It was June, 1998. Y2K was
a salient topic of conversation. It got my attention. When the electricity
went off and there would be no water to drink, and no
fuel to move food to the JIT grocery
stores, I could see things getting very ugly. I had been willing to fight
for this nation as a member of the US Army.
Now it was time to fight for my household. I bought a Springfield Armory
M1A. I bought a safe to store it in. I bought another M1A (for
the spousal unit of course!) I bought ammo. Lots of it. I bought gear. I
I became awakened to the idea of being self-reliant.
That was 10 years ago. Y2K didn’t cause a global melt down. (Although
I have a friend in the service that sat in a command bunker holding his breath
at Y2K – the
government didn’t know what was going to occur.) I
have not had to live through or endure Hurricane
Katrina. No participation
in the 9/11 attacks.
In fact, I can’t claim a campaign ribbon for any
disasters. Am I upset or sorry that I have changed my life to follow a path
of self-reliance? Most definitely, absolutely not!
Let me share with you the good and the bad of what I have done in the last
ten years. So often, people new to self-reliance are like ants at the foot
of a mountain staring up with their head touching their back wondering how
in the world they will ever be able to replace modern society and be able to
take care of themselves WTSHTF.
Well, truth be told, you can’t do it
overnight unless you’re Warren Buffet. I am walking, talking living proof,
however, that you can make significant progress. Let me show you!
In order to show you that you do indeed have cause for hope, let me share
few of my screw-ups. How about the initial purchases I made
while in a state of “marked concern” when I became “self
regard to self – reliance. The money I invested in self-reliance was
my spousal unit’s “down payment on a house”. Do you think
this view of “my nest” versus “the world may end” led
to some intense “discussions”? You bet your last dog flea it did.
For much of the intervening 10 years I have been the one prepping while my
wife harbored a severe grudge against the entire topic because I spent our
money for the house down payment on crazy self-reliance materials. A grade
of “F” to
me for consensus building. She is just beginning to come around in the last
two years. Poster child example of a bucket of wet sand. (If two guys fight,
they belt each other like two crazed wolverines. Eventually they realize they
were stupid for fighting, shake hands, forgive and are back to being friends.
Kinda like a cow urinating on a big flat rock – big splash and splatters,
but it dries up pretty quickly. Get in an argument with a gal and it is like
pouring water into
a bucket of sand – the surface may dry after a bit, but it stays wet
down in that bucket for a long time.)
I very religiously squirreled away Gillette Atra razors because that is what
I used each day. The handle that you click onto the blade cartridge gave up
the ghost after many years of faithful service. The stores don’t sell
them anymore! Now I have three dozen packs of five cartridges with no way to
use them to shave! Fortunately, I did find a second/spare handle in my stores
be able to use them up. Did I re-learn some valuable lessons? You bet!
Two is one, and one is none.
You need to see what you have (inventories!)
Store what you Eat/use – I did great on the cartridges, but forgot
In the run-up to Y2K I bought a dozen 6 volt golf cart batteries to be able to
set-up some kind of power system in the house. Great intent. No photovoltaic
panels No wiring until last year. They have been “stored” sitting
on pallets in a friends storage building for 9 years because I have not been
able to get
to the replacement power system yet. I could have used that money for a higher
The spousal unit and I built our home last year. We did many things very right.
Some learning experiences occurred, however. Maybe chief amongst them is my
underestimation of the massiveness of the size of this endeavor! I joke with
friends about not being free from the To Do list to be able to get into trouble
for at least five years! Fix the septic pond berms. Sort out the “scrap” lumber.
Put a deck on the back of the house so the [building] code Nazis will give
us the permanent occupancy permit. Fix the leaking pressure tank in the basement.
Fix the DR
mower. Mow. Clear 30 trees dropped to get the septic pond clearance (not done
with that one yet). Cut and split and stack firewood. The list goes on. Don’t
get me wrong – I would not trade my homestead back for city living for
anything. Was I able to foresee the "second & third order effects” of
the change to a country homestead? Nope. Not even having read Backwoods Home
magazine for 8 years. Thank God I listened to my in-laws and did not try
to finish the upstairs interior construction while living downstairs!
Prior to Y2K I tried very hard to create a group. It failed in many ways. Had
Y2K caused the feared problems, we would have been road kill. Okay, we would
have been the third or fourth critter on the highway run over by life, but
nowhere near ready to deal with WTSHTF/TEOTWAWKI.
The Yuppie Queen and her husband went right back to spoiling their princess/daughter,
buying Jaguars, clothes,
and hair implants. You know - living the typical American city life. The other
couple moved out onto 20 acres in a very rural county and raise goats and chickens.
I am on 20+ acres and moving in a self-reliant direction. Two out of three
I endured the gauntlet of multiple careers trying to find a fit for who I am.
Thankfully, my spousal unit was trained well by her farmer parents. We never
carried any debt other than the mortgage. One thing we did do smart was under-buy
on our home with a condo (sixplex) in town. No car payments. No credit card
payments. We kept 3-6 months of expenses in savings. One business venture was
as a franchisee for Idiotstate. Massive mistake. Four years with no income
for me and a net loss of $60,000 overall. What preps could you get done with
extra $60,000? I am certainly not happy I put one in the “L” column.
I am not proud of failing. I am proud of jumping into the fight and giving
it my 110%. As they used to tell me in the military, “What an opportunity
for character building!” Learning lesson for me was that I should never
have stopped Soldiering. I simply have green blood. I have returned to the
Army by working as a tactical/leadership contractor at a nearby Fort and getting
reappointed into the National Guard. Will a deployment take me away from directly
protecting The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU)? Yes. Does staying employed doing
what God designed me to do mean we’ll have a steady income? Likely. Does
a pension check from age 65 on make us better able to care for ourselves? You
betcha. The world may not disintegrate in 30 days. It may actually remain fairly
normal. One has to prepare for that contingency as well.
By now you have to be thinking “What a knothead! This guy couldn’t
find his fourth point of contact if you put one hand on a cheek!” Well,
not so fast there Skippy! I have a thing or two that should go in the “W” column.
I should give you a massive dose of hope! Let me describe to you in a quick
overview where I have come to in my 10 year quest to become more self-reliant.
First, about our home…
Your home is your castle, right? Well mine actually kinda is. It sets on a
chunk of land that is 20+ acres. The terrain is rolling and 95% wooded. It
butts up against a cemetery to the north, a 900+ acre conservation area to
the south, a river to the west, and a section line to the east. The home is
an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF)
structure. The walls are 1” of concrete
fake rock veneer, 2.5” of foam, 8” of reinforced concrete, 2.5” of
foam, 5/8” of sheetrock. It is “round”, being made up of
12 wall sections each 8 feet in width. Two stories with a basement. About
1,800 square feet of living space. (2,700 with the basement, however, that
area is not finished yet.) Geothermal heating/cooling and a soapstone wood
Metal roof. No carpeting – oak floors and tile. The wellhead
is inside the home so I don’t have to worry about winter breakdowns or freeze-ups,
nor losing access WTSHTF. We are running at top speed towards the 20% equity
checkpoint in order to get rid of the bankster-invented Private Mortgage Insurance
(PMI) extortion racket. (We have a credit rating of 804, so the “risk” the
bank incurs by carrying our note is a freaking joke!). It suits our lifestyle
well. Our intent was to have a very low maintenance home. Having lived here
one year in two more weeks, it looks like we have a very big check mark in
the “W” column. More details on the design/floor plan in a future
Weapons & Training
We have an M1A set-up for combat, and one set up for long-range precision work.
The Glock 21
[.45 ACP] is the base pistol for the household, with one for each of us and
a G30 [compact Glock .45 ACP] as back-up. The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU) doesn’t
carry a rifle or carbine, just the pistol. (More on that later.) Training for
both of us
Handgun 1 and Team Tactics with Clint and Heidi Smith at Thunder Ranch. I have
also had General Purpose, Urban, and Precision Rifle with Clint. I completed
a special symposium at Gunsite (pistol, rifle, shotgun, carbine). I am an NRA Certified
pistol, rifle, and home defense instructor. I have several other weapon platforms
as a “Dan Fong” kind of guy. The two rifles with
accoutrements, and the four pistols with same were certainly not cheap. Nor
was the training. I do, however, know how to properly employ them now.
Food & Supplies
The spousal unit & I could stretch the on-hand food to cover two years.
Canned freeze dried is 45% of it, bulk buckets is 45%, and “normal use” food
is the last 10%. We have built a rolling rack set of shelves for the 3rd part
to ease rotation of the canned goods with each grocery store trip. No, I haven’t
found the secret spy decoder ring sequence on how to rotate the bulk and freeze-dried
stuff with our normal, both of us work, lifestyle. The sticking point for this
area I see is that WTSHTF, Mom & Dad in-law, Sister-in-law, Brother-in-law
with wife and two princesses (one with hubby), and my Mom & her husband
show up on our doorstep. That makes for an even dozen mouths to fee
Now for a bit more detail. First topic up, IAW my military training, is Security.
The base of everything here is God. I have chosen to bend my knee to Jesus
Christ as my Lord and Savior. I can amass all the weapons, ammo, food and “stuff” you
can imagine, but He is the one ultimately in charge. I am charged to be a prudent
steward of His possessions - my family, property, vehicles, food, weapons,
ammo, etc.. I am definitely striving to be the ant storing things for the winter.
If you ain’t right in this area, it will really matter in eternity.
Part of your security is weapons. There are sheeple, wolves, and sheepdogs.
I am definitely in the 3rd category. In today’s world your “teeth” are
your firearms. I plan from a Boston T. Party paradigm of having a battle rifle.
Hence, the M1A. Were I starting over today, I would likely go with a FAL, but
now "I will dance with the one that brung me". Or maybe just accept the brilliance
of the M1
Garand at $620 delivered to your doorstep from the Civilian Marksmanship
I do have two of these. Hard to argue with .30-06 ball. I renovate Mausers
as my hobby and so have a .35 WAI scout rifle. A second one in the
more common 7.62x51 chambering is in work now. I laos have a Mossberg 835 [riotgun],
two Ruger 10/22s (one blued, one stainless), Ruger MKII stainless .22 LR pistol,
625 pistol in .45 ACP/.45
Auto Rim, a few Enfields, and a couple of Mosin-Nagants round out the field.
Let me detail for you the path to get to the Glocks. I think it may save you
some of your money. I received a Colt Gold Cup [M1911]
.45 ACP pistol from my Dad as a graduation gift from the Hudson Home For Boys
[aka USMA West Point].
intent. A weapon as a gift – how can you ever be wrong in doing this?!
However, a terrible choice as a combat weapon. The Gold Cup is a target pistol.
Feeds only hardball, and that can be tenuous proposition. I carried it on the
East-West German border leading patrols. The rear sight broke twice. The front
sight shot off once and tore off twice. It was a jammomatic. I hated it. Sold
it to a guy that wanted to target shoot.
Took that money and bought a stainless Ruger P90DC. Sack of hammers tough.
always goes bang when you pull the trigger. Inexpensive as far as handguns
go. After some marked de-horning, you could even make it run in a fight without
shredding you at the same time. One marked problem. Two [different weight]
trigger pulls [for first round double action versus subsequent round single
action.]. This started to teach me to throw the muzzle down as I pulled the
This nasty habit caused a problem when you were firing the 2nd through X rounds,
as now it operates as a single action. TLSU had a heck of a time with it at
Thunder Ranch. Clint loaned her his G21. No more trigger problems.
Still bowing at the altar of the 1911, I bought a Kimber Compact to carry instead
of the Ruger. (I still have the Ruger – it is still “the gun that
my Dad gave me” and no one buys the P90 used for anywhere near it’s
initial cost, so I can’t sell it without taking a significant bath on
it.) The Kimber was going well. Then I got a little too aggressive at slamming
magazines home in the shortened grip and jammed it. Then the recoil rod unscrewed
itself during an IPSC run
and seized the gun while messing up the trigger. Off to Kimber. Free warranty
work and 48 hours without my self-defense pistol.
Now I have no confidence in the pistol. I Loc-Tite’d the recoil rod
and staked it so it wouldn’t come undone again. Then I sold it.
Glocks cost roughly one-half of what a Kimber does. Crummy factory sights,
but all my pistols wear tritium anyway. No ambidextrous safety required. My
short fingers are
mated to big palms, so I can handle the grip. TLSU has been trained on the
Glock Model 21 (G21). It ain’t an issue of psychological derangement
like many guys get about their 1911/Glock/H&K/Springfield, but it is a
comfortable and working relationship between Glock & I. I have a G21 and
a G30 for both of us. They always go bang accurately and they have never rusted.
with Gaston [Glock]’s refusal to take responsibility for any mistakes
they make in manufacturing. No problems with the G21 however. A pistol is what
to fight your way back to your rifle, which you shouldn’t have laid down
in the first place.
M1As hit my safe because it is what I knew from the service. They also fire
a full power cartridge, 7.62x51. It makes cover into concealment. I don’t
have the other 10 guys in an infantry squad fighting with me so I can maneuver
under their covering fire. I have to hit the bad guy with a powerful blow once
and move on to the next wolf/bad guy. Mouse guns firing rabbit rounds don’t
scratch that itch for me. To each his own. My two are old enough to have USGI
parts and good quality control. Here are the mods I made to my “combat” M1A.
Maybe they will help you:
Krylon paint job to disrupt the "big black stick" look
M60 [padded] sling
Front sight filed down so that zero is achieved with the rear sight bottomed
National Match trigger group, barrel, and sights (came as a “Loaded” package
Rear aperture drilled out to make it a ghost ring
Skate board tape on slick metal butt plate
For the “Surgical” M1A (it shoots1/2 minute when I do my part):
National Match loaded package
Trigger assembly additionally tuned at factory
Unitized gas system
Swan rings and QD bases
Leupold M3 3.5-10x40 scope
Handmade leather cheekrest
Other weapons - I have two M1
Garands. Both were bought from the CMP. One
is stored offsite with a "Bug-In Bag" (BIB). One is a Danish return, less
wood, that I re-stocked. TLSU has claimed this one as hers. Ammo from the CMP
other cartridge out there, save the communist surplus stuff. An M1917 Enfield
from CMP) is in the safe, along with a 2A, a #3, and a #4. A VZ24 is stored
offsite. The first Mauser I renovated is sitting there as an additional .30-06
with a Trijicon 3-9x40 tritium-lit scope. A Remington 700 with Leupold VX-II
scope is in the safe, but likely to be sold soon. A Mosin-Nagant (M44 or
M38) ride in each vehicle.
I formerly had [Ruger] Mini-30s. I could never find any 20 or 30 round magazines
that would function reliably. I sold them and got SKS carbines. When I quit
for TLSU to become a Warrior and carry one, I sold them off to fund other
toys. I am pondering the purchase of an AK folder because it is a sack of
tough and can be transported discretely. I don’t know if I have ever
come out on the positive side when selling a gun. Now I have to re-buy an
AR-15 to have one for training purposes. The SKSs could be useful for arming
family showing up on your doorstep. Hindsight being 20/20, I would caution
against selling any gun you buy. (The 700 mentioned above is a 2nd precision
weapon and I have no AK to train with. Still deciding.)
Ammo is required to feed these weapons. I have over 10,000 rounds of 7.62x51.
I have over 10,000 rounds of .22 LR. No, I don’t think these amounts
are enough. Now that the costs of ammo have risen to heart stopping levels,
I really don’t feel like I bought enough in the past!
I need to plus up the quantities/smatterings of other cartridges that I have
like .30-30 Winchester, .270 Winchester,
The location of my home is the best I could get balancing competing requirements.
It is as far from the city as we can get and still stomach the drive to work.
It is between two major line of drift corridors – 12 miles to the major
one, 8 miles to the secondary one. It is bordered by neighbors on only one
side. The folks in the cemetery don’t say much. The critters in the
wildlife area are more vocal - the ducks, turkeys, geese, hoot owls, loons,
sound off regularly. We don’t mind. About 95% of the property is wooded.
A few hickory, lots of oak. walnut, (unfortunately) locust trees are all
The local river comes out of it’s banks about every other year and
blocks our driveway for several days, but never comes near the house. The
is long in the tooth for security, but she is there. A new pup is in the
I would feel a great deal more secure if the homestead was picked up and
dropped into Idaho or Alaska. It is about as good as we can do, though, staying
a major city so we can have decent paying jobs. There are some improvements
we can make though. I just bought a weather alert radio from Cabela’s
today. Tough to hear tornado sirens when you live miles away and have 1 foot
thick walls! We need a driveway monitor/alarm. Again, the superior insulation
the walls means we hear nothing outside. I can see the utility
of sandbags if things got really ugly. Some more land line communication
assets would be
useful. I think an AR-15 for training people would be useful, as would an
AK. Overall, I think we have done pretty well in the security arena.
We started the 10 years in a condo. It was part of a six-plex set on a small
pond. I hate Homeowner’s Associations and their covenants! We could afford
the mortgage on one of our two paychecks. Good thing! I didn’t get a
paycheck for four years. We scraped by. Two years after re-entering the job
market we built our house. We worked on the plans for five years. Beware! Finding
a property piece and building a non-shoebox home on it is not for the feint
You effectively are funding the construction of a mini town. You build and
maintain mini roads (your driveway). You must build and maintain a mini sewage
plant (Your septic system/pond). You must build and maintain a mini water plant.
(Your well.) You must perform mowing and tree removal for the mini parks of
your town (Your “yard”/acreage). I will write a separate article
detailing our construction woes.
Let me highlight some of the self-reliant features of the house for you. We
did not want to spend a constant stream of Federal Reserve Notes [FRNs]on
maintenance. We used insulated concrete form (ICF) construction for the structural
and the energy efficiency. The metal roof should outlast us. The geothermal
ICF are paying us back the initial investment in construction costs. We opted
for no carpeting due to the track in mud nature of the property, having a dog,
and me having allergies. Wood and tile floors don’t hold dirt like carpets
do. Less fire hazard as well. We used commercial steel doors for the exterior
and security-need spots. They have ASSA
[high security] locks. They have peepholes.
The basement has a 10’ square root cellar for the storage of canned produce
from the garden. It also has a safe room/shelter. 12” of concrete overhead.
The well head is enclosed in it. Land line telephone and power service into
it via buried lines. Food stored in it. DC wiring
in place to the attic for when we get to the photovoltaic [PV]
system. We also ran DC wires to each room in the house for the use of LED lighting
off of a battery system. The soapstone
augments the electrically driven geothermal. (In spite of several damaging
thunderstorms this past year, we have not lost power so far – great job
The stairwell was kicked out onto the W/NW of the house. This shields the house
from the hottest part of the day’s sunlight, and the coldest winter winds.
We made the stairwell an extra foot wide. What a huge nice difference that
foot makes to walking up and down each day, not to mention moving stuff up
or down them! The mud porch/entry was set up for coming in with muddy boots,
or for snow covered coats. We should have made it 1’ wider, as it can
be a little tight. The bench is great for donning/doffing boots. The tile is
easy to clean the muddy paw prints, human or canine, off of.
Windows were one of the few areas that caused some fireworks. TLSU wanted a
green house in order to take advantage of the great view of the property. I
wanted firing ports to defend against mutant zombie hordes. I am still hugely
uncomfortable with the nakedness the windows leave us with. Yes the view is
great, but what about when we experience incoming rounds, or more mundanely,
when someone comes out to the property while we are away from the house all
day at work and they help themselves to our stuff? Some relief is in sight,
however. We are pricing Shattergard vinyl film for the ground floor windows.
Things That are Still Need on the Home
The great thing about the R-50 ICF walls is that they are R-50 and pretty tough.
The bad thing is that they are R-50 and pretty tough. We can’t hear anything without
a door or window being open. Hence the just purchased weather alert radio for
us from Cabela’s this week. It is kind of eerie waking up at
0200 hours and having no idea if the thunderstorm is just a thunderstorm or
if it is a tornado. The television is useless when the rain is so heavy that
the dish won’t get a signal. With regard to 2-legged varmints, a driveway
system is on the purchase list as we have had multiple invited guests show
up, beat on the front door, and have to walk around to the living room
windows to get our attention so they can be let inside. Okay for invited guests – certainly
too close for uninvited varmints!
The entry hallway was one of TLSU’s “must haves” in the house
layout. It has worked out well in terms of traffic flow and such. The security
door at the foot of the stairs is a tough choke point to deal with at 0500
in the dark. No light installed there means nothing is visible through the
I will have to install a camera and/or light so I don’t open it to let
the dog out in the morning and get rushed by 2-legged varmints.
So far, the only commo needs are between myself and TLSU. When the sister-in-law,
brother-in-law, parents-in-law and my Mom show up and we start pulling
security, we will need to be able
to talk more. I have an old set of TA-312 [field telephone]s and wire for the
but obviously will need more in this area. Just not a sexy/fun area to spend
FRNs on for a combat arms kinda guy, but I am working on the self-discipline
We did look ahead and sink the FRNs into running 12V wires in the home for
future installation of PV panels and batteries. Obviously things like the Shattergard
film, more food, more Band-aids, etc., are of a higher priority though. We
are working our tails off to reach the 20% equity mark to get rid of the PMI
extortion as well. I still have an ASSA lock to install on the shelter door,
and one to put into the basement door. Other projected door enhancements include
armor plates for the front, outside basement, shelter, and outside storage
doors. There just never seems to be enough $ to go around, does there?
The other major source of fireworks during the home design/build was on-demand
water heaters. Having taken a 30 minute hot shower with one in Germany for
5 marks while on an FTX, I well understand what a brilliant piece of technology
they are. TLSU, having never been outside of CONUS cannot give up on the electric
water heater. She still doesn’t believe that the electricity will ever
go out for more than an hour or two. Wouldn’t it be great to be able
to draw hot water at the kitchen sink, and take a hot shower from a propane
fired on-demand heater? She doesn’t get it yet. Obviously not something
to break up a marriage over. We really did very well on the whole house building
thing. The opposite of what everyone warned us about. I am pretty proud of
We started a garden this spring. So far, it is an endeavor run by TLSU. Spinach,
onions, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, beets, and some herbs. I have not been
able to convince her to expand the size. She wants to learn in steps and I
am the whacko that orders 100 seedlings at a time from the conservation department,
which then overwhelms us in the planting department. For example, the first
iteration of this tree-planting endeavor, we got them the Thursday before Easter
weekend. Friday night and all day Saturday we planted our buns off. TLSU was
indeed a great Trooper about it, planting right along with me. Sunday was spent
and pigging out at family’s homes for Easter. Monday I had shoulder surgery
to grind off bone spurs and remove cartilage chips. Too much, too fast. But
at 7 FRNs per 12 seedlings, how can you argue? I have to admit though, that
after two years of the 100 seedlings, I am ready to give it a rest. This year
we settled for seven apple saplings. Initial inspection of the cherry, pecan,
oak, walnut and persimmon seedlings around the house reveals about an 80% survival
rate. Only another 10 years and we will be getting food from them!
The initial freeze dried and bulk storage food needs to be rotated. Anyone
figured out how to do this kind of at home cooking when the two of you work?
The canned/”normal” food is now being rotated with each grocery
store trip. We have canning jars for this year’s veggies and the root
cellar has a robust collection of shelves to store them on. How much is enough?
don’t know. Four geographically separate and secure stashes of three
worth of food for all of the family? Who knows!?
I have Boo-boo kits just about everywhere now. You know, the band-aid and antibiotic
salve with ibuprofen kit that handles 90% of life’s issues in this area.
Now comes the high-dollar investment stuff. The combat blow-out packs for gunshot
wounds or serious car wrecks. I did go along on a buying trip to a medical
warehouse and got some catheters, sutures, gauze pads, etc.. I did get in on
the last great iodine buy before our loving big brother government banned the
sale of iodine to us mere citizens. (It is a stewable ingredient to make drugs,
you know – “we must deprive/punish all to protect you from a few.
Oh, well, you don’t need to be able to sterilize water anyway – we’ll
take care of you on that too….”)
TLSU and I eat very healthy food – locally raised beef with no antibiotics
or growth hormones. No growth hormone dairy products from a local dairy. Spinach
from the garden. There are sugar detectors on the doors. Also, no chips allowed.
We get to the dentist regularly. We both do Physical Training (PT)
. She jogs 3 miles, 3-4 times per week. I run over lunch at work about 4 miles,
weights twice per week.
“Needed Still” list includes: Blow out kits, more bandages, more
hospital type stuff, more medicines, syrup of ipecac, more antibiotics, more
stuff (think of a vaginal yeast infection with no drug store open), drinking
alcohol, poison Ivy soap and remedies, athlete’s foot cream, more baby
wipes, more hand sanitizer, all forms of baby stuff, get the bone spur ground
smooth in my other shoulder and the cartilage chips taken out, get rid of the
We still have the same vehicles we had in 2001. A 1998 Toyota Corolla bought
with 30,000 miles, and a 1999 Ford Explorer bought with 45,000 miles. Both
paid in full when bought. Both avoided the 25% loss of value when driving a
new car off the lot. The Corolla gets 37 MPG.
I hate it. Every bit of plastic on it has broken – the car door locking
mechanisms, the trunk lock, the ventilation system fan. It gets 37 MPG. I can’t
find anything to touch that. The Ford is too big to get decent mileage, and
too small to really be
a useful truck. It is paid for and has AWD/4WD.
It always starts. Both vehicles have BIBs and gas masks in them. Both have
trunk guns. Both have roadside gear
to help ourselves out of a jam. We are saving for the replacement of them both.
We are going to be saving for quite a while. We need more cash in the BIBs
and Bug Out Bags (BOBs)
All of the preps in this section were done via Cabela points. I bought gas
and paid for business expenses - everything I could pay for with a credit card
was paid for with the Cabela’s credit card. You get points at some sickening
rate of $.01/FRN spent, $.02/FRN in the store. However, when you buy $6-8,000/month
of stuff between personal and business stuff, it adds up! The gear for the
BOBs & BIBs, weapons gear and parts – a significant percentage – 85%+
- came from Cabela [credit card bonus] points. When I got birthday or Christmas
monetary gifts I spent them on self-reliance items. We did this never incurring
penalties because we zero the balance out each month. Our BOBs are set-up to
sustain us for 10 days. They are packed in Cabela’s wet bags for load
out in five minutes. Originally I sought to wear a tactical vest and ruck.
After two unsuccessful winter BOB campouts where I could barely waddle one
both of them on at the same time, I dropped the vest. TLSU’s back is
in tough shape due to scoliosis, so she is not humping any mammoth rucks with
the extra three mortar rounds and can of 7.62 linked. We also decided that
the G21 was what she could carry and dropped the SKS and chest pouches of 10
round stripper clips. Her ruck is a Camelback Commander. That is as big of
a ruck as she can hope to carry without killing her back. We are not leaving
home to go on a combat patrol in Hit or Fallujah. We are fleeing some kind
danger and have every intention of avoiding additional entanglements, to include
government hospitality suites in stadiums.
The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU)
I started self-reliance the wrong way. No consensus development. I saw a danger
and acted. I am a male/sheepdog/warrior type. I am not sure that I could have
ever persuaded her to participate in any meaningful manner before Y2K. She
has only recently begun to do so after eight years of seeing me provide for
and protect her. I was, however, stubborn/strong enough to do what I thought
the right thing and to heck with what was popular. Most “males” check
their gender specific anatomical gear at the wedding alter and continue on
in sheeple status. I get that females are the nurturers. I get that they work
from an emotional starting point, not logical. Not wanting the tornado to destroy
the house or the hurricane to wreck your and the adjoining three counties is,
at best, the French method of addressing life. TLSU is finally helping me to
rotate food via the grocery store purchases. She no longer rolls her eyes or
sighs disgustedly when I spend my Cabela points to buy gear. Once I explained
to her that I was planning to shelter and feed her parents and siblings and
that our one year of food wasn’t going to feed all of them for very long,
she started to get on board. She even likes spending the points off of her
Cabela’s card now. She is running 3-4 times per week and gets some PT
from work outside in the garden. She has come a long way. As best as I can
tell, she will not ever be a warrior. We have come a substantial distance from
sleeping on the couch each time a self-reliance topic hits the table of discussion
though. A definite and growing check mark in the “W” column!
Skills that I have acquired:
Rifles – renovating Mausers and training at Thunder Ranch helps
your ability to use these tools immensely.
Soldering – fixing plumbing leaks myself vs. paying a plumber $200
to show up and start billing me for work
Building – I invested 13 full work weeks of time during the building
of our home helping the contractor. Some of it was the nubby work of cleaning
up the scrap and sawdust. Some of it was banging in joist hangers. I laid
all the tile and 95% of the wood flooring in the house.
Fix-it – the DR Brush mower has long passed it’s warranty
period and while performing quite admirably, does need attention every now
The 1974 F100 demands attention regularly. Each of these repair work challenges
teaches me a little more about mechanical items and taking care of things
Sewing – Yes, my dear Grandmother taught me to sew buttons, and
my Mom taught me to survival sew/repair things. A 1960 gear driven Singer sews
gear though!; )
Skills still needed:
More First Aid – it appears that a first responder or wilderness 1st
aid course may be in the cards for this year.
More Hand to Hand – my goals and objectives list has had this goal
on it for several years. Good news – I got started on knocking it off the
list. Bad news, it revealed an “old man” shortcoming in my shoulder.
Good news, I am getting the shoulder fixed (hopefully) during “normal” times
versus after Schumerization. I just may get ambushed and not have my trusty
M1A in hand. Having unarmed defense skills means never having to be a steak
More riflesmithing – each birthday or Christmas gift of money has
been partially apportioned to the purchase of gunsmithing tooling. I need more
with the tools I have. I still need more tooling. I recently secured Parkerizing
gear, but have not gotten the metal stands for the tanks built. Still,
progress is progress and I can already do more to maintain weapons than
95% of the
Knife making – I just cringe at the idea of spending $300 for top
quality knives. CRKT is my friend. Even better is learning to assemble the
blank myself. Eventually, knowing how to forge blanks myself would be useful.
Mill lumber – with 95% of my property wooded, I have the material
to be self-reliant with regard to my lumber needs. I need a way to saw the
tree into lumber though. First, the mill, then the skill to use it. Then
the gear to diversify my income and help others.
Have I always done the smartest thing? Absolutely not! Much to the crazed
satisfaction of a former operator buddy, I have cycled through the “best/high
approach to the “sack of hammers USGI/AK” school of self-reliance.
Don’t get me wrong – I ain’t surrendering my Kifaru rucks
anytime soon! However, there were a great number of FRNs spent on those self-reliance
tuition payments! Have I learned a lot? Absolutely, yes! Am
I better able to maintain my independence and protect and provide for my
yes! Could you do better than I did? Good chance. Have you
done as much as I have in the last 10 years? Only your freedom, loved ones,
and the quality
of your life post-TEOTWAWKI depend on the answer to that one.