The Prepper’s Blueprint

When I got into prepping, the first book I bought was The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster by Tess Pennington. It’s not a bad book if you’re new to prepping. The author seems to know her subject and there’s lots of solid information in the book. In spite of that, I don’t recommend The Prepper’s Blueprint, for two reasons. First, there is no information in this book that you can’t find free on line. In fact, it’s freely available on the author’s own web site.

Repetitive repetition…

Second, the information as presented is repetitive repetitive. Some chapters look like they were copied and pasted from an earlier chapter. For example, there are four chapters on hardware or tools. Three out of the four tell you to buy a hammer. Two tell you to buy a crow bar and a multitool. One list has “sledge hammer” twice – on the same list. Other chapters are similarly repetitive.

OTHO, other topics are a little light on subject matter. As someone interested in radio communications, I can tell you the chapter on emergency communications has no useful information. The chapter on Home Defense is even worse than useless. Example:

First, 12-gauge shotguns offer a generous spread (i.e., you don’t have to be that accurate)…

She then goes on to talk about the best kind of “bullets” for a shotgun.

In conclusion, I do NOT recommend The Prepper’s Bluprint

Even though it does contain some good information, I do not recommend this book. The good information on some topics is offset by skimpy or wrong information on other topics. If the author would stick to topics she knows about, and expand on those instead of repeating the same info over and over this would be a much better book, maybe even one I’d recommend.

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,

The Great Indoors

About a month ago I started sleeping on the floor. My wife didn’t kick me out of the bed, and our bed is actually pretty comfortable. I just wanted to see if I could sleep on a hard surface. Turns out I can’t, at least directly, so I got a sleeping pad. Also I wanted to change my eating habits, and work on other things to get more self sufficient. Since I can’t always get outdoors, I decided to see what I could do in The Great Indoors.

Sleeping on the floor

I’ll admit, the first night was because I was mad at my wife. When I woke up the next morning my butt and shoulders were sore, but my back felt better than normal. Hmmm…

The second night my wife asked me if I was planning to sleep on the floor again. I told her yes, and explained about my back feeling better. So she decided to try it too. Next morning, her experience was the same as mine – sore butt and shoulders, but better feeling back. We figured the hard floor was good for our backs but hard on the pressure points (butt and shoulders). We moved back to the bed, but a couple days later Costco had LightSpeed self inflating sleep pads at a closeout price of $14.95 and my wife wanted to try them. We got two and they work great. Not as soft as our bed so good for our backs, but soft enough our butts and shoulders don’t get sore. We’ve both been sleeping on the floor since we got the sleeping pads. I sleep better and have more energy during the day. Sleeping on the floor – welcome to The Great Indoors.

Homemade beef jerky

I’m trying to cut my carbs, so eat more meat, right? I don’t always have time to cook though, but when I do I have a lot of time. It takes me about 5 hours to make a batch of jerky, so I’ve been doing that a lot for the past couple months. Cleanup is really easy and it tastes a lot better than store-bought jerky. Also makes a great trail snack. Hope to post a recipe soon…

Building a library

One thing a backyardsman or backwoodsman can do is read about skills necessary or useful. In that spirit, I’ve been building a library. Books I’ve added recently and recommend are Truck: A Love Story by Michael Perry, The Glock In Competition by Robin Taylor, Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness For the Family by Arthur T Bradley, and Seedtime On The Cumberland by Harriette Simpson Arnow. They’re all good reads and they all offer something to the aspiring backyardsman.

Taking it to the back yard

The great indoors have been pretty good for the last couple months, and proved that I don’t have to get away from the house to get away from urban/suburban stress. For the past week though I’ve been moving from the Great Indoors to the Great Outdoors. Well, at least to my back yard…

For the past week, I’ve been sleeping in the back yard. Instead of the LightSpeed sleeping pad I’m using a USGI Therm-Pad sitting on top of a canvas tarp I got at Home Depot (sold as a painter’s drop cloth). My sleeping bag is a bivvy bag I got from some European company. Can’t remember the name but when I do I’ll write a review. This combo works pretty good until 1 or 2 AM when the temp gets down to 45 or so. At that point I wake up and pull over a wool blanket. Then I go back to sleep until about 5:00 when the birds start chirping. Works better than my alarm clock. Now if only I could convince the wife and kids to join me in the back yard…

Until next time…

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

This week’s preps – August 12 2018

My monthly prepper meetup was this past week so I went to that. It was nice to catch up with some of the people, but some others I was hoping to see weren’t there so that was disappointing. There was no specific topic, just general discussion. We did talk about bugging out vs. sheltering in place which is a topic I like. Also talked about finding a sustainable place that’s not a two day drive away. I was surprised that some of the old timers think that’s still possible, considering the out of control growth in our area.

Our rental house is about finished. We have 2 tenants so far. Another one is moving in tomorrow. Only 3 rooms left… My brother (in law) is quite the handyman. He’s doing all the wood trim and some tile cutting. My wife and her sister are doing the vinyl plank flooring. We wouldn’t be nearly this far along without their help. Good family is truly a blessing.

Speaking of my brother and sister (in law), from now on I’ll just refer to them as brother and sister. No “in law,” family is family. They’ve also done a ton of work in our back yard. My brother loves working in the garden. He also wants to go hunting this fall. Can’t wait to take him…

Misc. stuff… I bought a Remington 783 a few years ago as a project rifle. Put a new stock on it but it never worked right. Almost impossible to chamber a round and doesn’t eject worth s***. Finally said enough and took it to my gun smith. Found a jammed up ejector and incorrectly cut extractor. He fixed both and it works better but still not what I’d expect from a Remington. Don’t get a Remington 783 – it’s a crappy design. If you want a Remington get a 700. If you want a cheap (but good) rifle, get a Savage Axis.

Continuing the gun theme, I loaded 600 rounds of 9mm. I’ve been shooting my pellet gun every chance I get. I’m actually improving. I put a dry fire kit into one of my Glocks and got a holster for it. I’ve been experimenting with sights since my near vision sucks. I’m getting discouraged, nothing really seems to work. Maybe I can get some reader lenses for my Wiley-X shooting glasses.

Almost forgot – put bird netting over the peach tree to keep the birds away.

That’s about it for now. What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

This week’s preps – well, preps since May 12 2018…

I haven’t really done any “prepping” for 88 days – over 12 weeks. I’ve been so distracted, busy, whatever that for the past 2 months I skipped CERT meetings, permaculture meetups, and I didn’t even stay for my prepper group meetups. That last one is a shame because the topic was map reading.

Life happens…

So what happened? Life. We picked up my in-laws and moved them in. Our rental house project turned into a really MAJOR project. I found myself suddenly in need of being able to secure a $200K loan (!!!) with really crappy credit. Still working on that one… Oh, and I managed to crash my truck. It’s still driveable but the side of the bed is wiped out. Another $2500 to get that fixed…

Life goes on…

Even though I’ve been slacking, I still got some things done that maybe could be considered prepping. I finished an online class in programming embedded computers. My brother and I have the back yard looking really good. He even caught a quail that he cooked and ate. Last weekend I took him and my sons to watch our first IDPA pistol match. Last night I loaded about 300 rounds of 9mm. We keep working on the garden 🙂

I’m also working on my personal library and I’ve had the chance to read some really good books. Maybe not prepper books, more suited to the backyardsman than a prepper. Some are Nothing To Do But Stay, Truck – a Love Story, and The Warwolf. Tomorrow night is my monthly prepper’s meetup so hopefully it will nudge me back into a more formal prepping routine…

What about you? What have you been doing to prep lately?

Peace out,

I should have brought a gun…

I went to my first IDPA pistol match yesterday. I have a friend at work who shoots IDPA and he said I should check it out. The local pistol club has matches on the first Saturday of the month so I loaded up my kids and brother and drove out. I wasn’t planning on shooting so I left my gun at home.

I thought it would be pretty intense so I wanted to watch a match before shooting in one. Turns out I was wrong. It was pretty low key/low stress. There were 19 people shooting in the match and everyone I talked to was really friendly. I asked if I could take video and they said “no problem.” (Will post as soon as I figure out how to get them uploaded from my iPhone).

Someone asked why I wasn’t shooting. I told them I was just watching and didn’t have my gun. So… one of the group offered to let me use his gun. I turned him down because I don’t like using other people’s expensive stuff. I wanted to shoot though – it was so low key. I should have brought a gun.

More Glock goodness…

Glock 35 Gen 4It’s been hectic around here lately. We’re trying to get my wife’s sister and her husband acclimated to life in the US. It’s not working out very well so far. My brother already wants to go back. I’m learning Chinese and trying to come up with things to keep him (them) occupied. They love working in our back yard, they’re both interested in church (and there is a Christian Chinese church in town), and he (my brother) wants to go shooting. We make homemade beef jerky every Saturday. They take long walks with my kids every night. Everything is working out great except my brother already wants to go back to China. I don’t blame him. If I was stuck someplace where almost no one spoke my language I’d feel the same. Unless I found a reason to want to stay…

Glock goodness…

What does any of that have to do with Glocks? Stay with me. I want my in-laws to stay here. I need to come up with a good reason for them to want to stay. What can they do here they can’t do in China? Go shooting. Get involved in the whole gun culture. For handguns, to me that means Glock goodness. In light of that, I just got a Gen 4 Glock 35. I also have a Polymer80 frame and all the parts to build a NAG 19. My brother is interested in hunting and shooting. Introducing him to Glock goodness will be a good thing. That and eventually Black Rifle Disease…

I have lots of vacation time saved up at work. Since Fridays are always slow and vacations are a waste of time, I talked to my boss about just taking Fridays off. He said OK, so most Fridays starting next week will be range days. Just my, my brother, my 2 sons, and some Glock goodness.

Sunday update…

That was yesterday. Today I took the family to a Chinese Christian church. Tried not to look nosy but I managed to notice that my brother sang along with the hymns and read along with the Scripture readings. In the bulletin I saw an announcement for a church camp at the end of August. Another backwoodsman (a.k.a. backyardsman) thing I can do with my new found brother. Making new family traditions and all that…

My brother from another mother

(Trigger warning: this will be a somewhat rambling post)

Yesterday I spent the day driving deep through the heart of enemy territory (“progressive” California) to pick up my wife’s sister and brother-in-law at San Francisco International Airport. They arrived from China, about 15 years since we started the application process so they could come here.

What does this have to do with being a Backyardsman?

I’d never met my brother-in-law before. My wife was nervous and worried. My kids were upset that they didn’t get to go with us (our car is too small for 6 people and luggage). I knew I couldn’t make the day worse by being my usual impatient driver. It was hard, but I made a conscious effort to not notice all the people driving like idiots. It was hard, but I focused on what we were driving through – and what we were driving through gave me a lot of things to think about.

The first part of the drive was along the river, and I noticed the river is just about perfect for fishing. Just a few weeks ago it was too high, but now it’s just right. After we crossed the Sierra crest I got a few good looks at the Yuba, another river I’d like to fish. Then we dropped down into Sacramento and I remembered why I don’t want to live in a big city ever again. I also thought about how if I had too, I could get away with just a pretty short drive…

Meeting my brother-in-law for the first time…

Didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve met my wife’s sister before, but not her sister’s husband. Also, my wife’s parent’s lived with us twice, a year the first time and 6 months the second time. Her mom and sister are OK, but I didn’t like living with her dad. Too arrogant, thinks he knows everything (kind of like me), but worst of all got up really early and came down to the kitchen to drink coffee. Right at the same time I was drinking coffee and enjoying my (formerly) private time.

I don’t get that vibe this time. I don’t know for sure but I’m pretty sure I’ll get along with my brother-in-law a lot better than I got along with my wife’s dad…

Brother from another mother?

After I got married I didn’t go to church because my wife didn’t like going. When her son came here in 2000, one of the first things he asked me was to take him to church. He came from China where church isn’t exactly popular. So I asked him why… he told me that his uncle told him he should ask his new Dad (me) to take him to church when he got here. It still kind of blows my mind, but I started taking my new son to church. Soon after he was baptized and then went through classes to be a communicant member of our church.

Even though I’d failed in my job as being the spiritual leader for my family, my new son still ended up in my spiritual family – thanks to something his uncle had told him while he was still in China.

Brother from another mother

Last night, we all went to my mom’s house for dinner. In China, it’s not common to pray before a meal so my in-laws started eating as soon as dinner was served. My younger kid asked aren’t we going to pray first? My wife translated, the in-laws looked confused. Not like WTF confused, more like “what should we do” confused. We set down our forks, they watched and saw us fold our hands so they folded theirs’ too. I said a simple prayer. As soon as I finished, my brother-in-law announced that he wanted to go to church. As soon as he said it, his wife said she wants to go too.

We got home too late to check out the back yard, but this morning my newly discovered brother noticed the rabbits. His first question was “is it OK to catch them and eat them or is it illegal”? A hunter – a man after my own heart. Maybe my brother from another mother. I sure hope so…

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,

Build your own gun

building your own gunI’m filing this under How to be a Backyardsman. I love to shoot and hunt but I can’t do that in my backyard. You probably can’t either unless you’re really lucky. So what can you do if you like guns but you can’t go shooting as much as you’d like? Build your own gun. It’s pretty easy – if I can do it you probably can too.

Build your own gun vs. buying a factory gun

Sometimes you can save money by building your own gun, but usually it’s cheaper to just buy one. I don’t care. I build guns because I enjoy it and I get to make them exactly the way I want them. It’s also a great way to learn how they work. I figure if I built it I can probably fix it if it breaks. If you start with an 80% receiver it can save you from doing paperwork.

OTOH it’s easier to just buy one. To build your own, you’ll need some tools and skills. It’s usually cheaper to buy a factory gun, and it will come with a warranty. So why build your own? Because you’re a Backyardsman, right?

Ways to build your own gun

When you build your own gun, you have lots of options. The cheapest is to get a black powder rifle or pistol kit. You can get a Traditions Kentucky pistol kit for about $175 or their Kentucky rifle kit for about $260. I haven’t built either but they look pretty easy to put together and they get good reviews online. To build one, you’ll need to do a little wood inletting for the metal parts, some minor filing, finish the wood stock, blue the metal parts, and screw everything together. I’m hoping I can build one with my son later this year (after he passes his Hunter Safety course).

The easiest way to build your own gun is putting together an AR15. You can get every part you need online. The only hard part is finding an FFL to do the transfer on the lower receiver for you. You’ll need a few special tools and some good instructions, but putting together an AR is so easy it’s not even really building a gun, more like assembling one. If you want a little more challenge you can start with an 80% lower. My first (and so far only) home built gun was an AR-15. It cost just as much as a factory gun, but it’s put together exactly the way I want. I have over 1,000 rounds through it with zero malfunctions.

My next home built gun is going to be a Glock type pistol built on a Polymer80 frame. The ATF doesn’t consider this to be a firearm so you can order the frame kit without going through an FFL. I got my frame last week and even though it needs some milling, it looks even easier than putting together an AR15. The only problem is the cost – about $200 for the frame and lower kit and $400 for a complete slide. You can buy a brand new factory Glock cheaper than that.

If you’re really good and have tools you can build a custom bolt action rifle or even build your own semiautomatic pistol from scratch.

So get to it – start building

If you like guns, you should definitely build your own gun. At least once. It’s easy (at least it can be) and you’ll learn valuable skills. What are you waiting for? Figure out what you want, find the parts (either locally or online), and start building.

Peace out,