News – Self Reliance Festival

What are you doing to get ready for today’s storm?

What are you doing to get ready for today’s storm? We see it in my county every time. The schools send kids home early, or cancel for the day. People come out of th woodwork complaining about this. But should they?

If you have created a good plan for being ready for life’s most likely events, (Tornadoes in Tennessee , for example), do you not want your family at the place where you are MOST ready?

Many of you do not know that March 2020 was a big month for our community not because of the now infamous “two weeks to flatten the curve,” but because a massive tornado touched down and stayed down. It tore out communications, it tossed houses and people all over the place. We lost friends and neighbors.

In the Holler, where I live, all we knew that morning was that there was no power and no communications. While Tactical and Knighthawk set up the generators, I started driving toward town to find out what happened. In the parking lot at Walmart, still in my PJs, I learned of the tragedy and regional communications outage.

I decided to focus on the hyper local in that moment, went home, and we focused on helping neighbors keep their fridges and freezers cold, on making sure everything was stable here. We got our news about the event from a local FM radio station.

Knighthawk went into town to help with cleanup and rescue.

Later that day, cell phones allowed for text messages to be sent and I got a message out to Mama Sauce to let everyone know we were OK. It is a good thing she did because they were organizing in West Tennessee to send someone out to make sure we were ok.

I had always known that community was important, but this event really brought things home for me.

That is why we focus so much on connecting people at SRF. That is why I am so mission driven to make this gathering a success. Not just to make sure we all learn from each other, but to help foster stronger and stronger relationships.

This coming Saturday, we kick off at 9am with a discussion on Underground Networking and it all builds from there. I plan to be there despite these pesky storms ripping across the country.

But in answer to my first question – what are you doing to get ready for these storms? I am please to be in a much more stable place than 2020. We have topped off our solar storage from the grid so that I have running water should we lose power. The freezers are consolidated and full so we do not have to cool dead air or move things all over the holler to reduce what must be managed. We have a rudimentary communications plan in place (which I aim to make better after watching Evan’s session at SRF this coming weekend).

We have connected with so many people all over our county and country that we are as ready as we can be.

Are you?

Feeding Pets From Your Kitchen

Tracy Farley, CPCN, owner, IAS – Integrative Animal Solution

Our animal companions are natural hunters and carnivores – just look at their ancestry. The dog in your home has evolved from the wolf, and his digestive system is virtually the same despite thousands of years of domestication. They have very short intestinal tracts geared to the consumption and digestion of raw foods. Dogs are considered “omnivores” as they eat a variety of grasses, berries and vegetables in addition to prey. Cats are true or “obligate” carnivore (meat only diet) and is specially designed by nature to hunt small rodents and birds. Their digestive tracts is intended to assimilate raw meat best.


Diet is the foundation of health. The fresher the diet, the more nutrients are available for the animal’s system to utilize in building immunity, healing from illness and warding off disease. Raw food diets have been shown to help the body deal with many common ailments such as flea infestations, hot spots, continual shedding, poor dental & gum health, allergies, gastrointestinal problems such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, immune disorders and degenerative diseases.

Raw diets have been common practice in European countries for decades, especially Germany, where it is commonly recommended by veterinarians. The fear of feeding raw meat in this country seems to stem from a fear of salmonella, E. coli and parasites. In my 20 years of feeding raw food salmonella and E. coli have not been a problem, instead, they help create a diverse microbiome. Remember, pets’ digestive systems are designed to accommodate raw meat. Parasites coumeats butracted through eating wild, whole prey or game meats, but is much less likely to occur with properly handled human grade meats. Infection is more likely to occur through a pet’s ingestion of feces or soil, or from poorly handled meat. Most commercially prepared raw diets are pasteurized and therefore are no threat for contamination. The actual research sited in the US in support of a raw diet is rather convincing.

Some exceptions to “raw is better” are older, weaker animals who may not tolerate raw food, or animals with certain gastrointestinal problems where the gut has to be restored to a healthier state using herbs and/or supplements to support them. In these cases, a home prepared, cooked diet is a better substitute for a raw food diet.


Ideally, our companions would eat an all-raw diet that includes some organ meat and bones. Generally, the more raw food you can include in your companion’s diet, the better, some is better than none. Some pet owners choose to feed their companions a ½ raw and ½ dry (dehydrated or kibble) diet – either mixing the two or feeding raw for one meal each day and dry or cooked for the other. It does not have to be complicated – you can feed raw beef muscle and turkey necks or other parts as part or all of a meal several times a week. Raw poultry bones do not splinter, they crunch. This is a great way to clean teeth, exercise chewing muscles, and provide a natural source of balanced calcium and phosphorus. As always, naturally raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free or organic meat is best but not always the most cost-effective option.

When introducing raw bones to dogs they may experience diarrhea, constipation, or both as their systems adjust. Remember to go slowly and feed small amounts at first. When beginning the introduction of raw bones, it may be helpful to crush them in a meat grinder until your dog becomes fully transitioned to a raw diet. Ground bones do not have the same teeth cleaning benefits as whole bones, however. You may also see similar symptoms as your companion’s system goes through a detoxification process during the transition to a healthier diet. Again, the key is to go slowly and persevere. In the long run, your companion’s increased health and vitality will be the ultimate reward.

Obvious precautions should be taken when feeding raw meat – wash hands thoroughly after handling the raw meat. Thaw meat in the refrigerator, not sitting on the counter at room temperature. Warm water can be used to thaw or warm the food after it has been mostly thawed in the refrigerator. Do not microwave raw food as the live enzymes are damaged and bones will harden even in just 30 seconds of microwaving. Feeding raw at room temperature helps pets to digest better.


Although most people think of frozen formulas when they think of raw food for pets, there are convenient alternatives available in the form of dehydrated and freeze dried formulas. These formulas are made from raw meat, vegetables, and fruits and have the water removed from them through either dehydration or freeze-drying, so that all you need to do is add water before feeding your pet. These offer all the nutritional benefits of raw food but are easier to handle and prepare. Freeze-dried formulas are very light weight, and so are great for travelling, but tend to me more expensive than dehydrated, so they are used mostly for cats and small dogs. Dehydrated food is more expensive than dry kibble, but not by a lot (around a dollar per day for a 40 pound dog),

and it is much healthier than dry kibble. (Think of the difference between corn flakes and fresh salad.)


It is best to introduce raw food slowly into your companion’s diet over the course of two weeks. If your companion is used to having food available throughout the day, first transition him or her to eating only once or twice per day for dogs, and two to three times per day for cats before beginning the transition to raw food. Consider transitioning fully to raw in the beginning even if you ultimately intend to feed a mix of raw and cooked or dry. This will give your companion’s digestive system the optimal environment for generating healthy enzymes and flora.

We recommend supplementing with herbs and probiotics for at least the first two weeks to help your companion’s natural digestive processes kick back in after eating processed foods for so long. If your animal is resistant to the raw at first, you may want to use a bit of canned food to entice them. Cats, in particular, can be resistant to a change in diet. They tend to fixate on whatever food they are weaned onto and will resist switching to a healthier diet. We have found that grinding or shredding their favorite treat on top of the food can help. Freeze dried treats work well for this. Transitioning a cat will most likely take some persistence on your part, but it is well worth it for the health of your pet.


Carnivores need muscle meat as a primary protein source. The diet should contain 65-75% muscle meat. There should be 5-10% bone content, 15-25% organ meat and 10-15% vegetable matter. Balancing this overtime insures that what may be lacking or in abundance one day, is balanced out over the next few days feeding. Vegetables and fruits should be ground, pureed or finely chopped. Pets do not make amylase in their saliva; therefore do not breakdown vegetable matter the same as humans but do need the refuge and vitamins they provide and can digest them is ground or chopped. Feeding at a ratio of 2-3% of dogs ideal body weight is a good place to start for adults but puppies and some seniors need up to 5% of their adult weight ratio on a daily basis. I recommend feeding dogs as individuals. The amount one 50# dog may need can be much too low for another of the same weight.

Any food that you raise for yourself or find in the grocery store will work for your pets. Beef, poultry, pork, fish, lamb etc. I tend to give my dogs any vegetable matter that I might otherwise discard such as carrot tops, the bruised apple slice or wilted lettuce. All

good for our pets but might not appeal to us. Organs that we might not want are extremely important to pets. Secreting organs such as liver, kidney and spleen are critical in pets diets and should comprise of 10-15% of their diets. Other organs like pancreas, brain and testicles provide vital nutrients for pets.

Cats tend to be a bit easier as far as dietary needs but still need organs and roughage for better digestion. I recommend using about the same ratios for muscle meat and organ but smaller amounts of vegetable matter. I add in chia seeds, psyllium or allow access to wheatgrass if possible. As for bone in a cat’s diet, the requirement is very small but still needed. Whole food prey or ground bone is best for most cats. Raw goats milk seems to be a preferred treat that also adds lots of nutrients to cat diets.

IAS is committed to keeping prices low and quality high. We are located at 19 W Maple St Sparta TN on Liberty Square. Our hrs are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-2. In addition to dietary recommendations and options, we have a large apothecary for herbal supplements, therapy rental devices, microbubble bath, a holistic vet center, animal chiropractic and wholesome treats.

Come see how we can help you and your pets!

Can We Really go “Ghost” w/ Our Devices?

By Sean Patrick Tario

Every now and again someone will reach out to our team attempting to discredit our “Ghost” products and services. The claims are always related to one, some, or all of the following:…but you use Google Pixel phones! GOOGLE made the phones!

…but it’s impossible to not be tracked by the mobile service providers!

…but the hardware provides back door access to (Google, China, intelligence agencies, hackers, etc.)I’d like to set the record straight here so I don’t have to keep having the same conversations over and over again.The “…but Google” ArgumentWe believe Google is evil. We believe their “DO NO EVIL” slogan from the start was a joke. We know the majority of their revenues during their first few years (and large % even today) were coming from the online porn industry. We know their intentions from the onset have always been to become a primary tool for global surveillance and, to this end, we know they were initially funded via various DoD projects and have always been closely connected to our intelligence agencies.This is all true. Follow the money. Look at the ownership. Learn the ethos of the ownership.Thus, it makes sense that some people may initially think that by using the Google Pixel phone we are simply supporting Google or allowing Google to track you.This, however, is not the case. Here’s why…Refurbished PhonesNo $ goes to Google when we buy, or you buy, one of our devices. This is because we believe the planned obsolescence economy is a fraud and should be stopped. The phones we are selling are refurbished “mint” or “near mint” condition Google Pixel devices bought from resellers across the country. With nearly 15 billion mobile phones on the planet and a population of only 8 billion, there are an almost infinite supply of used “near mint” condition phones that work extremely well. There is absolutely NO NEED to manufacture new devices. New devices require the mining of more precious metals out of the earth using child labor and what we know are horrific conditions creating massive waste and pollution in countries such as China and Africa.All those who sell, or are working on developing, NEW “secure” phones (such as Gabb, Unplugged, Elon Musk’s proposed “Telsla Pi” phone or even the new phone Gregg Phillips is purported to be working on) are thus creating more DEMAND for the manufacturing of the required minerals and materials harvested by the exploitation of labor overseas. They are also all using closed source operating systems, which is something we fundamentally disagree with for all the reasons I discuss during my live Digital Privacy Bootcamps.Hence, when you’re buying a Ghost Phone or even Ghost Laptop from MARK37, you’re not buying a brand new device. You are buying a refurbished device that we have sourced to ensure functionality and, more importantly, the ability for us to wipe off all Google software that was loaded on the device. This requires finding devices that are “OEM unlocked” which is much different than the “Carrier Unlocked” phones you can find at Best Buy or Walmart.Worth noting, a huge reason why Apple, Google and other phone manufacturers continue to come out with new “upgraded” devices is so they can run more background applications on the phone which are intended to process all your activities and spy on you MORE easily. By adding so much processing power to the device they are making it so that this work load no longer needs to come from their own “cloud” services… saving them money. In addition to creating the demand outlined above when you buy a brand new device, you are also now paying THEM for the privileged to spy on you cheaper than they were before.They sell you the “sizzle” of an upgraded camera or digital personal assistant while they quietly leverage the device to further monetize you and reduce their overhead.Ironically, yes, Google Pixel devices are among the most secure and private phones available. The Google Pixel, with the open source operating system GrapheneOS, provides optimum security and privacy.There are a few open source mobile operating systems such as LineageOS and CalyxOS, however, through our testing we have found GrapheneOS to be the most secure mobile operating system available. Unfortunately, it works specifically and only on Pixel devices at this time. Installation of GrapheneOS on other devices is experimental at best and will likely provide only limited functionality.Google Hardware?Thinking that Pixel phones use “Google Hardware” is also not entirely accurate. It’s like saying “Dell hardware” or “HP hardware”. Dell and HP may be involved in the process of telling the manufactures what specific components they need and why they need them, but it’s not the HP, Dell or Google engineers actually designing and manufacturing the motherboards and components themselves. These components are all commodity with very little variation and choice.The Google Tensor chip in the Pixel 6, 7 and 8 devices (not in the Pixel 5 or prior models) follows the same logic. Did Google build this whole chip in house? No. They participated in the process of the design to ensure the chip was optimized for the device… but they didn’t design/build and write all the logic for the device. Nor were they responsible for manufacturing the devices. To do so requires a technical skill set that currently resides within the chip manufacturers.In theory, we could design our own phone and chip set as well… but it would require us making a substantial volume commitment to one of the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers… aka someone who manufactures and assembles devices) about what we want the look/feel/specs of the device to be. By doing so, we would also only be contributing to the demand for more slave labor to mine more materials to create brand new devices… which we feel are entirely unnecessary.But why the Google Pixel phone?The open source Android operating system is to mobile devices what Linux is to open source operating systems on laptops and desktops. Android is an open source framework. Google takes this open source framework (like a blueprint for a building) and then adds to it all their applications and spyware to make it a CLOSED SOURCE Google Android operating system… or what most people know today as “Droid”. Nearly all mobile operating systems outside the iPhone leverage the open source Android operating system to this extent.The Pixel phone is specifically designed to be optimized to work with the open source operating system Android. When designing the phone, Google was very specific with the manufacturer as to what hardware they wanted to ensure the phone was as fast and compatible as possible with the Android operating system… which their Google Android operating system is based off of. Samsung, LG and all other phones on the market do not have the specific functionality that the Pixel device has, which in large part is what allows the open source GrapheneOS operating system that we install on our “Ghost Phones” to be as secure and private as it is.For more details on exactly what functionality I am referring to above, I recommend digging through the documentation found on the site HERE.The “… but Carriers can always track you” ArgumentYes, they can and do constantly monitor location data on each device. This is a byproduct of the technology itself and how voice, text and data services work on the phones.I discuss this topic at length during our Digital Privacy Training Bootcamps, with a focus on how you can mitigate both the information being gathered from the carriers and how useful the information is when it is collected. The simple reality is that if your name and contact information are associated with the phone number you are using with one of the major 3 carriers in the US (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile), or one of their wholly owned subsidiaries, you have of course made it very easy for them to know where your specific device is located at any given time. If you are using their voice and text messaging services without encryption (and/or using Google, Apple, Microsoft or Amazon operating systems) you’ve also made it even easier for them to collect and make sense of the information you’re sharing using these services.Logically, this should make perfect sense because they control your phone number and deliver the services. Despite this, what one CAN do to help mitigate the information collected and the usefulness of the data collected is:

  • Use a MVNO (reseller) that isn’t owned by one of the major carriers. This adds a layer of bureaucracy between you and the Big 3 carriers because MVNOs do not NEED to provide the carriers the contact information or name of that is attached to the phone number being used on their network.
  • Use an operating system on your device that isn’t owned/controlled by Google, Apple, Microsoft or Amazon (…because any encrypted applications you may leverage on the device are rendered useless if they control your operating system and can see what you see or hear what you hear on the device!)
  • Purchase a data only plan from a MVNO and get a phone number through, or any related service. This will limit your ability to make calls or send messages when your data connection is out of reach, or when there is no wifi network available, but this is a solid option to prevent the carriers from tracking your calls and messages.
  • Keep your “confidential” conversations through encrypted messaging services and only with individuals you know are also using non-Google, Apple, Microsoft or Amazon operating systems.
  • Get a new phone # and pre-pay for services with a MVNO that does not require you provide them with any identification. T-Mobile and many T-Mobile resellers allows you to do this, for example. Our experience, however, has been that you must visit one of the local stores in person to purchase the plan and pay for services. You can then either continue to pay at the store in cash or over the phone using a pre-paid debit card.All of the methods above can be leveraged to make it harder for the carriers, or anyone trying to leverage the information gathered from the carriers, to identify YOU specifically to any given phone number of device you may be using.

Is this a PERFECT method of preventing nefarious individuals or organizations from tracking and finding you? Of course not. As mentioned above, with enough means and motive someone desperate enough to spend the time and money will likely be able to do so if you are transacting online. Your goal is to make the burden to do so high enough that you are simply “not worth it” for them to go through the lengths to track you and covertly access your communications.The “… but the hardware itself can track and spy on you” ArgumentIt is definitely the case that some hardware manufacturers, such as Intel and Nvidia (which are in many laptop and desktop computers), provide “backdoor” access to their chips for our intelligence agencies. This is a byproduct of the “for national security reasons” argument that Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon also use when they provide the same access to these agencies. We know that hardware from China, such as Hauwai, most definitely provides a feed of all activity on the devices back to the CCP. We know that China has also secretly tried to embed components on motherboards to feed data back to the CCP. Same goes for hardware/software developed in Israel, Russia or nearly every other country on the planet. “For national security reasons” makes logical sense in all these cases… from their own perspective.Hence, how do we KNOW that the hardware in the Pixel devices or laptops we use do not and are not sending information back to Google, the CCP or any of our intelligence agencies? We unfortunately can NOT say that this is 100% NOT happening. It very well might be!We CAN SAY that through our continued testing and research, as well as that of the extended community of liberty minded geeks around the world, we have not found the Pixel devices we use, after stripping it of the Google Android operating system and installing GrapheneOS, as well as our list of vetted applications, to be making unwanted “calls” to Google or other entities without the approval and knowledge of the user. This is also the case for the Pixel devices using the Google Tensor chip (Pixel 6, 7 and 8), which we were initially concerned about when Tensor was released and why we did not offer the Pixel 6 or 7 devices until we felt we had done enough testing and research to confirm nothing nefarious was going on.Without going into the technical details, it is also important to note that the information collected and functionality enabled through hardware level back door access is extremely limited. Without accessing the operating system, very little useful data can be compiled. That which might be compiled through this method is not even a fraction of a % which is currently being compiled by BigTech through their control of your operating system!In Conclusion…To be clear, we do NOT claim our Ghost Devices will prevent extremely sophisticated hackers and intelligence agencies from tracking you. You could also, as a user of the device, give complete access to Facebook, for example, by downloading their app and giving the app permissions to everything of relevance on your device. Point being, YOU provided the app access knowingly and willingly and you had a choice in the matter. The device did what you told it to do vs. the device doing what it wants to do without your knowledge or consent.Also worth noting is that the list above is far from conclusive. I did not dive into the reality that the vast majority of viruses and related security hazards online are designed to run programs that simply can not operate in GrapheneOS or Linux based environments. I did not dive into the nature of open source and how this allows users to verify if there is or is not nefarious code hiding in their device. These both, however, add even more layers of privacy and security that simply do not exist within BigTech operating systems.Our devices are designed to provide a baseline level of privacy and security that makes you and your device a far harder target. Most importantly it pulls you out of nearly all the data harvesting mechanisms Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon use.We believe our devices are a HUGE step in the right direction and far better than simply throwing up our hands and saying, “Screw it! I’m not going to do anything because there’s still a chance they’ll be able to spy on me no matter what I do!”Much like the realm of physical security, I can be a master martial artist with advanced weapons training and hiding in a bunker with armed guards outside… but if someone with enough means and motive needs to find and eliminate me they can and likely will. Does this mean that I shouldn’t become aware of my situation, learn some basic self defense and try not to make my person, home and family an easy target when out in public? Of course not! I want to make it exponentially more difficult and costly for anyone trying to spy on me or do me harm to do so through the precautions I have taken, which will hopefully deter the vast majority of people who may want to find and eliminate me from undertaking the effort.With this in mind, we do know for a fact that the cost and coordination required to try and spy on, and gain access to, one’s communications who are smart about using open source systems, encrypted communications and secure online search tools (VPN, browser, etc.) is exponentially more difficult than those who live in the iCloud and Google universe. The “good guys” we know who formerly worked as black hat hackers or with various intelligence agencies have confirmed that the bureaucracy involved to authorize a complex communications “hack” on an individual is extensive and the cost to do so is over $1M per authorization.As such, our primary objective is to provide you with a few tools and some training to prevent you from freely and willingly giving all your data and location information to BigTech, and byproxy, hackers and our own government agencies. We are empowering you to learn about and regain control over some of the basic decisions about who and what should have access to your data so you don’t continue to exist as a sitting duck operating entirely within the control of the very organizations we despise.Hackers, like most criminals, focus on easy targets.Don’t be an easy target.Hopefully this article was helpful. If you’d like to add any insights to my post here, or you feel I am missing something major, please do not hesitate to contact us at!

Breaking Free: Empowering Your Off-Grid Dreams with Owner-Financed Land from LandStruck, Inc.

By Glenn Mize
Greetings to all our future off-grid enthusiasts! We are eagerly anticipating meeting you in person at the upcoming Spring Self-Reliance Festival. Before we connect face-to-face, allow us to introduce ourselves and invite you to explore our website. Feel free to approach us with any questions; we’re here to assist you on your journey.
In a world where the cost of living, taxes, and utilities continue to rise, and our awareness of the changing global landscape grows, many of us are questioning the conventional path of lifelong debt and financial uncertainty. Off-grid living beckons as a pathway to self-sufficiency, sustainability, freedom from traditional utility bills, and a unique way to appreciate the breathtaking beauty that surrounds us.
At LandStruck, Inc, our journey began with a personal quest to move to Tennessee. Faced with the challenge of lacking the credit for a mortgage, owner-financed land emerged as our ticket to the freedom we not only desired but needed. Now, with years of hard work, blessings from friends and family and the launch of LandStruck, we are determined to help others achieve the dream of owning off-grid land.
What sets LandStruck apart is our unwavering commitment to accessible land ownership, epitomized by flexible financing starting with a $1,300 down payment and no credit check. Our dedication extends beyond affordability, encompassing excavation services, and a genuine desire to see people succeed. We approach every interaction with the principle of treating others as we would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. It’s more than just providing a piece of land; it’s about supporting your journey towards self-sufficiency.
The financial adaptability of owner financing empowers survivalists, enabling them to strategically allocate resources for essential infrastructure needed for self-sufficient living. We conduct thorough research to find land without permanent deed restrictions and offer in-house excavation services for driveways and more.
Joining us at the Spring Self-Reliance Festival will be special guests, Sean and Jes, who have documented their off-grid journey on their YouTube Channel, Off Grid & Growing. Their experiences showcase that while off-grid living is not always easy, with hard work and perseverance, any dream is achievable. They demystify the fears around off-grid living, highlighting rainwater collection, solar panel systems, and local resource utilization.
Embark on the first step of building the homestead of your dreams by finding your off-grid haven. Explore our website to discover the unique opportunities LandStruck, Inc has to offer. Your journey to freedom begins with us!

March Has Begun…Now What?

By Kiri Torgler

The ground is still frozen but our temps are climbing up every day. Our grow room is cleaned and prepped for seed starting to being in a couple of weeks. Our spirits are ready to get back outside and get our hands dirty. Its time to turn beds, add more nutrition to our soils and start planning for 2024.

This year I am going to really focus on growing what we use both personally and for ThunderHill Farm products. We have a new greenhouse next to our orchard that I will be putting a lot of peppers and tomatoes in to extend their growing season this year. We have already planted a ton of garlic last year and will soon be planting onion sets, shallots and leeks throughout our raised beds and orchard. Soon we will see how our new berry bushes made it through the mild winter and what other perennials we want to add this year.

In April our new birds will start arriving – 20 barred rock chickens, 15 French guineas and 8 broad breasted white turkeys to add to our flock. We will also start work on our new bird habitats connected to our orchard so we can better protect and contain our flock. We may even breed our rabbits this year to add more manure to our growing projects.

So much to do and still a bit too early to start it all. We hope you stay connected with us to see how this all unfolds this year at ThunderHill Farm.

Solar Power Simplified: A Bright Idea for Festival Goers

by Shawn Mills

As we prepare for the Self Reliance Festival, where sustainability and self-sufficiency take center stage, let’s take a quick dive into the world of solar power. This clean, abundant energy source is not just about modern technology; it has a rich history that aligns perfectly with our festival’s ethos.

A Brief Journey Through Solar Power History

The concept of harnessing the sun’s energy dates back centuries, but the birth of photovoltaic (PV) technology—that turns sunlight directly into electricity—began in the 19th century. In 1839, French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with an electrolytic cell made up of two metal electrodes placed in an electrolyte. He noticed that when exposed to light, the cell produced more electricity, laying the groundwork for solar panels.

Fast forward to 1954, scientists at Bell Labs in the U.S. created the first practical silicon solar cell, the direct predecessor to today’s solar panels. Initially, this technology was too expensive for widespread use and found its first practical application in space satellites. The Vanguard I, launched in 1958, was the first satellite to use solar energy to power its radios. Its success paved the way for solar panels to become the standard power source for satellites.

The energy crises of the 1970s acted as a catalyst for solar technology development, making it more efficient and affordable. Governments and researchers invested in making solar power a viable alternative to fossil fuels, leading to significant advancements in solar PV efficiency and a reduction in costs.  The first residential PV system was installed in 1973.

The number of PV installations in the US reached 1 Million 43 years later in 2016, but three years later we passed 2 million installations.  As of the end of 2023, it is estimated that 4.7 million homes have PV systems installed.

Why Solar Power Matters to you

Embracing solar power at the Self Reliance Festival is more than just a nod to sustainability; it’s a testament to human ingenuity and our ability to innovate for a better future. Solar energy represents a key to unlocking a world of self-sufficiency, reducing our environmental impact, and embracing a technology that has been evolving for over a century.  I tell people all time that not only is there no such thing as “peak sun” but once you own a solar panel, the incremental cost of fuel is zero, the sun just comes up every day without any additional inputs from you.  Every year since 2019 the average price of a KWH of power from the grid has gone up, while the average cost of a KWH of solar power has gone down.

You can find out more by visiting my website at or by visiting my vendor booth in person at the Self Reliance Festival!


A Journey to Self Reliance through AMSOIL

by Michael Sparks
Self reliance involves taking care of yourself and being prepared. One area that many people in the self reliance community don’t think about is vehicle and equipment maintenance. I’m Michael Sparks and I’m an Independent AMSOIL dealer. Since 1972 AMSOIL Inc has developed and marketed synthetic lubricants and other related products for cars, trucks, boats motorcycles, ATV’s, heavy equipment and just about anything that needs lubricating. AMSOIL products are sold and marketed through a network of independent dealers across the United States and Canada. Understanding the need to take the best care of equipment is vital for longevity, efficiency and performance of any engine or moving part. From engine oils to transmission fluid to gearbox lubricants as well as greases, industrial lubricants and filtration products, AMSOIL formulates the best. Performance and longevity is validated through extensive testing and field trials.
We got started with AMSOIL back in 1999 while looking for the best oil for my new F150 pickup truck. I already knew that synthetic oil was better than conventional, but no other manufacturer would recommend how long you could go on an oil change until I discovered AMSOIL. AMSOIL’s top performance product called Signature Series 100% Synthetic Motor Oil has a recommendation of 25,000 miles or 1 year service interval. Many customers that are not familiar with AMSOIL do not believe it, but it is true. AMSOIL products outperform the competition by a wide margin, and we can feel rest assured that the products perform better than advertised.
Equipment maintenance is vital for everyone, but especially for anyone concerned with self preparedness. Many people that come to the Self Reliance Festival travel from all parts of the country. Taking the best care of your vehicle will help ensure you arrive and get home safely. A lot of people in our community also have other equipment like generators, farm equipment and other mechanical devices like ATV’s and UTV’s. Hard working machines need protection to ensure long equipment life. AMSOIL provides that extra margin of protection.
Another area that many people neglect is the fuel systems on their vehicles and equipment. With the concern of better fuel economy as well as a cleaner environment gasoline and diesel fuel has many protective additives removed. Diesel especially has had the sulfur removed for emissions reasons. Sulfur acted as lubricant for injection systems. AMSOIL produces a wide variety of gasoline and diesel additives to provide fuel system cleaning, higher performance, as well as stabilizers for long term fuel storage. Secondly the AMSOIL Diesel Fuel Cleaner has lubrication properties added to help maintain injectors and fuel pumps. We think of fuel additives as cheap insurance against wear, carbon build up and better fuel economy.
Saving money with AMSOIL. AMSOIL users understand the importance of equipment maintenance as well as efficiency. We help customers save money in the long run by reducing down time, extending oil change intervals and reducing equipment wear and the need to replace costly worn components.
Secondly, having multiple income streams is an important aspect of being self reliant. The AMSOIL Business opportunity has afforded us a fantastic income over the years by being able to help individuals and businesses understand the need for synthetic lubrication. AMSOIL offers a unique opportunity where dealers can work directly with business owners either for those that want to retail products or commercial equipment operators who want to use the products. The Commercial and Retailer marketplace is what initially attracted us to the business. Since then, we have gone on to work with a wide variety of customers across the US and Canada. AMSOIL’s unique business model allows us to ship products factory direct to your door with us as a servicing dealer to help with product recommendations, cost savings analysis or any customer service issues that may arise.
We’ve been at the Self Reliance Festival since the beginning. We’re looking forward to meeting everyone.

From Weeds to Wisdom

By Leslie Gossett

I find it so ironic that people spend so much money, time, and energy on maintaining a lawn of monoculture non-native grass. They physically rip up and/or poison the abundance of other plants naturally growing in these spaces. How have we gotten here?

What most people call weeds are free food and medicine. And I don’t just mean they could pass for food or medicine. Some of these weeds are more powerful at infection fighting than pharmaceutical drugs, and more nutritious than cultivated vegetables. But this wisdom has been lost to younger generations.

Our ancestors, before there were pharmacies and grocery stores, would have obviously relied on the land in the ways I describe. But at some point, the knowledge of healing and edible plants got lost. It’s time to reclaim that knowledge. This knowledge is our human birthright. This earth is filled with abundance, if we only know how to find it.

It doesn’t matter if you have 500 acres of land, or just access to a grassy median. There is food and medicine to be found. It can sometimes feel overwhelming to figure out where to start, though. I get it. There is so much to learn. But here are some steps you can take TODAY to start turning your weeds into wisdom.

  1. Get a good quality plant field guide that is specific to your region

  2. Spend time observing the plants that grow near you- start to familiarize yourself with things like the shape of a plants leaves, whether the leaves have smooth or jagged edges, how many petals the flower has, etc. You will need to know these characteristics to use a field guide. Most of them use the scientific terms, but have definitions right there.

  3. Choose one plant to start with. It’s easiest if you can find a plant in flower. Work with just that plant and use your field guide’s key to answer the questions about how the plant looks until you find out what it is.

  4. Research edible and medicinal properties of that plant (there are many herb and foraging guides that can be handy for this purpose, but googling the right way can get you there too).

  5. Finally, once you are 100% confident in your plant, start to work with it. Harvest it, eat it, dry it, make a tea.

If you can do this with one plant, you can do it with all plants. Seek out people to show you the ropes. Most State and National Parks have guided plant identification walks- start joining those. Take an herbalism class. Find foraging classes. Invited foragers or herbalists to your land to help you with identification.

What will you rely on when access to medicine dwindles? When food supply chains dry up? The time to open yourself to this knowledge is now.

SRF Digital Pass Bingo Cards

Got a digital pass and want to have some fun during the speaking sessions? Introducing SRF BINGO!
Pick one, two, or three cards, fill in the blanks with your own ideas, and watch away.
Be sure to let the rest of the peanut gallery in the chat know when you’re getting close to a BINGO, and even better, when you get BINGO!
After the event, be sure to share your BINGO cards on social media with #SelfRelianceFestival #SRF #SRF2024 and #SRFBingo
Can anyone fill their whole card?

Event Information October 1 2023

We are DELIGHTED to say that the Self Reliance Festival is JUST around  the corner and if you are getting this email, we have you on the participant list. Here are some last-minute details for the event. The weather looks like it will be decently warm during the day and not too cold at night.

Event Skinny
October 14-15, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Tent camping is available onsite on a first come, first served basis.

Special Operations Equipment
4631 Highway 70 E
Camden, TN 38320

Agenda is here…
Saturday: We kickoff around 9am Saturday and have sessions through about 5pm. After that, there is great food, campfire hang outs and live music from Slave Two Servant!
Sunday: We kickoff at 9am and have sessions through around 4pm.


Event parking for all workshops before and after SRF, as well as for SRF, is at the Big Daddy’s lot at the entrance to SOE. It is a $5-per-car available on a first-come, first-served basis. If that lot is full, find parking nearby. $5 includes parking for the add-on workshops.

Doors Open When?
For Self-Reliance Festival: Doors open at 8 am on Saturday, October 14th, and 8 am Sunday October 15th. Check in to get your pass at the registration table at the SOE entrance. Once you have your lanyard, you can just wave it at the people at the gate and they will let you pass. Campers may come after 3pm on Friday, Oct 13.

For the Zero to Hero Ham Radio WorkshopDoors open at 8:30 am on Thursday, October 12th. Check in with Nicole Sauce. Campers may come after 3pm on Wednesday, Oct 11.

For Niti Bali’s Dissolving Illusions event: Doors open at 8 am Saturday, October 14th. Workshop is at 1:30 pm. Please check in with Niti in the Garage. You must also have a Self Reliance Festival Pass to attend this workshop.

For Homestead Advanced Wound Care: Doors open at 8 am Sunday, October 15th. Workshop is at 9:30 am. Please check in with Chuck in the Garage. You must also have a Self Reliance Festival Pass to attend this workshop.

For Chicken Processing: doors open at 7:30 am on Monday, October 16th. Workshop starts at 8 am. Please check in with Nicole at The Circus Tent. Campers may arrive after 4pm on Sunday, Oct 15 unless you have an SRF Pass.

Please talk directly with Andrew for specifics on the Patrolling the Homestead Workshop that is after SRF.

Check-in process: We will have your tickets and lanyard at the check in area at the SOE Entrance starting Saturday morning at 8 am. Once you have your pass you can come and go as you please.

Chairs: We do have some chairs on site, but if you can BYOC (bring your own chair), this really helps us out.

Schwag bags: No Schwag Bags this time! We have created a Schwag Treasure Hunt instead. Check in at the Information Booth for a map.

Camping Schedule

For Self Reliance Festival: You may camp Friday night, but arrive by 7 pm or you might not get in. We lock the gate at night.

For the Ham Radio Workshop: You may camp onsite Wednesday and Thursday night, but you must be on the compound by 6 pm. Once the factory is locked, it is locked. If you are not attending SRF after the Ham Radio workshop, please have your tent packed up before class on Friday.

For the Chicken Processing Workshop: You may camp onsite Sunday night after 4pm. Please be prepared to leave after class on Monday.

Camping Facilities: This is rustic camping – as in you get access to a relatively flat area with trees for tent and hammock camping. Please, no campfires outside the dedicated campfire area, which is monitored by a “fire marshal” who will put it out before he goes to bed.

Sites are not assigned. Just come and set up in the camping area. No cars will be permitted in the campsite area.

Anarchy Presentations MUST happen OFF the gravel area and in a way that does not interfere with scheduled programming. (These are things you decide, last-minute, to teach each other and we LOVE them!)

Ham Radio Food: You get a voucher for lunch from Big Daddy’s with your class. Menu: Meat (beef or chicken), 2 sides, bread (options), bottle of water.

Chicken Processing Food: You get a voucher for lunch from Big Daddy’s with your class. Do bring an apron and/or change of clothing, as this is a hands-on workshop and you may get messy. Menu: Meat (beef or chicken), 2 sides, bread (options), bottle of water

Onsite Food
We currently have TWO vendors who will sell food onsite: Grumpy Acres Farm and Taproot Catering. Breakfast sandwiches, eggs, pulled pork, deli sandwiches, lunch salads (like chicken or ham salad, and more) will be available. Taproot will be providing a Saturday dinner for sale.

The gas station, Big Daddy’s, at the entrance also sells hot food. There may be an additional food vendor or two attracted this week. Other than that you can buy food at area stores and restaurants. See the website FAQs for a partial list of food and supply sources..

Use the port-a-johns only. No entry to the SOE bathrooms as they are on a septic system.

Digital Passes
As an attendee you are entitled to a 50% discount on the digital pass which will give you access to all recorded sessions approximately one month after the event.

To take advantage of this, get the code from Nicole to buy your digital pass here:

That same code will work on the March 2023 digital recordings through the month of October!

In looking over the attendee list, we are delighted to see so many of you coming back this fall, and we are excited to meet all the new faces who are coming for the first time. If you are a seasoned festival attendee, could you please do me a favor? Find someone you have not met and make them feel welcome.

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