popular but may be slightly less accurate. This would be my first purchase.
A31F-RMR: Trijicon ACOG 4x32 Scope

Aimpoint Micro T-1 2 MOA

DBAL-A3 Laser sight

EO Tech 552

Over time, you can spend more buying different budget optics, so I recommend getting good ones from the beginning.  If I was only going to have one Optic after the Battle sight, my second purchase would be the IRMK3-60, followed by a laser.  The down side for an illuminated scope with a screen is that it illuminates and highlights your face.

If I couldn't afford the Thermal Scope, I'd probably go with the ACOG or Aimpoint and a hand held Thermal Monocular.

For additional information see the following links: 
Blog Table of Contents;
Top 10 Lists
Top ARs
Prepper Weapons 
Ballistic Tip AR Ammo 
Or click on a label below for similar topics.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Preppers Weapons

Note the title says Weapons, not Weapon (singular).  There is no one best weapon, unless you narrow down the intended use to a small range of scenarios.  Given the Rule of 3 prioritization system, a gun is your highest priority preparation.

In summary, a Prepper needs at least the following weapons as prioritized below.  Granted you can start with a Beginner Starter Rifle, but plant to grow from there.
  1. A good Concealed Carry / Back-up Pistol
  2. A good multi-purpose defensive rifle like an AR-15, AR-10 or an AK-47. 
  3. A good Sidearm Pistol
  4. A home defense Shotgun 
  5. A .22 rifle 
  6. A BB Gun
  7. A Bow & Arrows 

 Now lets discuss these in further detail.
  1.  A personal concealed carry pistol is the top priority for three reasons.  First, you may need this each and every day, even if the SHTF scenario doesn't happen within your life time.  Second, because this weapon can serve as a back-up to your Sidearm Pistol.  Third, getting your concealed carry license is important.
  2. The AR-15 (5.56/.223) is the most popular rifle in the USA for a good reason, although the AR-10 and AK-47 have more knock down power.  The Truth about the AR-15, is that it is more likely to wound than kill when using NATO ammunition in compliance with the Geneva Convention.  The US Military chose this weapon for this purpose (plus a lot of Ammo could be carried) as a wounded enemy requires far more resources to care for than a dead one.  So for your AR, you want a Ballistic Tip Ammo like those from Winchester, Federal or Hornady, especially if you are hunting. Ideally most people in your Prepper Group will have AR-15s and a few will have an AR-10 (or bolt action .308 if shooting more than 500 yards) and AK-47.  Ammo for the AK-47 cost less.  Here are some of the Top AR-15s.
  3.  Your Sidearm Pistol is an important choice and requires a good holster.  The US and many State and Local Governments have moved to the .40 caliber, which has a lot of power and holds more rounds than the still popular US .45 and the 9mm is the most popular pistol globally, because it is what NATO and the US Military use. The choice of your Best Handgun involves a lot of things as noted in the blue highlighted link:  Best Hand Gun Selection Criteria
  4. A Double Barrel shotgun is one of the most fearsome weapons to face, but the Modern Shotgun versions that carry up to 24 rounds of ammunition are far superior
  5.  A 22 long / short rifle is used for quietly hunting small game and for training beginner shooters how to shoot and proper Gun Safety.  Note the short rounds are quieter, but may only shoot in a bolt action rifle. There are also sub sonic rounds that are quite, but do not have enough recoil to cycle a semi-automatic. 
  6. A BB Gun you say?  Yes, this is the best way to start out rookie shooters.
  7. A Bow & Arrows for quite hunting and for when the Ammo Runs Out.
  8. Last but not least, you need a good Prepper Knife.
For additional information see the following links: 
Blog Table of Contents;
Top 10 Lists
Top ARs
AR Optics
Prepper Weapons 
Ballistic Tip AR Ammo 
Or click on a label below for similar topics.

Ballistic Tip AR Ammo

The Truth about the AR-15, is that it is more likely to wound than kill when using NATO ammunition in compliance with the Geneva Convention.  The US Military chose this weapon for this purpose (plus a lot of Ammo could be carried) as a wounded enemy requires far more resources to care for than a dead one.

So for your Top AR, you probably want a ballistic tip Ammo like those from Winchester, Federal or Hornady, especially if you are hunting.

These Federal Nosler Ballistic Tip rounds from are my favorite round based on performance and price.

My second choice is the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip ($1.50 each) from which has dropped many a wild hog with one shot. has them for about $1.10 each at the time of this post compared to about $0.23 each for economy target rounds from

These Ballistic Tips are effective and the chrome or nickle plated cases are less likely to oxidize and will remain reliable much longer. For hand gun rounds, the Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty are also good choices. 

The key is to have The Right Amount of Ammo.

For additional information see the following links: 
Blog Table of Contents;
Top 10 Lists
Top ARs
AR Optics
Prepper Weapons 
Ballistic Tip AR Ammo 

Or click on a label below for similar topics.

Top 10 ARs

Legislators are proposing all sorts of new legislation that ranges from changing the legal age to buy certain firearms to outright bans on entire types of firearms, primarily Modern Sporting Rifles such as the AR-15. JR NOTE: IF you don't own a good one or two, it should become a priority on your buy list. Although no one can be certain what the future may hold, these situations always cause a spike in interest among first time buyers and seasoned enthusiasts alike. It would be an impossible task to whittle any Top AR list to 10, so instead, we decided to pull a handful of favorites that cover law enforcement, home defense, sporting, and hunting, just to get you started.

JR Note:  I like the models like this with the full length accessory rail, and side rails.

To read the full original article, click HERE.

Daniel Defense DDM4v11SLW

The Daniel Defense DDM4v11SLW is a top quality AR-15 that’s ready to take on any task! Whether you need a patrol rifle, varmint gun, or competition rifle, the DD V11SLW is up to the challenge. Constructed around a cold hammer forged, chrome moly vanadium, 14.5-inch lightweight profile barrel with a 1:7 twist, this rifle is built for compact CQB. The barrel is chrome lined and magnetic particle inspected, featuring a pinned and welded DD extended flash suppressor for a 16-inch overall barrel length. This DDM4 Slim Light Weight features a KeyMod compatible Daniel Defense Slim Rail 12″ Handguard. The Slim Rail 12.0 handguard gives you fantastic weight savings, superb cooling, excellent ergonomics, and modularity while maintaining the strength and durability that you demand from Daniel Defense. Modular and adaptable, the DDM4v11 Slim Light Weight, may be the perfect all-around rifle to suite all of your needs in one platform.

Specifications and Features

Daniel Defense DDM4v11SLW
AR15 Semi Automatic Rifle
5.56 NATO accepts .223 Remington
30 Rounds
14.5″ Cold Hammer Forged CMV Lightweight Profile Barrel
Free Float Chrome Lined and MP Tested with 1:7 Twist
16″ Barrel Length with Pinned and Welded Extended Flash Suppressor
Mid-Length Direct Impingement Gas System
Pinned Low Profile Gas Block
Mil-Spec CNC Machined 7075-T6 Aluminum Upper Receiver with M4 Feed Ramps
Chrome Lined M16 BCG, MP Tested with Properly Staked Gas Key
Mil-Spec CNC Machined 7075-T6 Aluminum Lower Receiver with Flared Mag Well
CNC Machined 6061-T6 Aluminum DD Slim Rail 12.0 Key Mod Compatible Handguard
DD 6 Position Collapsible Buttstock with Soft Touch Overmolding
DD Pistol Grip with Soft Touch  Overmolding
Overall Length 31.5″ to 34.75″
Weight 6.09 lbs
Type III Hardcoat Anodized Black

To read the full original article with pictures, click HERE.

Bravo Company RECCE-16 AR-15

BCM takes quality control to a new level due to its strict tolerances and extreme quality control measures. Combined, this adds up to ensure the products Bravo Company makes can be trusted in the field under any circumstance. The RECCE-16 KMR-A AR-15 in .223/5.56 features the best materials, components, and skills Bravo Company has to offer. Built on Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum receivers the RECCE sports an 11595E chrome-lined steel USGI profile barrel with a 1:7 twist. With the M4 feed ramp barrel extension and M4 feed ramps, you can expect MIL-SPEC equipment and assembly throughout this fantastic rifle! And of course it wouldn’t be complete without the trademark BCM GUNFIGHTER parts that will keep your friends salivating with envy. Ready for competition or hunting in the field, you need to get the Bravo Company RECCE-16 KMR-A before it’s gone!

Specifications and Features

Bravo Company RECCE-16
.300 AAC Blackout
Direct gas impingement semi automatic
16″ manganese phosphate finished chrome lined enhanced taper profile barrel with fluting
1:7″ twist
30 rounds capacity
Free floating KMR-4 KeyMod handguard
BCM Mod 4 charging handle
BCM Mod 3 pistol grip
BCM Mod 0 compensator
QD end plate
PNT trigger
Overall length 35.5″


Noveske Rifleworks Gen III Recon

From the master craftsmen at Noveske comes the next evolution in Noveske firearms, the Gen III. As a testament to unmatched quality and performance, the Gen III features a 16″ Cold Hammer Forged barrel with a 1:7″ twist. The upper receiver is fitted with a 13.5″ NSR free floating KeyMod handguard, ALG Defense ACT Trigger, and much more. The Noveske Rifleworks Gen III Recon rifle features a Magpul pistol grip and collapsible stock.

Specifications and Features

Noveske Rifleworks semi auto rifle Gen III Recon
5.56 NATO (accepts .223 Remington) 16″ Stainless barrel with bead blast finish, cold hammer forged
1:7 Twist
7075-T6 Aluminum Upper and Lower Receiver
Hardcoat Type III Anodizing
Black Cerakote Ceramic Coating
Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle
Shot Peened and MP Tested Bolt
Auto Bolt Carrier with Staked Gas Key
ALG Defense Combat Trigger
Mil-Spec 6 Position Receiver Extension
Staked Noveske QD End Plate
13.5″ NSR Free Float KeyMod Handguard
MagPul STR Carbine Stock
MagPul MIAD Pistol Grip
Back Up Iron Sights
30-Round Magazine


Rock River LAR-15 Elite CAR A4

Rock River Arms makes some of the best AR-15 rifles in the world. After exhaustive testing, both the FBI and DEA turned to Rock River Arms for their patrol rifle contracts. If you want a rifle that is rugged enough for the top federal law enforcement agencies in the country, choose a Rock River.

The LAR-15 Elite CAR A4 starts with the RRA Tactical CAR buttstock, flat top optic-ready upper, and Hogue rubber pistol grip. It features a standard mid-length handguard with a RRA Flip-up Front Sight Gas Block. The Elite CAR A4 is chambered in 5.56 NATO and accepts .223 Remington. This rifle is built for precision with Rock River’s excellent two-stage trigger and chrome lined 16-inch Chrome Moly barrel that has a 1:9 twist. The LAR-15 Elite CAR A4 from Rock River Arms is an affordable and exceedingly effective AR-15 modern sporting rifle that offers fantastic performance in any shooting environment.

Specifications and Features

Rock River Arms LAR-15 Elite CAR A4 AR1231
AR-15 Semi Automatic Rifle
Mid-Length Gas System
5.56 NATO accepts .223 Remington
30 Rounds
16″ Chrome Moly Barrel
Chrome Lined with a 1:9 Twist
Threaded 1/2″x28 TPI with A2 Flash Hider
Forged A4 Aluminum Flat Top Upper Receiver
Forged RRA LAR-15 Aluminum Lower Receiver
RRA Flip-up Front Sight Gas Block
RRA 6-Position Tactical CAR Buttstock
RRA Two Stage Trigger
Standard Mid-Length Handguard
Hogue Rubber Pistol Grip
Black Furniture and Finish
30 Round Magazine
Weight 7.7 Pounds
Overall Length 36″

LMT CQB MRP Defender

Lewis Machine & Tool Company was created over 30 years ago to provide the U.S. military and law enforcement with superior quality weapons and modular weapon systems. Since its humble beginnings, the LMT mission is to exceed its customer’s expectations of quality and affordability of precision-machined weapon systems, assemblies, and components. With cutting edge designs and state of the art manufacturing, LMT has been well recognized for its excellence in the firearms industry.

The CQB MRP Defender AR-15 features LMT’s innovative Monolithic Rail Platform or MRP. This lightweight, one-piece upper receiver with integral quad rail is at the heart of LMT’s quick change barrel system. You can change calibers in the field quickly without the use of additional tools. This CQB Rifle includes a Chrome Lined Heavy Contour Barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO with a 1:7 twist. Optic ready and STANAG 4694 complaint, you know all of your accessories will mount to the MRP platform with rock solid attachment. When failure is not an option, you’ll want a CQB16 in your hands.

Specifications and Features

Lewis Machine & Tool Company CQB MRP Defender CQB16
CQB Monolithic Rail Platform
AR-15 Semi Automatic Rifle
5.56x45mm NATO accepts .223 Remington
30 Rounds
16″ Cold Hammer Forged Chrome Lined Heavy Contor Barrel Cryogenically Treated Barrel to increase Accuracy, Barrel Life and easier cleaning.
Muzzle Device A2 Birdcage Flash Hider (1/2×28)
1:7″ Twist with Black Nitride Finish
Direct Impingement Gas System
Aluminum MRP Upper Receiver
Aluminum Defender Lower Receiver
Standard Semi-Auto Bolt Carrier Group
Tactical Charging Handle
Adjustable Detachable Sight System
Mil- Std 1913 STANAG 4694 Compliant Quadrail
SOPMOD 6 Position Collapsible Buttstock
Weight 7.45 lbs
Length 33″ to 36.25″
Black Finish


DPMS Panther Bull Twenty-Four

The DPMS Panther Bull Twenty-Four is what you need if you are looking for a really accurate rifle. The Panther Bull Twenty-Four is chambered in .223 Remington and features a 24-inch stainless steel bull barrel. It comes with an A2 stock and the magazine holds 30 rounds. The Panther Bull Twenty-Four is available in any color, so long as you choose black.

Specifications and Features

DPMS Panther Bull Twenty-Four
.223 Remington
24″ Stainless Steel Bull Barrel
6 Grooves, Right Hand 1/9″ Twist
Gas Operated Rotating Bolt
8620 steel bolt carrier, heat treated and plated per Mil Spec
Weighs 9.8 lbs. unloaded
Overall length of 42.25″
A3 Flattop Upper with Shell Deflector, Forward Assist, Dust Cover, and is hard coated anodized per MIL-SPEC and Teflon coated black
Forged aluminum alloy lower
Standard A2 Black Zytel MIL-SPEC with Trap door assembly Stock
Aluminum ribbed free float tube handguard

Stag Arms STAG-15 Super Varminter

The Stag Arms LLC STAG-15 Super Varminter was specifically designed to squeeze every last ounce of accuracy from an AR-15 platform rifle—with larger game in mind. Featuring a 20.77-inch 410 stainless steel heavy profile barrel with an 11 degree target crown, you will easily reach varmints and predators at distance. With a Hogue free float handguard and low profile gas block, this is an optics ready platform that is just begging for your favorite long range scope. It sports a rock solid Magpul fixed rifle stock. The Stag 2-stage trigger aids the shooter in sending rounds down range with surgical precision. Each firearm is built to the highest quality standards and comes with a lifetime warranty from Stag Arms LLC with an infinite shot barrel guarantee. Hogs, coyotes, and deer beware; the Stag Super Varminter is on the prowl.

Specifications and Features

Stag Arms LLC STAG-15 Super Varminter
AR-15 Semi Automatic Rifle
Direct Gas Impingement System
Rifle Length Gas System
6.8mm Remington SPC with SAAMI Spec SPC II Chambering
20.77″ 410 Stainless Steel Heavy Barrel
Button Rifled with a 1:11″ Twist Rate
11 Degree Target Crown
10-Round Magazine
Forged 7075-T6 Aluminum Upper/Lower Receiver
Type 3 Hard Coat Anodized Finish
M16 Bolt Carrier Group
Stag 2 Stage Trigger – 2 lb. first stage with 3.5 lb. let off
Low Profile Gas Block
Hogue Free Floating Handguard with Sling Swivel
Magpul Fixed Rifle Stock
Hogue Pistol Grip
Overall Length 39.25″
Overall Weight 7.8 lbs.
Matte Black Finish

Bushmaster XM-15 ORC

If you’re looking for an excellent entry level AR rifle chambered in .300 Blackout—at a price that you can afford—the Bushmaster’s ORC Semi Auto Tactical Rifle is the perfect choice. The XM-15 ORC comes with a 16-inch, heavy contour, chrome-moly barrel with a manganese phosphate finish for longevity and ease of cleaning. The free-float handguard is knurled for a positive grip and free-floating for enhanced accuracy. The hard coat anodized receiver is corrosion resistant and Teflon coated to stand up to the wear and tear of high volume shooting. The polymer six-position collapsible stock adjusts to fit you perfectly. It has a MIL-SPEC single-stage trigger, switch-style safety, and A2 birdcage-type flash hider.

Specifications and Features

Bushmaster XM-15 ORC
AR-15 Semi-Automatic Rifle
.300 AAC Blackout
16″ Heavy Contour Barrel
30 Rounds
1:7 Twist
6 Position Stock
A2 Flash Hider
Matte Black Finish


Just Right Carbine Gen 3 Takedown Carbine 9mm

The Just Right Carbine Gen 3 Takedown Carbine is a semi-automatic AR-style pistol caliber carbine. Designed to be completely ambidextrous, the JRC provides you with the ability to configure which side you would like the charging handle to be on, as well as which side you prefer the brass to eject. Utilizing standard M4/AR-15 parts allows you to easily maintain the JRC Gen 3 Takedown Carbine, or customize it as you see fit. The buttstock sits atop a commercial buffer tube to allow quick switching. The fire control group components are all standard AR-15 standard parts. The Gen3 Carbine comes with a lightweight, free-float KeyMod handguard that has a full-length top rail. Get more bang! for your buck shooting pistol-caliber ammo in your closet with the JRC Gen 3 Pistol Caliber Carbine!

Specifications and Features

Just Right Carbine
Semi Automatic Rifle
9mm Luger
17″ Threaded Barrel
1:16 Twist
1/2×28 Threads
17 Rounds
Accepts S&W M&P Magazines
Straight Blowback Operation
Ambidextrous bolt configurable for left or right hand
Ambidextrous ejection configurable for left or right side
Takedown Tube Forend
Machined from 6061 T6 Aluminum
Hardcoat Anodized
Commercial M4 Buffer Tube
6-Position Buttstock
Pistol Grip
Utilizes Standard Trigger Components and Pistol grip
31″ to 34.25″ Overall Length
6.5 lbs.

For additional information see the following links: 
Blog Table of Contents;
Top 10 Lists
Top ARs
AR Optics
Prepper Weapons 
Ballistic Tip AR Ammo 
Or click on a label below for similar topics.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Growing Your Own Food From Seed

The Value Of Sustainability Today
Today’s economy has a dramatic aspect to it. The moment you think things have become stable, something strange knocks everything out of whack again. It wouldn’t be so bad if you had the resources to weather the storm in some degree of comfort. But the vast majority of people just aren’t in such a position, and are further hampered by debt.

There needs to be a way of escaping things like debt, reducing living expenses, and increasing the solidity of your current situation. One thing that is characterizing many households today is the sustainability movement. This is a kind of living wherein individuals try to concoct solutions that preclude government reliance.

In terms of energy, three modes of electrical production are becoming more mainstream for residences: solar energy, wind energy, and water energy—all three of which can be installed on a property that has a fast enough body of water nearby and regular wind for about $15k, depending.

Something else that is quickly becoming a characteristic of the modern household is a vegetable garden—something which bears its own elegance. There are plants which will grow in just about any environment, and don’t necessarily require a deluge to maintain. Certain cacti can grow in almost any environment, and many seed-bearing plants with nutritional benefits (like hemp) are likewise easy to grow.
Husbanding Your Garden
As you might expect, a market has developed due to this shift in consumer sensibilities. While it may take a few years to get a garden’s growth at such a level where it regularly produces enough for your household, this gives homeowners not just a useful hobby, but a means of deferring costs related to nutrition.

It is possible to remain healthy from an entirely vegetarian diet sourced through a garden. Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds—these all have protein and fats necessary for health. Tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples, squash, peppers, onions—these are just a few available plants you can husband toward healthy, regular yields annually.

To get started, you want to do your homework beforehand, know the seasons of your local community, and source your seeds from a purveyor that understands the market, and what that market is demanding.

At you can find seeds provided through a top-tier operation; according to the site: “Seed Needs consistently ships thousands of seed packets on a weekly basis. The vast majority of our seed products are packaged based on customer demand, and are stored in a temperature-controlled environment for maximum freshness.”
Comprehensive Sustainability
Now imagine a possible scenario: after five years, you’ve got a garden that is regularly productive and has facilitated its own micro climate which requires much less intervention than it did from you previously. Additionally you don’t need energy from “the grid”, because you use solar, wind, and water energy.

What you save in electricity pays for the garden. If you’re savvy with plumbing, you may be able to use nearby water-sources as means of irrigation, cutting out your water bill. The coup de grace? A crypto currency mining operation in the basement. Double down on architectural developments and install a prefabricated structure on your property.

If you are savvy, you have the potential to live entirely off the grid without losing money or health while yet providing a service to society that returns you assets. It’s conceivable you could do all this for well under $100k, and be without the bounds of debt in under ten years.

Yes, it will take a lot of work—but it’s not something entirely impossible. Still, you may not want to go with so comprehensive a venture. It may be wiser to start small—with a simple vegetable garden in your backyard, or hung from a planter in the window of your apartment.
For additional information see the following links:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sour Dough Bread

To make bread, our pioneer ancestors began with a "Starter" which makes the bread rise without yeast, baking power or baking soda.  Here is a recipe that can make one (1) to thirty two (32) one (1) cup Sour Dough Bread Starter, a.k.a. Pioneer Yeast. Prior to this, Corn Bread and Hardtack was popular along with Pemmican.

  1. Wide mouth sterile quart canning jar(s)
  2. Dechlorinated Warm water (1800's recipe specifies spring water) - 1/2 cup to start. If your tap water is treated with chlorine, you can purchase de-chlorination tablets to remove it, or let it sit out for 24 hours. The minerals found in "hard" water may help the yeast culture develop, so using distilled water is not recommended.
  3. 3-1/2 to 32 cups of Flour (depending on how much you want to make) - 1/2 cup to start
  4. Cheese cloth or clean dish cloth
  1. Pour 1/2 cup of water in to your jar and stir in 1/2 cup of flour.

  2. Cover with the cloth and set this in a warm place for 24 hours.

  3. After the first 24 hours, add/feed 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour; mix in, cover and sit in a warm place for 24 hours. Repeat this every 24 hours until the mix looks frothy or foamy, then its ready.  This can take up to a week and make lots of starter. You can bake lots of bread, share them, freeze them, dry them, or discard the extras. 
  4. Dried starter is a good back up and can last for years.  Simply spread it thin on wax paper and dry at the lowest dehydrator setting; then store in a cool dark place in a container. Freeze in a freezer bag when starter is at peak rise; this should last a year.  To use these, bring to room temperature and feed.
  5. Put your starter in a jar with holes punched in the lid (is must breath) and keep it refrigerated.
  6. Feed it 1/2 to 1 cup of flour and water once per week while refrigerated.  Note:  A watery layer called "Hooch" will form on the the top.  You can stir this back in, or pour it off to promote faster growth.
  7. Before making sourdough bread, you will need to make a sponge or proof your starter.  To do this, remove the starter from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature.  
  8. Add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water to your quart jar of starter and stir until lumps are gone.
  9. Place this in a warm place until it shows lots of bubbles on the surface.  Now it is ready to use in bread. 
When baking bread, 2 cups of starter are the equivalent of one (1) table spoon or packet of modern dry yeast which is sufficient for a loaf made from 3-4 cups of flour.  To make waffles or pancakes, just use the proofed starter after it has risen to its peak.

Remember to feed room temperature starter every day and refrigerated starter every week by adding equal amounts of water and flour (1/2 cup each).
  1. 2 Cups proofed starter
  2. 4 tsp sugar
  3. 2 tsp salt
  4. 2 tbs butter or oil
  5. 3 cups flour

  1. Mix starter, sugar salt and butter together and mix well. On a floured work surface, knead in flour a little at a time, forming a flexible bread dough.  Make sure the dough is well kneaded.
  2. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a cloth; place in a warm place and let it rise.
  3. After rising, press it down and knead it again.  Then make it into a loaf and place in a lightly greased loaf pan.  Cover with a cloth and allow it to rise again in a warm place until it doubles in size.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes at 300 to 350 F. Bread is done when the crust is brown and the bottom sounds hollow when thumped with a wooden spoon. 
  5. Remove bread from pan and allow to cool before slicing
  6. Enjoy

For additional information see the following links:
Blog Table of Contents

Complete Sustainable Living Plan
Blog Table of Contents
Acorn Flour Pancakes
Pemmican Recipe
Hardtack Recipe
Corn Bread
Sour Dough Bread
Corn Fritters
Apple Cider Vinegar
More on making Vinegar
Backing Soda vs Yeast
Baking Soda uses

See similar topics by clicking on the labels below  

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Best Survival Knife

If you could only have one tool for hunting, fishing, camping or wilderness survival, what would it be? Lets talk about the characteristics of the best knife:

  1. Be durable, hold a good edge and does not break or bend under the most severe use.  This means is should be made in the USA.
  2. Able to chop, saw and cut rough, large and small fine things.  
  3. Usable for hammering, digging, prying and starting fire.
  4. Easily skin, break bone, and process an animal for smoking
  5. Have a solid, comfortable, full tang hand grip, and ideally a hole for a leather strap.
  6. Has a hardy scabbard, that holds the knife safely and securely, yet has it accessible.
  7. It should be a good defensive tool and be able to be strapped to a pole to make a Spear.
Here are some top candidates that my research revealed:

Tom Brown Tracker
Buck Knives - top rated knife
Tops B.O.B. Brothers of Bushcraft Survival Knife - top rated knife
Case Large Buffalo Horn Hunter Knife 
Case X-Small Leather Hunter Knife - good for people with smaller hands
Gerber Strong Arm Serrated Fixed Blade Knife
KA1218-BRK USMC Fighter Serrated
Ka-Bar BKR7-BRK Combat Utility
Ka-Bar Bk16 Becker Short Drop Pt


The Tom Brown Tracker TBT-010 is this Authors personal favorite fixed blade survival knife, having owned more than two dozen different knives.  Without a hatchet, axe or machete, this the best Wilderness Multi-Tool that you can chop or saw wood with.  Here is a video that shows its many uses starting at 5:00.  If you also have a chopping tool, a lighter knife like the Buck or Case is better.

But what about the Every Day Carry (EDC) rule?  This is the idea that you can only count on the tools, that you have on you each and every day.  This usually means a folding knife and compromising some of the heavier uses for a knife.

My top folding knife options are:

Case Amber Bone Hunter Trapper Pocket Knife
Buck 278BKG Fld Alpha Hunter
Kershaw Blur, Olive/Black
TOPS Knives MIL SPIE 3.5 Folding Knife
All top quality knives; the Case is the most versatile; The buck is hardy and better for skinning game while the Kershaw is the best defensive knife.  TOPS has a lot of good knives and the SPIE is sharp and holds an edge very well. In the end, there is no knife that is the best for every use.  The answer is to go camping and try different knives to see which one you like best.

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Wilderness Today - Excellent detailed knife information 
Knife Den

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Growing Mushrooms in Logs

Growing Mushrooms in Logs*
By: Bananas

Mushrooms grow on multiple substances (mediums/ substrates). I’ve seen people use logs, wood chips, grains, sterilized straw, compost/litter, etc… In this post I will be limiting my input to growing on logs, as that is where I have the most personal experience. For the last 5-6 years I have grown oyster mushrooms and shitake mushrooms, on logs, in my backyard. I have a postage stamp sized yard and one back corner is extremely shaded from a combination of the direction it faces, and my neighbor having tall trees and bushes growing along the property line. As I love gardening I set out to find plants that would grow in shade. After much research I determined no plant, I wanted to eat, would grow well in a couple of hours of dappled sun a day. However, while searching for shade loving plants, I found out you can cultivate mushrooms in your yard.  So, I gave up on plants (for that part of my yard) and decided to try my hand at mushroom growing.  I found Sharondale Mushroom Farm in Cismont, VA. , a few hours from me, that has classes on growing your own mushrooms ( ). For the record, one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Currently the class is $75. FYI, I have zero affiliation with this organization: I took their class and emailed 2-3 times, approximately 5-6 years ago.
As I hate posts that go on and on before getting to the meat, here is the down and dirty- details to follow:
1.     Determine the kind of mushroom you want to grow, make sure it grows in logs, and you can locate spawn. Then purchase spawn.
2.     Locate, source, &/or create the appropriate logs.
3.     Drill your logs.
4.     Inject (or insert if using plugs) spawn.
5.     Seal holes (optional but I prefer, you’ll find out why below)
6.     Some logs need rafted (laid at a slight angle with the bottoms touching the ground for 6-12months), some go straight to their permanent location. In either case it must be in the shade.
7.     Grow and harvest your mushrooms- Rafted logs then get leaned upright and occasionally soaked to cause them to flush. Logs that are placed directly where they will be staying, fruit out as conditions dictate. 
So, what kind of mushrooms do you want to grow? Four types I know that grow in logs are shitake, oyster, lion’s mane, and reishi. I’d love to grow Reishi (it’s medicinal) but never got around to it, and wanted to concentrate on food production. I know nothing about Lion’s mane so I should probably taste it before investing time and energy growing some. That left me with Shitake and Oyster’s, and I will discuss them going forward.
1.     I determined I want to grow shitake and oyster mushrooms. They do grow in logs. I can get spawn from Sharondale Farms: check, check, check. Should YOU get spawn from Sharondale? Only if you have to. No I don’t have any problem with them. However, I believe you should try and find spawn as close to your local area as possible. If you can find a legitimate source, organic if you desire, closer to you, that would be my choice. If not, sure go ahead and order from Sharondale. I will state I picked up my spawn, so I know nothing of their shipping practices, except that I know they do ship. There is one extra step here; do you want saw dust spawn, or plugs (plugs are basically wooden dowels inoculated with appropriate spawn)? I like saw dust, I just feel like it should be easier for the mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filaments (hyphae)) to get into the log. Both work though. Also, the dust requires an injector. That said you can get a starter kit with 5 pounds of inoculated saw dust, the inoculator/ injector (“palm inoculation tool”), 2lbs of cheese wax, 3 wax daubers, and the 12mm drill bit (sized to match the inoculators, plus it’s shouldered to the appropriate depth) for $89 ( ).  Bags of spawn (w/o the kit) are $10-$45 dollars (choices include 5lb bags of spawn, plugs in various counts, plugs with wax, or inoculated fruiting blocks that don’t require logs). The 100 count of plugs is cheaper and doesn’t require the inoculators, but won’t get you nearly as many logs. So, for example- order the Shitake kit and then a bag of pearl oyster spawn and it’s $109 (plus any applicable tax and S&H, about $22 for me) and you can easily do 20 logs (probably 40 or more)- EXCEPT the wax. I found 2lbs wasn’t nearly enough for my 20 logs. I have yet to find a cheap source for bulk cheese wax. I have heard of people using bees wax though.  
2.      You can TRY growing in just about any wood. I’ve been told 3-8” is good, and easier to handle (I’m kind of a brute and like throwing around large objects though). The North Carolina Forestry Library indicates that “high wood density, high ratio of sapwood to heartwood, and strong but not too thick bark” ( ) is better for Shitakes. Soft wood is better for Oysters, according to “Tulip Poplar, Maple, Willow, Paulownia, and Tree of Heaven are some of the most successful tree species to inoculate with oyster mushroom spawn” ( ). That said, I needed to get some logs, and I knew someone that needed a red oak taken down. I was told white oak is better, but use what you have, and I did. I also used 6-10” logs. We’ll talk about moisture later, but it seems to me that a larger log can hold moisture better (volume to surface area ratio, just like the reason children dehydrate faster than adults). I’m convinced that’s why my logs lasted over 5 years when most literature states 3 years. 
The log length is up to you also. If you are going to hang it in your kitchen then 10-12” might work, but we’re talking about growing in your yard. Keep in mind if you are growing shitakes you will need to soak them, so they must be a length that fits into whatever you will soak them in (I used a kiddie pool). Mine were 30”-48” long.
3.     Drill your logs. I set mine up on saw horses, but make sure they don’t roll (I clamped large C-clamps at the downhill end to stop them from rolling). Your hole diameter and depth will be based on your plugs or inoculator. The Sharondale kit comes with a 12mm bit to match the inoculator (no guessing, that is why I recommend this as a way to start). Most will require holes ½” to 2” deep (plugs longer than saw dust, and based on the plug length).  You do this in a “diamond pattern” but I think saying it that way confuses many people. Just drill holes 6” apart in a row. Move over 3-4” and do another row, BUT THIS TIME, drill your holes in between the holes in the last row (offset). This is what creates the diamond pattern everyone mentions.  Just keep turning your log and drilling the next row offset. To me this and waxing are the two most tedious parts. The good news is, there isn’t much work left after those steps are completed. A little work up front, and you get years of mushrooms. 
Anyway, I used a drill bit (the special bit wasn’t a part of the kit when I bought mine years ago). Once I determined my depth I wrapped electrical tape around my bit as a guide (drilling deeper will just waste spawn). After I drilled two logs I would inoculate. Drilling, inoculating, and sealing get mixed together when doing multiple logs. But I didn’t want to leave my logs with holes to start drying out. Honestly, you can probably drill all your logs, then inoculate and wax. 
4.   & 5. Fill the holes either using your palm inoculator (I put a separate amount of spawn in a separate plastic container for immediate use, so I could keep the main bag in a cool moist place). You just push the inoculator into the spawn, a few times, to fill its tube. Place the end of the inoculators tube just into the hole. Then push the plunger, on the back, with the palm of your other hand. Or, push in your plugs (some people utilize a rubber mallet, if needed, to help get them in place). I would do 3 rows on each log, then seal with wax (I put the wax in a small pot on an outdoor burner, used for a turkey fryer, to melt it). To seal, I learned to do the row facing upward, then have my partner turn the log so the other spawn filled holes faced up. I tried waxing them at the slight angle, but noted lots of wax running down. Then turn again to the 3rd row you filled. Once done with both logs (if you are set up for two at a time) they were turned to the next three empty rows for inoculating. 
Some people don’t wax, but you risk the saw dust falling out and worse, drying out (that kills it). With plugs it is more of a choice, but again, the idea is they need to be moist, and the wax seals in the moisture. says to soak the plugged logs right away, for 12-24 hours, unless they are less than 10 days old (ie. were alive and cut less than 10 days ago). 
6.              Here I found conflicting info. I’ll tell you what I did that worked:
Shitakes- Raft: I placed one log I didn’t inoculate in a cool, moist, shadowed area (no direct sun and very little dappled sun if any). I laid the inoculated shitake logs with one end on the first log and the other in contact with moist ground. They were left like this until the following early spring, at which time I soaked them, and leaned them against a north facing (no sun) side of the house. Then they started producing.

Oysters- In that shady part of my yard, under several large trees, I have ornamental grass clusters (planted by the previous owner). I pulled back the edge of the grasses near the walkways and placed the logs there. I arranged the ends of the grasses to partly cover the logs. They are left there in contact with the moist ground. They started producing late the following spring. 
7.   Shitakes*- I usually got 2 flushes in the spring and 2-3 in the fall. You soak your logs (most sources state 12-24hrs but I usually did 24-48 hours). Note: I am on city water, so after filling the kiddie pool, I’d wait a day to make sure any chlorine was out (I waited this long as it was not in sunlight, but in a shady area). If you do this make sure your (or other) children do not have access to drown in the water. Also, I once had a chipmunk drown in there, but since they break my driveway, sidewalks, drop my runoff lines from my down spouts, and tunnel under my foundation, I was more worried it would contaminate my mushrooms than about the nasty critter- sorry hippies). 
Oysters*- They come up when they come up. I’ve missed several good flushes while on vacation, or just forgetting to look. It’s frustrating to go find a pile of mush where a great bunch of mushrooms was, but you missed it. Luckily that is the exception. It’s a good excuse to walk outside frequently. Also my children LOVE going to check the mushroom logs. They also love “picking” them (they hold a bowel or basket while I cut them off the logs- more on that next). Check especially during wet (or recently wet) weather, high humidity, and changes of temperature.
You can simply pull mushrooms off the logs. But, again, MOISTURE in the logs is important. Pulling them off may damage or remove the bark. Bark helps hold moisture in the log. So, I take kitchen scissors and cut them 1/8”-1/4” away from the log leaving some stem (this may be another reason my logs lasted extra long). 
A couple of notes:
a) You are responsible for yourself. You are responsible for assuring that the mushrooms you choose to eat are the correct type and are safe to consume. You are responsible for assuring your mushrooms are safe to eat raw, or are properly cooked if necessary. Personally, I know what I planted (inoculated). I feel the chance of a look alike, randomly growing, where I live, in the same log I inoculated, is low. However, again, you consume at your own risk. Always know what you are eating.
b) If you don’t pick right away bugs will start using your mushrooms as a home. You will see them in the gills. They will eat holes in the gills and crawl around in there. Well, I’m not wasting mushrooms because I was 2 days late and a bug moved in. Do your own research, but I just give them a hard blow and get the bug out. I cook my mushrooms anyway, but eat bugs (or mushrooms previously housing bugs) at your own risk.  
c)  I have missed oyster mushrooms and they have occasionally kept growing. We once got an oyster mushroom the size of my 4 year olds torso (he was so proud). They get harder and woodier if they get too big (in the cases where they don’t just rot). I often eat food that isn’t perfect (something I think many Americans will have to get used to again soon, as food becomes scarcer, but I digress). I simply cook it longer at a lower temperature to allow for it to break down (ex. Parsnips that I continue to dig throughout the winter are cooked this way). 
d) I’ve been told you can eat shitakes raw, but can get sick (stomach pain) from raw oysters (oyster mushrooms). I hear this doesn’t happen to everyone but do your own research and consume mushrooms, of any kind, cooked or raw,at your own risk. 
e) It seems, these days, almost everyone is low on vitamin D. But, even shitake mushrooms grown indoors were reported to have 110iu of vitamin D. Additionally, placing them in the sun , GILLS UP, for 6 hours (or exposing to UV rays) can increase the vitamin D content to up to 46,000iu!!! ( )
f) You may often get more than you can use fresh. The oyster mushrooms especially. I had about 5 oyster logs, together, frequently produce ½ a bushel or more at once . You can control the shitakes easier, by only soaking a couple of logs at a time. However, I found I didn’t have time (and my wife didn’t like the kiddie pool out, and full, for a couple of weeks at a time) for the rotation. So, I just soaked them all at once. Well, what do you do with a harvest too big to eat that night? Placing them in a paper bag in the refrigerator will make them last a little longer. Don’t wash them! Just brush them with a soft bristled brish. I ended up drying some from almost every flush. Having your own supply of fresh and dried gourmet mushrooms is an amazing feeling, but you’ll find that out for yourself soon enough.
g) Spent logs- Eventually your logs stop producing. In the case of my oyster logs they pretty much rotted to nothing. I placed them in the garden and broke, what was left of them, up with a sledge hammer. Then I turned them into the garden. My shitake logs just got too dry. I haven’t tossed them yet. I’ve seen others use them as additional boarders around raised beds. The garden bed keeps them moist, and you might get the occasional mushroom J

In conclusion, this was a fun project for my family. My children love looking for mushrooms, and helping “pick” them. They are healthy and nutritious. And, they will grow in low light conditions (can you say GSM, super volcano, nuclear winter, ionized atmosphere, etc…) including indoors. I look forward to starting another set of logs soon! Thanks for reading.

* Disclaimer: You are responsible for yourself. You are responsible for assuring that the mushrooms you choose to eat are the correct type and are safe to consume. You are responsible for assuring your mushrooms are safe to eat raw, or are properly cooked if necessary.

Thanks again,
by Bananas, FNP-BC, RN, MSN, MCHIS

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