A Bushcrafter, a Survivalist, and a Prepper walk into a bar…

Haven’t had much time to write lately. Went through some life crises but all is well now so hear I am. Anyway, a Bushcrafter, a Survivalist, and a Prepper walk into a bar. The bar tender looks up and says “Are you guys identical triplets?” I know it’s lame. If you’re reading this blog you already know what a bushcrafter is, but what’s the difference between a survivalist and a prepper? It’s something I wonder about and it seems to be a pretty common question. Last week at my monthly prepper group someone asked and for the first time I heard an answer that was simple and made sense.

The guy who runs our group is who gave the answer. He describes himself as a former survivalist who’s now more of a prepper (when I use those terms, it’s without some of the connotations the media likes to ascribe to them). His answer was short and sweet:

They both prepare. A survivalist prepares to do without. A prepper prepares so he doesn’t have to do without.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Take knives for example. A survivalist will want to know how to make his own. After all, ancient people did so why not? Find a suitable rock, figure out how to put a sharp edge on it, find a stick, figure out a way to attach the “blade” to the “handle” and viola! A knife. A prepper just goes out and buys a couple (or a couple dozen) knives.

Same with fire. A survivalist will know a half dozen ways to make a fire using nothing they can’t find in the wilderness. A prepper will have a couple ferro rods, several types of matches, a few butane lighters, and maybe a flame thrower.

I could go on, but that should be enough to understand the idea. A survivalist hopes to really mostly or entirely on skills. A prepper relies a lot (some say too much) on gear. Both have some valid points to support their views. A survivalist will say you can have all the gear in the world, but if you don’t know how to use it, or it gets lost or stolen, you’re still dead. A prepper will point out that sometimes you need gear know matter how much skill you have. For example, the world’s best skydiver falling out of an airplane without a parachute…

So what about the Backyardsman?

Where does this leave the Backyardsman? Is he (or she) a prepper or a survivalist? I think both. I tend to the prepper side. What can I say? I’m a gear junky. At the same time, I know my gear won’t do me or my family any good if I don’t know how to use it. I also know I need to provide even if I lose my gear. I know I don’t spend enough time learning skills.

What it comes down to for me is balance. If you’re just doing it for fun then do what is fun. If you’re concerned with the way things are going though, and want to “prepare” for bad times, keep it balanced. If you’re strong on skills but light on gear, look to see if there is at least some gear that can fill in on areas where skill might not be enough. If you’re heavy on gear but lacking skills, hide the credit card, get out in your back yard, and learn some skills.

See? Simple, short, and sweet. Peace out,

Finally bought a sewing machine

Singer 328 sewing machineI never really learned how to sew. When I was a kid, my mom had a sewing machine that I used a little, but not enough to get good at it. When my Dad passed away in 2014, my Mom decided to downsize and gave the sewing machine to my sister. I’ve always been a little interested in learning how to sew, so I wish I’d have asked for it. Oh well… A few months ago I asked my mom for advice on a sewing machine and got the standard lecture I always seem to get when telling ANY woman I want something… WHY??? You can’t afford it. You don’t have room for it. It’s cheaper and easier to just buy what you want instead of trying to make it yourself. You’ll regret it. I made the even bigger mistake of asking in front of my wife, so it was a pile-on. Well, whatever. I did some looking around, and last week I finally bought a sewing machine. I don’t care if buying things already made is cheaper and easier, I want to learn how to sew. So risking the wrath of my wife, I bought a sewing machine…

My “vintage” sewing machine…

My mom was party correct. New sewing machines that I can afford are pretty much crap. The Singers of today aren’t your mom’s Singer. The minimum price for a “good” sewing machine is about $900 – $1000 and I don’t like them because they have “digital control” – if the CPU board goes out you have a very expensive door stop. In one way, my mom and wife were right – if I was going to try this with a new sewing machine it would probably be a waste. Well screw that, there must be better options and there are…

On a Hi-Point forum I found a post from someone who’d just made their first nylon holster. Looked pretty good so I PM’d him to ask what kind of sewing machine he had. He replied that it was a 60’s vintage Singer 328. After a little looking around I found these can be had for around $150 so I bought one on eBay…

My new mini tent…

For the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with sleeping outside. My sleep system is pretty simple:

  • 9 x 12 foot heavy canvas paint drop cloth (folded in half) from local hardware store (base, helps keep the bivy bag clean)
  • USGI Thermarest sleep pad (since I’m too fragile to sleep directly on concrete)
  • Rolled up foam pad (used as pillow)
  • Hunka XL bivvy bag (used as light weight sleeping bag)
  • Wool blanket (in case it gets to chilly)

It’s been working pretty good, but I wake up with insect bites. Strange since we don’t have mosquitoes, maybe noseeums? Anyway, the bites itch like crazy so I decided I need a tent. I wanted something small that would work without stakes. After all, it’s pretty hard to drive tent stakes through a concrete patio… What I found was a USGI surplus bivvy bag. A bivvy bag is usually just a bag, but this acts like a mini tent to keep insects and other critters off me while I sleep.

It comes with a little carry bag and sets up easily. It seems a little flimsy so I’m not going to recommend it until I try it long enough to test its durability. The top is just netting so it won’t protect you from rain or snow, just bugs. I tried it the first time last night. Not a lot of room to move around once you’re inside so I didn’t use the Hunka XL. Just but the sleeping pad inside and covered up with the wool blanket. It worked fine. Slept sound and woke up with no new insect bites. This little mini tent is worth checking out if a full size tent is a little too much and a traditional bivvy bag isn’t quite enough.

Peace out,

Taking a week off

I’m taking a week off and hoping to get a lot of things done around the house and yard. This weekend I spent putting baseboard in our rental house and pulling weeds. I’m really starting to hate foxtails 🙂 I don’t like weed killer so I’m pulling them. After about 8 hours of pulling I’ve barely made a dent. It might be time to invest in a Weed Eater…

My wife’s sister and brother in law are moving here from China next month. We applied for them in 2003. Finally after 15 years they get to come here. That’s the good news on the family side. The bad news is my sister is still a “progressive” and getting angrier and more irrational by the day it seems. Her husband is even worse. Yesterday my mom told me she doesn’t know if she’ll ever see my sister again. Broke my heart to hear her say that. My mom and dad gave us everything they could and would do anything for us. My sister repays that by going against every value she was taught. I feel sorry for my mom, but I’m where I don’t care if I never see my sister again. In fact I’d almost prefer not to. OK, enough about that…

On a happy note, the local rabbits have been breeding like rabbits. We have at least 3 baby bunnies running around our back yard. They’re so cute … and when they grow up they’ll be so tasty 🙂

My taking a week off to do list:

  • Finish getting our rental house ready for fall semester
  • Get our house ready for my wife’s sister and brother in law
  • Lots of gardening work done
  • Clean out the garage
  • Sell enough stuff to pay for a Savotta LJK Modular rucksack

So a lot of it doesn’t have anything to do with being a Backwoodsman or Backyardsman. I need to get it done though.

Peace out,

Random notes

Haven’t had time to update this lately, so here are some random notes…


Went to my second permaculture Meetup last night. They are having 2 work-bees this month, where members get together and help each other out and learn. Really a good idea for a Meetup group IMO. One is this weekend which I won’t be able to attend due to a previous commitment. Wish I could go though, because the topic is butchering and processing rabbits. I did talk to the guy running the work-bee and he said to contact him and he’ll help me get started with raising rabbits. The second work-bee will also be useful, helping one of the members put in some low-tunnel growing beds. That one is at the end of the month so I’ll be able to go.


My monthly preppers Meetup is tonight, but I won’t be able to go because of a previous commitment. The topic is situational awareness so it should be interesting. I do have a couple of good books on the subject, notably Left of Bang.


The big deal for me for the next 2 weeks is CERT training. If you don’t know what CERT is, it means Community Emergency Response Team. The training is provided by county law enforcement under the guidance of FEMA. I figure it’s a good way to learn how FEMA operates, meet other like-minded people, and learn some helpful skills.


I’m still pissed at Kifaru about the missing pulls on my Urban Zippy. TWICE now I’ve requested they be sent to me, twice now I was promised they’ve been sent, and twice I’ve gotten stiffed. And yes, I verified both times that they have my correct mailing address. I could just get some paracord and make my own, but I want the side pulls to match the other pulls. Hell, they wouldn’t even bother to tell me what brand and color they use so I can match it myself. Maybe it shouldn’t be that big a deal to me, but we’re talking about a day pack that cost over $300.

I’ve been saving for an AMR or Mountain Warrior, but after my experience I’m looking at Eberlestock and Mystery Ranch too. So far I don’t see anything I like as much as the big Kifaru packs, but I’m not very happy with Kifaru’s customer service right now. Hopefully I’ll be over it by the time I have the money saved up.


My garlic order showed up last week, so I got a bunch of really good planting soil and set up 3 raised beds for the garlic. Hope to get it planted next week. I have 2 more beds I’m going to plant with brussel sprouts, lettuce, and spinach. From what I learned last night, they’ll grow over the winter (even in freezing weather) as long as I keep them under a low tunnel cover.

Peace out,