Horse of a Different Color

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Horse meat finds its way into the food supply.Some prepared families keep a horse and burrow for work after the fuel supply dries up either temporarily or permanently.  The reality is that animals breed, that is if you have both male and female varieties on the farm.  These animals can be used for barter in a multitude of ways.

You can trade a day’s labor of horse and rider for supplies or services.  Selling or trading the animals for other items and services is a good option too.  Since they are expensive to feed and need space to live, trading them might be a blessing.

But, what if you can’t sell, trade or otherwise make them earn their keep?  You end up with too many of them and they are consuming your resources faster than you can get them.  They have to be maintained, shod, vet care, grain, and more.  Your preps only planned for a certain number of animals at a time.

In many countries around the world, they eat horses.  Yes, they do.  For some reason people in western Europe and North America find it distasteful at best and inhumane at worst.  But is it really?  These beautiful beasts have been dinner fare for centuries in countries around the world.  It has only been in recent history that horses have been elevated to pet status because of the relationship some owners formed with their horses for work and pleasure riding.

In parts of Europe, Asia, and South America horse meat is still served on a regular basis.  In Japan it is called Basashi.  Wild horse meat is leaner than beef, but also tougher.  Domesticated horse meat is lean, tender and sweet.

Regardless, in the United States, the government banned the slaughter of horses by refusing to inspect the meat.  No meat can be sold in the U. S. without being inspected by the USDA.  Under the Obama administration, the ban on inspections was lifted in 2011.  Horses may legally be slaughtered and served as food in the U.S.

People who don’t think eating horse is right usually also won’t eat cat, dog, rat, and monkey.  All of these animals are eaten in other countries on a routine basis.  But we eat cows, pigs, elk, deer and lamb.  What makes one animal suitable for food and not another?  Cultural habits and taboos mostly.

As prepared people, we need to be prepared to change our cultural taboos on meat consumption without worry of what others will think about our eating habits.  There might come a day when they will gladly trade services for a bite of horse steak or jerky.

photo by: Gene Hunt

Should Preppers Take Vacations?

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Vacationing In New York City
Taking vacations allows you to meet people from around the world, broaden your way of thinking, and provides memories for the rest of your life to share with family and friends.

One way of thinking is that the prepared should remain close to their preps because they need to protect them, continue prepping, and of course be near their preps should some event happen.  It sounds reasonable, right?  After all, isn’t that why people prepare?  So they will have what they need when they need it?  Really?  All the time?  No summer vacation nor a trip to the city to take in a Broadway show?

Since you all know we believe in preparing you might be wondering why all the questions about going on vacations.  There’s several reasons.  Let’s talk about them in a serious manner.  They are important to you, your family, and are important to the image society has of preppers.

Everyone needs time away from the normal routine and environment.  Everyone.  Even if it’s just a few miles and a few days.  It gives us time to regenerate our mind, soul, and energy.  The longer the vacation, the more regeneration happens.  If you can take two or more weeks of vacation, do it.  When you come back you will be fresh, see things in a better light, be more productive, and feel less body stress.

It’s good for your job and your prepping activities to take time off.  The consequences of not taking time off is burn out and health issues related to stress.  When burn out happens, work is delayed or even stopped.  Not fulfilling your goals, either at work or home, may be stressful for many people.  Think of it this way, if you are burned out at work, how can you avoid thinking about work at home?  Burn out effects not only the employee but also the employee’s family.

Being irritable all the time is no way to live.  It’s no way to work or prepare either.  Irritable people are difficult to tolerate even for short periods of time.  Family members, especially children, won’t understand the outbursts and complaining.  Co-workers will avoid the irritable employee every chance they get.

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Stress can be habit forming.  By that I mean the brain functions in specific ways related to how you live.  People who live with stress all the time find it more difficult to relax now and later.  Relaxing actually must be practiced to be good at it.

Taking vacations, two to three weeks are best, helps you manage stress now and in the future.  Certainly as prepared people, we expect there will be stress in the future.  We need to be able to deal with it in the most effective manner and so do those who will be living with us through that situation.

Highly stressed and burned out people present themselves differently to society than relaxed and replenished people.  In the workforce, stress and burn out is “expected” and sometimes confused with a dedicated employee.  But a prepared person with the same levels of stress and burn out are viewed differently because the unprepared don’t understand the prepared person’s behaviors.  Because of this, they call us crazy and other less kind words.  They don’t understand why we do what we do, because at times it is stress added to the already stressful life we lead.

There’s a fine line between being prepared and being afraid.  Prepared people live their lives just like everyone else, they are just ready for an event.  Afraid people are also prepared, but they don’t leave their homes or preps for more than a day or two “in case” something should happen.  Living that way is not living and contributes to increased stress levels for all members of the household.  Just take a leap of faith that the event won’t happen during the two weeks you choose to go on a trip.  Plan how you will get home if it does.  Then have fun with your family.

So, preppers, become more productive at home and work, enjoy life more, handle stress better, and present yourself in a better light to society.  The memories you create with your family and friends during vacations will go a long way towards keeping you together, happy and healthy if an event happens.  Do your duty to the prepper movement by taking regular and long vacations.  Unplug.  Disconnect.  Enjoy life outside the routine.

ABC News
ABC News
The Energy Project
Success Under Stress
New York Times
Wall Street Journal


Prescription Medicines, Supplements, or Home Grown Herbal?

Guaiacum has many medicinal uses.As preppers, it’s important to know how to be prepared for a world changing event when it comes to medicinal needs.  The price of medicines that save life for diseases such as asthma, cancer, and heart disease is extreme.  Since the U.S. does not regulate the price of medicines, there is no limit.  Insurance companies don’t pay the same price for medicines as individuals.  If individuals paid the same as insurance companies, more people would have access to medicines.  For preppers, that’s a sticky wicket.

Nutritional and herbal supplements as well as over the counter medicines are much cheaper than many prescription medicines, but sometimes are not as effective.  Even so, some of them are as much as $30.00 per month or more.  For instance, people with certain lung diseases have to take guaifenesin (guaiphenesin).  The over the counter price per month is higher than most co-pays for higher priced prescription drugs that have similar effects.  In the past, this medicine was by prescription only and the price was lower.  A few years ago it was converted to OTC medicine and the price was raised significantly.  Even the store brands are expensive.  $30 is enough to buy a week’s worth of milk, bread, eggs and cheese for a family of four.

The only answer to this dilemma is research.  Do your homework.  It’s worth the effort.  Look for clinical studies and papers on the subject you are researching. Research not only herbal medicines and nutritional supplements, but also research the prescription drugs you or a family member needs.  Find out what they are made from and how they are made.  You won’t be able to learn everything but you can learn interesting and useful facts.

Guaifenesin, for example, is the drug manufacturer name for a medicinal plant used by native Americans since before Guaiacum plant grows in Jamaica and Hawaii.1533 a.d.  It comes from the guaiacum (guajacum) tree of subtropical and tropical regions. It has multiple uses, but only for one use is it marketed.  It wasn’t until drug companies found a way to put it in a syrup and pill that prescriptions were required.

Once you have the information you need, you will know which of the medicinal plants you can grow in your region and which you can not.  Since guaiacum will not do well in growing zones one through seven, and zone eight could be ify, perhaps stocking up on  guaifenesin is a better alternative for cooler climate zones.

Preparing for the long term medical needs of your family is most important.  If family members are not healthy, are unable to provide assistance during a time of great need, and are slowly dying, the situation for them, and those who watch them suffer is bleak.

Now get busy.  Do your homework.  Take good notes.  There might be a test.

Canning Ingredients or Meals?

Home canned  tomato puree.Many of us rely on our gardens and livestock, and home canning to fortify our food stores.  For some of us, our canned goods are not only for the future, but are using them now.

The question is which is a best use of resources:  Canning meals in jars or canning ingredients in jars.  Is it better to can a meatloaf than it is to can the ingredients separately?  When one chooses to can 75 quarts of tomatoes, its a simple process with relatively few steps.  There is less chance for error.

However, in the event of a life changing event, will you be able to access all the ingredients for your favorite dishes?  Spices  for recipes we love come from all over the world.  If a global event causes a breakdown in transportation, those recipes go out the window.

RedFish was asking me what I thought about this the other day as she was considering which recipes to use for this year’s tomato crops. I didn’t know what to say.

One way, canning the ingredients, is much less work now and the canned goods are available to use in any manner as circumstances allow.  Preparing meals from these goods will be a bit more time consuming since we will need to prepare the various recipes.  We will be limited to spices and seasonings are available.  When the stored exotic ones run out, we will use what ever we can grow, find or barter for.

Food will certainly be more bland and monotonous.  Continual bland foods can contribute to depression during a prolonged period of life challenges.  Without seasoning, everything will start to taste the same.  No one wants to eat the same thing every day, week after week.

The other way, canning products as meals, complete with seasoning, is more work now and less work later. It is more expensive and time consuming now.  It will be nice to be able to open and heat a canned meal that tastes as good as it did when it was first prepared.  If those spices are no longer available, it will also be a great bartering tool.  People will long for the flavors they were accustomed to enjoying without thought.


Communications in times of Trouble

Planning for the future is something everyone needs to do. However, for those of us who believe very hard times are ahead, our plans seem of greater importance. What about food stocks? How long will it last you and your family? Are you prepared if we lose electricity? What about heat? Do you have an alternative heat source? What if the disaster is man-made and brings major chaos to our country? Are you ready for that? If either arises, do you have a network of like-minded people who can help you defend yourself, your family and your property? These are all questions this blog speaks about.  But do you have a communication system for contacting them if you need help or they need your assistance? In a natural disaster usually land lines and cell phones go down. In a national problem, communications will probably be shut down.

In a recent conversation with a friend who is in total agreement with our way of thinking over the state of affairs in our country, we realized most people will not have a sanctuary they can turn to. (In my book Flee to the Mountains a refuge is built and people move to the small city away from all population centers when things turned bad.) So my friend and I talked about alternatives. What can we do to prepare to help one another? Neighborhood watch will not cut it. There are many who are not like-minded in these groups. Sure they want to protect their homes, but what happens if the stores are cleaned out? If others know you have food stored, many will turn on you in a flash.

We need to come up with a plan of action for those who are on the same wavelength as we are.  So where to start. Communication comes to mind first. It is important for your group to have a way to reach each other.  Shortwave radios, hand-held radios with a good range or CB would fit the bill.  You need to make sure everyone in your group has one or preferably more. You need to predetermine the channel so everyone is on the same one should the need for contact arise. In addition, you need to test your system of communication using a code or phrase to identify yourselves. You don’t want outsiders to have the ability to transmit false information.

Next, those who have land and the ability to raise gardens, cows, pigs, chickens etc. need to be protected. (Your ability to provide food will be extremely important. Helping them in their work should be something everyone in our group is willing to do. They cannot and should not increase their work load to help feed others without help from others in your group. Sharing the fruits of your labors is one of the ways you will be working together.) Patrolling will be of great importance. It won’t do any good to do the hard work if someone can come in and steal it.

Regular meetings in advance are recommended and a course of action set for every possible set of problems that might arise. Brainstorming together will allow everyone to talk about the options and pitfalls. From here, decisions can be made that will benefit everyone.

It’s important to start now. Don’t wait until things get bad…have your plan of action ready ahead of time. In the next few blogs, I will continue to suggest ideas for your preparations.

What About Your Water Supply?

Many hours of work and dollars are involved in water storage.Many people a lulled into thinking if they have a stash of bottled water, barrels of rain water, a cistern, or other way to store large amounts of water they are in the clear.  That is only the beginning.

Imagine, thousands of gallons of water sitting there, but you can’t use it because it was contaminated during the disaster.  What good did it do to store all that water if you can’t use it after the disaster?  Plenty of good, if you are prepared.

When you return to your location after the disaster, first things first.  Check on any livestock that might not have been evacuated and render first aid to them.   Check out the safety of the home and tend to the immediate needs of the family only using food and water that came back with you.  After that, it’s time to set about the business of checking on the food and water supplies.

The food is either safe or it is not.  There’s not much you can do to fix it if it is contaminated.  The water on the other hand, can be cleaned and be useful.

How to know if it is contaminated?  Use your common sense and your senses.  If the disaster and your water supply obviously crossed paths, the first thing is to test the water.  Such cases as natural disasters that disturb land and water like earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.  All of these can contaminate wells with petrochemicals and other things.  Obviously a nuclear disaster would demand that you not return to your home.

The EPA provides information about water contamination and what to do about it.  The EPA chart about which tests order is helpful.  Considering that state agencies will be flooded with work after a disaster, it might be a good idea to have test kits on hand.  It helps to know which tests to use.

Consider your location.  For instance, in our location there is the risk of contamination from all manner of refineries after a hurricane.  For this reason, we would know that our wells would be likely contaminated with industrial chemicals, animal decay, sewer system failure, and salt water.  We would not use any stored water until it can be purified and retested.  Over time the wells would clean themselves, but certainly not fast enough to use right after a disaster.  Frequent testing of the wells will let you know when they are safe to use again.  In the meantime it will be necessary to purify the water according to EPA instructions for the contaminants found.

It is important to note that wells may test negative for one contaminant this week, but next week it might test positive because of the underground flow of water or rain washing contaminants into the well.  Until all wells in the area test clean, don’t assume your well is always safe.  For that information contact the appropriate authorities in your region.

The EPA and water quality associations are dedicated to pure water for everyone one.  Use the resources they offer.

photo by: Edsel L

From Compost to Potting Soil; part one

Finished compostThere’s quite a bit being said about composting.  It’s almost the first thing out of the mouths of garden enthusiasts when you ask for a list “must do” tasks.  There’s more to composing than letting something rot in a compost heap for a year and tilling it into your garden.  For the purposes of the prepared gardener, coming up with enough material to might be difficult.  Composted material is expensive if purchased.  Potting mix is more expensive than compost.

So, what exactly is compost?  Compost is needed to help combat soil problems.  Compost is rotting or rotted vegetation material.  Animal material may be composted, but that process is for another post.  For most gardeners, getting enough vegetation to compost is difficult.  Grass clippings, falling leaves, trimmed tree limbs and so on, but lets face it.  You can only mow the lawn, rake the leaves you have, and trim so many limbs before you run out of sources.  For the person who is making a small garden in their backyard, this could be enough material.

However, for the prepared, most likely it won’t be enough for the family farm.  Depending on your location, soil condition and the amount of conditioning your soil requires, finding enough matter could be a challenge, especially if you don’t want to spend large amounts of time tending to your neighbors’ lawns too.

Go to the dump.  Depending on where you live, your local landfill will have leaf, grass and tree trimmings.  Call them to find out if they sell mulch, double ground mulch, compost and other things you might want for your garden.  The price is minimal or free and usually sold by the pick up truck load.  In some cities they deliver.  If your landfill doesn’t have what you need, check with other counties.  One of them might have the product.

Go to the barn.  If you have animals that use hay or straw, or just make a mess on the barn floor, you are in gardener’s heaven!  Rake the muck and put it into bins for composting.  Regularly rake the chicken coop and put down fresh hay.  Not only will the birds appreciate it, but fresh chicken poop and hay is an excellent ingredient to add to the compost heap.

Go to the feed lot.  Pick up cow patties.  They’re just grass and water.  Adding a cow patty or two to a compost heap speeds up composting Cow Pattieswhile adding needed nutrients.  Don’t add too many or your compost pile could start fire.  Ask a neighbor if you can have some of his cow patties.  He’ll enjoy watching you get them.  Have cow muck instead of cow patties?  Take a bucket and a shovel instead.  You’ll know where to dig.

Start composting.  How you compost is up to you and depends on how much work you want to put into the job.  Small gardeners often spend $200 for a black barrel on stand that easily rolls to stir the compost easily.  Some people line a box with black plastic and fill it with compost material and cover with black plastic.  Every now and then they go out and stir it to keep it active.  But, the oldest way is to choose a place in the back yard and put the vegetation matter there.  Every week go out and turn the pile with a pitch fork and hose it down to keep it moist.

compost tumblerThe barrel method works fastest and is the easiest, but produces small amounts of compost at a time. This causes bags of material to sit around at least a month waiting for its turn in the barrel.  It might be necessary to buy multiple barrels or not have enough compost for all your purposes.  Using the barrel usually kills off any plant seeds and unwanted insects.  Instead of spending $200 for each barrel, some people make their own barrels from 55 gallon drums and wood.

The box with black plastic is limited only by the amount of black plastic and boxes you have.  It can be difficult to manage since poking holes in the plastic while turning the pile slows down the process.  If done properly, black plastic can get rid of any plant seeds and unwanted insects.

The back yard pile is slowest.  There is nothing to keep the moisture in so watering is important.  The pile must be turned well and often.  It can be difficult work if the pile is deep.  Making an unlimited number of piles makes keeping them sorted by age easy.  Having many piles going at once then becomes faster than the barrel method unless you have access to many barrels.

Tomorrow’s post will continue discussing composting, mulch, and making your own potting mix.

Police Violence and Steroid Abuse

Editor’s note:  I wrote this article six weeks ago and then just let it sit.  I had to think about it and what it means.  It was necessary to be certain there was no “knee jerk” reaction.  If you don’t want to read it because it is not specifically a prepper story, simply choose something else.  However, being prepared means to prepare for all aspects of life, including dealing with society.

This is an editorial.  It is our duty to post this.  This article is not suitable for children without parent supervision.  It has nothing to do with being a prepper except that preppers could get caught in these unfortunate circumstances.  It is not a hate law enforcement post.  We need law enforcement at the local and state level to be tip top.  It is a call to action for society to demand a new protocol for how citizens may interact with police officers who are no longer acting as law enforcement officers but instead are committing felony assault.

These topics come to the surface when discussing causes and remedies for the situation:

  • What causes police officers to act so aggressively well past the need to subdue a suspect?  
  • What would happen if your local police force had members who used illegal steroids?  Would not those same officers experience ‘roid rage?  
  • With today’s technology and video recorder phones everywhere you look, it is increasingly more difficult for law enforcement officers to commit unlawful acts in public and get away with it by explaining it away.
  • How would the courts view a situation where the accused is someone who came to the defense of a police beating victim?

Consider the following:

Over the past few decades, several stories have surfaced regarding law enforcement personnel involved with anabolic steroids. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently led Operation Raw Deal, considered the largest international steroid investigation to date. The operation discovered several links to current or former law enforcement officers. This was predicted almost 20 years ago by an article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin that stated, “Anabolic steroid abuse by police officers is a serious problem that merits greater awareness by departments across the country.”1 In addition, a story on the television program 60 Minutes in 1989 titled “Beefing up the Force” featured three police officers who admitted steroid use and claimed that their resulting aggression got them in serious trouble.

In the past year, a book titled Falling Off the Thin Blue Line was written and published by former Texas police officer David Johnson, who describes his addiction to steroids and speaks about the prevalence of steroid abuse in the law enforcement community.2 Recently, investigations into illegal steroid purchases revealed the names of several officers on pharmacy distribution lists, garnering national media attention. Unfortunately, agencies looking for methods to confront steroid abuse find few examples of effective policies and practices. This article summarizes the Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department’s experience in this area over the past several years and suggests policy and testing considerations for anabolic steroids in the law enforcement community.  ~~ Police Chief Magazine

Sure, we all understand that police officers are always on high alert and have to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to  apprehending a suspect.  But incidents of abuse must not be tolerated by anyone.  How should citizens intervene when police officers have gone wrong?  How should citizens stop an act of unnecessary violence when they see it happening?  These are questions we should be asking and demanding answers.

As it stands now, people are afraid to step into the situation for fear that police officers will arrest them, shoot them or beat them to death.  Calling more police doesn’t help.  By the time the other officers arrive, the beating or shooting has already occurred.  And that is the problem.  By the time anyone can do anything about it, someone is already beaten or dead.

Considering you don’t know which police officer might be using ‘roids, there may be nothing you can do to assure your safety if a police officer stops you for even a traffic violation.  For a ‘roid raged officer, all you would have to do is blink and its all over for you.  We should not have to be afraid of our police officers because they have illegal drug use, rage or panic issues.

The inspiration for this post came after clicking some of the links on this Facebook page about small town out of control police officers.  Be warned, what you will see is ghastly.  Think twice and preview first if your children are present.

Bonfire, Campfire, or Cooking Fire?

Bonfires are big fires that attract a lot of attention both day and night.
This fire attracts all kinds of attention, as does its smaller version, the campfire.

Frequently people comment that they will kill a rabbit, bird or deer and just cook it over a fire.  It’s pretty obvious that they have visions of putting the animal, or parts of the animal, on a stick and cooking it over a bonfire, afterwards they will lay down next to the fire and sleep for the rest of the night with a full belly.

Okay, cooking the meat that way will happen in a survival situation where there is no danger of someone seeing their smoke in the air or smelling the food.  But, if they build the fire in the conical shaped way most people build a fire, they should be prepared for the burning pieces of wood to tumble as the flames eat them.  For safety a person shouldn’t be within 10 feet of it.  A campfire doesn’t provide much warmth at that distance.

Eventually people cooking their food over a campfire will get tired of meat on a stick.  They will want to use indigenous plants for seasoning and nutritional needs.  They might even want to add water and make a soup or stew.  If you are the camp cook, you need to know how to make the right kinds of fires for the types of cooking you have to do.

Campfires are a gathering place, like the family kitchen.
This is a collapsed conical shaped campfire.

The bonfire isn’t a cooking fire.  It is a signal fire, or for generating heat, sending large amounts of smoke high in the sky, and for roasting marshmallows and hot-dogs or some other meat on a stick.  Bonfires are dangerous when the logs start to cave in on themselves or collapse outside the fire.  When they cave in or collapse, people can be injured by burning wood or flying embers.  Sleeping near a fire that has this type of splash effect is dangerous.  Build this type of fire only when you need to show someone your location.

A campfire is a smaller version of the bonfire.  It’s useful for meat on a stick and marshmallows. Many people think digging a fire pit and putting rocks around it means they have a cooking fire.  In order to use this type of fire they need a grate or spit.  They are shocked, upset, and sometimes injured when their cookware and food fall into the fire.  If you look in the background, you will see that this fire also has a bench too close to the fire.  Care must still be taken that it doesn’t cave in or collapse causing the splash effect of the bonfire.  People can still get burned and sleeping bags and clothing can catch fire by flying embers and burning wood.

This fire is dangerous because there is no restraint for the burning wood, flying embers and ash.  It is dangerous to restock the wood in this fire.
This fire is dangerous because there is no restraint for the burning wood, flying embers and ash. It is also dangerous to restock the wood in this fire.

Cooking fires are different from the two conical shaped fires above.  These fires are built in a cross patch pattern overlapping them in such a way that the top forms a level sturdy surface for your cast iron cookware.  Cooking fires allow you to control the temperature for cooking so you don’t have burned outside and raw inside foods.  Your meal should be completed and the pans “cleaned” by the time the wood burns through.  These fires collapse into the center and rarely does wood fall away from the fire.  However, embers are and ash are not predictable so don’t sleep too close to the fire.

Knowing the difference between these fires is important.  Each requires a different

This fire set up is great for cooking.  However, they are using finished wood.  Finished wood has paint or other chemicals you should not use for cooking, or for any other purpose that requires you to breathe the smoke.
This fire set up is great for cooking. However, they are using finished wood. Finished wood has paint or other chemicals you should not use for cooking, or for any other purpose that requires you to breathe the smoke.

amount of resources and attracts attention in different ways.  If you are worried about being seen, all fires produce smoke, so you need to build the smallest fire possible for the immediate purpose.  Building fires during daylight makes the smoke easily seen from a distance.  Smoke is more difficult to see at night.  Building the smallest cooking fire possible will reduce the possibility of the flames being seen from a distance.  Building the fire in a deep pit will make it possible to conceal most of it, but if the pit is too deep the fire won’t burn well.  When you are finished, extinguish it as soon as possible.  Preparing all the items you are going to cook before starting the fire will reduce the amount of time the fire is lit.  If you do not want the location of your fire to be found, be sure to bury it completely when finished. Even so, an experienced tracker may still find the location.

To practice these skills, go camping in campgrounds that allow campfires.  A future article with a pictorial illustration of how to make a proper cooking fire will be posted soon.

Zombie Apocalypse?

I get all sorts of crazy requests.  This one sounded fun, or funny, I’m not sure which.  I had to post it because it’s amazing how quickly the rest of the world doesn’t mind talking and preparing for the zombie apocalypse, but to prepare for a real event possibility is considered silly.   In any event, if you are prepping for zombies or some event, at least you are going to be one of the prepared ones if a world changing event happens.

Here is a flyer asking for people to join up with zombie preppers to make a T.V. show.  Enjoy.