My wife, our children and I live on our family's farm. Our lives are quite unburdened by the daily cares of most folks. We live debt free, have never owned a new car and have never taken a vacation. There's just simply no other place we'd rather be than home.
We do have quite a few visitors here, with people stopping by to tour the 19th Century era museum and village we have created, or folks coming to the homesteading classes we teach, or neighbors coming for eggs and honey. But, even with the daily company and the rarity of a dinner eaten alone, our lives are basically stress free, and rather enjoyable.
Lately the two of us have been talking about world events and the need for folks to organize in like-minded communities or to acquire 'survival' retreats. But there is something that has puzzled us. As long time readers of SB, we have of course taken notice of the many letters and articles about bug-out-bags and getting out of the cities 'when the time comes'.
Many people seem to think they need to get the just right gear and vehicle in order to leave the cities and go someplace else in the collapse because the cities won't be livable. It seems to us that kind of thinking is a bit backwards. If someone who has spent a life in the city suddenly tries to move to the country in the time of turmoil and confusion, it's the country that will be unlivable. 'Country liv'n' is just so vastly different from city life, that few city folks are likely to be able to make it.
The environment is just so 'other'. The sounds, smells, plants, landscapes, the amount and kinds of work, the climate, the skills needed, the challenges, the available foods, types of required clothing, kinds of tools, the things you notice and things you don't notice, the way you use time, your emotional outlook on daily events, are all vastly different. --And that's just a partial list of the things you'll need to adjust, acquire and change in order to be successful in a completely new and different environment. Your B.O.B. may be just right enough to get you through the first few days or even week. But after that, fields are simply not the same as cement. And looking up in a tree is not the same as looking down from a high rise apartment.
In talking about this question of 'getting to the country', my wife and I have discovered we actually have somewhat different reasons for moving 'to the country' now, rather that waiting until 5 minutes before the crunch when it may actually already be too late. My thinking runs more to the material side of why move sooner than later. Laura's has much more spiritual reasons to move now.
...So, together, we write two letters.
During WW2 in the Pacific Theater, Allied troops were island hopping. Very few of the young men had ever been in a tropical environment. The palm trees were different than anything they had ever seen. The weather and wetness was foreign to anything they had experienced. It was just so much hotter and more humid than Brooklyn or Buffalo.
The Japanese developed the "trick" of hiding in tree tops and picking off the troops as they walked by, knowing the city boys would never see them. But, the Americans fairly quickly learned to send the country boys through an area first because the country-raised guys knew what to look for. They could spot when a tree, even though a completely new to them species, just didn't look right. Many of them couldn't exactly explain how they were different. Just something about the thickness of the branches, or the color being off slightly, or the shadows were "wrong". City raised boys couldn't see it, but men raised in the woods and fields all their lives just, ...knew. And so they could deal with the enemy snipers before the enemy could deal with them.
I had something a little like that happen to me a few years ago. I was driving through a park one day. As I drove I was scanning side to side as I always do. (There have been studies done of how most folks mostly just stare straight ahead as they drive, and never see what is to either side.) I was driving normally, not fast, not slow, just driving and looking. I noticed something wrong about a tree, so I stopped and backed up to take a look. I walked quite far into the woods and discovered a deer head set in a crotch of a maple tree. Someone had been poaching.
Later the police asked me how I had spotted the head. I think they were suspicious that I might have put it there while illegally hunting. I tried to explain that from a distance it just wasn't "right". But they just didn't get what I meant. It was outside their experience.
A year ago the past winter I was disposing of a pile of papers for one reason or another. I asked a couple of friends if they would burn them on the outdoor burn pile. They dumped the paper, then tried to light it up. They couldn't do it. Too much wind, or something. ....They called me over to relate the problem. I bent down, struck a match, and off and going the fire went. They told me later that I had put my back to the wind to make a wind shelter so the match could take. I didn't even know I had done that. It was just something that a person does naturally without thinking. (At least naturally when you had been building fires all your life.)
So what does this have to do with survivalblog? Well, I'm often struck by how many folks spend so much time on collecting bug out bags, but seemingly spend little time in the woods they imagine they'll bug to.
Some time ago a writer on SurvivalBlog wrote about the cart and the horse. He suggested that it may very well be more useful to collect now what you need, rather than collecting trade goods in order to be able to try to acquire the needed items later. To me, he was absolutely right. If you are already living your TEOTWAWKI existence as you believe it will be, you won't much need trade goods for getting what you may need. You'll have already gathered the tools of self-sufficiency.
The problem is, if you haven't already been living in 'the country' and acquiring the knowledge, skills and goods you'll need, you will be just like those fish out of water soldiers in the Pacific. You'll have a very hard time functioning in a strange environment. You won't know what you need (except by reading someone else's barter list. Viagra! Really?) Simply put, you won't know how to live if you only know a pre-crunch 'walking on cement' life.
These are all very practical issues for me. It takes years to be able to unconsciously know where the wind is, to know what it means when birds roost differently than usual, or how old a deer track is. Or just the knowing of, when does a tree look wrong. I want to know the how of things. I want to have, in hand, the things I need to do the job. I want to be fully prepared for TEOTWAWKI before it happens. Not play catch up when it's too late. Prepping a bag is only skin deep to what you'll need. Living the life now, 24 hours, will serve you much better.
But my wife goes much deeper than that. She's more,"horse first" than even me. She wants to know the the why of, 'why do you want to know or do'? In her words she writes, ....
Why do you want to survive TEOTWAWKI?
Why do you want to live as long as you can? What makes living as long as you can seem important to you, so important that you are spending your free time after work, or in the mornings, or in between activities, reading this web site? Do you feel that with more length of time on Earth, you may have a greater opportunity to teach others? Maybe learn more yourself, or perhaps prove to yourself or your God(s) that you can conquer this world, or can take whatever "they" can dish out? Perhaps that will make you feel valued? Certainly most of us will feel that being around to take care of our families is of utmost importance..
Or maybe you are just afraid to die?
In times as hard and unbelievable as these, we can all get caught up in such questions. Some of them are good ones, the best kind there are. But we ought to be careful to not walk the path of simply how to 'get there". We really need to think beyond the need to survive and really get to the why we want to live.
My husband, our two daughters and I are blessed with a decent amount of land on which to live. Many other people also have land somewhere they can go to in need. But the difference between this land and so much of the land of those other people is that we have used our hands, minds, efforts, and desires to manifest an existence as close to perfect as we can imagine. Even, in a lot of ways, greater than we can imagine. We have found and brought home many buildings in order to create a place of self-sufficiency and sustainability (including a sawmill, blacksmith shop, weaving mill, smokehouse, windmills and many more.).
We have spent many hours and days hauling in mulches and manure to perfect our many gardens. We dedicate many an hour to perfecting and teaching dozens of classes on indefensible skills such as soap making (including rendering storable lard from fats and making lye from wood ash), cheese making from our goat's milk and creating rugs from scrap fabrics. We grow most of our vegetables, save the seeds and preserve as much as we can through canning, pickling, fermenting, dehydrating and freezing. Most meals include at least one wild edible, and when itches or irritations occur, we reach for our homemade salves.
We do all of this, live this life from sleep to waking, until sleep again. But why? Is it because we want to be ready when the time comes? Is it out of fear of being 'cut off ' from outside help?
Well, that is certainly in our minds. But none of those reasons are why we dedicate our lives to this. We do it because at any point in existence, whether before the Coming of Christ, or now in the spring of 2012 or after TEOTWAWKI, living sustainably and consciously is the way to create the same peace and common sense in our physical world that is abundant in our mind. Because NOT living in a way that we create everything we need, living in a way where the average man consumes more than he creates, is what got us in this mess in the first place.
For many people there seems to be this big reality 'gap' of what people want to do and how the world has turned out. Because of this many almost SEEK this big apocalyptic event that will perhaps 'jolt' us into living the way that we SHOULD be living right now. But I ask you all, friends, ...what is stopping you from living your dream now?
For us, we see the virtues of the old ways of living before technologies and computers took hold. We don't need to wait until the electricity is gone to live as if it doesn't exist now. We choose to relearn that which is now all but lost, but was once so common. We seek to remember all of the lost Prophecy, lost tradition, lost music, lost way of life. And in doing this, "the end of the world as YOU know it", will mean little to us as we know it. That is what our farm and community are about, what the classes are about, and what our gardens are about. Living now, as we know you survivors will try living later. The same path can open for you as well.
An important but mostly forgotten Native American Prophecy states that until the average man learns to live with less, Earth will never know peace. Make the simple transition to change. Do it happily and get excited about it. What better time than 2012? If you don't want a government who feels compelled to wipe the behinds of every citizen, then learn how to make toilet paper and wipe properly.
Owning a good plant identification book isn't enough. Cleverly keeping it in your BOB isn't enough. You need to know where to find this precious food and medicine, how to use it, at what time of the year it is available, and if necessary, how to cultivate it.
Living in a self-sufficient mind is not what you do after a disaster. It's what you can do now in everyday life. It's what you can do to respect our planet. And to respect the people and creatures on it, and honor the Creator of such an amazing world. It doesn't take many days of having your hands covered in fertile soil, sitting in a garden and planting individual peas, gathered from vines planted by your hands last season, created from nothing more than soil water and sun to learn the important unchanging cycle of creation. And as a homebirthing mother I will say that nothing can teach the lesson of creation and life as can loving another person so much that you join together in the Holiest of ways to then find yourself heavy with life, and then unburdened one day to see another life, two new eyes never before opened laying next to you in your bed. No government, no hospital, and no medications are necessary to experience these things.
And that, friends, is worth surviving for.
This continual circle of creation and destruction, rising, falling, birthing, aging, dying, and birthing again.. This is what we live for. This is why we choose to survive. For the opportunity to witness it, learn from it, and be a part of this mysterious beautiful thing we call life.
Well, obviously my wife's words grow more corn than mine. But I will close by saying, forget the bugging out bags. There's a world waiting for you to discover. You can live in it now. You can learn it now. If you don't, well, it may soon be too late. Because, just like for those 'boys' in the Pacific, it's a whole different world when crunch time comes. And you better have learned what those differences are while you still have time.
Jim & Laura Fry in Ohio
Note: Jim & Laura are co-teaching a series of three day survival courses with Dr. Cindy Koelker (SurvivalBlog's medical editor) and Tom Laskowski beginning this June and July. Visit www.ArmageddonMedicine.net for more information.