Easter Year Two

Don’t ever bite the hand that feeds you makes good sense to me but its our second Easter here and, as the tourists invade, only one word seems to fit:-

Roll on the end of October.
That’s when we’ll get our town back again.

Meanwhile I’ve had some terrible news.
Our little gun shop is closing down after 16 years of trading.
That means a 34 mile round trip to the nearest one.
I’m not one for supplier loyalty as a rule but I prefer to buy from a person not a Branded or ‘Chain’ store. Even if I’m paying a little more.

Why so? It’s a matter of trust I suppose and rather like buying a car.
Buying cheap isn’t worth a spit if the after sales service is dire.

Are you like that?
Buying from a person with a good ‘rep’ and after trust has been built?
Or do you just buy the brand and hope for the best?

A couple of my friends are fiercely brand loyal but both have been burned a few times by their warranty failing to deliver.
Just as I had until I learned the value of trust.
After all it’s difficult to negotiate (argue) with a nameless online store and some manufacturers are ‘less than’ helpful at times.


Stockpiling for Hard Brexit

One of our national media gained access to a warehouse full of essential items from medical supplies to food for NHS Wales for about eight weeks.

I get it. No Brexit happens, we have been told the world implodes, but the Health Service in Wales are ready for it.

Except there are times when you look at what is being done by large organizations JIC (just in case) and you just KNOW the lunatics (and not preppers) are drawing up the stockpiling lists.

The warehouse concerned has been stocked with 1,700 different products including syringes (good), dressings (good), needles (good), toilet rolls (Very good), canned tomatoes, and even some 22,00 kg of baked beans.

REALLY! Canned tomatoes AND baked beans?
When I read this, and for some in-explainable reason, I started to chuckle.  In any disaster planning you need to think about medical supplies, but for the life of me I can’t think of one medical condition that demands tinned tomatoes and baked beans as a fundamental treatment. Medical gloves, drugs, dressings, antiseptics, disinfectants, antibiotics, all yes. Even down to premature baby nappies, but as for Baked beans (with or without toast)?

That’s just comfort food and extremely bad as it contributes to the greenhouse gases that are destroying the world!

Analogue thinking and EWD.

Shall I, should I, could I, am I wrong, not sure, what if, or are you just afraid to commit.

That’s where analogue thinking can end up when everything is shades of grey. Problem is that can lead to indecision and the line between being cautious and becoming indecisive is dangerously thin.

There is another side to this which might interest (or horrify) you.
Computers work using binary. Ones and zeroes, True or false, no maybe’s.
Well sort of because now they have the ability to think in grey.
True, False, and somewhere in between.

That’s got a name, FUZZY LOGIC.
Fuzzy logic comes from the knowledge that things can’t always be solved by simple ones and zeroes, but can also range from ‘almost certain’ to ‘very unlikely’. Sounds remarkably like a human brain doesn’t it. Flawed from the first Um??? that comes out of your mouth.

The problem is that fuzziness is programmed by humans and they are never totally infallible. Where you find this sort of logic a lot is in the newest and most complex of computers.
Some of them are found in the most complex of modern weapons system.

Wanna guess where I’m going here?

The more complex the equipment and it’s tasking, the more things can go wrong.
AND THE MORE EVERYTHING IS INTEGRATED, which I’m coming to, the easier it is to confuse if not defeat.

Consider that in 2014 the USS Donald Cook was rendered deaf, blind, and as much use as a chocolate teapot by a EWP (electronics warfare package).

A Russian ‘Khibiny’ package to be exact. Slung under a Russian SU-24.
The ships state of the art weapons system, the AGEIS package that controlled all its weapons, was disabled to the extent that the jet was able to overfly the ship TWELVE times while ‘practicing’ attack runs.

If it’s intentions had been hostile, it could have been all over in the first pass.

BUT, it doesn’t stop there.
The ultimate failing of the modern world is a headlong rush to computerize and ‘integrate/network’ everything, usually across the Internet or, in the case of critical systems, their own ‘secure’ networks.

Thus everything from public utilities, power, communications, command and control systems, navigation, and finally financial systems are vulnerable to attack and not necessarily by the sophistication of hacking (on which the West is totally target fixated).

Crude EMP generation using a nuclear weapon aka a (HEMP) high-altitude electromagnetic pulse weapon can take out electrically powered equipment over a wide area.

Or, for more a more targeted effect, by using an Electronics warfare package like the Russian ‘Khibiny’ package could render a nations electricity supply useless by causing a super destructive cascade failure.

Best bit about it?
It doesn’t need an aircraft to deliver it just sufficient power to make it squeal!
Just think, all those Patriot systems and nothing to shoot at.

‘Bombing people back into the stone age’ was a WW2 and Cold War ‘descriptor of power’ but now that HEMP and EWP packages have grown in sophistication, it could just be a case of turning off the power for a protracted time will bring a country to its knees while leaving the infra structure intact.

Funny enough I like that idea.
A silent click of an EWP or the flash of instant sunshine around 200 miles up in the sky, and all power goes. Thereafter the only thing that will harm you is your own people and the nine meals to anarchy scenario and NOT the totally toxic and too horrible to contemplate Thermonuclear war.

An A to Z (but not quite) of Dangers in the Home.

Care to add any?

Alcohol Illness
Allergies Infections
Boilers / Furnaces (CO) / Explosion Isolation
Bottled Gas heaters (CO) / Damp Knocks and bumps
Burns Dry / Wet Ladders
Choking and suffocation Machinery / appliances
Contaminated Water Mold
Criminal acts / violence Noxious fumes / Chemicals
Cuts and stab/penetration Other occupants
Damp Open Fires (CO)
Dehydration Overexertion / Strains
Despair Pets
Disease / Pests / Vermin Poisoning
DIY Police / Law Enforcement
Black Outs / Grid down Reaction injuries
Domestic violence Repetitive motion injuries
Drowning Starvation
Drugs (legal or not) Storm
Earthquake Strangulation
Electrocution Structural failure
Falling from heights Suicide
Falling objects Toilets / Sewage
Fire Tornado
Firearms Unstable objects
Flood Vehicle accidents
Food poisoning Ventilation
Gas Supply and appliance Violence
Home Maintenance Walking into things injuries
Hypo / Hyper thermia

Wanna guess which are the top three?

Post Apocalyptic Survival

Been relaxing, watching Hollywood (and independents) versions of Post Apocalyptic survival. There are common themes in all of them.

  • You are going to get dirty, stay dirty, and end even up more dirty, BUT you’ll be totally immune from infections of the cut or graze type.
  • You’ll also be able to drink from puddles, ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers without having to filter your water AT ALL!
  • Nobody uses toothpaste but everyone has sparkly white teeth.
  • And as for your clothing, one word, Phew!
    Ripped and dirty is the norm.
  • Nearly forget, everything food still comes in cans but mysteriously whatever happens washes the labels off.
  • As for toileting?
    Apart from the occasional visit behind a bush without any toilet paper, let alone washing afterwards, is purely for the sissies.
  • Nobody even carries a shovel and rubbish (food or otherwise) just disappears.
  • Flies aren’t a problem, gnats, tick, fleas, and maggots have only appeared in couple of  films I watched, but rats are common.

So, if you want to survive! Do it the Hollywood way.

Meanwhile, in the real world.
Personal cleanliness, and looking after your kit / clothing (all layers) is vital.
Socks and boots in particular need special care.
So soap, gaffer tape, needles and threads may just become a sought after barter item.

You also have to remember that a simple graze, blister, or cut, in a world of austere or no conventional medicines could kill you. So Antiseptics and Antibiotics (plus any personal life sustaining medicines) and medical supplies such as sterile EVERYTHING must be considered top priority during any foraging trip.

Meanwhile let’s just leave Hollywood to stew in it’s one unrealistic filthy world.

A classic example of the effects of no power.

Water shortages caused by a six-day power cut in Venezuelan citie./s hit the headlines earlier this month, but for many in the country, dry taps are nothing new.

The electrical outage affected pumps that deliver water to homes around the capital, Caracas. Some homes had no water for days. Families gathered up plastic bottles to fill them with hosepipes at public parks, and visited a mountain on the outskirts of the city to collect water.

Water keeps you alive, simple as that.
3 days without it and you’ll end up severely dehydrated and in some climates , on the way to death.

Last year was hot here, and our water consumption almost doubled as we refilled our water filter again and again trying to keep ourselves hydrated, but not poisoned, by the stuff that comes out of the taps.

The dry spell ran for 42 days.
That was 2 gallons for the ‘2 plus dog’ of us a day, or 84 gallons of water, 382 liters.
As an emergency stock “keep you alive” (2 liters a day each) supply we keep a month. 120 liters.

So where would we be getting water from if all the power grids went down and there was no rain?? It’s a problem we’ve to got to solve and I’m thinking of putting a  pipe down into the ground and see what turns up.
It’s looking like the water course is in chalk some 24 meters down.
I think that is unattainable by DIY drilling even with a water assist and  I already know there is one thick layer of clay soil to dig through just under our grass.


Like Rats? I don’t.

CAUTION. Long article so stock up on tea and biscuits.

Them damn things are everywhere and we’ve had the black, brown and the weirdest of dappled thing which executed a perfect back flip tucked double somersault as it thought it could run along the fence at the end of the garden with immunity from prosecution but caught a 22 behind its ear.

I loath them but know that for every one you see, the experts guess that there are at least ten watching doesn’t exactly surprise me. Probably the worse thing for me is their ability to survive on stuff that would make a goat puke and that they thrive in disaster, let alone war. That and how easily they grow immune to rat bait (poison), although that is a direct result in not leaving the bait down long enough to kill all comers!

The health dangers they pose are well-known but how many prep for them?
Do you know how to trap them, how to drown them, what to do without poisons?
After all shooting them (although fun and deeply satisfying) is a waste of ammo and even with a 22, that ‘fun’ can led to unwanted attention.

I’m a fan of snare and dangle when it comes to austere trapping rats as it occasionally catches something edible and sort of safe. but what are you facing aka know your enemy.

Teeth that can chew though steel, carriers of disease which demand antibiotic treatments which means, in an austere scenario, exposure to their urine, waste (poo), oil from their fur, ticks and fleas they can carry, or by consuming ‘nibbled’ or contaminated food could be fatal.

An adult can weigh 1 to 2 pounds, and a body that can grow to 10-14 inches long excluding the tail. Having said that they can squeeze through the smallest of holes.
Why work easily in both the day and night.
Add something that is strongly Neophobic (an inbuilt fear of anything new) and trapping them ain’t easy.

This is no push over folks!

So what’s the common things to think about to discourage them?
One of the usual is to keep clean, uncluttered accommodation.
Keep your store rooms secure and contents in glass or steel bins.
Never leave food stuff just lying around.
Clean up and put away when preparing and cooking.
Wash raw or foraged foodstuff before preparation.
Eat then, not later, and clear away before carrying on your day.
Transport waste WAY AWAY from where you are living before going to sleep or when leaving your shelter for ANY length of time.
Difficult as it might seem, protect your water sources and storage.
That also includes washing bottles AND CANS before opening and drinking from them.

It’s said rats won’t attack you. WRONG!
Cornered, or you stationary for too long, or when asleep, and you are fair game to a rat.

First Aid When Bitten or Scratched.
Control the bleeding and clean the wound with soap and warm water.
Clean inside the wound, being sure to rinse away all the soap.
Cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing.
You can put antibiotic ointment on the wound before covering.
Rat bites often lead to infection.
If the injury is on a finger, remove all rings from the injured finger before it swells.
Watch for these signs of infection: Redness, Swelling, Localized Heat, and Weeping pus.
If infected think Antibiotics.

So what can you catch?

  • Streptobacillary rat bite fever.
    Symptoms usually occur 3-10 days after an infected rat bite.
    Muscle ache, vomiting, joint pain, headache, fever, and rash are common symptoms of .
  • Spirillary rat bite fever.
    Symptoms may occur one to three weeks after an infected rat bite.
    Repetitive fever, an ulcer at the site of the bite, swelling, swollen lymph nodes and rash.
  • Leptospirosis and Hantavirus. The saliva of rats carries these two.
  • Tetanus infections.
    Cause. From a scratch, bite, cut, or graze, and contact from anything dirty, which may be what a rat has been foraging through.
    Symptoms of tetanus appear anytime from a few days to several weeks.
    The average incubation is seven to 10 days
    Common symptoms include:
    Spasms and stiffness in your jaw muscles, Stiff neck and abdominal muscles, Difficulty swallowing, and Random pain.
  • Plague. From what it carries in the form of ticks and fleas.
    Bubonic Plague.
  • Sudden onset of fever and chills, Headache, Fatigue or malaise, Muscle aches. Visually – swollen and tender lymph nodes — called buboes — in the groin, armpits or neck.
    Septicemic plague occurs when plague bacteria multiply in your bloodstream.
    Symptoms: Fever and chills, Extreme weakness, Abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
    Bleeding from your mouth, nose or rectum, or under your skin. Shock!
    Blackening and death of tissue (gangrene) in your extremities, most common in fingers, toes and nose. BARRIER NURSING.
    Pneumonic plague affects the lungs and it’s airborne (droplet infectious).
    Signs and symptoms can begin within a few hours after infection.
    Difficulty breathing, Nausea and vomiting, High fever, Headache, Weakness, Chest pain, Cough, with bloody mucus (sputum). Respiratory failure and shock within two days of infection. FULL BARRIER, respirators, the works.
    Needs to be treated with antibiotics within a day after signs and symptoms first appear. Or it is likely to be fatal.

You’ll probably notice I haven’t listed treatments.
But you all have a copy of “Where there are no Doctors” to hand or an equivalent. Haven’t you?

So having scared you onto the toilet for a long sit, lets look at what rat ‘sign’ looks like.
They usually run along the same tracks leaving a telltale smear over time.
Their footprint is a four-toed front and five-toed back footprint.

Feet and that loathsome tail marks.
Tracks will have signs of gnawing along those tracks. (DIY Teeth Care)
Not forgetting rat scat and urine scent marking stains (Don’t sniff or touch!).
Scat is skinny pellets, usually about 10 mm long and 3 mm across but the size will vary.
Rounded tips. Fresh dark brown, but they get lighter with age.

PPE for rats.
Whoops, I meant what you should have when dealing with rats.
Gloves and HEAVY DUTY TYPE. Think welders grade, long wrist cuffs.
I also wear a pair of nitrile med.inspection gloves underneath as rat piss can soak through leather. Me, paranoid? You think!
A good quality FFP3 / N95 or N100 OIL RESISTANT mask.
Safety glasses, snug fitting wrap round.
When working in dusty conditions, contaminated material in the eyes is rather like mainlining bacteria into you.
BOOTS, rigger boots preferred. Steels with instep safety.
Why? Stepping on a nail could inject their ‘product’ into your foot.
Overalls, I use disposable hooded type. After all what’s a few dollars over your health.
I also tape the overalls to my boots and gloves. That’s not so much to stop the rats looking for nuts, but dust can reach you in a windy hazardous scenario.
A pair of tongs and a hammer handle.
NEVER pick up a rat, dead or alive with your hands.
They can be stunned by pellets or slugs and awake in your grasp.
They also twitch and can force-ably defecate and urinate in their death throes.
The hammer handle? A secondary wack on their head can save you from a stunned rat.
Lastly (but optional) Get your tetanus booster updated.

The only thing I haven’t talked about in-depth is trapping.
If you are a fortress type prepper, you’ll probably have traps as part of your inventory.
If you aren’t ‘home based’, you may have to improvise.
I’ll make a few traps up and photograph them. They all work although farm rats can get BIG!
If you cage trap, to kill them, DROWN THEM overnight. Only remember the water will be bio hazardous to you after their long soak.
If they are ‘trap dead’, burn the carcasses. Rats will eat rats.
Think of them like politicians and leave nothing for the next generation to feed off.

1300 words, whoops sorry, but they do present a clear and present danger to the survivor.