A look at Survival and Preparedness, Firearms, Ham Radio, German Shepherds, Photography and other related stuff! 73 Later, ZombieAxe :-)


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish each and everyone of you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! God Bless you and yours, stay safe and all the best!

Zombie Axe

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rambling on a Winter PhotoWalk...

Howdy Folks,

Since I am off this week, I am seriously playing with my Canon DSLR big time and taking photowalks daily. Photowalks are simply where photographers take a walk and just shoot pics of anything that looks interesting through a lens. It is great practice and you never know what you will capture with the right point of view. I usually take them in the evening...

So I took a walk around the tree farm today . I love how things look with the snow highlights! Hope you enjoy!

The Creek

Winter Reflections


Finally here is a Cherry Tree (my favorite pic of the day), this is one of several I took of the same tree. Maybe after a little photoshop work I will enter it into a contest or something... who knows. I just thought the way it looked with the snow surrounding it and the sunset, it was saying, "Old man winter, I am just waiting for you to get done with all this cold weather so I can produce green leave, pretty flowers and juicy cherries!" Hoping for spring!!!

Thanks for looking!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ramblings on Murphy and the Snow Storm...

Howdy Folks,

Thanks for all you new followers as well as you 'old timers', I really do appreciate it!

Back on Friday (12-18-09) we had a pretty major winter storm come through our area. The area I work in (foothills of NC) received around 10-12 inches of frozen stuff (mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain) and back home we had 6 inches of the same.


The DOT had pre-salted the roads on Thursday, but the first wave of snow came and melted washing the salt away. The roads were wet and slushy but nothing major. After lunch the ice began again with a vengeance and by 4 pm the roads were completely covered. The bosses told us we could head to the house as soon after 3 pm as we could get back to the office. As I drove the work truck back to the office there is a pretty steep hill that is over 1000' long and traffic had stopped. Many folks started up the hill, started spinning, freaked out, and SLOWLY backed down the hill. After 30 minutes of waiting I gave up and headed up the back way, which I had decided to avoid because I figured it would more difficult to go up. 10 minutes later I got to my parking place.


This picture was taken as a screen shot from a video on the iPhone as I didn't have any pics of wreck but lots of videos. iPhone rocks!!!

After seeing much mayhem, stupid drivers, and dicey roads, I was happy to head home. I jumped in ole Blue (my 4x4 truck) and pointed it toward home.


As I headed out of town I snapped this picture of this gas station chain which has huge American flags flying. The wind was blowing around 10-15 mph at the time of this pic.

After I got out of town I pretty much had the roads to myself. The roads were pure ice but I was able to keep it going and going straight.

About 4 miles away from home Mr. Murphy reared his ugly head. My battery had died a few weeks back and I recharged it. The battery held the charge well and I figured it was good to go. WRONG! After running the lights, heater blower, and ham radio I figure it was just too much for the old battery and it just quit on me.

Crap, now I was stuck on a hill with a dead battery!!! NOT GOOD!!! AAA would be swamped. No way the wife was going to come out into this mess. No one was in a helping mood until about 45 minutes after my little ordeal began. As I waited, several folks with front wheel drive cars got stuck down at the bottom of the hill (more on that later). I offered to help them as soon as I could get a jump. With the hood up and holding jumper cables no one offered to help... Karma is a bitch so I hear...

Since my battery was dead, my four way flashers would not work. Luckily being a prepper, I had multiple sets of road flares on hand. I decided to use them one at a time as I didn't know how long I was gonna be on iceberg hill. Luckily before the first one burned down, I was getting my truck jump started :) Luckily it held up. I turned off all non-essential drain on the battery and let it idle.

The battery on my iPhone was OK, but I always carry my little battery pack that I keep charged so in case I needed 2.5 full charges I had that capability independent of my truck's (failed) electrical system.

So now Russell (aka Mr. Good Samaritan) has given me a jump and I am good to go. So off we go to help the stuck motorists. This is another one of those long hills and with the snow/ice sleet still pouring down it was going from bad to worse. Both drivers had front wheel drive cars and they could easily go up the hill, if they would simply learn how to accelerate WITHOUT spinning. One lady had major problems until I told her to put her manual transmission in 2nd gear and start up the hill. With front wheel drives and winter weather driving don't stop or spin on a hill and you are good to go! If that wouldn't have worked we would have lowered the air in the tires, but they went good as is.

Russell and I originally planned to tow the stranded motorists up the hill, but these little cars with all their plastic parts and NO WHERE to attach a tow strap or chain is almost impossible to do! So that is when we decided to drive them up the hill. The only tow points were too small for my clevis hooks to attach to. Works on big vehicles, little ones... not so much!

So by now we got the whole hill cleared and no one is left stranded. Luckily I made it the remaining 4 miles home without any more failures of my Battery. On Sunday the roads were cleared up enough to allow me to get a replacement battery.

So when things are at their worst you can expect Mr. Murphy to come calling.

Things that worked:

Gore-Tex: As I was working outside in the weather all day, I already had my gear on. Usually I take it off for the drive home, but not this time. After laying on the ground looking for a place to attach a chain I was glad I was dry and warm!

Reflective Vest: I was wearing my reflective vest from work and had forgotten to take it off. Glad I had it on!

Flashlights: LED and Surefires worked really well. I was the only one who actually had a flashlight(s)! WTF is up with that??? Light good, dark bad!

Road Flares: Work Great! Lets others know that there is a problem ahead, and also keeps people away from where you do not want them to drive as no one wants to drive over a incendiary device! LOL

Truck (other than the battery): Never had a problem driving on the snow or going up or down hills. Old Blue got-r-done... AutoCraft battery??? epic fail!!!

Things I had that could have helped:

The SAW: No, not the Squad Automatic Weapon, but rather the Husqvarna chainsaw I carry with fuel and oil. With the way the wind was blowing, 20 mph when I got home, I was SHOCKED my power didn't go off or the road was blocked by a tree. This is the first time I have driven home in a winter storm that there was not ANY trees in the road! After the wind picked up there may have been some, but I didn't care.

Things I should have had:

I wished I had a jump starter pack for 2 reasons. One is I could have used it to power the electronics to allow me to roll start my truck and maybe got it going... Also I could have jumped off my truck!!!

My 1100W 12/24V DC Generator: I used to carry this in my truck during bad winter weather but have not needed it, so it sat in the garage. Too bad, this puppy will give you 90 amps of CONTINUOUS 12V DC cranking power. Next winter storm this will be riding along as well!!!

Things I let others borrow: A buddy at work had a failure of his windshield wiper blades, so I let him have my USED spare pair. When I change out my old ones I keep them as spares so I have SOMETHING in case my new ones fail.

We got a total of 6 inches here and lucky for me, I am off for awhile, so I don't hafta go any where if I don't wanna.

Thanks for reading and 73!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Ramblings on... Sometimes it is the simple things we forget!

Howdy Folks,

Sometime it is the simple things we overlook. Today I had to work up in the mountains. Where I got into my work truck it was a cool 25F this morning. When I got up to the hills the thermometer read 13F. When I got to my first job the wind was whipping to up around 20 MPH. I don't know the math but it was brutal, or at least if felt that way since this was the coldest temps of the season for my area.


I had some good cold weather gear and I wrapped my fleece around my head to keep warm. I needed something to keep my face warm, and I used the fleece over my face. The problem was, the fleece came untucked and the blast of cold air chilled my face...

If only I had something as simple as a SAFETY PIN! I do have these in my BOB's but not in my work bag!

So if you got a good idea for some gear that you may need, be sure to include it in all your bags!

My short sightedness in this matter will be corrected ASAP. This was not a life threatening situation, but rather a bit of discomfort.



Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ramblings on getting Night Vision Gear (2nd or 3rd gen)...

Howdy Folks,

For those of us who had the honor to serve in the military and got the chance to use the latest and greatest Night Vision Gear (NVG) it is very hard to forget how awesome they were.

When I completed my tour of duty, I missed three things... my M-16, my 155mm howitzer and my NVG goggles. An AR-15 makes a nice replacement for the M-16, and .50 caliber black powder rifle will make almost as much noise/smoke/smell as a 155mm howitzer, but nothing other than a set of the current set of NVG goggles will replace what you had in the military!

My first attempt at purchasing Night Vision was a set of Russian 3x magnification night vision binoculars. These pair run me over $600 and I thought I was satisfied until I went to visit my friend White Wolf over in TN. WW had a sweet set of 3rd generation PVS-7B goggles (one tube, but 2 eyepieces). It was then I realized that my russkie set was no match for those ITT PVS-7B.

There is only one problem with buying 3rd generation Night Vision equipment and that is finding the money to purchase them. A good pair of NVG's will run you over $3000... ouch! Are they worth it? Yes, I believe so... but ONLY after you have stored up enough food for a year, medical supplies, a piece of land of your own, dependable transportation, debts paid off, a roof above your head, and so on... Yes they are worth it, but not if you do not have all your other bases covered!!!

A good second choice is 2nd generation or 2nd generation + gear (higher end 2nd gen stuff more like 2.5 gen), which run around the $2000 mark.

All night vision works similar. They take available light and amplify it to produce an image that gives us a way to see in the dark.

All night vision requires light to work. That is why your $200 walmart specials usually will work exceptionally well when you use the IR (infra-red light invisible to the human eye, but not night vision gear) illuminator, but NEVER EVER NEVER use this to judge night vision gear! It is what night vision does with the AVAILABLE light that makes them expensive and worth the $$$.

Let me cover the DANGER of using the IR illuminator in a TACTICAL situation. First of all think of this analogy. A submarine has two types of sonar, active and passive. The submarines best defense is how quiet it is. When it is quiet, no one can locate where it is and the sub remains hidden and undetected. To locate enemy and friendly ships it uses PASSIVE sonar which allows the sub to catalog. identify, and track the tangos. Sometimes it is necessary to use active sonar which it sends out a sound wave (PING) to give it information on a target. They do not use active sonar much because while it will 'paint' the best picture, it also lets everyone else know (including the target they are pinging) where they are at!

So your night vision uses PASSIVE light (moonlight,starlight, streetlight) to help you see what is around . When there is a full moon even the cheap 1st gen NVG will work decent, but on a cloudy night deep in the woods you find out that cheap gear starts to show its true nature. When there is not enough PASSIVE light then the NVG needs an external ACTIVE light source such as an IR(infra-red) illuminator to allow you to see.

Here is where it gets interesting... with an IR illuminator (these are usually IR LED's) ACTIVE, folks with other Night Vision Gear can see you! Even the cheap models will allow you to see someone using an IR. So the reason you want 2+ or 3 gen NVG is so you will not need to use that IR often. There are some cheap units that have the IR's on all the time to allow you night vision. These work the same as low light CCTV systems with a lens surrounded by a ring of IR LED's.

These IR LED's are invisible to the naked eye, but I have found that looking at them head on I can see a faint red glow. Not usually a problem...

ACTIVE IR lighting is not a bad thing unless you are wishing to remain stealth. For viewing wildlife and walking through the woods without a flashlight they are great. However when going up against bad guys who may have night vision, you don't want to be running around with an IR on... trust me!!!

OK enough of the technical mumbo jumbo...

Now granted these pics are not perfect as they were taken with a camera phone (the lower resolution ones) and a point and shoot held up to one side of the PVS-7D.

The Woodshed.

Stars through the clouds.

Shep on the trail.

Garden area, notice the sky and the light from a town 30 miles away.

Horse shed, night light and porch lights

Another view of garden area.

Moon rise and house lights on.

Same as last pic but lights off.

I hope that you enjoyed the pics and the posts. You can be perfectly happy with 1st generation night vision. I just want folks to understand the limitations though. If you use your IR, you might as well have a flashlight in your hand if others have night vision as well.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ramblings on Gore-Tex...

I wanna see STARZ!!!
Moon shotHowdy Folks,

Been awhile but work has been brutal here lately. Not only the long hours, but lots of rain. I know just a bunch of excuses... My free time has been spent with the family as well as playing with my camera (photography is becoming one of my favorite hobbies). The pics above are some I took the other night.

Along with the internet I am surprised that Mr. Gore didn't claim he created Gore-Tex. I mean that one at least has his name on it, much more believable IMHO!!!

Well anyway in my line of work, the Mail Man has nothing on me... except that motto because I am out working in all types of weather when the mail man is at home in his/her bungalow nice and cozy.

I wear Gore-Tex boots (USA made Danners) year round and they keep me dry. Whether I am walking through high dewey grass or I stick my foot in a puddle, I know my feet are going to stay dry! For those of you who are looking to retrofit your footwear, look into those Gore-Tex socks which will keep your feet dry!

I can be soaked from the top of my head to the top of my boots, but as long as my feet are dry, I am a happy camper!!!

I also wear a Gore-Tex outer wear parka shell. In the warmer months I wear the shell only when it rains. As it gets cooler I may wear a hoodie, fleece or a warm jacket under the parka shell to layer in the warmth.

If you wear a Gore-Tex jacket or parka and it rains, that jacket will keep you dry... but where your jacket ends, your wetness begins! IOW you need some Gore-Tex pants! I usually add the pants when it is going to rain all day, rain very hard, or when the wind blows hard.

Yes Gore-Tex works great to cut the wind as well!

My original Gore_Tex setup was a set from Cabela's in forest green. These blend in without looking tactical. They are also lightweight and are very durable. I went up to the next size so I could layer very bulky if needed.

My work provided me with a Gore-Tex parka through my clothing allowance but NO PANTS! I just added my Cabela pants to the setup!

My REALLY GOOD set of Gore-Tex is a set of ECWS GenII Millitary Gore-Tex tops and bottoms in woodland camo. US Cavalry had these on clearance for $100 a few years back since the Army was going to the new digital camo. I love this set, but being TRIPLE layered they are kind of stiff and noisy. There is a set issued to the Navy SEALS that are quieter but they are very expensive! If I need quiet I will use the Cabela's Set, but in a hurricane give me the ECWS Parka! Not gonna get wet in those!!!

I treat my Gore-Tex once a year with a cleaner as well as treat the outer shell to give it water repellency so the nylon shell will not HOLD the water. Once your jacket starts to absorb water instead of repelling it, it is time to treat it!!!

The best way to stay dry during a rain storm is to stay inside, but for those of us who can't always do that, be sure to have the proper gear to operate comfortably in it. IMHO Gore-Tex (or other similar fabrics) are worth the money if you wanna stay dry!

Thanks for reading and 73!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Take a moment to realize all your blessings and reflect on all the things you have to be thankful for...

We still live in a free country, where you have the right to free speech, right to own and use firearms, freedom of religion and many more. Sure the politicians (on both sides) have eroded these rights in Washington D.C. but we are still the freest nation on Earth! Lets not give up and be sure to support and encourage those in Washington who are fighting the good fight. If we lose what freedom we have there is NO place we can go that is anywhere close to what we have.

Be thankful for the US soldier (all branches,reserves, national guard as well) who are one of the core reasons we have the freedoms that we do today. Good people died and bleed to give you and I those freedoms. Unfortunately since the Korean war our soldiers have been pawns and have bled and died needlessly while politicians use these brave women and men to get re-elected. The US military is the best one on Earth and if the politicians just got out of their way they would get the job done! So be sure to be thankful for our US service women and men this Thanksgiving who are far from their loved ones and protecting our nation!

Be thankful for your family.

Be thankful for the foresight you have in being in the 'preparedness mindset".

And I am thankful for having the opportunity to share some of my "ramblings" with you and I am thankful for you the readers of this blog!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ramblings on Rodents...

Howdy Folks,

Let's talk about rodents and the prepper...

As the weather turns cooler, those cute but destructive mice look for warmer abodes as well food which is becoming more scarce. I much prefer those rascals to stay away from my home and I wish they wouldn't find any place that I was not using.

Last week the little rascals started digging little holes around the chicken bunker. I am sure they enjoyed cleaning up the chicken feed that my birds sometimes scatter about. Other than Mickey and Minnie I have absolutely no use for the critters.

A bunch of folks don't like rodentcide and neither do I but I would rather use it than have the creatures find the mother lode of preps, chicken feed, bedding and other materials that we preppers accumulate.

So I decided to feed them the green feed of death. You must keep this away from the critters that you want to keep around (dogs and chickens in my case) so DO NOT just throw it out and hope for the best or man's best friend may not be around for long! I use the green feed mainly outside tucked up under the edges where no critters can get to them EXCEPT the mice. For all those folks this offends, tough, if you wanna catch the mice and sleep with them then that is your business, and mine is mine! I am a Libertarian so leave me alone!

Which brings me to the point of this post. MAKE SURE you have insecticide, pesticide, mouse traps, live traps, snares, etc BEFORE you need them. In other words you need to stockpile these supplies (like any other prep) so when you need them you have them.

Like anythings else, when you need it, you really need it. You can be sure that when there is not much food 2 legged critters will not be the only pests looking for food. Rodents and other creatures will become more desperate and you don't want anything in your pantry that YOU did not put in there!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ramblings on the TV show V...

Howdy Folks,

If you get a chance watch the pilot of "V" on ABC watch it... All I have to say is WOW!!! The political undertones poked me in my chest like a red hot poker. Someone must be upset with how current politicians and the media are acting these days.

Here is some dialogue from the show:

The two priests had an interesting conversation:

The younger priest says to the older priest, "It bothers me that they showed up right when we needed them the most. The world is in bad shape father, who wouldn't welcome a savior right now?"

The older priest replies, "I agree that they are a godsend. And we should be grateful. "

The younger priest says, "But that is the danger. Under the right conditions and enough time gratitude can morph into worship. Or worse, devotion." "

Before an interview with Anna (head lizard person formerly the companion on the excellent TV series Firefly), the reporter is told "Be sure to not to ask us anything that would paint us in a negative light. Don't ask us any questions that would portray us negatively. We can't be seen in a negative light."

The reporter is reluctant to do so but with the threat of a cancelled interview and the promise of elevating his career he relents.

At the beginning of the televised interview, Anna (head lizard person) says "Please feel free to ask anything and everything. I am here to discuss all topics without reserve."

After the interview Anna's assistant tells the reporter, "Compromising one's principles for the greater good is not a shameful act. It is a noble one."

At the end the FBI agent(you know the chick from Lost) tells the younger priest, "They are arming themselves with the most powerful weapon out there. Devotion."

Great show! There are some other goodies in there as well!

Maybe I am reading it wrong, take what you will, "But I see what I what see!"


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ramblings on why buying a piece of gear does not make you an expert on using it...

Howdy Folks,

You hear it especially from the ham radio detractors, who always think they will buy a piece of gear and save it for doomsday. The minute they open their 'wonder radio' from the box it will magically bestow upon them all the technical knowledge and skills it take to operate them and allow them to call for help just in the nick of time!!!

I say BULLCRAP!!! Those same people are usually too lazy to study a simple book on ham radio, and are always worried that once you get into the 'federal database' they will come hunt you down because you are on a list! It is just an excuse to prevent them from learning a valuable skill and actually practicing it BEFORE YOUR ARSE is on the line!!!

Ham radio is not expensive, but like most hobbies it can cost a little or alot. However it is not EXPENSIVE to get some great gear!

If you are on the internet and you read prep minded sites you may already be on a list. Who cares??? This is still America the land of the free, and that makes me free to say, "get off of your lazy butts and quit making up excuses so you don't have to read a simple book!"

I honestly can not take folks seriously who profess to be prep minded and can not read a book and pass a simple test...

So get the skills before you get the gear. That wonder ham radio is not like those blister pack FRS/GMRS radios that you turn on, adjust the volume, turn the channel and hit the talk button. You have to know how to talk, what frequencies to talk on, frequency shift and so on...

Rant off!!!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ramblings on the chickens, Mantis tillers and local resources...

Howdy Folks,

Today I decided to block off about 1/3 of the chickens outdoor run and sow it in fescue and I even threw in some scratch grains in the hope some of it will come up. The chickens have laid waste to the grass that once covered the run. I now understand why those 'chicken tractors' are so effective since they really work the soil over.

I placed chicken wire from the back of the chicken bunker to the back fence and staked it to the ground. Later on, I would love to divide the coop into thirds and be able to rotate the runs. In fact that was the original plan back in May, but time constraints only allowed for the bare minimum of work.

The idea is to give the chickens something green to nibble on during the late winter months as they love their 'salad'. Once the run is nice green and tall, I will let the chickens have access.

On the same side I plan on adding 3 6'x10' chain link panels ,I scored for free, in a L shape configuration to mesh with the existing fence to give them a little more pasture. Also I will fence on the same side to surround my west orchard to allow for an open pasture for the chickens. Hopefully when the bugs come out next year, my hens will be patrolling and getting some all you can eat, free buffet style bugs!

Later on toward March I will temporarily block access for the other side and begin prepping it to grow a garden INSIDE the run. You can not beat soil that is picked free of weeds, grass or ANYTHING GREEN to plant in. Not to mention that the chickens have been fertilizing it for me for 9 months prior! Talk about a garden spot!!!

For those of you who are still on the fence about getting chickens, I say "GET SOME". Of all the things I have begun, raising chickens is the easiest way I have tried to become more self sufficient!!!

Local Resources:

As I tilled up the soil to loosen it up to plant some fescue and wheat I realized that the soil was so rich from chicken poop I was not going to have to use fertilizer. I was using a local resource, chicken manure, to give my seeds the food they would need! I compost all my chicken manure but this was what was already on the ground just waiting to be tilled into the ground. Before the poop, I would use 10-10-10 fertilizer to do the same thing I now get for free! Granted the 10-10-10 smells a little better, but I still like FREE!!!

I needed a ground cover to cover up the bare soil and retain moisture after I tilled, raked and sowed. In the past I would purchase a bale or two of straw to cover up bare spots, but today I decided to use my almost unlimited resource of pine needles. I have many acres of pine trees and well they shed pine needles, which is another free resource! I went to the woods and gathered up 2 wheelbarrow loads and spread it out. It looks like it will allow water and air to get down to the seeds below without smothering them. Did I mention they were free???

Mantis Tiller:

Other than my Husqvarna chainsaws, the Mantis Tiller is one of my most used tools on the homestead. For those of you unfamiliar with the Mantis Tiller, it is a lightweight 20lb 2 cycle power house. The tines give you about 6" to 8" of tilling width (I never measured it so can't say for sure) and it will DIG!

The way it pulverizes the soil really allows your seeds/plants to have and easy time to go deep. When planting fescue I usually just go down 2-4 inches. In a matter of 5 minutes I had an entire 160 square foot plot ready to plant!

I still use my large tiller to prep the larger gardens, but I use the Mantis Tiller to prep my rows.

So get a Mantis Tiller, they come in handy!

Thanks for reading and 73!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ramblings on the Maratac 9290 and other 'illuminated' gear...



Howdy folks quick review of the Maratac 9290 LED flashlight and other thoughts.

I am always looking for new and better ways to do things. Don't think I will give up my BlackHawk Gladius for a go to flashlight, but the 9290 has taken the place of it for my EDC (every day carry) light.

I purchased two of these from CC awhile back and they are really a great flashlight.

I really like that it is smaller than a 2 cell CR123a, uses a SINGLE AA battery and is more powerful than any pocket light I own.

I wore a large holster for the Gladius on my belt that probably alerted "those in the know" that I am of the "tactical mindset" . Now I carry my flashlight concealed as well!

As an aside, a few years back when the "tactical knives" came on the market with those pocket clips, the tell tale clips were being worn by everyone. I soon realized as I was saying to myself, "that guy has a knife and probably has other means of defense as well", others were doing the same to me!

I do not want to appear as a threat to anyone as I prefer the "gray man" approach. No need to raise the eyebrows of law enforcement or bad guys. When you have really screwed up and a bad guy targets you, you want them to be shocked that you are deploying a weapon on them.

Like I said, if the bad guys are targeting you, then you have screwed up on situational awareness or ignored your "spidey sense".

To condense the above, sheeple do not carry flashlights, knives or other things on them, so look like everyone else but don't look like "easy pickings" for a bad guy either. Also, don't look like the "bad guy" or "person of intrest" to the cops either!

So my 9290 now allows me to carry a "whole lotta flashlight" in a very compact and concealable package.

As for the flashlight, it is very well made and works as the video describes. I did have to return one of my 9290's for a failure of the switch after a few weeks of use. However, if you have any problems with any of County Comm's gear they will make it right. To be fair I have had problems with a Surefire once right of the box and they made it right as well.

Occasionally gear will fail, but as long as a company will make it right with their customers, then I can't fault them.

I wish they would have included a belt or pocket clip to attach it to a hat. It seems light enough that one could use it in that manner. Also missing is the strobe feature, but the 190 lumens will git-r-done.

I have a flashlight that gives me twice the light of my other lights, with similar run times, with one AA battery. Now I do not feel guilty when I have to run the light for long periods. AA batteries are CHEAP and it is my standardized battery for 97% of all my battery powered gear. Standardization makes logisitics EASY!!!

Hopefully I will have a detailed comparrison/review of the Blackhawk Gladius (the light which I judge all others by aka my yardstick) with the Leatherman Serac (the single CR123A version), and the Maratac 9290 someday soon.

For those that want to know my opinion of the 3, I can tell you that the tactical winner is still the Gladius (gotta love that strobe feature as well as easily adjustable light levels).

The overall winner is the Maratac 9290 with its 190 lumens light and compactness as well as price and affordibilty to operate.

The Leatherman Serac is a great work light as it is light enough to clip on your hat and bright enough to do most things, however the Serac cycles from its lowest brightness setting to the maximum. This makes it not a very good choice for a tactical flashlight as the 10-20 lumens when you first hit the switch may not blind the bad guys.

You want the Bad Guy's Reaction to be, "Ohhhhh my frickin' retina, you seared my frickin retina, OWWWWW I can't see!!!!!!!" not, "What a pathetic light, you were not trying to go all bad ass on me were you? The doctor's penlight in the prison hospital was much brighter and, unlike yours, would actually dilate my pupils!"


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ramblings on isolation procedures and avoiding infectious diseases

Howdy Folks,

Flu season is upon us and someone is bound to get it in your household. When someone is sick then you need to take care of them, but while minimizing the risk to you.

I was thinking about using technology to keep an eye on those who should be confined to their rooms (barring bathroom breaks and such).

To minimize your exposure, but monitor your patient, pick up a baby monitor to listen in and advise your patient to let you know if they need anything.

Sometimes it is hard for little ones to let you know if they need anything, so a video style baby monitor may come in handy. This allows you the benefit of hearing and seeing your patient without exposing yourself and others to whatever bug they have.

Face it, by the time someone in your house is showing the signs of catching a cold, chances are you have already been exposed to the same thing! It is still prudent to was hands and sanitize EVERYTHING the infected one has come in contact with. Hopefully you escaped the infection.

If you patient symptons include coughing or sneezing, it may be wise to have them wear a facemask to prevent high speed germs from heading your way with an uncontrollable cough or sneeze.

Lets talk prevention now...

Think about things you touch everyday that someone has also touched.

Follow me through this scenario if you will...

You are at Burger King and wash your hands in the restroom before your eat (great). You open the door to the restroom to go place your order (if you touched the handle without a towel you have touched something that someone who is sick may have touched). You get in line and pay cash for your Whopper combo meal (money may have germs on it from the latte you bought at Starbucks and recieved as change from the barista), the cashier gives you back change (another potential germ contaminiation). You get your Combo meal and opt for sweet tea (at least I would), you touch the dispenser handle (yet again) and let the tea flow into your cup. Finally you reach into the community condiment bin and grab a bunch of Ketchup (and all those contaminated people before migh have too!). You add some extra salt on your burger from the salt shakers that sit on the table (which others may have used and sick little kids love to play with).Then you sit down and consume your Whopper Combo meal thinking you were safe because you washed your hands before you ate, but you have at least 7 times in the scenario I presented to have had the possibility to come into contact with something that can infect YOU.

As you go about your daily lives think about ways to minimize coming into contact with something nasty that may compromise your health!

Thanks for reading and stay safe!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ramblings on vacations...

Howdy Folks,

I finally got to take a break from the brutal work schedule and take a week of fun in the sun. Well it was mostly sunny.

Anyways, I wanted to discuss improvised security methods while away from home base.

When you are in your castle, you are used to a certain level of security that gives you a level of comfort. So when one treads away from home, you may not have the same security methods available that you do at home.

I do not live in an apartment so I am not used to having neighbors. A condo is not much different than a apartment. I really hate those rooms that have adjoining doors and much to my dismay mine had one.

I did not have a alarm system so I had to improvise my own.

I read awhile back about using empty drink cans as an effective nosiemaker. Stacked in a pyramid they can make a bunch of noise it knocked over. My adjoining room door opened away from the cans, so a simple piece of floss tied a can at the bottom of the stack would be just as noisy.

A few chairs propped up against the outside balcony doors beef them up as they were not as strong as the front door.

Also consider that most condo's/apartments have an attic access door that give free run through the attic above. A simple object that will fall freely if the door is lifted will alert you that someone has been tampering in the loft. If it is on the floor when you return, then you know something was up.

Also consider doing the same for the front door with something similar that will fall free if the door was opened, but something that is not obvious.

I do prefer staying in places where there is NO maid service, so no one pilfers through your stuff while supposedly cleaning your room.

Also consider bringing your computer and valuables with you in your vehicle. IMHO your stuff is always safer with you than at some place that is not yours.

So next time you have to leave your fortress of solitude, you will have a few weapons in your arsenal of safety.

Be safe and I'll try to post more regularly after my mental health vacation.

PS Hopefully when I do some more 'picumentrys' my new Canon DLSR will make my pics turn out even better.

Take it easy, 73 and thanks for reading!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ramblings on losing a chicken...

As you can tell from what I said on my last post, I have been working too much OT.

About a month ago, I installed a solar powered electric fence charger and laid out a pretty elaborate grid of electric fencing to protect the outside fence from any predators. I still need to to install the overhead chicken wire later on to protect from any aerial attacks.

So anyway, as I was getting home late last night. I headed down to the coop to gather eggs, lock the 'hatch' and bring the feed in. I locked the hatch and took the outdoor feeder and placed it inside. I always count the birds on the roost, and I counted only five. I counted again still five. I entered the coop and laid hands on only FIVE birds! Dag Nabit some critter must have grabbed one of my laying hens and I was TICKED OFF!

I just knew that whatever had grabbed my hen, would be back whenever they wanted a meal until my entire flock was gone!!!

Then, I calmed down, went back into the chicken yard to look for the pile of feathers and/or where that darn chicken thief had entered... As I searched around with my flashlight, my light shown into some tiny beady eyes that turned out was attached to some feathers...

OH NO, the chickens had to witness the demise of their comrade. I was hoping that it would not effect their laying, and then it occured to me that my egg layer was in fact very much alive and looking at me like what is the big idea, ruining my sleep???

I quickly picked her up and placed her inside the chicken coop where I knew she would be safe. Then walked inside and placed her on the perch since there was no light for her to see how to get up there.

As I locked up the coop and gathered the 6 eggs, a sense of relief washed over me. I will now scan the chicken yard before I lock the hatch from now on.

I still do not know why Ms. Chicken decided to stay outside. Maybe she liked the temperature, had a falling out in the pecking order, decided to lone chicken it, or maybe she was eating to many bugs others while the others secured their place on the perch and night came quickly??? I don't know, but I am glad I didn't have to go outsmart a chicken thief.

Sometimes even when you build a bunker, you begin to focus on the worst case scenario and often times it is not that.

Don't get your feathers in a ruffle just because things are not the way you planned out.

I am not usually complacent in my level of alertness and I need to not do so in my safe zone either.

Had I preformed my checks to see the entire chicken yard instead of the things I was familiar with seeing, I wouldn't have typed such a long entry in the blog!!!

I need to be a little more observant...

Thanks for reading,


Monday, August 24, 2009

Ramblings on working TOO much...

Howdy Folks,

I have been terribly busy @ work these past few weeks working 12-13 hours almost every day. This has resulted in my computer time being severely limited and my brain functioning in EAT/SLEEP/WORK mode.

August & September are usually my "work till I drop" months, so hopefully things will get back to normal after these next few weeks.

Luckily the money is good and it is helping patch the holes in my preps... I do feel like an almost 3/4 turned zombie a la George Romero style. IOW I feel more like a zombie than a axe! LOL

The chickens are incredible and IMHO are one of the best investments I have made into food production.

The only thing that I have keeping up on are various podcasts that I listen to about 10+ hours a day.

The preparedness podcast had an excellent one on Hydroponics last week, and Jack Spirko keeps cranking out his usual great stuff.

I don't listen totally to prep minded stuff as I enjoy many other interests, so all preps and no fun makes ZA a dull boy... well I am dull enough so no need to make it worse!

I ordered a new flashlight last week that has over twice the output of the BlackHawk Gladius and runs on ONE AA battery. We will see, but looking forward to testing that! Yep, you guessed it... it is a Maratac County Comm special... I figure it has to be pretty good, but only testing will prove it a worthy successor to my beloved Gladius.

It looks like the Scottish jerks let go of that mass murderer. I would boycott Scottish goods, but I have not bought any anyway! Where is William Wallace when you need him???

Well that is all for now as my iTunes has grabbed the latest editions of the podcasts I listen to, so off to work I go.

Thanks for reading... and I'll be back!!!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ramblings on Pan Am Flight 103...

For many folks their first experience with terrorism was with the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 ,the terrible Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, or even the horrific second World Trade center bombing, but one that struck close to home for me was the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103...

I had officially become a soldier in the summer of 1988 and had 3 weeks of vacation around Christmas later that year. My parents had provided me with airfare to spend Christmas with some relatives in Dusseldorf, Germany.

I had been enjoying my down time experiencing a European Christmas which was quite different from the ones I had experienced in the South growing up. I can still recall the tolling of church bells at midnight on Christmas morning. That is a truly an amazing experience that if you are given the chance, you should experience it.

I am getting a little ahead of myself here...

My relatives had shown me a wonderful time, with a weekend trip to Paris, a tour of the Netherlands, and all the wonders of Dusseldorf. Life was good with no worries... terrorism only happened to people in far away places...

I was in a far away place, and terrorism was about to come calling nearby...

We were all enjoying watching TV on the evening of December 21, 1988 when the news came on and announced that Pan Am Flight 103 had crashed. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the news that night, but over the course of the next week and half, we learned that it was a probable terrorist attack. As a side note, back in 1988 you did not have access to all the 24/7 news channels, Internet, and news radio like you do today. Today one can get INFORMATION OVERLOAD if you wish!

In a week and a half, *I* would be on a commercial jet flying back stateside. I was wondering if a similar fate awaited me...

I remember telling my relatives farewell as I boarded a Lufthansa flight from Dusseldorf to JFK International in NYC. My flight was going to the same destination that Pan Am 103 was headed to and I prayed I would be safe. I will not say I had a sense of dread as I boarded, or was even worried, because the thrill of flying (well it is thrilling to me) was greater than anything that could possibly happen. However it crossed my mind a few times as we crossed the Atlantic.

I was dozing in my seat, when all of sudden Frank Sinatra's New York, New York starting playing (Lufthansa used to do this on all their flights when the plane was getting close to JFK). I had never been so happy to hear that song! That song song still brings back that fond memory and sense of relief.

You know the rest of the story, I lived to tell the tale.

The bad guys were found guilty and locked away... well until Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi is about to released on "COMPASSIONATE GROUNDS" WTF!!! WTF!!! again WTF!!!

Where is the compassion for the 270 people he killed??? All humans deserve forgiveness, but we should never forget and we should never treat him any better than he treated his victims.

Sorry tonight for the rant folks, but this really makes me angry that this scumbag is possibly getting to go home to die with COMPASSION with his family! To bad Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi didn't have compassion for his 270 victims AND THEIR FAMILIES!

I bring this up folks, just to point out, the good guys don't always win, and evil can still triumph in this world I am sad to say...


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ramblings on having your gear with you...


Some folks like to build homes in remote locations and then put gates to block access into them. I totally understand that idealogy, but I don't call people to repair my problems and then don't provide access to allow them to fix them.

I had to head up and fix a customers service. The problem was all the gates that provided access were locked up and I was not going to able to drive the old work truck down to the residence. So I was going to either leave the customer out of service or go on a little hike.

I freshened up my CamelBack with 3 liters of ice cold goodness, sprayed down with insect repellent, grabbed my Woodsman's Pal, Walking Stick, batteries for my flashlight and headed down the road.

The picture on top was taken a few weeks before when I was in the area that shows you the terrain.

I began my descent down the trail with the realization that it would be all uphill on the way back. Roughly two miles down and I located the house and the problem, but I would need my work truck for the materials.

So back up the hill I hiked and I began to appreciate the gear I had with me. The water quenched my thirst, the walking stick helped me walk up the little trail, the LED flashlight illuminated my path, and the iPhone had sent out a position report to my wife via email and also provided me with a map and compass (had paper and a real one as well).

As I came back on top of the mountain my work cellphone had a voice mail with my customer and I called him back and got someone to let me into the gate to fix his problem.

With my gear I carry I am able to save my own rear as well as utilize it for things as simple as long hikes to help me with my job. So your BOB is not just for emergencies only, it helps you when there is nothing too exciting going on as well.

Just make sure you replace any items you used when you get back to where you can.

Oh yeah, here is the last bit of light fading behind a mountain that I was blessed in seeing as I got back to my truck!

Thanks for reading!


Friday, July 31, 2009

Ramblings on Networking with minimal OPSEC risk..


It is what people do to get to know each other. Most business people do it so they can get to know the movers and shakers in their line of work, maybe get a promotion/ new job offer or just make some new friends that have similar intrests.

You as a prepper should also seek out those of the like mind but how do you do so without risking OPSEC (OPerational SECurity aka giving away your home base) but still make friends???

I will try and cover a few ways to still make friends out there that will grow into life long friendships where you have the power to slowly make sure the people you meet on the web are the people you want to meet in person.

If the people you meet on the web are NOT the people you want to meet in person then no harm no foul, just break contact.


Forums and Message Boards such as http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/ allow you to use PM (private messaging) which allows other users on the forum to message you without revealing your email address. Very low risk method of getting to know others.

Blogs/Facebook/Myspace and Social Networking Sites:

I included blogs as more or less as a way to sell yourself. Once I had a large amount of email to answer for some writing I had done, and many folks wanted to know more about myself. I simply pointed them to my blog and said, "if it ain't in there, I ain't a telling!!!" My blog and information that I post are things I wish to share with the world. I am a terribly private individual, but I love to write, share experiences (as long as they do not compromise my safety) and come up with crazy ideas.

As for Facebook and MySpace? I do not use them but limit the information to the level you wish to reveal about yourself.

As for Twitter??? I tweet on occassion but not enough to follow...

Picture Sharing Sites, You Tube and other media sites:

Just because you post a picture on Photobucket on your personal account and put it in your blog does not mean I can not figure out how to locate your album (unless you go private) and see those pics of you in your pink tutu you thought the world would never see. Remember, what you put on the web can be used against you in the distant future. Those pictures of your house... maybe not a good idea with the pics of your gun safes contents!

Some cameras will geo tag your pictures with GPS coordinates... maybe not such a smart idea to put a picture of your cache site with that info on the web! Get rid of the geo tagging!

On one of my blog entrys on the "Check Six Ring" I am wearing gloves. Why you ask? The answer is... a close up of my finger tips may be innocent, but with the right technology you could probably get my finger prints. No I am not a criminal, but when I served my country they had to ink me so they are 'on record'.

When you take a picture of a new weapon, make sure the serial number is not showing as that is info that the wrong people may use.


Google, Hot and Yahoo Mail allow you to setup an email account so when you give out your email address, it is not your personal email address. Consider them disposable if you need them to be. Once your prepping buddy and you are great friends you can always migrate them to your personal email address. If you publish your email address on the web ANYWHERE spammers will eventually use it to send you those 'wonderful Liberian send me money scheme' emails which will flood your inbox with SPAM and you can't even eat it!!! So use an email account you can dispose of if it gets unusable.

Instant Messaging and Chat Rooms:

Instant Messaging Services such as AOL AIM and other 'type to talk' services allow you to get to know folks and ask those questions in a little more privacy than public forums and make sure that your new internet buddy is on the same page as you. Chat rooms that some forums provide are also great places to meet those of the like mind.

Voice and Video Chat:

When you would rather talk than type and you want to see each other, services such as Skype offer you a way to do this. For those of you who are iPhone users, Skype is FREE @ the iTunes store and it works seamlessly with it. You can call any other Skype user for free and if you need to you, can even call a landline/cellphone for a price as needed.

A cellphone is a great way to talk with a new friend. With many cellphone plans offering long distance plans all the way across the country, you can reach out and call those far away friends. You can cahnge your cellphone # if you get to be to popular and want to make it all go away. Prepaid cellphones are also low risk and low cost solutions to calling your new friends with pay as you go plans that don't lock you into multi-year contracts.

Ham Radio OPSEC:

I was reading some of the comments on Preparedness Junkie's blog the other day and we are both on the same page about posting our callsigns on the web... not a good idea. Where there is ham gear there is nice stuff. Where there is ham gear and prepping supplies, there is thief nirvana!

For those of you who have a ham license or plan on getting one, I highly recommend acquiring a PO BOX address to be associated with your callsign. I will not go into the details but there are websites that will give you the address to any callsign that is out there. With a PO BOX you get the town my mailbox is in, and that can be ANYWHERE!

Hams are generally good people, but you don't want all the looney tunes having a pathway to your home.

I am not EVEN going to go into the risk of using APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) which displays a users location to other hams who are voluntarily allowing their position reports to be displayed and how that can be used by criminals. I only use APRS on vacation and never within a set radius of my home QTH (hamspeak for location). So think before you give away your position to the entire web until YOU want to and understand the implications!

I am not telling you this to make you paranoid and I don't think TPTB are out to get us, but I think by covering your six, by limiting your personal info, and being vague to strangers, goes a long way to protect yourself from the scumbags that lurk the web.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ramblings on The Secure Home...

The Secure Home

So you are preparedness/survival minded and want to build a home? Want to upgrade your current home?? You will need to get a copy of "The Secure Home" by Joel M. Skousen!

This is the book I wish I had read before I built my home and after reading it I found I did a lot of things right. Still there are some things I wish I had done.

Joel has been designing 'secure homes' for years so he knows about what he speaks of.

I really like his idea of a bullet resistent room using commonly available materials and many other great ideas you need to consider BEFORE you begin building your home.

Yes it is pricey, but where else are you going to get that kind of information that Joel provides from your local contractors (unless you have some really cool contractors in your area).

So give it a read.

FYI, this review is based soley on myself purchasing this book on my own (about a year ago) with no consideration to feature it in this blog entry. Only after reading it I found it to be excellent material for those who want their home a little more secure.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, July 25, 2009

A parts list for the battery pack requested by Chewiegranola...

Chewiegranola said...
Hey ZA! That looks like a cool set up. You wouldnt have a parts list for this contraption would you? Thanks!

Howdy CG

Parts list for Power Supply Box:

One 8 AA battery holder.
One 4 AA Battery Holder
2 Heavy Duty 9V Battery Connectors (works for the above battery holders)
Project Enclosure Box
12 V DC Power Outlet
12V DC Power Plug
12, 1.2V NiMh Batteries to give you 14.4 V DC (shop around for the best deals)
1 Wire Nut or other wire connector.

I was able to use the wire that was with the above equipment to make it as shown. You will need a diode as well to prevent the batteries from discharging at night. My folding panel has one so I didn’t install one.
Here is the 12 watt folding solar panel:
Let me know if you need instructions on how to hook it all up.

BTW great Blog!
Zombie Axe

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ramblings on six eggs a day!

Howdy Folks,

All my hens are a laying now. I have been getting 6 eggs a day for the last 3 days so does not look like I have any lazy ladies in the bunker!

6 eggs a day!!! That is 6 eggs I do not have to buy or worry about 'what has been DONE to them'!

Produce your own food! It is definately something that will get you through!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Ramblings on why you test out your gear before you have to depend on it...

Howdy Folks,

This is not a review of that nifty little solar panel I received as a "ATTA BOY" from work but rather what I found out when testing it and the solutions I came up with.

Solar Panel

I have always wanted a folding solar panel and when that was one of my choices for 'wowing" them at work, I knew that was what I was gonna pick.

My Primary use was going to be used to charge my iPhone and ham radio HT on backpacking trips into the wild. So needless to say when I got the package in the mail I was excited.

Was charging the iPhone sometimes

When I finally got around to testing it, I was pleasantly surprised when I plugged in my iPhone and heard that cool sounding 'chirp'. I even got ONE pic of it actually charging.

Then a strange thing happened. I got an error message on the iPhone the next time I plugged it in, saying, "This accessory is not compatible with the iPhone".

15 Volts DC in the 6pm sun

I checked the voltage with my handy dandy voltage meter and it read 15V DC. A little HOT but should be able to charge the iPhone.

As a precaution I hooked up my charge controller and dropped the voltage to 13V DC.

I noticed that sometimes the panel would allow the iPhone to charge and other times it wouldn't (as a cloud was passing in front of the sun).

It then dawned on me that although the meter was reading the same VOLTAGE, it was not providing the same AMPERAGE!

Thus the iPhone was wondering, "What kind of crappy power is this???" and refused to continue to allow its use.

I needed someway to stabilize the voltage, and who really want to leave their iPhone in camp as the go hiking away in the wild???

The battery pack exploded view

The easiest way was to construct a simple battery pack. So after a trip to the local Radio Shack (their motto should read, "You got questions??? So do WE!!!"). I finally found enough 'parts' to come up with a working prototype (still need an on/off switch).

As a side note, is it not funny how you can go into a Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or Radio Shack and they NEVER have exactly what you need and you have to figure out a little different way to do the same thing with other items???

Well that is what happened at Radio Shack. I wanted to use NiMh D cells but they did not have 12, so I had to go with AA's.

I purchased an 8 cell battery stick/magazine as well as a 4 cell battery stick/magazine for AA's. In series, the 12 AA batteries give me 14.4V DC. Add a 12V lighter socket,plug and project box and you have yourself a nice little power source that will power almost any 12V DC gizmo for a time (think cellphones, DVD players, ham radio walkie talkies, etc.)

All the guts fit in the project box

Completed battery pack (sans screws)

After I put it all together I now have a power supply that will store that solar energy that my panel harvests and be able to use it when I need it. I can even use it for other purposes for when I need a small 12V DC power source.

The point of this whole blog entry tonight is that had I assumed that my nifty little solar panel would charge my iPhone in the remote wilderness and found out that it performed as I just told you, I could have been in a world of hurt.

Remember... If you don't test it, you don't know it will work and thus should not count on it until it lives up to your expectations! Test... Test and ReTest.

No one should EVER find themselves with their tail on the line with a piece of unproven gear that has failed!!!

*EDITED TO ADD ON 7-21-2009* Al asked me a technical question about including a blocking diode (to prevent the battery from being drained at night if left hooked to the solar panel) which I probably should have mentioned that the solar panel has a 'built in blocking diode' that prevents this. Great question and no, I did not include one as the panel takes care of this for me. Still it will not hurt to add one in the future. SO MAKE SURE that your panel has a built in blocking diode to prevent that energy from leaving your battery if you leave it plugged in overnight!!!
Thanks for reading!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Ramblings... Chicken Update!

Howdy Folks,

I have been extremely busy but have been working on my preps and other things.

I also wanted to publically thank Jack Spirko of "The Survival Podcast" for reading my 'Green Rant' on Episode 237 on his podcast. If you don't listen, then you should! If you do listen consider joining the members support brigade as it is worth it with lots of extras for members.

The chickens are laying 5 eggs almost every day so far, but I am wondering if I should be getting six or maybe all six are laying with one taking a break... Dunno but I am happy for the 5 a day I ususally get.

I plan on getting 6 more and possibly a rooster in the spring to ramp up production.

5 eggs works for now, but if I am going to feed my family and dogs, it will not provide for our needs if we need to provide MORE of our own food!

For those of you who 'Twitter' I am ZombieAxe and for those who use AOL AIM I am ZombieAxe there as well...

This weekend I hope to have up that solar panel test that I have been working on. I had it ready to go, but it did not work out as planned during testing so I had to build a battery pack to stabilize the voltage to charge an iPhone as it would not do it directly.

As for the iPhone, I am now able to do more online and even access Blogger whereas I couldn't with my BlackJack II. Gotta love that puppy :)

Hope you have a great evening and a great weekend!

This is Radio Free Zombie Axe sigining off... for now!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ramblings on being 'GREEN'...

First of all I am just not buying the whole "Man is causing climate change" debate. I do believe that the Earth warms and cools through NATURAL cycles that have nothing to do with if man drives an SUV or not.

I do believe in the conservation of resources and to be wasteful is counterproductive, however I do not feel that ANYONE should force their beliefs on ANYONE else. Pollution of our water and air IS a bad thing, but not every time a cow farts in Argentina or a deer takes a whiz in a stream is that bad.

There are a ton of environmentalists/green movements that would love to go back to living like a bunch of vegetarians in the Stone Age... and they want YOU to do the same... You know the old adage, "Misery Loves Company" ???

I am FOR alternative energy, lessening our dependence on other nations' resources, but also for USING what we have. You really think the Chinese, if given the chance, would really give a crap about pumping crude just off of our shores. I still want my gas guzzler truck for big chores but I also want my compact car for commuting to work. I want an electric car that goes 120 miles between charges that has a reasonable price to change out the battery packs, but I don't want that to be my only choice! Why, because I want to save the sea urchins or New York from flooding??? NO because I want to save MY MONEY!!!

I am also for those ugly little compact fluorescent bulbs as they save a BUNCH of POWER but I prefer incandescent for certain lighting. I also like turning off lights when not in use, but not because it saves the polar bears (as Jack Spirko often says), but because I want to save on my power bill!

I want to install solar panels on my home, maybe a windmill too... but I don't want to sell it to the power company, I want to use it ALL for myself!!!

I conserve water not because I am trying to save the salamanders, but because I am on a well. If I use too much water during a drought, I have to pay to dig a NEW well ($3-5K in my area) so I don't waste water! I don't waste my water on keeping a green lawn, but I do water my garden to provide my family with food that is not imported from 3,000 miles away.

I recycle aluminum cans not because it makes me feel good, but because the guy at the scrap yard pays me by the pound. Someone is making some money off recycling why not YOU???

Does it make me an environmentalist or not that I chose to save money instead of supposedly saving the humpback whales?

You feel good saving the California Condor, I feel good saving money by making my own natural pesticides... Are you superior to me or not?

I chose to do these things because they make sense to me in an economic sense... If they really do save the spotted owl then great, but like Jerry Maguire says, "Show me the money!"

I really think if the environmental folks spoke of the great benefits to ones wallet instead of forcing everyone to comply with what they claim 'Mother Earth' told them to say, more people would be green...

For the record, ZA is green, green with saved money!

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ramblings on I want my portable digital TV!!!

Back on June 12, 2009 the FCC made many of our preps obsolete with the introduction of digital ONLY transmission of TV signals. Many of us had purchased and stashed away several B&W TV's. I remember picking up five for $25 several years ago at a sale.

Well when the FCC mandated the switch many of us were left without any means of watching news on EMERGENCY POWER... and lets face it moving pictures convey a bunch more information than words. There is nothing wrong with radios as they have their place too!

I was not aware of any small LCD TV's that would receive digital TV signals until I saw the weekly Big Lot sales paper. In it they had listed a Curtis 7" Portable LCD TV for $99. I was not quite sure if this would pick up the new digital TV signals, but if you look on the box you want it to have an ATSC/NTSC tuner which is the standard for digital signals (ATSC here).

HD local weather channel coming in clear

CATV/antenna and A/v plugs

The Curtis LCD has a very sharp picture and is very well made (for something from China). I like the fact that it has a 12V DC power cord (great for running it off of the solar power battery banks). I really like that it has a a CATV antenna input that allows you to tap into your cable or satellite signals, providing that you have the power to run them.

HD local weather channel coming in clear pic 2

Also it has a built in rechargeable battery (unsure of the run time as of yet) and a remote (how lazy do you have to be to sit far enough away from a 7" TV to use the remote??? LOL)

any aftermarket antenna will improve the signal

The stock telescopic whip did not pick up any station in my area (would work well in a large metro area), but the RCA 'rabbit ear' antennas that I got for emergency use with the main digital TV worked really well in receiving stations 50-60 miles away. With some of the higher end yagi antennas I bet you could bring the signals in from longer distances.

I was pleasantly suprised that by using the rabbit ears that 2 stations had special WX (weather) only stations. I will be tuning in to them when we have severe weather in our area to see what info they convey. They look like a variation of the Weather Channel with mostly National coverage.

When you are on emergency power you don't wanna run a 25" or larger TV, so this 7" will draw minimum power and still give me the info that will paint my situational awareness picture.

Now you DO have an option to watch the breaking news on a small portable low power draw TV set... maybe one of these days, they will be $5 a piece again!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ramblings on fresh eggs...

Yesterday we found that we had 3 fresh eggs waiting on us when we went to let the chickens out! So my chicken bunker has became a 'producer' instead of a 'consumer'! This morning we had 2 so the girls are ready and it is is nice.

As for me I have been working tons of OT, and it appears that summer is my 'dry season' for blog posts.

I will be working on a blog entry comparing the Blackhawk Gladius to the Leatherman Serac LED light.

Also I will be FINALLY giving my impressions on that nifty folding solar panel.

And for you iPhone freaks out there I will be doing a review of apps for the iPhone that S&Pers might find handy (barring and EMP attack of course).

So take it easy, thanks for reading and 73!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ramblings on the Epic Chicken Coop/Bunker Fiasco problem solved scenario...

The chicken coop what it will look like

When I was a young kid many moons ago, the old farm I grew up on was slowly becoming just a piece of land. The mules my Grandpa plowed the fields with had been sold. The old milk cow that my Grandma called, Easter, was sold as well as now she had to work in a town and couldn’t take care of cows anymore. The one thing I remember that was still left on the farm was an ancient barn that had weathered many seasons and still stood like a solid oak tree was chickens.

My Grandma kept a few chickens mostly for eggs but one would occasionally find its way into the stew pot when the need arose.

When the last chicken on the farm disappeared I felt saddened as they were always some very fun critters to watch. It wasn’t until I built my house (which I am trying to turn into a homestead) in an old cotton field that my Dad and Grandpa worked that I decided to bring back pieces of the farm that I enjoyed as a child. Chickens are one of the first critters I decided to bring back with more to come as time goes by.

My wife and I read as many chicken books and magazines as we could find on the subject and we eventually settled on the idea that chickens were what we wanted. I would like to give credit to “Backyard Poultry”, “Countryside” and “Grit” magazines as they are invaluable resources for the homesteading lifestyle.

For some reason, the chicken coop never got built as they was always, “ I gotta get this prep finished before I start on another”. Well this year we killed procrastination cycle on the chicken acquisition once and for all!

After looking at portable coops, fixed building, and chicken tractors, we decided on an 8’x12’ DIY type building from our big box Hardware store. I modified it to fit on an elevated platform which it adapted to nicely. We came up with the size because it would easily handle 24 birds in the 8’x8’ chicken area. It was also decided we would start out with six pullets and eventually work our way up to 12 laying hens with a rooster for perpetual rearing of chicks in case the SHTF… but for now six it is.

Vapor barrier added between floor joist and boards

I laid out the foundation in late April but the rains prevented me from opening the box the shed came in as I did not want the OSB to get warped!

My foundation consists of 9 6”x6” posts (buried 30” in the ground with concrete) supporting 3 12’,4”x6” runners that support the subfloor of the building. Overbuilt??? Probably but I am not gonna hafta worry about it being weak am I?
When I finished the foundation and subfloor I noticed on the inside there were these nice ledges and so I added DE (diatomaceous earth) to the ledges to safely kill any creepy crawlys that may decide to take up residence there.

I painted the OSB flooring with ‘porch paint’ (both sides) as it was gonna be my floor. For some reason we added a nice piece of vinyl flooring as we figured it would be easier to clean. It sure is easy to install a piece of vinyl flooring when there are NO WALLS or obstacles to cut around. It installed in about 15 minutes. Underneath the OSB I added a piece of plastic sheeting to provide a vapor barrier from the ground below.

I differed from the instructions in that I opted to use decking type screws instead of using the standard nails that came with the kit. My reasoning was this; it is much harder to pull out something that is ‘barbed’ than something smooth! I tried to maintain this detail from foundation to roof panels. I don’t wanna see something I worked so hard to build, roll across my yard on a windy day because I didn’t take some extra precautions! Do it right the first time… and I know all you men who read this blog will love to hear this validation… THE INSTRUCTIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS THE BEST WAY TO DO THINGS! They are more for just a general reference… we know usually know better than the person who wrote the manual!!! ROTFLMAO!

Added  metal tie plates to rafter peaks

Hurricane Ties to rafters

The walls studs I tied in with hurricane ties (top and bottom) and the OSB panels for the roof were screwed versus the ‘crappy nail option’.

So all in all this ‘chicken bunker’ was beefed up. I refuse to say that it will survive ANYTHING Mother Nature dishes out, but for most weather events it should still be where I put it.

I want to credit Jack Spirko of the Survival Podcast for giving me the inspiration to ‘home brew’ my own structure. Sure it was pre-cut, but the guy who is really good at making the cuts must have took the week off as I had to fix and hide his apprentice’s mistakes! When you build something on your own you learn about how things go together. The more you do, the more your skill grows… Up until building this coop, I had never built anything out of wood more complicated than some shelves! Not to mention I gained some muscle and stamina as well as lost 20 lbs of me I didn’t need. Best work out I ever had!

So now for a tour of the coop/bunker...

We liked the idea of the double door. When you open the first door on the right you enter the nesting box, food storage observation area. The left side door stays latched unless you need to enter the chicken area to shovel out litter/manure. There is a screen door where you can enter the chicken area from storage area. It swings toward the outside door so if some chicken decides to ‘bail out’ the screen door will stop her/him.

Looking back into people area

In the storage area (gonna call it a foyer from now on) the nesting boxes protrude inward. You can easily flip a latch and check the top 3 or bottom 3 nests for eggs WITHOUT entering the chicken area. We did this to be easy for folks that will take care of our flock when we go on vacation, and it is a really cool feature in my opinion.

Nesting boxes with cardboard liners

Checking out the perch bars

The design came from searching the web for nesting boxes, commercial options and many other blogs on the web! It turned out pretty well and I even had the nice guy at the big box hardware store cut them for me… (How else was I supposed to get it home in my compact car???). Then it was a matter of screwing them together and painting them. For a cost of $30 I easily beat the $100+ price of a poultry supply company made one.

Nesting boxes rear view
Roost and litter boxes
Nail peg to support boxes
Roost litter boxes
Birds in the house!
Waterer ready to go

My wife stumbled across some folks that had made litter boxes for their perches. The idea is that when the birds perch they crap and it falls below. The litter box approach is an idea to solve two problems. One is to make the litter below stay cleaner longer and two, give more floor space for the birds. I used this sheltered space to place my inside waterer and feeder.

I used some multipurpose tubs 2’x3’x8” deep (available at Tractor Supply, Home Depot and Lowe’s… the latter two in the concrete area) that are light, strong and big! One the back wall I drilled two holes per tub into the stud on the back wall. I then put in nails (to fit loosely in the holes) to hold them against the wall. This step saved me building a large support system to make the tubs slide in and out like drawers. They still do but you simply remove the two nails and slid it between the 2 2x4’s in front and take it to the compost heap! EASY! I also added a piece of chicken wire between the roosts and tubs, so the chickens wouldn’t use them for nesting. I also added two slanted pieces of particle board (what I had on hand) to prevent the chickens from roosting anywhere but over the litter boxes. One of the roosts is strategically placed over where the two tubs join.

Wind Turbine with screen

I wanted some good ventilation so I added one of those wind power ventilation turbines. I have some vents I need to add and my goal is to have the fresh air drawn in from the outside and pulled through the foyer/storage area, through the chicken area and out the turbine. Think of a hospital room for a TB patient…

I added a screen to the hole under the turbine to keep out flies. Had to wedge it with a furring strip because those long screws should go through your shingles!!!!Will have to reduce this airflow in the winter so as to not be to drafty!


The building came with a nice window with a decent screen… for flies. I added a piece of hardware cloth to ‘beef up’ the window from any predators that come calling at night! I will be adding some trim and make it look nicer as I finish the details later on. Will be adding an awning as well so water will not blow in the window.

Chicken wire on fence goes do 1 foot into ground

The fence is buried one foot under the ground and turns outward to prevent any diggers from burrowing under the fence. I think Shep can take care of THOSE problems though. I added some garden fencing to beef up the lower four foot of the fence from strong animals. I still hafta cover the top with poultry netting but for now it is operational. I have the left side of the run covered with a large tarp as well as the center until I can build a sheltered area in the fall.


For the gates I was worried about anything I could build from wood might warp, so I went with a 6’x42” readymade chain link gate. I got some bolts to attach it to the wood posts and instant gate. I added one for the left side as well. When eventually I split the run I will have a separate access. This worked like a charm and saved me a bunch of ‘fabrication hours’ doing it with wood!

Inside of chicken's door
Lock down!
Heavy duty hinges
The chicken door 1
Looking in through door

For the chicken door I used a 2’x2’ piece of pre-cut plywood, some stainless steel hinges, treated 2”x4”, furring strips and 2 hook eyes. The idea for the chicken door was based on my version of an airlock. The hole was cut and a furring strip was placed around the hole. The 2’x2’ plywood was nailed to 2”x4” flat side down. The idea is the 2x4’s seal up with furring strips and prevent air and critters from gaining access when closed. It worked well except I had to remove the top furring strip to make it work correctly!

I will be painting this as well as adding some shingles to shed any water and to protect the wood.

Back of coop with shade and gutter

I added a gutter on the rear and will be adding one on the front with a rain barrel to water my nearby orchard in the dry season. Gonna be VERY COOL to not hafta drag out 200’ of hose to water my apple trees.

I do plan on adding some power later on in the fall so my egg production will not fall off in the winter months. I am also sure that I will be adding options or features that make the operation run smoother.

I would like to double my layers to 12 as it would be nice to have the extra protein. In a SHTF scenario if I have enough surplus eggs, it will be a good source of food for my ‘Sheps’ as well!


So there is a tour of the ‘bunker’ and I hope it has given some folks ideas of how to build your own. I do plan on building a few portable coops to place over my raised beds in the future, but for now I am done building any more ‘chicken housing’ for the next few months. I will let you know when I start getting eggs!

Thanks for reading and thanks for still being here!


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The information presented in this blog are things I know how to do and have training for. To duplicate any information or techniques within is solely at the readers risk and ZombieAxe, ZombieAxe's Ramblings or Google shall not be liable for any advice and information posted within that results in damage/loss of property, injury, loss of limb, or death. By reading this blog you, your family, your heirs and even folks that have not been born yet, have entered into an electronic binding contract to not hold any entity liable (especially ME!) but YOURSELF for any damage/loss of property, injury, loss of limb, or death from reading this blog.

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