The From Dirt Level Podcast

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I’ve (obviously) stopped blogging and shifted to podcasting. Not only is it apparently easier for me ramble incoherently than organize my thoughts in written form, I also seem to reach a much wider audience. So going forward, my posts here will be to link my latest podcast episode. I try to put out a new one every two weeks or so, but that doesn’t always work out depending on what I have going on. . .and lately, I’ve had a lot going on (haven’t we all?).

We’ll start of with just a general link to let everyone catch up, though: Welcome to the From Dirt Level podcast.

A Viable Alternative to YouTube?

Since YouTube has decided to go completely hoplophobic, it looks like many firearms-related channels will be moving to  Many of them are already there, like the venerable Hickok45 and Military Arms Channel.  Other channels will probably soon be taking refuge there as well, as Full30 has announced that they are opening up to all content creators.  Hopefully they can remain viable, as too much growth too quickly has a tendency to overwhelm video sites.

I might just start doing some videos now. . .I’ve already reserved a slot at Full30.  We’ll see what happens.

Bugout Bags Revisited

First of all, (and most importantly) Happy Easter, y’all!  HE is Risen!

Second, I know it’s been a long time since I posted. . .but I’m going to make an effort to start posting more often.

And now to the actual post: I wanted to revisit probably the all time most discussed prepper item: Bugout Bags.  Specifically, I wanted to discuss a few things that I don’t see often addressed.  First, let’s talk about what motivated me to write this post.

In my prepping I learned that using the Plan, Execute, and Assess model works great.  What I do is figure out what I need (Assess), then decide how to mitigate that need (Plan), and then I take the measures actually take care of the need (Execute).  Then the cycle starts all over again.  There are of course, many factors at play (usually, “Can I afford this right now?” being the primary consideration), but this basic model is very handy.  What I tend to do is address a need, then move on to the next one, and when time and finances permit I eventually come back to the original need in order to maintain or upgrade.




That’s where I am with my Bugout Bag.  At present, I’m using a very lightweight civilian Granite Gear “Crown2” 60.  I really do love this pack: it’s light, it’s durable, and I can carry a lot of gear in it.  However, there’s one thing I can’t do with it: by design, it’s essentially a big sack with only a few outer pockets which translates to me not being able to organize things in what I deem to be an efficient manner.  Also, it’s a top-loader.  What that means is that I have to put different items into dry bags to separate them, then pull everything out to get to whatever is in the dry bag on the bottom.  So while I’ll keep the Crown2 because it’s great for leisurely hiking, I’m going to go another route for a BOB.  Thus, I’m again going through the cycle: I assessed that I didn’t like my present setup and now I’m planning how I’m going to fix that.  Execution, the purchase of the new pack and transferring gear to it, is the next step.  Then I’ll assess everything again.

In my search for a new pack for the BoB I’ve pretty much decided on the Eberlestock HalfTrack.  Yes, I know it’s almost three times the weight of the Crown2 and has less capacity, but in my opinion the ability to manage the contents more effectively is worth the extra weight.  None of that is really the point here.  What matters to this post is that I spent a great deal of time researching my options and watching YouTube reviews of the various backpacks that I had come down to as finalists.  While watching those reviews, two things started really standing out to me.

First, I saw a lot videos of bag layouts showing an absolutely enormous amount of gear.  I get that as preppers we consider redundancy and ruggedness as major concerns.  But do you really need six knives/hatchets/machetes in your bag?  Do you really need eight different flashlights/headlamps/lanterns, along with spare batteries for each of them?  Do you need enough medical supplies to conduct open heart surgery?  And almost none of these layouts had any ammunition included in them.  Seriously folks, weight is a factor and you have to factor in everything you plan on carrying, which includes ammo and water.  Also, it doesn’t matter if you can put on your BOB and carry it across the living room…can you carry it ten or twelve miles a day for three or four days?

This brings me to the second thing I noticed, and even more important than a lack of ammunition: where the hell is the food?  These people are planning on using these bags in the event of an emergency and have filled them with the tools to navigate to a site and then build a cabin, but most of them don’t have anything more than a few Cliff bars in them.  What the hell are they planning on eating?  A BOB, in common theory, is supposed to last at least 72 hours.  That includes food, y’all.  You have to eat, especially when you’re burning a massive amount of calories hoofing it somewhere.

Want some advice on planning and packing a Bugout Bag?  Don’t just watch the BOB videos by preppers or only read the prepper sites for tips and ideas; watch and read those who carry big hiking bags for long distances and do it often.  There’s a lot of info out there about the long distance trails, especially the Appalachian Trail, and thus lots of info about what people carry, how they pack it, and the packs they use to carry it all.  Yes, I know that often they’re liberal hippie tree-hugger types, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to long distance trekking…and you’ll always find three to four days worth of food in their packs.


8 Top Disaster Scenarios (Number 3 Will Shock You!)

OK, maybe Number Three won’t shock you, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to parody clickbait headlines.

Anyway, go check out the series of articles over at American Preppers Online.  For the record, while I agree with most of their conclusions, as well for the most part the order they have them in, I think reality is we may see a combination or cascading effect of the scenarios.  My thought is the cascading order would be: 1/2/5/6/7 happening  (or a combination of those in a short timespan) followed by 4, resulting in 3, and culminating with 8.  Yes, I’m wearing my “pessimist” hat.

Well, Can You?

Over at Raconteur Report, Aesop had a post about prepping with a list of very basic things you should be able to do or have on hand.  Now admittedly, I have some shortcomings on this list myself, namely those involving physical fitness…but I am working to rectify those issues.

Are you at your target weight?
Can you run 2-3 miles in less than half an hour, without calling 911?
Do you do it regularly?

How far is the longest distance have you hiked in the past year?
Can you move with a full pack 10 miles over rough terrain in a day?
Did you do it in the last year?

These are things that I need to improve on, so I am.  Diet and exercise have me moving in the right direction, because if I have to hoof it to the BOL I want to be able to make it there without having a heart attack or crippling myself.  Fitness, or more accurately lack thereof, is one of the biggest (pun intended) issues I see in the Patriot/Prepper community.  While I realize that we as a demographic tend to skew toward the older age range, I think collectively we’re doing ourselves a disservice and we need to get off our butts and get in gear.

John Mosby over at Mountain Guerrilla harps on this aspect of prepping frequently and with good cause.  From the conclusion of a post he made back in January (and really, read the whole post about setting standards):

People bitch and whine all the time in the comments on this blog about my exhortations to do PT, shoot, and train. “It’s too hard!” “I’m too crippled.” “I’m too old.” “It’s cold outside.” “It’s too hot.”

That’s fine. Blame it on the environment. I don’t give a shit.

You can’t control whether it will be hard or easy. You cannot control your past injuries. You cannot control your age. You cannot control the weather. You can control your reactions to those things. If you choose to let them stop you, fine. Just accept responsibility for it. The difficulty of exercise and training, your old injuries, your age, the weather; none of those things are in your control. They cannot control you either. You, and you alone, are responsible for your actions. It’s not your age or the weather that’s stopping you from being dangerous. It’s being a whiny little bitch who wants to blame someone else for your failings that stops you from being dangerous.

Think about this next time you get winded going up a flight or stairs or walking around at the local prepper show.  Think about this as you’re observing those around you that you’re counting on to be on your side when the SHTF.  This doesn’t mean you have to be pre-mental illness Bruce Jenner.  To quote from Mosby here:

You don’t need to be a Crossfit Games champion. You don’t need to be an Olympic decathlete, or a professional powerlifter, or any other sort of professional-level athlete.

You DO need to be strong enough to do what you need to do, and you DO need to have enough endurance to do what you need to do. How fit is fit enough? Hard to say. If we look at the instances of civilian use of firearms in personal and home defense, not very. If we start looking at other instances—say “knockout games,” and similar, being fit is certainly going to be high on the list of priorities.

Rather than taking the easy way out, and assuming the enemy will be a fat, donut-eating, pastry chef with an attitude, maybe we need to assume the enemy will be younger, stronger, faster, and fitter. If we train with the goal of being as fit as we can be, then that’s the best we can do.

So let’s get out there and do this.  Eat right and do some PT.  Make it both fun and useful.  Go on a hike with the family.  It doesn’t have to be ten miles (at least, to start).  Go play some flag football and get your heart rate up.  Scale to what you can do now and push the envelope a little at a time so that you get better.  Go chop and split some wood…you’re planning on being able to do that after TEOTWAKI anyway, so you may as well find out how well your body can handle that activity.  Get in the gym or bust out that old VHS tape of “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” that’s collecting dust in your attic.  Just get your tail in shape now so that you’re ready when the time comes.

Remember: until you have proved you can actually do it within recent memory, you can’t do it.





Need Land in North Carolina?

A friend of mine has asked that I put the word out that she has a piece of property for sale near Cullowhee, NC.  It was going to be a retirement homestead, but life got in the way.  She’s now trying to unload the land so she’s not paying property tax on a place that she doesn’t use and never visits.


Here’s a link to the current listing: It’s a steal at $85,000.


And here’s a YouTube video from a previous listing.



“But God Will Provide”

This is something that gets me more irked than a rubber-nosed woodpecker in a petrified forest.  I had been meaning to write a post about it once I had it framed in my head the way that I wanted.  Anyway, now I don’t have to write a long post about this topic, because the Inimitable Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution has scribed exactly what I was thinking.

These are the types of people who claim they don’t need to be prepared because “God will provide.” Despite my total belief in God’s mercy and providence, I confess I have no patience with those who refuse to lift a finger toward their own physical safety or survival on the grounds that the Almighty will supply them with whatever they need. I’ve actually heard some people say with a straight face that they have no need to prepare because they’ll be raptured up before things get really hairy.

No offense, folks, but that’s about the stupidest contingency plan I’ve ever heard.

I guess it’s irritating others as well, as John Jacob Schmidt over at Radio Free Redoubt talked about the same thing on his podcast recently and pointed out that a pastor who says that is essentially saying, “Hey, I don’t have to prepare because someone in the congregation will hook me up if I need things.”  In other words, the pastor he was speaking of expects The Lord to provide by means of his “flock” taking care of him because of his status as the pastor.  Some shepherd, huh?

And since I’ve now used “inimitable” twice, that’s going to be how I always refer to Mrs. Lewis on my blog.  When I write about Harry Flashman again, I’ll probably tag him with the sobriquet “the Irascible Harry Flashman“, just because it seems to fit a retired Marine.

Backwoods Home Says Goodbye to Print

I’ve been a subscriber to Backwoods Home Magazine for a number of years now, and have thoroughly enjoyed their print editions and collected their anthologies.  Sadly, they’ve sent out an email notifying subscribers that they will cease publication of their print version with the November/December 2017 edition.

We have come a long way for a family magazine, but age has crept up on my wife, Lenie, and me, and so has competition from the internet. Although we outlasted all other print magazines in our genre, even the original Mother Earth News, we cannot outlast the internet with its free and endless content. Declining paid print subscriptions have not kept pace with printing and postage costs of a six-times-a-year magazine, so economics has essentially dictated we must close.

Fortunately, they will continue with availability on Kindle…but there’s nothing like reading dead trees.  Additionally, Self-Reliance magazine (published by their children) will remain in print.

Self-Reliance is run by younger, but related, people. Daughter Annie, 34, who longtime BHM subscribers have seen grow up in the pages of BHM, is the managing editor, and son Sam, 22, is the publisher. Self-Reliance caters to a similar audience as BHM, but with more emphasis on the idea that “anyone, whether you live in the city or country, can achieve self-reliance.” It is about to publish its 19th issue.

If you can, take advantage while you have time and collect the Backwoods Home anthologies; they are replete with well-written and timelessly useful information for the prepper or homesteader.