I am a Vice President o a very successful company in the western side of the Midwest. I am in my early 60s, and after 30 plus years with the company - I will retire in next year or so with no debt, a good retirement plan, stable lifestyle – no worries, right? So, why do some of those around me think I'm crazy (even me sometimes)? Here's my story.
I grew up a farm boy working the family farm with my grandma and grandpa, old school Swede - German homesteaders - milking cows, slopping hogs, baling hay, walking beans, driving tractors, gathering eggs, and yes, shoveling S#%*. Small rural town, 40 kids in my graduating high school class in late 1960s, sports, 4-H, Boy Scouts (be prepared), etc. Dad and Mom were both Marines in WWII. Brother was Marine in Vietnam (I missed the mandatory draft by 30 days in 1972 - otherwise I would also be a Marine.) My darling wife, an Asian pre-teen immigrant in mid-60's, has similar old time conservative culture values from her early years of primitive, survival type sustenance in post-war Korea, which was not a pretty picture or an easy life in the 50's - 60's. As kids growing up, on opposite sides of the ocean, we weren't rich, but we never went hungry either.
Flash forward over next 40 years - college (didn't have enough money to farm), college professor, corporate job, worked hard, moved around, promotions, and the good times rolled. In 2005 we purchased a small farm in an un-named western midwest state, as an investment, and was finally able to renew my farming roots ("Green Acres is the place to be..."). Bought some cows, chickens, and a donkey, and hooked up with a neighbor farmer to help manage-operate, and viola, I am again a farmer boy. Not much of a cash flow farm, but a neat place with wooded rolling hills and pastures, lower quality crop ground, well fenced, two ponds stocked with fish, two wells, a couple of buildings, and a rocky bottomed creek that runs year round, plus an artesian water tube that also runs pure and clear most of the time.
2008 hit us hard - stock market crash and global financial collapse fears, Enron fiasco (yes, I too had, and still do have, way to much money tied back into 'the' company). This, coupled with my growing concerns with the changing ways of our society and culture, both domestically and globally, all led to a growing sense of concern of the future. In 2010, I cashed in a chunk of my retirement and paid off the farm, the cars and truck, and the McMansion house in town. Debt Free!!!
But during this time I also started to think even more about about 'preparing' (Boy Scout). Prepare for what - I do not know, other than my growing sense that our society is not sustainable the way things are going (Agenda 21?). I stumbled on SurvivalBlog and got interested. Since then, I have read many of the 'survival' books and blogs - yours and others - and I envision a day in the future that things won't be the same as they have been for 'us' over the past 50 - 75 years.
Even though I myself am spooked, now five years later in 2013, (stock market 15,000), I have to admit that I probably won't live to see a SHTF world. But, I do believe fully that my children or grandchildren likely will. So, my prep activities are focused primarily for them. Okay, now here's what I am doing and planning.
Hunker Down: Refer to farm described above. Very isolated. 10+ miles from nearest small town (<2000). 60+ miles from nearest small city (100,000). 75+ miles from nearest Interstate highway. 200+ miles from 3 larger mid-size cities (250,000+). ~700+ miles from nearest mega city (CHI), 75 miles from nearest Interstate highway, 150+ miles from nearest 'strategic' military base. Sits on secluded, low-travel gravel road, 2 miles from nearest county paved road. County population is <19/sq. mile. Few neighbors (<20 in 5 mile diameter). Closest neighbor (1/4 mile) is a like-minded, well prepped and avid hunter and trapper. I see this as Wyoming-like, in a Midwestern state, and I call it Redoubt-East.
Currently we are building a 'retirement house' on the farm - off-grid and self-sufficient capable with redundant solar, propane, diesel, electric, and wood power-heat systems, deep water well along with alternate artesian water source. Constructed with solid concrete basement and concrete upper walls, small high, burglar-bar windows, steel external doors, and video/sensor security system. Also has concrete root cellar under basement and underground 'escape tunnel' out of basement. Sized to hold our 3 families (if we crunch up). Will be finished in early 2014. Should be sustainable and secure for localized rogues or small scale insurgents, but probably would not withstand an army-like assault (if they can find us) - like I read about in some of the Armageddon books. Also, we are keeping eye out for roving Obama drones! Oh well.
Practice - not so much on shooting, but in the last couple of years, more so on gardening and more primitive food preserving skills. My Korean wife remembers lessons from her grandma (watching) in food gathering and preserving. Turnips, yams, kimchi, other basic staples - to take the bounty of the current year and preserve it to get through the winter (non-growing seasons). In our practicing, we have 'discovered' a really neat way to naturally sun-dry some of the veggies and fruits we are growing (or buying at the farmers market). We use two spare window screens (from the McMansion), thinly slice the veggies - fruit, and place between the 2 screens, clamp the edges, and set out in the sun to dry. It takes about three days of good sunshine to fully dry. No bugs, no muss, no fuss. When dry, put in Zip-los bags (modern, yes, I know) and store in a cool dry place (root cellar is best). This makes excellent, naturally preserved veggies and fruit (fancy food preservation machines not needed), that will provide flavorful and nutritious basic staples (scurvy) through the winter and beyond, if stored properly.
Food - currently have at least 1+ year supply of easy living basics, even if electric-fuel grids go kaput. Working at two year supply of very basics. After 1 year adrift, we will go big time to gardening (have heirloom and hybrid seeds, tools, water & land), home-raised livestock (cattle & chickens) and abundant wild game (deer, turkey, fish), as needed. Assuming Mother Nature and OPSEC security provides, should be sufficient to survive and lead to the 'rebuilding' process.
Security - we have decent assortment - rifles (varmint & long guns), assault guns, shotguns, handguns, knives and 'special' tools, accumulated over the years by the direct family members (and like minded neighbors). We are not optimal in large stocks of ammo though, as we only got serious on this in last year or so, just when the ammo supplies went south, but we are able to self-load though. Rather than blow brains out in current ammo craze (serious money), I will be patient and stock up further as retail stocks reappear. (Hopefully in near future).
Barter - we have been accumulating stuff (things), like booze, cigarettes, meds, households, ammo, gold-silver-coins, gadgets, etc. No idea what will be useful or needed for a future SHTF scenario. If it does happens, then 'stuff' should come in handy. If not, then grand kids can all get together some day and go through it all, and laugh about their crazy old grandpa.
Survival Tip - Mr. Rawles advises that articles on practical 'how to' survival skills have an advantage in the judging. So, those of you old enough to remember the movie ‘The Graduate’ remember the ‘one word’ success tip whispered to Dustin Hoffman: "Plastics." So here is my 'one word' survival tip - Donkeys. Yes, I said 'donkeys'. Here's what a 'multi-propose 'survival' donkey' can do:
* Anti-predator - keeps roving coyotes, cougars, wild dogs (wolves?) away from cows/calves or sheep. Really amazing to see!
* Intruder Alert - donkey 'brays' at strangers coming up the lane (if you've never heard before, it definitely gets your attention). Also, watching the donkeys laser-like ears and eyes is dead-on if you want to know where a lurking intruder is located. Her (jenny) ears, eyes, and nose are much better than ours.
* Halter Breaking calves - another story in itself.
* Pack-bearing - can haul couple hundred pounds of gear/supplies.
* Cart Pulling - can pull cart (or person) with gear/supplies.
* SHTF transport - can ride - for when doctor (son) must make 'SHTF calls' around the township/county for house calls or emergency (good enough for Jesus).
* Family-Friend-Companion – it’s amazing what an apple a day can do.
So, am I crazy? No question about it. I could be planning an easy, fun-filled retirement with golfing, a beach home, and world travel vacations. NOT - been there, done that! Yes, I am crazy, but we are also HAPPY and EXCITED. My wife and I are looking forward to the next 15+ years of a 'back to the farm' lifestyle, growing old together, rediscovering our rural roots and old fashioned passions, enjoying weekend visits and summer farm vacations with our kids and grand kids along with new found friends and good times with our rural neighbors. And oh yeah, if the S does HTF, we will be ready, I hope. Crazy as Fox.