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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baby Coon Hound's Preparations...

Our thanks go out to Baby Coon Hound for this post, aprising us of his preparations to date and thoughts on purchasing a SHTF vehicle. Without further ado, I present his thoughts...

I'm a pretty new prepper, having just got started in the last couple of
months. I've gotten some LTS food, bought a full array of non-hybrid
seed, made plans to install a wood stove in the house, stashed about 50
gallons of gasoline that I rotate, beefed up our medical supplies,
thought about and discarded (after careful thought) moving to an even
more remote location (we're currently two miles out of a small town in
outstate MN) but decided against it because we've got a great house for
sitting tight and inviting some important friends and family to stay in
case TSHTF before we're really ready.

I had a prepper mindset before I "officially" became a prepper. By that
I mean that for about 13 years I was a professional geek in the cities.
I made good money, I lived in a nice house, and had I wished it I could
have been driving a Corvette and had a boat on Minnetonka, maybe even a
home. But I always felt uncomfortable flaunting wealth, and I ferdamshur
felt like the money could be spent more wisely...though I never seemed
to do that well. One decision on a September day in 1997 was one of the
better ones I ever made. I was in Minnetonka at a car dealership, not
sure what I wanted, when I spotted a slightly used 1996 Geo Tracker.
Purple. Vikes anybody? I drove it home. I drove it about 145,000
miles. I drove it until last week.

The alternator went bad. Probably just the brushes, but who knows? By
this time, of course, it also has LOTS of "personality". Rust almost
through both doors, one panel coming off the vinyl top (brrrr.), iffy
ignition on occasion, passenger door that needs grease but is used so
seldom it hasn't been worth greasing, carpet in back coming out, etc.
Anyway, I may or may not keep the critter as a backup, but I decided it
was time to get a new vehicle. Given my relatively new awareness of all
things survival, I thought it would be good to put that knowledge to
work as I surveyed the field.

I'm a bit of a Rawlesian, but very lite. That is to say that I'm wary
of the "Golden Horde" and I like his take on many things, but I'm not
COMPLETELY convinced of all he writes. Geez, I feel like a minor-league
rock musician describing my "influences". Anyhooo...Rawles and those
like him seems to think that you should go for a diesel vehicle, and I
looked at them. Really. I don't know if it's because of the inverted
fuel prices lately around here (diesel more expensive than gas
generally), but diesels are NOT abundant. And those that are are all
newer, with electronic ignition and all the extras that I really don't
care about. The purple Tracker didn't even have air conditioning, and I
loved it. I could care less about electric locks, power steering, and
the rest. I also am not as afraid of storing gasoline as many seem to
be. If it was that dangerous, more gas stations would explode. With
the dumb yahoos I've seen handle gas and still come out alive, I figure
I can do it. (Editorial note: I think diesel is preferred due to longevity of both engine and fuel without stabilization requirements, but I could be wrong. Also, if driving a vehicle with electric windows, always carry a knife or EMT/police window punch to break a window out in an emergency. Shy)

So I decided on gasoline out of partial necessity/convenience. I always
wanted a pickup and they seem REALLY handy for both pre- and
post-TEOTWAWKI, so this seemed like a good time to make the leap.

I like to buy American, and to judge by the business news, it looks like
Ford is the only American company that sells trucks that might actually
know how not to die. (Also, buying Ford keeps Minnesotans working- for now.)

That leaves me with the FXXX line. Speaking with some contractor
friends, they steered me "down" to the F150 for the purposes I had in
mind. When you look at F150 compared to F250 or F350 you get the idea
that it might be small if you don't know much about pickups. Then you
have a wife who insists on a back seat that can carry an infant seat,
and that steers you to the F150 extended-, super- and whatever-cabs, and
you start to see that an F150 can be a formidable vehicle.

I'm doing okay, but I'm NOT "rich" and I don't believe in buying brand
new. Any vehicle loses 10% of its value once you drive it off the lot,
and I just don't see the economics in that. I wanted something less
than $10,000 and less than 125,000 miles. Those of you who have only
driven cars may feel I'm nuts for just stating that. I would have
thought so. Until I entered the world of pickups and discovered that
they both hold their value better than cars AND have a longer lifespan.
Figure that while your average car is likely to conk out somewhere
between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, your average pickup has AT LEAST
200,000 miles in it, and likely 300,000 or maybe even 400,000 or more,
if it's been well-maintained.

Long story...well...less long that it could be, we decided on a used
F150, 150,000 miles, total cost including tax, license, etc. right about
8 grand. Carfax says it's been immaculately maintained (how many people
have their oil done professionally for 150,000 miles, with the greatest
deviation from 3,000 miles being about 100 miles?), the engine and body
are spotless, it comes with a REALLY nice topper and all the
accessories, and it is just plain a sweet-looking and -running vehicle,
so I'm guessing it has a better-than-average chance of seeing 400,000
miles. Not so good on gas, but then you're ahead of the game if you can
find a workhorse pickup that gets better than 15 anyway. It's got a
"super crew" cab, which means that the back seat is basically full-size
and it's a 4-door. Short box and not much room to put in a long-range
box-held tank, but I may do that anyway. First, it only has the one
tank so I'll likely look up auxiliary under-body tanks soon and see
what's available. I'd like this thing to have a cruising range of at
least 1,000 miles fully fueled, as I could see a trip to the cities
possibly in my future if TSHTF and I need to pick up a few friends that
live there to come home with me...and it's always good to have something
left over for, you know, LIVING, right? (Ed.note: with the saddle tanks on my F-150 4WD stick I can cruise close to 800 miles without refill: and it's easy to throw a couple jerry-cans in the box with extra gas. Shy)

So there's the short story on how I arrived at my decision. I have a
wife who isn't on board with the prepping thing yet (though I see signs
of hope there) so this was the best I could do. I'm not unsatisfied. I
fully realize that this vehicle will not fare well in the event of an
EMP attack, and I'm just hoping that doesn't happen. I happen to live
in the only house I've ever seen that has a 3-car tuckunder garage. The
topography of our lot is such that our cars basically sit in our
basement. I'm hoping that might give them some protection, as they sit
there usually 2/3 of the day and chances are really good that that's
where at least one of them will be at any given time. For that reason,
I'm planning on not habitually using the truck, hoping that it will
survive such a thing. But in all other ways, I'm happy with my purchase.

So while not all preppers would be happy with my decision, I think it's
the best I could do given my personal set of circumstances and pressures.

Next up:

1) Making that wood stove purchase and getting it installed ASAP.
Anybody who hasn't done that, be aware that the stove is the minor part
of the purchase. The flue is the major part in most cases, including ours.
2) Buying a whole lot more LTS food and stashing it in the basement.
3) Planting at least 4 fruit trees on our property within the next 2
months, two each (for cross-pollination) of apple and some other fruit.
4) Buying a whole lotta canning equipment.
5) Planting at least a few seeds of every single variety of heritage
seeds I have, if for no other reason than to get a new batch of seeds
for next year. They're supposed to keep for several years at least, but
you never know, right?
6) Convince at least 3 other people in town that I'm not crazy. It's
not general knowledge to anybody but my wife and parents that I'm a
prepper, but this would be a whole lot easier, and even fun, if I had
somebody else to share it with. (That's why we're here, Baby Coon Hound :-D )
7) Buy a handgun (probably 9mm) and start the process of getting a CCW.
8) Buy a shotgun. I have a .22 and a .30/30, and I want a
9mm and a 12 to go with them. Maybe also a battle rifle, but I don't
feel a pressing need for that right now. I feel that the .30/30, a
shotgun and a 9mm would suffice in our position to defend anything I see
us having to defend, if we have enough ammo. When I feel wrong about
that, I'll buy something else. (Don't forget a good supply of ammo for each.)
9) Convince my wife to learn to shoot. I think I could at least get
her hooked on the .22 (an excellent "gateway drug"), and see if I could
move her on to the .30/30 and so forth.
10) Get a gasoline fuel tank of at least 200 gallons
installed somewhere unobtrusive on the premises. Maybe underground, I
dunno, but I want something to last us out at least 1 winter with
whatever happens to be in our NG tank when TSHTF in combination with my
soon-to-be-installed wood stove, our stored food and our 4000-watt
generator (probably to be upgraded to a >10kw generator in the
medium-term future).
11) Install a solar system and/or wind system, grid-tied to begin
with, that will fully support our electricity usage. Start with one,
then the other, and when we have the kinks worked out, get off the grid
entirely. My understanding is that if there is an EMP attack, if you're
hooked to the grid, you stand a much greater chance of having your
panels and so forth fried. I'd rather that not happen. Plus, I just
like the idea of not depending on the grid, and it would be cool to be
the only kid on the block with power when the electricity dies. I got a
taste of that after a bad thunderstorm a few years ago (due to my
gasoline generator hooked up to power my house as long as we didn't run
the microwave, the stove, or any other major appliances) and was able to
win major brownie points with the neighbors by running extension cords
to keep their freezers and refrigerators going.

There are others, but these are the majors.

Keep on prepping. Two years ago, looking at a guy doing the things I'm
doing, I would have said that guy's crazy. But I'm a college-educated
guy (alumnus of our fine Minnesota State University System) telling you
here and now that while it's not a foregone conclusion, the shit could
very well hit the fan in the next few years. I'm prepping for all I'm
worth. I've cashed out nearly my entire 401K and converted to "physical
assets", as they say. No gold or silver yet, but that's next after the
meat-and-potatoes stuff.

Now if I could just convince my family. My brother-in-law is from El
Salvador and has intimate knowledge of the troubles of the 80s. I'm
pretty sure he's a closet prepper. I'm soon going to open the
conversation with him. Wish me luck. (We do.)


  1. EGADS! What'd I DO to get the post to look like this?
    Baby Coon Hound, I apologise for the appearance of your post.
    If anyone can tell me how to fix this, I'd really appreciate it.

  2. A Big Canadian Welcome to you Baby Coon Hound - what an excellent first post - and thanks for being so willing to share your ideas!
    I really enjoyed this post - it got me thinking about some things and also gave me a few chuckles ("I feel like a minor-league rock musician describing my influences" - bahaha!)
    Anyway - just a couple of things to add - first - YES - engage your brother-in-law in that conversation - he has seen and been through what we all might be going through soon - he probably has a wealth of information to share with you (and then you can share it with us!)
    And secondly - have you told your wife about the APN and CPN and Prepper.org? There are some really great posts out there by a variety of very experienced female preppers (Katie at Alaska, Tracy at Alabama, Marie at Idaho, MMpaints at Illinois, Ernie at Indiana, Herbalpagan at Massachusets and Jennifer at New Mexico to just name a few!) - have her look through some of their posts - it might make all of the difference to her!
    Anyway - again - welcome - you are in very good hands with Shy and Publius!

  3. Baby Coon Hound
    Great post and it sounds like you have a good plan. I think you are well on your way my friend. The firearms are great choices also!!! I found a striking resemblance to the post by nitewalker on a basic battery on a budget, over at the West Virginia network and what you already have. It is great to see so many new people getting involved and I believe you will find this network very useful.
    God Bless from the Wild and Wonderful

    Wish I could help as I also messed a guest post up when I cut and pasted it from the email. Still learning myself???

  4. RE: the guns, I went and checked out that post at West Virginia, and the guy seems to have had a peek at my future armory. I hope this weekend to pick up a pump-action 12-guage and my .30/30 is even a lever action. And yes, the ammo costs dear, but the gun was available when I needed one quick to go hunting. My .22 is an old Ruger semiautomatic that my Dad had for years and never shot.

    Both the guns I have, I came by through gift and private sale, and they both happened over a decade ago. The one this weekend (if I buy it) and any future handgun will also be private sale from people I trust.

    Watching the administration trying desperately to figure out a way to make it politic to try some sort of gun grab really has my antennae twitching. I've been picking up extra ammo here and there a bit at a time, too. I don't shoot a REAL lot lately, so it's starting to pile up, which is fine by me.

    I'd recommend the same for anybody else who values the second amendment. They WILL NOT take away my guns before they kill me. The fact that they're promising so effusively not to makes me even more paranoid.


    And yanno, I don't think a lot of those anti-gun DC types spend much time out here in the hinterlands. If they think they're going to get the guns from all the good ol' boys out here, they should probably reconsider. If they ordered an immediate recall of all guns tomorrow on pain of death within a week, I don't think they'd get a 10% return rate around here. People seem to be sitting tight to see what they try. And this is in the People's Republik of Minnesotastan! I can't imagine how much they must be laughing at the idea of turning guns in in REAL states like Idaho or Wyoming or Texas. Heh.

  5. Oh, and as far as formatting the post, if you really want to, you could probably copy and paste it into notepad, remove all the erroneous carriage returns, and then copy and paste it back into blogger. That usually removes the gremlins that email programs like to insert into things. Doncha just LOVE "helpful" software?

  6. hmmm.....last I checked,a diesel doesn't have an electronic ignition...at least when I worked at GM

  7. Anon, I'll defer to your superior wisdom, as I'm a complete dumbass when it comes to cars/engines. My dad helps me out to fix things and I know how to do the things he's specifically shown me, which most definitely does NOT include diesels.

    I DO know that the few diesels I was able to look at were not only out of my budget, but festooned with a bunch of electronic crap I'm not interested in. I guess I assumed that included the ignition, and I guess I assumed wrong.

  8. EGADS! Without electronic ignition, it's EMP proof? Veddy intristink.
    Seriously- thank you, Anon: what I know about motors wouldn't make you blink if it was dust flying about.

  9. Actually, I don't know about EMP PROOF, but I do know that the ignition is a critical part that WILL zap out if it gets enough of an EMP shot. Did you ever see in the movies (The Day After comes to mind) when there's an EMP attack and suddenly all the cars moving along just die and come to a stop? As I understand it, that would be because their ignition fried.

    Keep in mind that it also means that many other parts fry that might be pretty important and might also make the thing go tits up (alternator, battery, and others)...but electronic ignition would in my mind be at the top of the list.

    That's why a lot of preppers/survivalists encourage people, when choosing a BOV, to pick an 80's or earlier diesel vehicle. No electronic ignition and, in the older ones, not much of electronic anything. When stuff isn't electronic, EMP doesn't hose it up so bad (though it can still do a number on non-electronic electrical systems).

    Related note: if you have reason to suspect an imminent EMP attack, throw the main breaker on your house immediately. That'll give you at least a fighting chance of not having every single thing in your house fried. Of course, it'll only do you any good if you have an alternate power source in place, as after an EMP, there won't be any electricity coming in through that breaker for a very long time. It's also not a bad idea to disconnect any long wires that are leading into your house, such as ones leading to radio or TV antennas or alternate power sources like windmills or solar panels (which will likely also fry, so it's good to have backups), as they can act as energy collectors that will bring in lots and lots of volts really fast. It might be kind of a futile gesture, but you should also have any important stuff plugged into a surge suppressor, as that can provide some protection as well.

    I'm also a dumbass about electrical and electronic systems, but I've forced myself to learn this much because I'm a little afraid of them (seems a little too much like magic or something) and you should always know your enemy as much as possible in my philosophy.


Keep it clean and pertaining to topic, please. Thank you.

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