Category Archives: Self-reliance

Best candidates for 2016…



Call me crazy, but I have more faith in the couple above making positive changes in our country than the buffoonery of our political system…


Scott and Stephanie won’t serve you up a bunch of political nonsense, false promises, and lies, but they will make you, your family, and the community healthier and stronger. Tucked into the mountains of Western North Carolina, they run Stoney Hollow Farm just outside Robbinsville, NC –



Along with their kids, they raise a variety of non-GMO, organic fruits and vegetables for their farm store, u-pick, wholesale customers, and CSA program.(



“I thought this post was about politics”

It is, read on to see how supporting local growers change the nature of our country..

  • Your food doesn’t have to travel across the country or from overseas, thereby reducing the amount of fuel, pollution, and packaging associated with transportation
  • Most local growers follow more sustainable farming practices than the large monocrop model, therefore reducing pesticide and fertilizer use. Obviously that reduces pollution from those products, but it also has a trickle down effect on the production, transportation, and economics of that industry.
  • Buying local has a positive effect on the community by keeping money in that area,8599,1903632,00.html
  • Buying local builds good bonds and friendships, thereby strengthening the community
  • Supporting non-GMO and organic growers sends a monetary message that we don’t want all that crap in our food. Consumer demand can make or break products.
  • Healthier eating habits leads to healthier people. Healthier people = healthier country

I got to chat with Scott and his family about the farm, it’s history, and their goals.

In 1998, Scott sold his floor cleaning business and bought 150 acres outside Robbinsnville, cleared 10 acres of it, and started a fruit and produce farm. The crazy part of that story is that Scott didn’t grow up farming, he learned most of his knowledge from books and the school of hard knocks. A bold, life changing move like that takes guts, so I asked Scott his advice about the fear that can hold us back from taking big chances..

“You just have to go for it. And you can always go back if you are careful not to burn bridges”

Simple enough, but sometimes the simple things in life are taken for granted. Daily swims and eating every meal together keeps this family strong under the immense workload of the busy season.

Stephanie came from a banking background, but her love of jam making brought her to Stoney Hollow. Her goal of providing healthy food for her family has now grown much larger to include the community. Not only is Stephanie still making jams, but breads, pies, cookies, and a whole bunch of great tasting, healthy treats. Her side of the operation has now expanded to include baking, canning, and nutrition classes, focusing on food as part of a healing program.


A lot of u-pick farms sport only one type of fruit, while others grow only a handful of different veggies. Listening to customer demand, one of the hallmarks of Stoney Hollow is the diversity of fruits and vegetables. To see the what’s in season, visit the website, but here is what they typically grow:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries – red & black
  • Blackberries
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Cherries – sweet & sour
  • Grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash – summer & winter
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccolli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Watermelons
  • Cantaloupe
  • Flowers

If you aren’t up for picking yourself, you can call, email, or Facebook message 24 hours in advance to pick up the next day. You can also stop in at the farm store for pre-picked produce, eggs, honey, and all the baked goods.


Being an outdoor educator, I have seen my fair share of kids that do not have strong ties to the land. A product of our times. the lack of skill transfer from generation to generation has been breeding a population that is dependent on others for basic human needs.

Scott and Stephanie’s children are definitely an exception to the current trend. Being home-schooled on the farm, they lead a healthy, active life that involves farm work and customer service. I see kids being kids, but also learning practical skills for life  and and forging a super strong work ethic.

Emily, a master at customer service, says that her favorite part of living and working on the farm is the “educational aspects when visitors come from far way.” Landon, a professional weeder by trade, can identify more plants at five years old than most adults. He can also show you where the best berries are and doubles as security when he turns into the “One-Boot Bandit”..

I could keep raving on, but for the sake of brevity, I am going to summarize some other points:

  • Scott is incorporates a plethora of sustainable practices including crop rotation, composting, green manures, cover crops, plastic mulch, seed saving, and organic pest control. Got a growing question during your visit, just ask.
  • Integrated planting has helped with pest control, but birds, bears, and other critters get their share.
  • 2017 CSA will open up for orders in December or January
  • Wholesale orders are available. Tapoco and Snowbird Lodge are two of the local fine dining restaurants that take advantage of that program.
  • Stoney Hollow had it’s first intern this year. More to follow.
  • Hold your grocer accountable.” If they advertise local produce, make sure they offer a good selection
  • If you want to make Stoney Hollow a family getaway, there are several campsites nearby – Santeelah, Cheoah, Rattler Ford, etc. There is also whitewater rafting nearby, several lakes, and tons of hiking trails
  • Future plans include more internships, kitchen workshops, grower’s workshops, expanding the orchard, and more forest farm products
  • Scott is available as a consultant and is especially passionate about getting operations like his started in areas with higher population densities

When I asked Scott for a parting message, it wasn’t “come visit us” or “buy our produce”.

Instead, his unselfish message revolved around the food security issues our country faces as we lose diversity in our crops, import more food, and continue to lose skills of self-reliance. With almost two decades of professional farming experience, this humble grower wishes that everyone would grow a garden.

I can’t help but think that emphasizing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle centered around an independent food source while supporting the local community and transferring that knowledge to the next generation will make America greater than anything coming from the puppet show in D.C…

Vote with your money and find local growers in your area:


one boot



More Than One Dose From an EpiPen..


Ten years ago, my EMT instructor at Tyson McGhee showed us a cool way to get a couple more doses out of an EpiPen. Caught in the act, he was chastised by his commanding officer and I stood by in disbeilef, as I witnessed the disparity between concern for liability and practicality rear it’s ugly head.

Well, Bubba taught me well, and after administering Epi to a patient at Mammoth Cave five years ago, I passed on his rebellious teachings to the Rangers on scene. Conversations at this past weekend’s tracking class, reminded me that I needed to write this post for Kevin and Doc Survival.

Fortunately, someone with far more knowledge and experience has already done the legwork, so I present “The Retrieval of Additional Epinephrine from Autoinjectors” by Seth Hawkins, M.D.

A tip of the hat goes to my buddies Kirk Harris and Fred Baty, who developed the Roane State method. Their outstanding Wilderness First Responder course is coming up in January and highly recommended for outdoor enthusiasts.


How to Stop Eating Crap and Change the Food Industry in One Easy Step…


With the lobbyists, the corporations, the media, and the politicians all sharing the same bed nowadays, I am firmly convinced that the only vote that counts, is where you spend your time, energy, and money.

Uneducated and lulled into complacency, I didn’t always care what I put in my body, subsisting off cornbread for most of college and Life cereal for my bachelor years. The healthiest thing I ate was game meat,, and I have always lacked in the veggie department.

Thanks to my loving wife, I am a little smarter these days about what passes my gullet and how my money supports different industries. While we skimp on a lot of  life’s little luxuries, food is one area that we do not, choosing organic and whole foods over the processed garbage like the Lunchables, Twinkies, and Little Debbies that my hunting partner eats everyday, or  the Marshmellow Fluff in Granny’s pantry!!


Enter Three Rivers Market, a community-owned natural foods grocery store open to the public. You don’t have to be a member to shop there, but we signed up a couple weeks ago, paying the yearly $25 membership, and saved half that today during the Member Discount Days  that lasts until Sunday.

Located in Knoxville, it takes us an hour to get there, but we can stock up on bulk items like organic oatmeal, beans, lentils, and rice.


Lots of good stuff for making your own camp meals or just day hikes..




Local and organic produce..


I know where my meat comes from because I kill it, but Three Rivers does a great job for it’s customers, highlighting the local producers.


If you want a sustainable, healthy food system in this country, don’t count on the politicians, the industry, or your government to do it for you.

Vote with your dollars, spread the word, and things will change. You may even be able to buy a kick ass chicken calendar!!

Three Rivers Market –

Food Inc. – Good documentary on our food industry and the associated health concerns –


Nerd Alert!! – Build Your Kid a Hobbit Bow…


What do you get a twelve year old that would rather live in Middle Earth for Christmas?

You make them a PVC wood elf bow..

Now before you scoff at a PVC bow, stroll on over to Youtube and watch some guys building 50+ pound recurves, hence why I posted it in “Self Reliance”.

I don’t need anything that stout for my step-daughter yet, but I do need something that looks like it would kill an Orc and is fun to shoot. This was the tutorial I used

I kept it light at a 20 pound pull, but I am amazed at how good the “faux” wood grain looks from just sandpaper and shoe polish.


If you are looking for a fun, cheap project that will get your kids outside slinging arrows, this is it. A heat gun, some PVC pipe, some shoe polish, and a length of string.


Got Placenta?…


*** Updated 8/21 – When Bridget got her iron level checked pre-delivery it was at 10.6 g/dL. Today after one week supplementing with the placenta pills, it was 12.9 g/dL. The nurse said that was a big jump as typically women’s numbers can be lower due to postpartum bleeding. Bridget stopped postpartum bleeding on day 6, which is a stark contrast from the 6 weeks of bleeding after her first child. The nurse also noted that timeline was very quick***

Got your attention? Great..

But before I get into why there are strips of placenta and my boy’s umbilical cord headed into my dehydrator, I will explain the reason for this post and why I placed it in the Self Reliance category.

It’s not a how-to on birthing or a how-to on anything really. It is more of along the lines of freeing yourself from the cultural practices, myths, and fears that hold us all back from new experiences. Immaturity and ignorance were my captors that kept me enslaved in the myth that childbirth is anything but an amazing, beautiful experience.

The light bulb first turned on when I heard Barb, the Birth Warrior, make a profound statement in the birthing class at the Lisa Ross Birth Center.

We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm

She continued on to ask us “how would our society look at birth if we talked about how powerful the experience was, instead of how painful?“.

Barb was speaking my language, and as I looked around the room, I realized that it was not unlike an MMA gym. She was getting her team ready for the fight, and the six pregnant ladies in the room were transforming into warriors getting ready to overcome physical and mental obstacles that I will never face. It was week 36 of their training camp and Barb broke out all the tools of a good coach. Positive statements, visualization, and affirmations, it made me feel like I was back at the gym.

It all clicked, and 38 years of thinking the birthing process was gross came crashing down around me. Up until this point, I had just been along for the ride and avoided watching the homebirths on youtube. That was all about to change though.

My wife’s first child 12 years ago, was a hospital birth induced by Pitocin and numbed by an epidural. My step-daughter was then whisked away in the all too common story of modern birthing, while my doped up wife felt powerless in the procedure.

Not this time though. My wife, wiser in her years, was determined to bring this child into the world in a different manner. She delved into book after book and website after website as she developed her birthing plan. For months I watched her already healthy diet get pushed to new levels and eat stuff that would make a billy goat puke, all to strengthen the child growing in her belly.

I bought into her vision after watching a documentary on natural birthing. The Business of Being Born

It stimulated discussion and since we both have an emergency medical background (Paramedic & EMT), we discussed an unassisted homebirth. We also looked into midwives, but in the end we chose a birthing center that was 45 minutes from the house. For us, the Lisa Ross Birth Center seemed like a great balance of autonomy and the security of having a team of team of professionals on hand.

I guess this story has multiple roles. It is intended not only to share our experience with friends and family, but to also highlight alternative birthing options and resources for those that may be unaware of their existence or reasoning. Maybe, just maybe, it will also help quench the plethora of questions from family about why we make the choices we do 🙂

And here is where our story shall begin..

It seemed like a regular night, but my wife was a little restless. All cracked up on some hormone cocktail, I managed to slyly record her tirade about the TJ Maxx clerk that keeps asking “you still haven’t had that baby yet?

At 39 weeks, my wife really still has three weeks until health risks arise, but the clerk probably naively thinks, as I did, that a pregnancy lasts nine months. I know my wife means business because her hand is cocked on her hip as she launches into a treatise on full term pregnancies.That priceless footage, saved on my phone, will become the source of many laughs over the years.

So my wife cools off with an evening walk and retires to the bedroom. I saunter in a little later, throw in her favorite movie, and watch the Lord of the Rings for the millionth time.

As if on cue, the ominous music from the scene where Bilbo drops the ring on the floor in front of Gandalf elicits a response from my wife.. “I think my water just broke

Shit just got real… My mind processes the new information and I initiate a sequence of actions that we had game planned.

I call the center.

We already knew that we had to head that way due to a positive GBS test  that would require antibiotic treatment per the center’s protocol. Group Beta Strep, GBS, is an asymptomatic bacteria that can live around your nether regions, causing no harm to the host. In infants though, it can have very detrimental effects on your child.

As a treatment, the birth center’s protocol requires them to administer IV anitbiotics every four hours until birth. This reduces the chances from 1 in 200 to 1 in 4000. We weren’t fans of killing off the good bacteria in my wife’s gut or the antibiotics doing the same to our son, but it is not an optional procedure there. Would we have opted out if we could have? Probably. We were planning on a water birth and research has shown that risks are reduced in that birthing style. 

The truck is already packed, so we roll out, stopping by Kroger to grab some last minute snacks to throw in the cooler. That’s right. A cooler full of food and not ice chips, and at Lisa Ross you get that choice.

At 1130 , Chris, the midwife on call, meets us to let us in. As the only clients that night, we get our room of choice with the big birthing tub. My wife gets her first round of IV antibiotics, chases it with some probiotics, and I take up a strategic position to watch and wait.


Looming over our heads is the dreaded “24 hour” rule, which states that my wife must be in active labor and 4 cm dilated within 24 hours of admittance or she will have to be transferred to UT hospital down the road. Typically they will have you come in 12 hours after your water breaks, but GBS has put us at a 12 hour disadvantage.

Nothing is happening, just the regular Braxton-Hicks contractions. I pass the time by working on my skills of catching my wife in unflattering poses that we can later laugh about. I giggle with joy as I discover the fish eye feature on my camera that can shrink my wife’s head and skew her proportions.

IMG_0134   IMG_0128

Time marches on, only briefly interrupted every half hour as Chris monitors vitals of mother and baby. My wife builds her own arsenal of  staged “thoughtless” husband pictures as I check the bed to see if it will suit her comfort levels…


The sun rises and no labor. It’s now 8:00 am and we consult with Chris. My wife has been actively walking and bouncing on a yoga ball all night and now it is time to up the ante. Bring forth the Nipple Sucker 2000…

This hospital grade breast pump that has the power to make every woman within a square mile lactate, or so the claim goes. Apparently, nipple stimulation is a powerful Oxytocin stimulant and Oxytocin means labor!!


Typically, this technique stimulates contractions during the third or fourth hour of use. Forty five minutes on, fifteen minutes off for four cycles and nothing happened. Since I was scolded on the drive in for trying the same, the failure of this cyborg provides an open door for my “Man vs. Machine” jokes.

It’s around noon and we opt to have the new shift check to see her progression. 1 cm. Not good. Only 10 hours until that ship to UT hospital sets sail and we’re holding tickets…

We discuss and agree to do the last resort on the natural induction list. Castor oil stimulates the bowels, which in turn can stimulate the uterus. My timing is perfect, as I catch her mid gag.  

Edit: Dental care addition to updated VeryWell link


It was about this time that I made a run to the store for more food, which proved fortunate. I return to find evacuation complete, and we start to make a little progress with mild 45 second contractions every two minutes. Time keeps ticking, but fortune favors us as I run into the “Birth Warrior” in the parking lot and ask her sage advice.

She rattles off a bunch of MMA sounding moves, like the “Rebozo” and the “Walter’s Technique”, that can help to get his head to drop lower and engage. I am clueless and she can see that, so Barb kindly steps in to our suite and demonstrates them. It is time to “Do Work”..

My wife and I found each other from a common interest in Crossfit, and while we don’t subscribe to it anymore, it is time to set up a circuit. We call it “Brave”

AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible):

10 minutes Rebozo

10 minutes hip rotations

5 minutes of Walters

15 minutes walking

Rest on all fours



I watch the timer.. Switch.. Let’s go outside.. Switch.. This goes on for hours.

The only respite is that it is one of the prettiest days of the summer outside and we have the freedom to enjoy it. With no constant fetal monitoring or attached IV line, my wife is free to move around at will. While she hikes the stairs, I document the flora..


Lisa Ross is about freedom. Freedom to play your music and to wear what you please; to flood the room with aromatherapy oils and shake the walls with your screams if needed; to opt out of vaccines and eye drops for STD’s that you don’t have and to allow you to help deliver your own baby. It’s all there and that is how it should be.

At 6:30 pm we decided to see if she had progressed and Ellen’s news crushes us.

Bridget is still only at 1 cm.

With only four hours left it was time to talk about the real possibility of transitioning to the hospital and the inevitable Pitocin induced labor. The midwives, Jody and Ellen, were great in helping us shift our mindset, but my wife’s heart sank. Jody suggested that we snuggle, rest, and try to save our energy. When she left the room my wife broke down and wept.

It was the deep cry of despair. A cry from a mother who had denied herself for 39 weeks eating an ultra healthy diet. It was a cry of a woman who envisioned a beautiful, natural birth only to have to fight for it with no reward. It was a cry of a warrior that had pushed her body and mind for 20 straight hours as the clocked ticked away only to taste defeat..

But most importantly, it was a cry that induced labor..

The emotional release brought about the long awaited contractions that crashed into her body. Their intensity and frequency grew alongside the screams of my wife. Taser like waves of pain racked her body for a sixty second ride letting her rest only briefly before the next pulse.

Lost in the pain, my wife forgets some important lessons, but is thrown a lifeline. After finishing a class upstairs, Barb stops in to check on Bridget. The timing and advice could not have been better. Like a coach in the corner, she focuses Bridget, telling her to let the last round go. The quick speech on breathing and lowering her pitch was all that Bridget needed to face the next rounds.

The effect is immediate. My wife’s screams are transformed into powerful moans that you can feel in the air. The game has changed and my wife is winning. Her brief moments of weakness over the next couple hours are easily defeated with positive affirmations and her strong will that was forged from years of firefighting, Crossfit workouts, and a GoRuck challenge.

It is 10 pm and Ellen suggests we check to see if all Bridget’s work is paying off.

We are elated to hear she is at 7 cm and that we get to stay!!

Ellen and Jody start prepping for the delivery and page the on duty nurse. They start drawing the birthing tub and since I decided to join Bridget to help deliver my boy, I grab a quick shower.

When I get out, Bridget is already in the tub. I am pumped and ready to go. I ask the midwife how long until Bridget is fully dilated to 10 cm and am told it can be a bit. My boy had other plans though and during a powerful contraction his head unexpectedly pops out.

When my wife’s concerned voice tells us that his head is arriving, the midwives are in the process of gloving up, so I reach down and cradle my child’s head. A fraction of a second later, a gloved up Jody has taken control. She directs my wife on the last push, clears the cord from his neck like a pro, and my son is immediately on my wife’s chest.

I never had time to hit the start button on the video camera I set up, but I am snapped out of my state of wonder long enough to grab a photo of my son gazing upon his mother for the first time.


I marvel at the scene before me, as the countless Hollywood images of screaming babies being born are replaced by the peaceful, alert presence of my son. My wife’s pain and frustration have now been replaced by joy, and the real meaning of Barb’s quote takes root. I am humbled and secretly vow to do my part to shift the societal perspective of birthing.

Born just fifteen minutes before the “24 hour” mark at 10:13 pm, Brave William Herrington weighed in at 7 pounds 12.5 ounces. My ill-informed concerns about my wife’s vegetarian diet not providing enough protein are just more false notions to cast aside.

We move Bridget and Brave to the bed to deliver the placenta. When the pulse in the umbilical cord finally stops beating, Jody clamps it and I cut it. Delayed cord clamping is one of the many choices we researched and decided upon.

Brave is suckling within ten minutes and I know the skin-to-skin contact that he shares with his mother now, and for weeks to come, is promoting bonding, regulating his body temperature, and colonizing his skin with beneficial bacteria.


We then get an anatomy lesson on the placenta from Jody, who packages it up, and puts it in a special refrigerator for us to take home in the morning. The miraculous organ that has sustained my son will continue that role.

Which finally brings us to the Jerky Factory picture that probably got your attention. Self-reliance isn’t just about gardening, guns, and other homesteading endeavors. It is also about freeing yourself from societal and educational bondage by the use of critical thinking.

Did I think 39 weeks ago that I would be dehydrating my wife’s placenta, grinding it up, and feeding her the pills? Nope, but after researching the practice why wouldn’t I want an all natural supplement, that significantly decreases postpartum bleeding, helps the uterus return to it’s pre-pregnancy size within a couple of weeks, enriches the milk and ensures an abundant supply? What man in his right mind wouldn’t want to smooth out the postpartum “crash” and avoid any hormonal turmoil?


Couple all those benefits with the ability to gross out my squeamish friends and we have a winner.


Jody, Bridget, and Ellen


Where do we go from here?

Well after 12 hours we were released to go home and continue our journey.

A journey that questions why we do the things we do and cling to beliefs that may no longer serve us.

A journey that starts out with the question “why not?”, instead of “why?”

A journey that takes courage and a boy named Brave…


Special thanks to Chris, Jody, Ellen, Allison, Elizabeth, and Barb!!

I would also like to thank the Lisa Ross Birth Center for providing a place where women can birth how they want to and opening my eyes to new wonders.

Prep for Freedom, not Fear…


Last weekend my buddies and I rolled up to the Mountain Preppers Expo in Sevierville, TN. An extravaganza of booths, merchandise, and lectures for the disaster preparedness community.

It was a great time walking around, meeting new people, seeing old friends, looking at the exhibitor’s booths and crawling through an Atlas Shelter. I wish I had known about it sooner as I would have set up a booth myself, but there is always next year.




Attending the expo motivated me to write a post in reference to a mental outlook on preparedness.

First let me say I was prepping, or whatever you want to call it, long before it was cool and the subject of reality shows. I have been into stuff like this since childhood. I was ready for Y2K and subsequently every theoretical “Doomsday” non-event that didn’t happen after that. Like many Type-A personalities, I got in deep, too deep, spending time, energy, and money where it could have been better utilized. It is not that what I was doing was wrong, I was just approaching it with the wrong mindset.

Survivalism and prepping can have a nasty side effect of instilling a “fear” mindset. Hollywood, the media, the marketing industry, and internet gurus all use fear to create a sense of separation among us and to dip into our wallets. Fixating and focusing on “what could happen” and trying to prepare for every scenario can drain your energy and cash reserves and is an impossible goal to accomplish. Thinking your neighbor is going to rape and pillage your supplies, creates a sense of distrust and isolation.

In nature and society, predators prey on scared animals that are separated from the herd, but strong herds always defend themselves against those with predatory intent.

Is it a good plan to have water and food stored for tough times? Absolutely…

Is it good to plan for local, regional, and national disasters? You bet…

Is it a good plan to grow a garden, raise livestock, hunt, fish, and trap for food? Damn straight!!

But do all that because you want to be a self-reliant, healthy human, and not get sucked into a culture of “fear”. My grandparents on my mother’s side canned, raised sheep, chickens, cattle, and horses. They grew a garden, trapped, hunted, and fished, and so did all their neighbors. If you trace your lineage back, you won’t have to go far to find members of your family that were living more independently than we do nowadays.

Were they preppers or survivalists? No. Those words did not even exist because they were just humans living a normal life. I have been called a “Survivalist” and a “Prepper”, but you know what I am?

I am just a human, doing what humans are naturally supposed to do. A hundred years ago the “weirdos” would be the people who didn’t provide for themselves. Modern society and fundamental consumerism has conditioned us to suck the teat of society, making all of us vulnerable if the milk stops flowing.

In all my years, the most “prepared” guy I have met, is a friend who doesn’t even know it. The “Hillbilly Trapper”, as we like to call him, has been a lifelong trapper, runs a damage control business, a produce farm, and raises cattle. He went to business school and has outstanding financial acumen. If everything went to hell in a handbasket tomorrow, he would keep on trucking. His hard work ethic and resourcefulness would allow him to adapt and overcome any obstacles.

So my challenge to all that may read these ramblings is to look at the problem in a different light. If you strive to be a healthy, happy, independent human, then invariably you will end up networking, gardening, storing food, keeping fit, homesteading, and saving money.

Do it because it is fun, healthy, and how you are supposed to live. Don’t let fear pull you into a shadowy world of “what if’s”. Develop the skills, networks, and the independence if something happens to say “so what?”.

BigPig Outdoor’s Fear Busting Research and Tips in case SHTF, Doomsday, Armageddon, and TEOTWAKI all team up and come to your neighborhood looking for a fight:

1. History repeats itself and we can use it do make realistic choices in our disaster preparedness plans. Years ago I found a document that detailed all the disasters in Tennessee from the 1688 to 1998. The book can be found here I threw the data into Excel and spit out the following table:


As you can see, flooding was a major problem back in the day, but a lot of that occurred pre-TVA. Choosing not to live in a floodplain is a wise move as well.

When my brain boils all this data down I come up with a three fold plan depending on the situation:

  1. I need to be able to provide for myself and family in case of long term utility outages and the inability to go to the store due to significant weather events. I think 30 days is a great goal, even though most events are resolved in shorter periods. Storing extra to share is great if you are able and I will address that in the community section below.
  2. Since I have no basement, a storm shelter or root cellar is a good plan for the threat of tornadoes
  3.  I need to be able to evacuate to a safer locale in case of industrial disaster (Watts Bar or Oak Ridge) or chemical spill (Rohm and Hass, railroad or interstate)

Okay, but there is no financial collapse, EMP, nuclear/bio/chem war, terrorists, zombies, etc. in your chart BigPig?

Well if you do the above three steps, you are setting yourself up pretty well to handle those as well. If you research the financial collapse in Argentina (1998-2002), you will realize it didn’t turn into Mad Max’s Thunderdome.

Researching nuclear targets tells me I am in a potential fallout zone, but most likely not in the blast radius so root cellars and storm shelters could be modified, if I thought that was needed

Zombies? If they are the slow ones like in Walking Dead, then I will be a hero converting all my trapping and hunting experience to a sloth-like, mush brained animal. If you are talking about “real” zombies, which is a desperate tweaker that wants to rob my family, well I have plans for that too.

With all the possible threats, at some point, you just have to say “I will deal with it“. Provide for your needs of security, shelter, water, food, and health, and then trust in your abilities and those of your community to improvise and adapt for the outlying needs.

2. People often talk about bugging out to the mountains because of the abundant resources. Well, I “bug out” to the mountains every day for work. I grab my backpack, my rifle, and hike into the mountains to work in a job that mimics “living off the land”. I do this both on a daily basis in the winter months and camping for my work week in the spring. Based upon my 14 years experience trapping and hunting in the mountains, as a full time job, and 4 years trapping the suburbs of Knoxville as a damage control trapper, also a full time job, I can assure you that there are way more critters around town. The “edge effect” of the suburbs and abundant food of agricultural areas are great for wildlife compared to the deep woods. Coons, deer, possums, beavers, squirrels, groundhogs, and turkeys abound in the suburbs, but hunting, trapping, fishing and foraging should not be your primary plan.

If you have shelter, can protect yourself, and have a clean, reliable water supply, then calories will move to the top of the list. Living off the land requires skill, hard work, and a good area. Every time you head out to check a trap line, hunt, or forage, you expose yourself to risk of injury, dreaded “marauders” and burn vital calories. It just makes sense to store a reliable source of food that has a long shelf life. Scarce game, mast failures, crop failures, and the like, do not effect 100 pounds of staples stored in the closet.

A trip to Costco can get you 50 pounds of beans and 50 pounds of rice providing 160,000+ calories for around $75. Another $25 for mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and a couple five gallon buckets will allow you to safely store it for years. 160,000 calories would be 2 1/2 months of food insurance for one person (2000 calories/day) or a month’s supply for two adults and one child, for less than $100. Not that you would want to eat that for every meal or have to as most scenarios resolve quickly, but it is a start of a good food storage program. I can’t think of any good arguments not to spend that $100 and can only imagine if that was the “norm” in this country.

My wife can cook a mean dish of beans and rice, but supplementing it with vegetables from our garden, eggs from our chickens, fruit from our bushes, or catfish from our pond, is not only healthier and better tasting, but also extends those staple calories out if we had to tap into them.

Protein from fish and game, either trapped, hunted, or fished, and nutritious foraged wild edibles are at the pinnacle of my caloric pyramid. Those skills require more time and energy to develop, so build the solid base first.


 Give me my pack, rifle, and some ammo and I could live like a king in the mountains. Add my wife, my step-daughter, and my soon to be born son into the mix and now we have a problem. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link and while I know a lot of guys that may be able to hump 20 miles per day and eat things that would make a billy goat puke, none of their wives or little kids are up for that challenge.

I like M4’s, plate carriers, bugout bags, and the idea of running into the hills as much as anyone, but let’s face it those are pipe dreams because nobody worth a crap is going to leave their family behind and to go play Red Dawn. Networking with neighbors and planning to stay in your community or get to a safer one is a better plan for the family man.

3. The best thing to stockpile is knowledge, skills, and abilities. You could take away my house, my land, my food, my traps, and my guns, but just don’t steal my brain. Experiential knowledge, hard work ethic, and the ability to communicate would allow me to start over and build anew.

Having followed a multi-disciplined training plan for years, one “not-so-sexy” skill that I believe is under rated is the ability to inter-relate and communicate, both fundamentally important skills of living in a community. Even though Hollywood and the media would have you believe that we all would turn on each other and carnage would reign, I don’t buy it.

Yes, there was looting during Katrina and some bad apples in the bunch, but if you compare that with the amount of cooperation and help from neighboring communities and states and it is pretty damn insignificant, and most likely sensationalized.

During all the local disasters that I have been involved in, (windstorms, ice storms, and a tornado), people come out of the woodwork to help at their own expense. I believe that this is the “real” human nature as anything else would be contradictory to the survival of our species. Statistics and any law enforcement officer will tell you that the majority of people are good folks and there is only a small percentage of bad apples. I like to think that bad apples would get sorted out pretty quickly.

In a disaster, after taking care of my immediate family, my plan is to extend my help to my neighbors, friends, and then my community. I would share what I could, be it skills, food, or a helping hand and I know that they in turn would do the same. Networking and building a strong local community breeds independence through interdependence.

4. Guns, government, and authority. I have a lot of buddies that worry about gun confiscation, so here is my take.

For five years I worked as federal law enforcement officer for the National Park Service. I was trained at the same academy as the ATF, the Mashals, and 80+ other agencies. Whether it is the legal division, tactics, firearms, or defensive tactics, the instructors are the same for each agency. There was never any mention of gun confiscation during the house clearing and searches block and large portion of the instructors are former local and state cops. The legal division there does an outstanding job, and all officers leave having a thorough understanding of constitutional law and search and seizure.

Since then, I have worked, trained, and befriended multiple law enforcement officers from different agencies in multiple states and a majority of them would refuse orders for confiscation as it would be unconstitutional. If you live in a state where the climate is different, then relocating may be in your future.

Every department has officers that would follow those unconstitutional orders, but considering the culture that courses through America, I would say it would not end well for them. My experience has been that officers that are not pro- 2nd Amendment, don’t have a door busting or shooting skillset anyway.

So that leads to the often quoted “When it is time to start burying guns, it’s time to start using them” Paul Howe, a former LE officer, SF veteran and all-around badass has a great article that addresses this topic. His comments on the resources and talents of federal agencies is spot on. There are a lot of outstanding shooters and officers, but like I said, I doubt they would be the ones following those orders

The real threat lies in legislating away ammo, guns, and magazines and that battle right now is fought with money, time, and participation. Time spent burying guns and ammo could be better spent teaching someone to shoot and about their rights. Whether you are pro or anti-gun, firearms are an inseparable part of this country’s fabric and rounding them up would rip this country apart at the seams.

Cops and soldiers are really only a tool wielded by legislators and politicians. It is the belief in them and the crap they pass down that is the real danger. Great philosophical arguments center around the belief in authority can be found starting at 1:11

So on this Memorial Day when we give tribute to those who fight or have fought for our freedom, honor them by choosing to fight for yourself.

Fight to be free of the conditioning and controls that society has forced upon you.

Fight to be free from the fear of scarcity and separation among us.

And fight to return to the independence that our forefathers enjoyed and would want for all of us…

Happy Thanksgiving – Pilgrim Style..


A couple weeks ago, my wife said we should cook a “wild” Thanksgiving meal on top of the wood stove. I thought that was a great idea. As the day grew closer, her work schedule took it’s toll and the idea waned. Not to worry, I decided to force the situation and let our propane run out so we had no choice.

You can probably tell that I am a horrible liar. The truth is, I haven’t checked the gauge in a while. On Tuesday when there was no heat and no gas in the cook stove, I knew I had goofed. The next delivery would not be able to come until Monday, six days away. Not a big deal heat wise, since we run a wood stove a lot, but it kind of cramps our usual cooking style.

So, I did what every good husband would do, immediately resort to bribery. “Honey, you should go buy that fleece onesie you have been wanting“. My Floridian wife, took the deal and our Pilgrim Thanksgiving plans were back on.

So here is Spicebush-maple wild turkey with cranberry orange chia seed sauce, fresh dug sweet potatoes, and sprouted grain stuffing. I don’t really know what half that stuff means, but it ranks as the best Thanksgiving meal I have had in my 38 years. That, my friends, is no lie..


My dutch oven is buried in the shed, so we attempted to pan bake a chocolate chip cookie pie. I made some makeshift trivets out of my meat grinder parts, but still managed to burn the bottom. Flipping the pan over to brown the top worked well and we salvaged most of the pie to cover with ice cream.


Well maybe ice cream and cookie pie isn’t exactly Pilgrimy, but wild turkey, sweet potatoes, wood stove cooking, and making do with what you have count in my book.

So on this Thanksgiving day, I am thankful for my culinary gifted wife who can rock a onesie, my $200 craigslist stove, and all the support from my readers, friends, and family.

Happy Thanksgiving from BigPig Outdoors!!