The Survival Buzz #154

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 4, 2019

Welcome to this week’s Survival Buzz with an update on my own preps and announcements from the Backdoor Survival blog.

How is everyone doing this week?  If it has been anything like mine, you are firing on all cylinders as you begin to realize it is time to organize those springtime chores not the least of which is your garden.

This week I had some appointments in the big city (actually Bellevue, Washington), so while I was there, I dropped in on Wal-Mart to pick up some Arm & Hammer Washing Soda for my “Better than Good” DIY Laundry Soap.  I don’t know why it is so difficult to find washing soda these days; the one thing I do know is that it is always available at Wal-Mart.

That leads me to ask whether you have started saving a ton of money by making your own laundry soap?  I have yet to meet a single person who tried it and went back to store-bought.

DIY Laundry Soap - Backdoor Survival

While I was at Wal-Mart I picked up up a 5 year supply of mouse bait.  Not everyone will agree with using mouse bait but the type I use is in the cellar area of my home making it impossible for pets or visiting children to have access. Since using this particular bait, I have not had any problems with field mice getting into my stored food.  I swear that the mice in my area are wise to traps and have learned to avoid them, even when baited with peanut butter.

Why 5 years?  Did you know that the Feds are banning many varieties of d-CON as of March 31st?  I discovered this quite by accident.  You can read about it in this announcement: Canceling Some d-CON Mouse and Rat Control Products.   Yes, I know d-CON is highly toxic.  As a prepper, sometimes we have to make difficult choices and for me, this is one of them.

While on the mainland, I also dropped in on the local farm supply store to purchase some Vet Wrap which was dirt cheap compared to the type sold for humans.  Same stuff and not only that, I found some in my favorite purple color at no extra cost!

I found another shopping haven for preppers.  Have you ever been to a Cash & Carry store.  Holy smokes; talk about bargains in bulk foods.  If you happen to live in the West, check out their locations and save yourself a ton of money.  By the way, a reader recently asked me where he could purchase black eyed peas in bulk.  After responding, I deleted the email so if you are reading this, check to see if there is a Cash & Carry or similar store in your locale.

Other preps this week?  I downloaded my No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide (which is free in PDF format) and have committed to taking the HAM radio licensimg test on April 18th when it will be given at the local library.  Between now and then, my Baofeng UV-5Rs be set up so I can hit the ground running as a HAM on April 19th.  In the works is a K.I.S.S. set-up guide to help out everyone who purchased a Baofeng but still has it sitting in a box, unopened and unused.

BaoFeng Ham Radio - Backdoor Survival

By the way, the Baofeng and the Pofung radios are one and the same so if you are in the market for a starter radio, do not hesitate to shop by price.  Need assistance understanding the HAM radio hoopla?  Read The Basics of Ham Radio.

Finally, I made a batch of DIY Cayenne Salve using cayenne pepper infused olive oil as the base.  Results are mixed.  It definitely is not as powerful as an essential oil salve.  Before sharing, I want to use it a bit more.  The last thing I want is for you to waste your time on something that may not meet your expectations.

That about covers it for me this week.  Let’s move on to the rest of this week’s Buzz.


Here is reminder from Karma007 that you don’t always need a lot of money to build up your preps.

I’m a scavenger from way back, I currently help a gentleman that does Estate Sales. Whatever is leftover after the sales, I haul away to my garage. These are the things I use to trade for things I want and need for prepping.

Ask friends and family if they are throwing anything out or have items they don’t need. Most people are thrilled to get rid of stuff for free.

Network anywhere you can, place an add at the library on the bulletin board or the local grocery store, you would be surprised at the free stuff you can get.

I just acquired all the items I need to make a greenhouse, cold house for FREE.

I definitely want to give this fire starting tip from David a try.  Cat tails are abundant here in Washington State.

THE BEST FIRE STARTER IN NATURE. I have been reading numerous articles from Prepper sites and have never seen anyone mention using Cattails or bulrush as a fire starter. I learned this trick at a very young age from my Grandfather. He taught me that cattails are natures gasoline. He would harvest the fluffy tops whenever we would go on hikes. With a flint stick, the fluffy cattail ignite like gasoline (without the explosion). Try it out. I get the kids to light the campfire every time we go camping.

And from Pat in Arizona:

Check if your community has a seed exchange. Phoenix, AZ has one. Not only is it an opportunity to exchange seeds you have harvested, it is a great way to exchange information. If you are near a reservation, find out if they participate in efforts to reintroduce native/heirloom plants.


Are you interested in learning more about a particular garden topic?  If so, please leave a comment below.  Mike Podlesny aka Mike the Gardener is here to help.  I will pick one topic and Mike will write about it.  For more about Mike and his Seeds of the Month Club, visit his website at Average Person Gardening.


The following article includes a giveaway for a copy of the Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook.

The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook - Backdoor Survival

And this article includes a giveaway to win one of three copies of The Gardening Notebook.

The Gardening Notebook - Backdoor Survival

As a reminder, the deadline for all giveaway entries is 6:00 PM Pacific on Tuesdays.  In addition, all winners are notified by email and have 48 hours to claim their prize or an alternate will be selected.  Once selected, the names of winners are also displayed in the Rafflecopter on the original giveaway article.  This usually happens on the Friday following the end of the giveaway.

Speaking of giveaways, what do you think?  In addition to the Thursday Book Festival’s, I have lined up a product giveaway for each and every Friday through April so far.  Winners are selected at random and indeed, some readers are very lucky and have won more than once.

For the most part, the giveaways are sponsored, but in a few cases, I am sponsoring them myself as part of my 2015 “Pay It Forward” initiative.  So don’t be shy; please do enter.


2015 is bringing some updates and changes in the Mountain House line of freeze-dried products.  Not to worry, all good.

As you know, I have a fantastic relationship with the folks at Mountain House and have had the inside track on some of the changes, including a new packaging design that includes the protein content and servings size on the front of the pouch.  There are also some new products that I will be telling you about next month.  For a heads up you can read the press release here.


Whew, this was a long one.  Believe it or not, I have more to share put I will set the rest aside for next week.

So what about you – what did you do to prep this week?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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As always, today I have a selection of items related to today’s article.

Baofeng UV-5R and Pofung UV-5R Ham Two Way Radio: Redundancy is the name of the game.  I own  two of these inexpensive HAM radios. Also consider the NAGOYA Antenna for BAOFENG UV-5R  and the USB Programming Cable for Baofeng UV-5R UV-3R+. Note: the Pofung was formerly known as the Baofeng UV-5R so don’t let the two similar names confuse you. You will see both for sale.  Shop price (at least that is what I would do.)

Midland 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios: I also own these hand held radios.  No license required. There are lots of good uses for the these radios. Handy while hiking, traveling, or simply keeping in touch with your partner while out shopping. They are waterproof – a quality that I feel is important. Plus, in addition to using the included rechargeable batteries, they can use regular AAs in a pinch.  Note: the true range for this type of radio is actually 4 to 6 miles, regardless of brand.  Don’t be fooled.

The No-Nonsense, Technician Class License Study Guide:  Dan Romanchik’s guide is available for free – you can read it online of download it and save it to your computer.

Ham Radio For DummiesShortwave Radio For Preppers Backdoor Survival : This could also be called “Ham Radio for Gaye” or other newbies.  It is never too late to learn and if SHTF, this may be the only reliable form of communication available.

D-Con Ready Mix Rat and Mouse Killer: A few days before my trip to Wal-Mart, I purchased d-CON online.  The price was better than the local hardware store, but not as good as Wal-Mart.  Still, I had to travel five hours to get to the big box store so shopping online is my usual choice

Mule Team Borax and Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Variety Pack: Here are two of the three ingredients you need to make your own laundry soap.  They are packaged together with free shipping.

Dawn Ultra Original Scent Dishwashing Liquid: Dawn has to be one of the few household products I have been unable to duplicate myself.  It is worth it to get the real thing.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


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14 Responses to “The Survival Buzz #154”

  1. Day dreaming about the garden this week. It is helping me get through the frigid wind chills and snow storms in the northeast. I move things around quite a bit on a live and learn basis and it got me to thinking about potato boxes. I have a wonderful green thumb, but so-so luck in the potato area. Maybe someone could drop some hints? Last year I container grew green beans at the base of all my deck railings. As they grew, used twine to coax them toward the house and it made a beautiful canopy for my deck. It became everyone’s favorite place to have coffee and sit!

    • Every year I grow potatoes in two large black plastic tubs/bins with holes punched in the bottom. I fill them up half way up with potting soil and put about 6 seed potatoes in each one. I then fill the containers all the way to the top with more soil.
      I put them in a sunny spot and leave them alone except for an occasional watering if rain has been scarce.
      They grow really well for me that way.

    • Anne,
      How much sun would you say they get a day? I’ve tried containers, raised beds, in ground, potato towers and hay and still only get a handful a year. I get about seven hours a day partial to full sun. Everything grows like mad but potatoes.

    • Jody,
      Don’t overlook old tires for potato growing. Fill a tire with your amended soil and plant your potato starters. You can stack these if you don’t have a lot of room. The barrel idea works well too, it is varmint resistant as well. You can harvest over 100 pounds of potatoes from one barrel.

  2. This post fills me with a sense of nostalgia. Your original post on DIY laundry soap is how I first found your site and as you know I’ve been hooked every since. And I am on the list of those who tried it and have never went back to store bought. I am officially jealous that there is no ‘cash and carry’ store anywhere near me but it does give me the idea to try to locate a restaurant supply store nearby. As for my preps this week, I have been working on making my own MRE’s. While assembling them I came up with an idea incorporate my favorite coffee. I definitely have ‘MY’ coffee brand and I just don’t enjoy days as much whenever I had to substitute a different brand. My particular brand does not sell any type of single serve packets so I have created my own. I took a small (4 cup size) coffee filter and measured out one Tbs of grounds into it and then folded up the sides and then folded the top down. I used a needle and thread to make two stitches where the top folds down to seal it all in and left a few inches of thread hanging out to be able to retrieve it from a cup. I tested it out by steeping in a cup the same way you would a teabag. I found it works best if you don’t fold the filter up close to the grounds, there needs to be room inside the little packet for the water to get in and around all the grounds. Thanks for the tip on the d-con Gaye, I need to get on that. out here on the farm mouse control is no joking matter.

  3. If a 5-year old can pass the Technician test, so can you, all of you.


    This little guy is really in to it. He was at the last hamfest and is a regular check-in to the NTS (National Traffic System) net each evening . No not road ‘traffic’ but message traffic. A skill all should have so messages can be relayed in an efficient manner. And yes, he uses a Baofeng radio.

  4. Regarding gardening, I live in Maryland. We have summer from May to October these days. I would like to know the easiest grain and bean for drying. Something that doesn’t have to be threshed or ground or made in to bread but can just be boiled or made into soup. Thanks.

  5. Gaye,
    Thanks for the shout out on my scavenger tips. I just finished up a sale this past week and came home with a pirates booty of useful goods for free. A locking trunk in excellent condition, Realtree and Cabela clothing for my partner, QVC space bags (20), and Tyvek onesies, a folding camp table,
    And numerous pieces of costume jewelry that turned out to be real gold from the 40’s. I will cash these pieces in for the cash to buy things that I need.
    Don’t overlook thrift stores, Salvation Army and Goodwill. I have found numerous new items to give as gifts for family and friends for birthdays, holidays and just a nice thank you gift for helping me on a project. I just picked up a handmade wooden carved bowl with the craftsmanship name engraved in the bottom, brought it home, cleaned it and reoiled it with mineral oil and it will be filled with baked goods for a neighbor that helps me out frequently. This neighbor is in the Army national Guard, he just brought me 500 yards of green para cord to make survival bracelets for FREE. Yippee for me!

  6. RE: “cattails are natures gasoline”

    I did Not know that, TYVM for That!
    The danged things are everywhere here, now I see them as a bit more useful than simply being able to eat the ends.

    As to, garden questions: drip irrigation and container plants.
    The more you know about them, the better?
    How important IS dirt makeUp?
    Fluff vs. clay loam?
    The Sun dries out some dirts more than others?
    Is mold from wet mulch a “bad” thing?
    Why wouldn’t you til moldy mulch and soil?
    ARe spider mites really that Big a problem? Do they eat That Much?

    Then there’s the hose. The branch from the hose. Drip control. Is drip irrigation really the way to go?
    Lattice as urban cammo? …Just thinking out loud.

    learner wrote, “I am on the list of those who tried it and have never went back to store bought.”

    That’s a dangerous comment. A loaded one. For me, it was with eggs, and maybe someday, butter. I prolly shouldn’t try real raw butter, or milk, then, how ever would I live in a world of the processed stuff? It’d be like like eating cardboard pizza all the time I imagine!

    learner wrote, “I need to get on that. out here on the farm mouse control is no joking matter.”

    My thought was, “food control”. And, nest material control.

    In the background, an echo: “If a 5-year old can pass the Technician test, so can you, all of you.”

    Nice encouragement. …Seriously.

    …”And numerous pieces of costume jewelry that turned out to be real gold from the 40’s.”

    Grrr, I tried to sell some once at an auction. Thieves took it all as it sat on the sale floor before I could sell it. Funny thing was, it All looked like it was worth less than just one of my best Mepps fishing lures.

    Anyway, everyone should encourage every person they know who is in the military to quit their jobs and go home and do something which is actually productive.
    An empire is anti-freedom.

    Oh,and this, “That leads me to ask whether you have started saving a ton of money by making your own laundry soap?”

    No. …But I bought some ingredients, a cheese grater, two rolling pins (for 95 Cents each!) …and I’ve been thinking about it more. …If that counts for anything?

    • Helot,
      Drip is the way to go, we were given juice barrels and hooked up a spigot 4 inches from the bottom of the barrel. We attached a 6 foot piece of regular old hose to the spigot, then attached the drip hose to that so there was no waste of water. This works thru a gravity fed system, as the barrels are raised 4 feet off the ground in the corners of the garden. We do live near a fast running stream and numerous springs where we obtain our water, so we are not expending any money for irrigation.
      We live in the Northeast, so this works well for our weather patterns. Also I don’t spend all my time monitoring soil dampness.

    • I am having a difficult time visualizing your set up. If the spigot is 4 inches from the bottom of the barrel, how is the drip system gravity fed? I must be missing something.

    • It’s a 50 gallon barrel, the spigot is near the bottom so you can
      Let it get down to about 5 gallons before refilling manually or with
      Rainwater. The spigot has an on off lever, so you can turn it on to water with the valve open for 10 minutes or more depending on the weather. You can regulate the drip amount to suit your needs. The barrel is 4 feet off the ground on a rack made from used pallets.

    • Now I get it. The 55 gallon barrel is your reservoir that feeds the drip system via gravity. Cool.

    • helot,
      Butter, eggs, milk, and beef are just some of the things on my list of never buying store bought again. As for the mouse control, enlighten me oh wise one how to succeed in ‘food control’ and ‘material control’ on a population of field mice that have thrived for countless generations on naturally growing food supply and abundant naturally provided nest making material. You know, the kind of mice that lived on the prairie with the bison, not your urbanized variety.

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