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Tipi: The Original Tiny House

It is not hard to imagine what it would be like: no electricity, no police protection, no running water; you are on your own.  The coming breakdown could be a slow process like the fall of the Roman Empire, or it could be cataclysmic and happen overnight.  Regardless, you will need shelter, especially if you have the responsibility of a family.  Your family might be you and your dog, or you and a wife and kids.  You need a solution.  Using the “Rule of Three’s,” we know we can survive for only three seconds without hope, three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food.  Shelter is foundational in a survival situation.  Three hours without shelter, in the worst of conditions, and you don’t have to worry about food or water or anything else for that matter.  You need to have a plan before disaster strikes.  There is much debate about hunkering down versus bugging out - should you stay in place or hit the road?  In the end, circumstances will dictate what you need to do.  Ideally, you need a shelter solution that satisfies both scenarios. [gallery ids="4126,4127,4128" type="rectangular" orderby="rand"] There is a lot of interest today in something called a “Tiny House,” basically a very small, stripped down version of a modern dwelling.  Why so much interest?  For many, cost is a factor. It is much cheaper to build than a typical three bedroom ranch.   For others it is a movement away from the acquisition of stuff while maintaining the necessities of a proper shelter.  For me, it would be a search for simplicity in our overly complex, high-tech society. Would a “Tiny House” be a solution when this fragile house-of-cards we call society breaks down?  What follows is my exploration of what constitutes a viable structure; a structure that is attainable and sustainable in the chaos of a future third-world environment.
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The North American Indians, the Eskimos, and the Mongolian nomads all handled this problem.  By modern standards, these primitives were not technologically skilled groups.  They were not well equipped with all the latest survival gadgets.  They could not run down to the local hardware store or department store for supplies.  They could not order a new power drill from Amazon.  They moved around frequently.  When the animals they hunted moved – they moved.  When the wood ran out, they ran out to a new area containing more resources.  Yet despite abundant limitations, they sheltered.  They sheltered in relative comfort in sustainable dwellings. All without mortgage payments, utility bills, televisions or electric lights. The types of shelters these simple nomadic people used were different depending on their environments, their cultures and their available resources. This shelter must be portable if you decide staying put won’t work.  It must shelter from the elements, accommodate heating in winter, cooling in summer, cooking inside, some level of privacy, storage for some stuff and be large enough for the clan you protect.  Of course, it must also be attainable and sustainable.  Is this a new problem, or has it been solved before? [gallery ids="4132,4131,4130" type="rectangular" orderby="rand"] Before I examine their shelters, let’s consider a modern man, high-tech solution like the “Tiny House.”  Put wheels on it and it is portable.  In that state, it is similar enough to a camper or any other trailer that we can lump them together as a group.  These trailers satisfy our list of requirements with one major critical shortcoming.  Even if you are a skilled plumber or carpenter, these structures are not sustainable.  You say you have the skills to repair sophisticated complex equipment, even so there will come a time when the shelter will fail, and you will not be able to fix it.  You could run out of gas, and it is no longer portable.  The computer driven devices could stop after an electromagnetic pulse event.  A wind storm tips the box-on-wheels on its side, and you have no tow truck or crane to lift it back up.  The solar panels on the roof get smashed during a hail storm; then your electric stove or lights stop working.  You get the idea.  Carl Sagan said, “We've arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster.” Edsger Dijkstra (a computer guy) said, “Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.”  Therefore, my answer lies in simple shelters crafted by simpler cultures in simpler times.
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Examples of simple shelters can be a cave, lean-to, igloo, wikiup (a tipi like structure made of sticks), tent, yurt and tipi.  Even at a quick glance, some of these constructions do not meet my conditions.  The cave and igloo are not portable.  The lean-to, wikiup and the igloo are at best short term emergency shelters.  Admittedly, Eskimos survived in igloos, and the snow house meets most of the requirements we seek.  However, it is not truly portable. Yes, given the right conditions, it can be replicated over and over.  However, sustainability is the problem. July in Georgia, need I say more?  The tent, tipi and yurt are all structures that use some kind of framework and some kind of covering such as skins or canvas.  All three meet all of my requirements including sustainability.  Is one better than the others?  I think so. The tent works, but it has limitations.  In order for the tent to heat in winter, you have to have a stove, as open fires in a tent could lead to disaster.  Even a sheepherders stove can weigh around seventy pounds.  Not a deal breaker, but a consideration.  The tent design is not very efficient for heating and cooling.  The tent lacks insulation.  In order to walk around in it or stand in it comfortably, it must be large like a wall tent.  The tent is designed as a short term camping solution and would not be very comfortable over an extended period of time.  However, they are attainable and can be purchased for less than a thousand dollars in today’s market place. [gallery ids="4147,4149,4150" type="rectangular" orderby="rand"] The yurt is a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework, used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey.  A wonderful structure that permits an open fire inside.  It can be very comfortable for a large family.  This shelter is portable.  It shelters from the elements, permits primitive heating in winter, cooling in summer from shading.  You can cook in it, and it provides privacy, storage for some stuff and can be large enough for the clan you protect.  It is attainable and sustainable.  If your budget permits, the yurt is attainable at a cost.  Anywhere from five thousand to eleven thousand dollars. A tipi is a cone-shaped tent, traditionally made of animal skins or canvas coverings, on a wooden pole framework.  The tipi, just like the yurt, is a sustainable structure.  It is also circular so usage of available space is maximized.  In high wind, the conical shape permits the wind to flow around the walls and when the tipi is properly staked down, it can handle very stormy conditions.  Smoke from open inside fires are vented upwards with a chimney-like effect created by warm air rising and the cooler air space between the inner and outer linings.  The smoke holes and smoke flaps add to this process to keep the interior of the tipi relatively smoke free.  When the temperature rises, so can the canvas.  By lifting the bottom of the outer canvas wall, you have a large umbrella that shades from the sun and permits full ventilation.  A tipi is a marvel of simple yet elegant engineering.  The plains Indians managed to transport their tipi homes with horses and sometimes dog teams.  A large, 18 foot diameter tipi can house a small family comfortably and can be purchased today for less than two thousand dollars. You only have to watch a few news casts to know that our American civilization is in transition and having an alternative shelter may become a reality.  Unfortunately, like Carl Sagan said, we are dependent on a complex system we don’t fully understand.  The unsustainable high-tech tiny house/trailer solution is out.  The igloo is out (not enough snow in Georgia).  The short term, emergency shelters like lean-tos and wikiups are just that – short term emergency shelters, not long term solutions.  The tent, the yurt and the tipi are all viable solutions.  So which one is best?  The tent is not efficient enough and the yurt is too expensive.  The tipi, for me, is the most attainable and sustainable shelter solution.  It meets all the requirements and has survived the test of time. Kit Carson, a famous scout, refused to travel with Lieutenant John Charles Fremont on his expedition unless a tipi was brought along.  Carson lived for years in tipis with his Indian wives.  He knew firsthand the comfort and practicality of the tipi in a traveling existence.  Good enough for the experienced Kit Carson, good enough for me.

More installments of this Tipi series coming soon!!!!!


Chickens: The Gateway to Self-Sufficiency

It has been quite a while since I've made a blog entry so before I get started I'll give you a quick update. I retired with 23 years of service last April. I hung up my Green Beret and multicam uniform for a set of bib overalls and a hoe. More than that, we sold the 10 acre farm we had in Cadiz, Ky and I bought 20 acres 60 miles to the south in Erin, Tn. As part of that deal, we gained some great neighbors, access to their 200 acres and a singlewide trailer, timber rights to build a log home, and a cooperative homesteading arrangement. Needless to say, there were many tons of household goods, tractors, implements, tools, a bulldozer, guns, ammo, stored food, livestock and more that had to be moved. We have been so busy. I barely have time to read friend's posts on social media, much less write an article. Somehow I also managed to teach a few classes for our members. Maybe this article will help to break my work rest cycle and get me motivated to blog about the progress of the log house and general homestead activities. Anyway, on to chickens. I've had chickens most of my life, except for a few years as a single soldier in the Army when I lived in the barracks. My Grandfather raised game birds and that's how it started. Eventually, we ended up northwest of Fort Campbell, Ky where I was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group. Like many, we started out with a few birds just for eggs. A couple years ago we were maintaining a flock of 100 layers and I had plenty of Cross Fit customers that loved our free range eggs. We also raise about 50-75 broilers, turkeys, ducks and heritage pigs on pasture each year for our own consumption. Raising chickens isn't all that complicated. You have two choices, buy baby chicks and raise them to sexual maturity or buy birds that are already laying eggs. Baby chicks can be ordered from a hatchery, purchased from your local farm store, and often there is someone on craigslist hatching them for sale. If you order from a hatchery, typically there is a minimum order of 15. The day old chicks need each other to keep warm on the journey from the hatchery to your door. Often there will be a few dead chicks, especially if you order in winter and the delivery man puts them next to the wall of the delivery truck. In all honesty, this is not my recommended method for getting your first egg layers. It will require that you provide some feeders, waterers, heat lamp, a brooder and chick starter feed (unless you grind your own). The chicks will need to be kept under a heat lamp in non drafty area at 95 degrees the first week. The temperature can be lowered by 5 degrees per week. Once they are fully feathered they will be perfectly fine, even in winter. It will take 4-7 months to get your first egg from these chicks. That's a lot of time for things to go wrong. It's also a lot feed and time. With an initial cost of around $3 per chick and several bags of starter and layer feed, you can buy birds that are laying from someone on Craigslist for $10-$20 each. Of course they will need feeders, waterers and some sort of living space. We save eggs and hatch them in incubators. The cheap and easy method for brooding the chicks is to buy a 2ft x 3ft x 18 inch tall plastic tote from the Dollar Store. Build a frame from 1 inch square wood with legs that keep it a few inches off the floor of the tote. Cover it in 1/4 inch hardware cloth so when the chicks poo it falls to the bottom of the tote. We line the tote with old newspaper to absorb moisture and easy clean up. You can transfer the chicks to a cardboard box for a few minutes while you roll up the soiled newspaper for compost and clean the tote and hardware cloth with the garden hose. You can keep them in the garage, outbuilding or a spare room. We keep them in the house for a week or so after they hatch and then move them to the greenhouse. The 250 watt heat lamp not only keeps the chicks warm but helps with heating the greenhouse. After a another month we move them to their own pen. Since we keep a few roosters in our free range flock (so all are eggs are fertile for hatching), we don't put the smaller birds in with them until they are of similar size. The roosters will mount them and possibly kill them. Once they are big enough they all go into the eggmobile. The egg mobile is an old 32 foot camper frame with a chicken house built on top of it. The floor is old fence wire so the droppings fall through the floor and onto the ground. This is how we fertilize the pasture. The eggmobile gets moved around once every few days. Our chickens free range during the day and go back in the coop to lay eggs or get water. The eggmobile has milk crates for nest boxes, several roosting poles, waterers and feeders. I have 55 gallon drum mounted on the tongue of the trailer with a spigot and hose to fill the inside waterers. They can get about 30% of their food from grass and weeds and a little more from bugs and worms. We supplement their feed with some type of crop we grew, corn, sunflowers, wheat, kitchen scraps etc. Or you can buy pelleted layer feed. The chickens are trained to the eggmobile.  As long as I move it at night, when I release them in the mornings they go right back in that evening. If I move it during the day, the majority of them will stand around where the coop was, even though it has only been moved forward 32 feet from there, it confuses them. Chickens are pretty resilient and if kept fed, watered, given space to roam and a dust bath, will rarely get sick. The most common problem is lice. Don't worry, they don't like humans. Occasionally they will get worms. Diatomaceous earth in their dust bath helps with the body parasites, I don't really think it does much for the worms. If its really bad, I mix up some permethrin in a spray bottle and treat them individually. If I detect worms I'll mix piperazine in their water and confine them until they drink it all. When we raise meat chickens they start out the same way but they end up in 10x12 foot pens on pasture. they get moved daily and eventually free range during the day. They have a 21% protein feed in the mornings and in the evening when its time to lock them up. At 10-12 weeks we process them for the freezer. I have successfully bred the Cornish Cross meat birds with each other and improved the meatiness of Heritage breeds by crossing them. Don't let the internet hype fool ya. They can be a sustainable meat bird if not overfed. I had a Cornish Cross hen for 4 years and she laid enough eggs to keep us in broilers without buying chicks. The only reason she died was because the neighbors dog killed her. There are no dual purpose breeds, at least not in my opinion. I'm spoiled. When I see a chicken ready for the pot, it needs to have some big breasts and thighs. A typical dual purpose breed has sunken breasts and is just too scrawny for my liking. There edible but if I have a choice, I'll raise Cornish Cross or one of the politically correct variants like Red Rangers. Hope you enjoyed this article. If you want some chickens for eggs, just do it. Once you get a few chickens, you'll want some meat chickens. Then some ducks. Eventually a couple goats. Then you'll sell that house in town or the subdivision and move out to the country, where real freedom awaits. De Oppresso Liber AL    

Myth: Tourniquets do not work on Double Bone Compartments

  [caption id="attachment_3670" align="alignnone" width="950"]2418-pb2-r1 Anatomy of arteries along forearm, leading some to incorrectly believe they run too deep to be properly occluded. [/caption]

      The placement of the tourniquet in the picture above would have some believe that it is ineffective due to it being over a " double bone compartment."    This post purpose is to address and dispel the common myth to avoid placing a tourniquet(TQ) on the forearm or lower leg because it might be less efficient at total arterial occlusion due to the anatomy of a double bone compartment, or might cause further harm due to a certain wound set.   If you have basic medical training and were taught "high and tight" is the only way to go, this is not saying don't go high and tight during Care under Fire or when hospitals are nearby, this is more a consideration for medical professionals in an austere environment where medical care is hours away and is not as applicable for the layman. Medical professionals have a higher level of care to deliver to their patients than just doing high and tight for every situation. Multiple sources are posted at the end of the article because I believe in evidence based medicine, not "I do it this way because my instructor told me." A study by Dr. John F. Kragh (US Army Institute of Surgical Research) who is a renowned tourniquet expert, found that not only is it not effective, it can be more effective and the benefits of proper tourniquet placement are key (Cited below.) Take into account that often times meaty thighs take two or more tourniquets and it can be easier to understand why a tourniquet would work better when there is a smaller circumference to compress. Why does this even matter?

 Tourniquets don't cause permanent damage until they are on for about 6-8 hours if done correctly, as early as 2 hours if done incorrectly in the case of venous tourniquets causing compartment syndrome. The body will physiologically loosen (even when applied properly) so re-assess your TQ's and expect them to come loose and need to turn the windlass again.. If tissue will be lost because this tourniquet will be on for over 8 hours, the TQ should be 2-4" above the wound to salvage as much tissue and save complications as possible. Optimally, if not an amputation, the tourniquet has not been on too long and the patient is hemodynamically stable, you will want to convert to a pressure dressing directly on the source of bleeding so you can have perfusion back in the limb, but only if you can monitor for re-bleeding. If you already have a "High and tight" placed by a non-medical provider such as a TCCC or First Responder, you can consider  at least approximate the tourniquet by placing a second 2-4" above the wound and loosening the high and tight. Your actions during initial treatment during your TCCC phases can come to bite you later, so consider not going high and tight if the situation is tactically safe. High and tight is for care under fire and non-medical professionals, but when tactically feasible the medical provider should strongly consider deliberately placing the tourniquet 2-4" above the wound,  converting it to a pressure dressing if the criteria is met, and at least approximating the TQ.Even if TQ's needed another revolution or two with the windlass when placed in these areas, the benefits of proximal placing are worth it.  Such is the standard put out by the Committee of Tactical Combat Casualty Care and taught in U.S. Army Combat Medic School and Special Operations Combat Medic School. Sources,  Evidence:

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Defender (YouTube) Series The Defender series begins this week with Chapter 1: Profiles of readiness, episode 1: Everyday carry. The defender series will cover by chapter: Profiles of readiness Gear and reviews Planning and training Full mission profile scenarios The #Defender series is sponsored by The next Crisis Application Group series: Austere Medic Crisis Application Group Ready-Sure-Secure Follow us on Facebook@ Crisis Application Group Follow us on Instagram@ crisis_application_group


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