Prepping works as planned. Until it doesn’t

By Sierra Grey – entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a’gley.”. Translated—no matter how well we plan, things often fail, turn out wrong, or go awry. Humans have limitations. We possess only fragments of knowledge and limited experience. Pride and emotions cloud our thinking. Only God plans perfectly. We mortals are left to hope we have planned well enough to survive what comes. And learn from our mistakes early in the game.

My baby steps as a prepper began in 1991. Talk radio exposed me to the teachings of Larry Burkett, a Christian financial advisor and author of the book, The Coming Economic Earthquake. The truths in that book still apply 23 years later—governments with huge levels of debt eventually fall victim to money printing and hyperinflation. America becomes another Zimbabwe. He inspired me to forsake debt and avoid risky investments. We got seriously frugal and paid off our home. Got our small nest egg out of the stock market. Maximized our savings. Withdrew everything from our IRA to avoid government seizure in the future.

Larry Burkett did not live long enough to readjust the timing of his predictions. But I remembered his thoughts about the aftershocks that could follow the economic earthquake. Societal collapse. Fascistic government. Social disorder. Widespread violence.

My wife, the eternal optimist, doesn’t agree that the future could turn out that bad. The rest of my family sees me as a lovable, occasionally annoying, conspiracy theorist. So, instead of learning a trade, leaving the clutches of the California government, and moving, I had to settle for a compromise. An “investment” in California land for my wife and family that would also serve as my desired survival destination when the SHTF. But California was simply too expensive.

One man’s misery is another man’s fortune.

The economic correction in 2008-2009 smashed the real estate market in California. A friend with inside knowledge told us that there was a bank-owned mountain cabin on 20 acres just over 75 minutes from Fresno. It was a foreclosure on the bank’s inventory and they wanted to dump it. Suggested we make a cash offer at 30% of asking price. But we had to act fast. I wasn’t sure what my friend was smoking, but if true, I it was too good to pass up. We quickly toured the property and made the offer. They accepted. Larry Burkett was correct—not everyone suffers during economic depressions. People without debt and who have saved can find incredible bargains. We did. Or so I thought

The retreat was beyond expectations. 4100 feet elevation—just below the snow line. A perfect blend of colossal Ponderosa and Jeffrey’s pines and a variety of deciduous trees. An artesian well, hardly needing the electric pump. Clean water poured out of an overflow pipe 24/7. Locals couldn’t remember the flow ever stopping. Said there wasn’t another artesian well for miles. But should it ever fail, there was a man-made lake filled with good water. The cabin was heated with a wood stove and had modern facilities. One side of the property bordered King’s Canyon National Forest—a wide mountain expanse void of anything but nature.

My wife and I spent our weekends and holidays removing trash and debris. We painted and patched and learned how to repair fences. I cleared trees and split firewood, dug up broken pipes, and re-roofed the well-house. My income was enough to allow me to start adding supplies and equipment month-by-month.

The cabin was built 40 years ago as a summer house. It is perched on pylons on the side of a hill to allow the wind to cool the house from underneath. Winter was not in the original plans. I insulated under the cabin, not an easy task for an older man on top of a 16 foot ladder. But I was turning my plans into reality. God had blessed me above and beyond my wildest expectation. It was a labor of love.

The flora and fauna became my weekend learning lab. With the help of good books, I learned to identify the berries, edible greens, and avoid the poison oak. Bay trees, yerba santa, white sage, milkweed, chokecherries, and elderberry trees provided spice, sweetness, and medicinal supplies. And if you wanted a puff, Indian tobacco. Wild apples served up a huge batch of applesauce each fall. The giant oaks provided enormous and abundant acorns as a source of protein and flour. There seemed to be a plant for every need. I learned how to dig 18 inches through rock-hard soil to extract the bulbous root of the Indian soap plant, a source of saponin for a sudsy shampoo. After 20 minutes of digging in the heat, my hair was ready for it. But I was pumped—I finally had a survival retreat!

Mule deer peacefully roamed the property in groups of three to six, and nice bucks were common. Shot the first at less than 50 yards from the comfort of my front porch while having a cup of coffee. Only needed my defense rifle, a Saiga in .308 Winchester that was conveniently close-by. Butchered the deer and learned how to turn it into jerky. I put pemmican on the “to learn” list.

The air was clean and crisp, the skies a deep blue, and the nights full of stars. Quail and rabbits were plentiful. Fox pups played near the porch after dark. My game camera caught black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and even the occasional mountain lion slinking about under the moon-lit night sky. Wild turkeys visited the lake for their morning dip. Near a seasonal stream was an Indian relic, an enormous granite boulder marked with holes a foot deep where the Indians ground their acorns. The presence of Indians for such a long time assured me I was on the right property.

The prior owner had put up a deer fence to create a 10,000 square foot garden area and built raised beds to avoid gophers. I ran PVC plumbing for drip irrigation. We planted beds of strawberries and raspberries, and some grape vines. They grew happily in between our visits to enjoy the harvest. We planted fruit trees. There was more than enough room to enclose chicken and rabbit coops, and grow far more of a garden than we had, when we moved in full-time.

What more could we want? A comfortable cabin set among the giant Ponderosa’s. Fresh running water year round. A lake as back-up water supply, brimming with fat-legged bullfrogs. Abundant sources of wild food. I felt confident that my plans were working out.

Who moved the cheese?

Fresno County became a center for “medical” marijuana. We soon had over 500 growers in the foothills and mountains. A group moved onto the property next to mine. I have no issues with growth or use of marijuana. But the War on Drugs has made it a very high-priced item and created a criminal market, as did Prohibition with alcohol. The growers are generally felons with nothing to lose, seeking easy riches and their own supply of high-grade “bud” and “reggie.” The marijuana crops are “medical” in name only. Most care little for their neighbors’ property rights or the environment, killing off local wildlife with poison scattered around the outside of their dwellings and crops. Worse, they brought crime and violence.

Its easier to steal someone else’s weed than grow your own. The first year, a robbery attempt was stopped by a shooting a quarter mile from my property. By the end of the year, six men had been killed in county marijuana-related crimes. Break-in’s of vacation cabins skyrocketed after the growers arrived. Booze and guns seem to be the targets. Some locals have started storing their gun collections in the safes of city pawn shops until they need to hunt.

They brought in a bulldozer and destroyed the natural lay of the land. Unusually heavy rains caused runoff from their property that damaged our road and cut deeply into the dam. Another rainy season could bring the dam down and cut off access to our cabin. When we asked them to have it repaired they promised they would, after they sold their crop in the fall. The crop came and went, as did they, to Mexico for the winter. We reached deep into our pockets and paid $7,000 to have the damage repaired.

The heavy rain was followed by three years of record drought, blistering summers, and record-cold winters. The fat and sleek mule deer turned haggard and worn, fewer in number. A small pond now sits where the lake once did. Banks of mud that will suck in your foot to the knee and rob you of your boot prevent easy access to the remaining water. Water, if you can call it that. More of an algae and moss soup. Nary a bullfrog can be found. The snakes, raptors, and critters are picking them off, one by one.

The lack of water and food at other elevations brought in more bears. Lion sightings increased. We suddenly had real competition for the local game animals and the limited harvest of wild berries. The coyote and bobcat populations increased as well, reducing the rabbit and quail populations to a small remnant.

And our 24/7, “has never run dry” artesian well? The overflow pipe has stopped producing anything but dry rust.

Get to know the neighborhood before moving in.

The area is populated by retirees on pensions and/or Social Security, vacation home owners, and a handful of local forest and park service workers. Into the mix throw a goodly number of folks that just get by. Most on EBT cards and welfare, happy in their ancient, leaky single-wide’s covered by blue tarps. That adds up to most of the resident population dependent in some way upon the federal government. Fixed incomes take a heavy hit when times get bad. And times are getting bad. What will happen when the SHTF?

As the economy continues to go down, the property crime has gone up. Two cords of oak that I had cut, split and stacked for the winter, disappeared. A local Hmong immigrant group was caught transporting 51 deer carcasses. One of my “meth-head” neighbors was caught with five deer carcasses. He told the sheriff he was going to sell them for drug money. I was unaware of the ongoing problems with vacation homes being broken into by locals. Poaching, thieving, drug-addicted neighbors were not in my planning. Not even close. A call to the local sheriff can take 2 to 4 hours for a response. I faced the reality that the only deputy sheriff available to my property was me.

No longer was it the just bears after my provisions that concerned me. Two-legged predators were now in the mix. Nothing can stop a determined, meth-addicted fellow with a crow bar and cutting tools from getting into a steel storage box. Fleeing a SHTF scenario, the last thing I need is to arrive and find an empty cabin and no supplies. I stopped adding to my supplies and equipment and transferred some back to the city.

Plans can and do go awry. Plan that it will happen.

While we prep, the world keeps on changing. We change. SHTF events are not always cataclysmic. Sometime small chunks of s*** are flicked on you a bit at a time, more annoying than anything. One day you look in the mirror and realize you are covered in it. Time to toss out the old plan and learn from mistakes. I learned that a deal too good to pass on is never too good to pass up. Price is not all that matters in survival preparations.

I made a list of my concerns and considered my options. We could sell the retreat for a profit and buy another. But how long would it take? Given the troubled times, we are closer to SHTF than ever before. But failures well-studied can lead to a better plan. Due to my mistakes in planning, I now knew a lot more about the weaknesses of my retreat. The best option available for survival was to turn a lemon into lemonade. I’ll share some of the lessons I’ve learned, in hopes that someone might profit from my mistakes. And, some of the actions I am taking to modify my plans and survive.

• I never considered the loss of regular income before the SHTF. I expected it would happen as we fled the city. Plan as though you could lose yours tomorrow. Not long after buying the property, I was laid off. Then again, and one more time. Finally, three years of unemployment and I’m still without a job in my profession. My increasing age is an undesirable expense to potential employers, thanks to Obamacare.

With much less income, I must reduce expenses. I’m using my now-abundant free time learning how do what I have always paid someone else to do. Car and truck maintenance and repairs. Plumbing. Electrical work. Appliance repair. (YouTube is a great resource.) Video’s from the American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) are showing me how to do gunsmithing repairs.

Reloading my ammunition. How to use Craigslist to find some bargains and resell them on eBay for profit. We sold a life insurance policy and purchased a small, underpriced property. Hired a friend to bulldoze a dirt access road and building pad, and resold it for a profit. The profit went to income and the principle into another property that I am currently improving to put on the market. I wish I had worked on these skills before trouble hit instead of spending too much time obsessing over mastering 88 ways to start a fire or how to pack a bug-out bag.

• Just because a SHTF scenario is inevitable, it may not be as imminent as you think. I’m amazed that the world’s central banks have been able to print so much money and put off the collapse for so long. You may be in poor health or have diminished physical ability when it finally occurs. When did I become so grey? I now qualify for discounted coffee at McDonalds and senior shopping days at my local drug store. When did arthritis own my hands? One day I realize that I could no longer reliably rack my Browning High Power in .40S&W. The recoil spring is 24#—something for a younger man. Sold it and purchased a used Glock 36, small and light.

I noticed that hikes into the national forest are not so easy at this age. Who started making guns, ammo, and water heavier? I’m buying used synthetic stocks on eBay to replace heavy wooden stocks on my long guns. My carbine had a very heavy metal butt plate I once had made for potential hand-to-hand encounters. Blow to the head stuff, you know. I found a plastic one to replace it. I’m too old for hand-to-hand. I’ll just have to carry more ammo and shoot the fellow. Anybody young whipper-snapper need an 18-ounce butt plate?

• I underestimated how much of what I use and need can be made without much skill or knowledge and how much money I could have saved for other prepping needs. I’m a big believer in Lugol’s 5% iodine solution and took it daily before I lost my income. It is an important part of my supplies, as well. $15 an ounce is no longer affordable. I researched how to cheaply make iodine crystals and produce the solution myself. It’s not rocket science. If you can make instant coffee, you can make Lugol’s iodine solution. Potassium iodide from eBay, muriatic acid from Home Depot, distilled water, dollar store 3% hydrogen peroxide, and a coffee filter. Cost—about $4 per ounce.

I produce enough for my own needs and pure iodine crystals for pandemics, nuclear/radiation events, wounds, and decontaminating drinking water. Colloidal silver is also important to me. My family regularly takes it and increases the amount with any sign of illness. Retail cost—more than $200 a gallon. A better way—two 99.9 silver coins, 2-quart glass pickle jar, orphaned laptop power supply, alligator wires, $10 fish tank air supply, distilled water, and $24 PPM meter from the pool supply store. Cost— less than $2 per gallon.

• When the world shifts (and it will shift), shift accordingly. The traditional game animals are fewer and farther between. But there still are bears, foxes, bobcats, coyotes and lions. And gopher, king, and rattle snakes. What to do? Prepare to include predators in my food supply when the SHTF. I bought some well-made snares and my wish list includes a few serious traps to use in the national forest. I’ve been rethinking my hunting guns and ammo to account for larger animals. And ways to hunt opportunistically—carrying enough weaponry to shoot whatever should present itself for dinner. Predator or prey. But two long guns are just to heavy for an old man.

Ideally a shotgun-rifle combination gun would be best, but not in the budget. When I use a .22LR or shotgun for intended game, I will also pack by best imitation of rifle at much less weight, my .44 Remington Mag Super Blackhawk with a 7 1/2 barrel. That means increased practice at longer ranges and no more “cowboy” loads. I’m currently toying with homemade shot shells for the .44 to make it a pseudo-shotgun when I head out with a large caliber rifle. A small powder load in the standard brass case leaves room to place shot. Disks of cardboard make a workable wad and a disk of styrofoam, a good seal. I considered making a snake handling stick. And that was the end of that. If I have to eat snakes, I’ll shoot them.

• Rethink scenarios that you thought you were fully prepared for. Who anticipates everything? I didn’t, and now it’s late in the game. What if an unlikely event happens? I’ve learned that my artesian well AND the lake cannot be relied upon as sources of water. I’ve added a solar well pump to my wish list and moved water containers to the cabin and filled them. I’ve constructed 3” PVC “buckets” that can be lowered down the well head by rope to retrieve water if electricity is lost. I’m dragging old wooden planks to the lake. Laying them on the mud, they will allow access to the water. Next on my list is making a 5-gallon bucket sand-filter to take enough grossness out of the remaining water to allow filtering through a ceramic filter. After that, I’ve got to erect some sort of simple rain water catchment system, and soon, before the winter rains start.

• We humans are a worse lot than we think. Having grown-up, worked, and lived most of my life in the nice parts of town, I never understood the true prevalence of crime. Or how much more it will be an issue after SHTF, even in the rural areas. Storing supplies at my treat in bolted-down construction boxes is no longer an answer. I’m starting to locate possible caches in the walls and under the cabinets of the cabin for stashing ammo and other small supplies. Many of the smaller tools now go into my truck, as do some other of the small-sized, pricey or hard-to-replace supplies.

But I have yet to find a good answer for large supplies such as food, water, tools, and reloading equipment. Much less some way to prevent theft of firewood. Full size shipping container? There isn’t a lock that can’t be removed. And thieves out there have all the time in the world if I’m not there. The only acceptable solution may be to move to the retreat now, not when the SHTF. It’s not like I have a job holding me back.

With my reluctant wife staying in our city home, we’ve both considered that it may be wise for me to spend 5 or 6 days per week. It would make my presence known in the community as a full time resident, not the owner of a vacation home/retreat. She and the family would make their exodus alone, if need be. Sometimes botched plans are hard to smooth over.

• Don’t forget that Indians dwelled in this land long before we did, wherever you happen to live. What did the local Indians do when times were tough? I met a very old man who is one of the last pure Indians in the area. He was happy to talk and to answer my questions. He remembers foods that his grandmother made during the hard times of his childhood. Turns out that the abundant but poisonous local buckeye/horse chestnut is edible in a pinch. Just pulverize them finely and leach them thoroughly, several times. Raw, crushed buckeyes mixed into the waters of a rock-damned stream stun the fish for easy collection.

And…goats. Goats eat poison oak, which there is always plenty of. And the milk isn’t tainted by the poison oak. I need to locate local goat owners that I could buy or barter goats from after the SHTF. For anyone interested, he told me that the most tasty part of the goat is the tongue. I think I’ll save that for last.

• Laws get enforced only when there is an enforcer. Anticipate less law enforcement in rural areas. And deputize yourself. I put on my big boy britches and cracked down on the marijuana growers next door. Slapped a new lock on my gate to prevent access through my property. The very next day they visited my house and asked what was happening. I told them that further access was dependent upon payment for the damage.

They protested and said they had a right to easement. I told them to call the sheriff if they wanted, but I wasn’t opening the lock without payment. Two thousand dollars in twenties hit my palm and they came up with the remaining money over the next few weeks. I’ve learned that when it comes to growers, the thing they fear the most is not making it to harvest. $7000 to these fellows is chump change. And, they treat me with a lot more respect.

• Folks in your rural location are more citified than you may think. They fill their pantries when they go to the city twice a month. Can’t recognize edible wild plants. And don’t know how to garden. I’m now anticipating that I might have to deal with folks at my door looking for food, just as in cities. I need to improve my knowledge in that area by studying urban survival. On the bright side, I have skills in gardening and foraging and may have enough produce to barter.

• Consider that your plans may fail utterly—your retreat may become unusable before SHTF. FUBAR. Total failure. In my case it could be due to continued drought, a forest fire, or advancing age. I may have to remain in the city. And frankly, I’m not well-prepared for bugging-in. My plan has been centered on exodus to the mountains. Back to the drawing board. Add “Option B” to the master plan—survive in place. I recently purchased the Urban Survival course from surviveinplace.com and am finding it to be an excellent collection of materials. I’ve got real work ahead of me, at a late hour.

• Perhaps the biggest problem with my plan was that I did not spend serious time choosing my retreat. I chose by price and opportunity. In the end, an impulse purchase. As realtors say, it’s all about location, location, location. Not once-in-a-lifetime deals or large properties with lakes and nice cabins. As you may have read in Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat, by M.D. Creekmore, it can be done successfully with much less. (I have an excuse—it had not been published yet.) In addition to M.D.’s book and the solid material on thesurvivalistblog.net, the last several years have brought extensive information all over the Internet.

Most of the largest survival websites have helpful information. Visit the county assessor to research income demographics, tax rolls, and maps. Check with the county planning division or department to see if any major changes are scheduled to take place in your area of interest. Talk to the sheriff about problem areas and crime rates, and types of crime. Put boots on the ground.

The only business establishment near me is a very old, tattered tavern. I’m starting to eat there occasionally, just to listen to the old timers that spend so much time talking about what is going on in our tiny piece of California. They are a wealth of info. I’m driving the backroads to learn more about the lay of the land and the people and their properties. You know, the sort of things I should have done BEFORE buying.

My well laid plans turned out to be seriously off course. Partly because of a lack of research and an impulsive purchase. Partly because life just happens. But isn’t survival more of a spirit and attitude than any specific action, skill, or equipment? Experts in wilderness survival all emphasize that attitude or mindset is the most important element of any plan.

That’s why so many tiny survival kits give up precious space for a bag of tea and packet of sugar. The first thing you do when you realize that things have gone wrong is to calm down, make a cup of warm tea, mentally regroup, and commit yourself to survival. Not panic. Not despair. The other supplies in that kit are important, but useless without the will, determination, and spirit to endure. I’m older than I want to be. My income has changed drastically. My retreat plan has serious flaws. Let me rephrase that — my retreat plan has serious challenges. But I’m going to make it. I will make it.

Prizes for this round (ends October 20th 2014 ) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  A $500 gift certificate off of any product or products at MRE Depot!
  2. Second place winner will receive –  a gift a gift certificate for $150 off of  Winchester ammo fromLuckyGunner and a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a Survival Puck  courtesy of Innovation Industries and  20 Live Fire Sport – Emergency Fire Starters from LPC Survival.
  4. Fourth Place winner will receive –  a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of  TheSurvivalistBlog.net and copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules first…

Strategic Relocation The Film FULL VERSION – Joel Skousen

Very good video on threats and relocation by Joel Skousen

You can get the book here… Strategic Relocation–North American Guide to Safe Places, 3rd Edition

And don’t forget to get a copy of his other books – The Secure Home and The High Security Shelter – How to Implement a Multi-Purpose Safe Room in the Home.

Choosing a Country Homestead in Tennessee

tennessee flag

By Sandra

A number of years ago I awoke to the unpleasant reality that when the stuff hits the fan and people were unable to get food and water, they would spill out into the suburbs, even past the burbs, to our sleepy community, to take what they wanted by any means they could.  Although I lived in a “safe” area with preps, a garden and neighbors who were hunters, I realized I could not expect them to protect me, nor would I be able to defend the property I owned.

I recognized I was going to have to move out of my comfortable environment.  It was just a matter of where.  I started to search for a country homestead where I would stand a chance of staying alive and protecting myself.  A place small enough to be manageable on a small income, but large enough for my kids and their families to come when “the trigger event” occurs. This is the short version of how I did it.

First, I evaluated how much I could spend.  What could I pay cash for, what could I get a mortgage for, how much tax could I afford to pay once I left my job?  Would I buy just raw land or could I get some kind of a residence on the property?  Once I figured out that magic number, I had to decide if I was going to pay cash up front or get a small mortgage?

I called my bank and ask them what they would offer me and I was impressed with the no points and the very low rate they quoted.  I had to pray hard on what to do because I didn’t have any debt.  If I used my retirement funds to pay cash for a place it might put me in a tight spot later on. I finally decided to take a mortgage out until I could sell the suburb house and pay off the new mortgage.  With a preapproval letter in hand, I started looking for my country homestead.

Where to go?  I read the recommended books, considered the options, including moving west where my husband’s family is located.  But, I like the state where I live. Tennessee is listed as one of the top 5 “freedom” states and the state legislature, while not perfect, thinks about preserving the people’s rights more than other states I have visited.

Plus, there is no state income tax and while there are four seasons, winter is normally mild and the growing season is about 8 months depending on the year.  I got the map out and decided where I was going to start looking.  I did a lot of research on the internet to learn about the counties and the small towns in those counties.

I looked up taxes, best use rights, zoning laws and restrictions. Almost every weekend for a year, I was in the car driving the back roads of  Tennessee. Besides my BOB, I always had maps, boots, hat, bug spray, compass and a hand gun with me.  I frequently got lost and would go into the local café or gas station and ask directions.  I talked with the people in the cafes and ask them about the area and if any places were for sale.  Some places were friendly and others not so much, which gave me an idea of whether “outsiders” would be accepted or not.

I had to learn about the topography of the land in different counties. When you look at the pictures on the internet, they don’t show you that 13 of the 15 acres for sale are on a 1500 foot high hill, which would only be good for goats. I walked quite a few properties so I could learn the lay of the land.  I wanted some acreage, so I learned to use land and farm sites, not realtor.com.

I learned how to check google earth to see what was bordering the land I wanted to look at so I didn’t drive 3 hours to a site to find the next plot was a junk yard.  “Prepper” real estate ads and sites were way too expensive for what they offered and real estate agents were not willing to drive 1 or 2 hours from their offices to show you property.

I learned how to work around the agents to go see property myself and talk to the property owner and their neighbors.  Country folks are usually sitting on their porches watching the world go by. I’d pull in a driveway and wave at them and if they waved back, I’d go talk to them. They’d tell me who died and who was wanting to sell.  I would always ask if the land flooded, how often, where the closest stream/river was, if it was good hunting land, and if they would buy the land. I heard quite a few interesting stories!

After about 6 months, I got pretty knowledgeable and narrowed down the counties I would considered buying in.  I programed my favorite internet sites with the parameters I wanted and then it was just watching, visiting and waiting until the right property came up for sale. After about a year, I had my choices narrowed down to two counties and two properties.

One homestead I wouldn’t need to do anything to the residence, the land was pasture with ponds, but it was located closer to a small city than I wanted and the taxes were higher than the other choice.  The second choice I would have to refurb the residence, but the land was raw hunting land with a meadow and natural springs scattered throughout and it was more isolated, but still within 12 country miles of a tiny town.  Both were about the same acreage and had old barns on the property. I spent a week praying and doing “what if” games in my head and finally put an offer on the property with the raw land.

Buying a property from country folks is not anywhere similar to buying a house in the city or the suburbs. There is a lot of poker face haggling going on, but basically what you see is what you get.  If you are not an expert, you have to bring your team of experts with you.  You need to have a guy for the house, the electrical, the roof, the well, the septic, and for the out buildings.

If you are going to farm the land, you need a guy to come check the land.  Depending on how far out in the country it is located, it is not easy or cheap to get this team of experts out to the property when you want them to come.  Did I say that country folks work on their own time schedule?

One thing I will caution readers about is to find out if the property is in any sort of tax relief program.  For example, is it planted with trees for logging?  Does it have an agricultural exemption?  Is it in any program which offers a tax reduction?  My property was in a “greenway”, which was supposedly county sponsored; but after research I found it was really funded by the state, which was really funded by the federal government.  I had to take the property out of the program, pay taxes from the last year which the property had a tax reduction.  By doing this, the property is no longer considered a tax-relief property and is no longer on the government inventory list.

I purchased the property for a reasonable price, considering I was going to have to redo the residence interior.   The bones were good but the guts were old. I had to find a contractor I could work with, who would drive an hour into the country! Most contractors would listen to what I wanted and tell me no, it was too far for them.

It took me three months to find two contractors who could do the job and get bids; I picked the one I liked the best. The contractor did the work I couldn’t do; wiring, plumbing, moving walls, digging a basement. It was not cheap and it was not fast, but it was good. Between weather delays, people delays, inspector delays, it was about 8 months to complete the contractor part of the refurb.  My sons laid the new floor, painted the interior, changed lights, fans, etc.  There are still base boards and crown molding to put back up; plus a hundred other little things to do.  It’s a work in progress.

The house had a fireplace with a 40 year old gas log set, so I went shopping for a wood stove to put in the fireplace. Wood stoves are not cheap!  Once you find what you need, it has to be installed. I’m not talking about just inserting the stove; the chimney has to be inspected, primed and flued and a topper added to keep the brand new roof from burning up. Again, getting people 1 hour out in the country was a time consuming effort; but it ended well. It heats the entire house to between 66 and 70 degrees, depending on the outside temperature.

I tried to make all the basic systems redundant, the electric HVAC is backed up with a propane generator, which is backed up by a wood stove and fans. The frig and freezer are backed up by the generator and the kitchen stove runs on propane plus the wood stove is also a backup.

The electric well pump is backed up by the generator, but I’m still working on getting a solar system for the well, then I might add to it later. The septic, while new, can be diverted to the first owner’s old country line, which runs out in the woods somewhere.  My son installed a video surveillance system that shows 360⁰ completely around the house and which works beautifully. With 7 large dogs outside and 6 yappy little dogs inside, not much goes unannounced.

The last couple of months have been spent fencing the front 2 acres, installing gates, clearing the garden, planning a rain catchment system, and coops for the chickens and ducks!  It has been frustrating slow at times but exciting at the same time.  I have been accepted in the area and my neighbors are friendly and helpful.

I think any horde, gangs, or desperate people leaving the big cities, which are 125 and 175 miles distant, will get tired, lost and discouraged long before getting anywhere near the back woods, especially if they are walking.  Most people out here have guns and I hear target practice going on all the time.

I feel safe; I can defend myself, and am working towards establishing a home business and being at least half-way self-sufficient!  I hope this inspires some of you to take the challenge and find yourself a country homestead!

Prepping in an Apartment with an Eye to the Future

Today’s non-fiction writing contest entry “Prepping in an Apartment with an Eye to the Future” is by Nebraska Woman

Circumstances have drastically changed in my life. From living in a five bedroom home that could easily be off the grid and located on four acres, I now live in a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment on the first floor of a large complex in a nearby city.

It’s not too bad…I have a wooded area in back of me with lots of wildlife, quiet neighbors, and easy accessibility for my 94-year-old mother. I can honestly say that I miss only two things, my garden and my dog. It would have been cruel to bring her, a farm dog, to the city, so she is living with dear friends who live in the country. Enough on that subject as I tear up when thinking of her. However, she will be with me as soon as I can implement my plan (more on that later).

When I moved, I downsized as much as I could. The ex has most of the prep food, a lot of furniture, and my cast iron cookware. I went through my clothes, decided what I would need, and got rid of the rest. The same went for all my other possessions. Who needs 20 necklaces? Or as I shamefully admit, 2 sofas, 8 sitting chairs, and 2 dining room sets? Truth be told, I was glad to get rid of it.

I did this so I would have lots of room in the apartment. I now own a desk, 2 recliners, a sofa, 4 end tables, a bed, a chest of drawers, one TV (down from 5), a dining table and 4 chairs, and a place to put Mom’s china. I know, I know. But the china was important to her.

So how do I prep in my apartment?

First thing I decided is that no one knows. For op sec reasons, I do not have many people over.

Next, I had to think of sanitation. Since I do live next to the woods, if tshtf I have a small shovel for an outhouse. Water bricks in various places around my apartment will be handy for an emergency. I have 30 gallons stored with optional places to put more. Being a prepper, I have lots of soap and antiseptic items. I do believe, however, that all the water pipes will break if the building is not heated this coming winter. There are things you cannot prep for in a city apartment.

Of course I have food enough for 2 for 3 months. Do not look under my coffee table, bed, or behind the clothes in the closet. I have a small propane burner that I will cook on. This will limit my meals, but I figure if I am hungry enough, I will eat whatever. Does one ever get tired of pancakes, soup, or wok food?

I have found a company that will make iron bars for my windows and sliding glass door. They promised me easy installation when I need them. They will also make something for my front door so people cannot bash in. This will be installed permanently when it is finished. Only my apartment manager knows this, but as the saying goes “Tell one, tell all.” I found that many people here have them.

I invested in a propane heater with lots of spare tanks. I should be able to keep warm for two months if I use my goose down quilts, dress appropriately, etc.

Now for the important thing: gardening. A friend of mine is lending me as much of his yard as I want as long as I take care of it. No problem! Since the soil has never been gardened, I used compost and good black dirt when I tilled it up last week. I salvaged my canning stuff and a freezer from my acreage, so I plan to plant as much as possible. Again, no one knows this except my brother who will help me get it into the apartment during the dead of night. Brother will also install more shelving in my 2 walk-in closets for storage.

My brother, SIL, and I have designed the ultimate off grid BOL. All we need now is a place to put it. Since I lost my beloved acreage in the country, I have decided that there is one more house and a lot of fight left in me. We figured a two-story home with one story for me and one for them. Anything I buy now (ie the window and sliding door bars) is directed towards this end. Building will start as soon as we can, hopefully before tshtf.

Apartments are a tough place in which to prep. But if I may summarize, this is what I’d recommend.

  1. Keep your mouth shut!
  2. Store as much food and water as possible.
  3. Get rid of all useless stuff so you can have more room.
  4. Try to be secretive when bringing in prepping supplies. For instance, nothing from EE is delivered here. I pick it up.
  5. Make sure you have a place to dispose of human waste and keep yourself clean in the meantime.
  6. No matter what happens, keep calm. Help may or may not be on the way, but I have a place to go in case a tornado or fire destroys my apartment.
  7. Keep physically fit. I might have to bike 15 miles over hills for shelter if tshtf, but at 64 I can do it. I could walk it, too, if I had to.

It’s nice to be back with the Pack. I have missed you all.

Prizes for this round (ends August 11 2014) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  A $150 gift certificate for Fiocchi Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner, and a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads.
  2. Second place winner will receive – 15 Live Fire Original – Emergency Fire Starters courtesy of LPC Survival and a Survival Puck  courtesy of Innovation Industries.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of  TheSurvivalistBlog.net and copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first…

An Expanded Western Relocation Zone

by TheSurvivalistBlog.net contributing author Joel M. Skousen, Author Strategic Relocation

I have often been asked to comment on Jim Rawles’ concept of the Redoubt for survival relocation.  Rawles’ criteria of distance from population threats, defendability, and agricultural suitability focus upon a fairly limited area of the Western US, centered around Idaho, and includes Western Montana and parts of Eastern Washington and Oregon.

In reality, it’s a fine area and certainly matches my core recommendations in Strategic Relocation for security, safety and livability, but it may be too limiting for most people. However, having consulted with people and designed high security residences for the last 40 years around North America, I realize all too well that most people have financial, distance from family, weather and other personal limitations that simply won’t allow for relocation to an area so far north and remote from their needs as the Redoubt.

Some people, for example, need access to an international airport hub, which doesn’t exist in the Redoubt.  Others need a drier, more sunny climate for health reasons or even more solar potential.  Others simply need something closer to the metro area that have to remain in due to job or family reasons. The attached map represents what I would recommend as an Expanded Secure Relocation Area.

I don’t use the term “redoubt” because of its military defense implications. Even though I believe in defensibility at the retreat level I don’t like to infer that some broader military resistance strategy is possible for most people. For individual families I prefer less confrontrational strategies of blending in, or getting out of the way, or concealment as the best form of defense for most people. The area I have outlined is what is generally referred to as the Intermountain West and includes the Great Basin—that high desert plain between the Cascade/Sierra Mountains of Washington, Oregon and California over to the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico.

These two mountain ranges converge as the get further north and merge up in Canada.  They provide a pretty formidable barrier for those coming from the West Coast or the Midwest.  In addition the Great Basin has within its boundariers hundreds of miles of trackless desert and mountain areas that provide isolation by distance and hardship for anyone entering the area without vehicles, fuel and water.

Click on image for larger view...

Click on image for larger view…

That doesn’t mean everything within these bounders is equally safe, secure, or livable.  Obviously border areas near California or Denver are not as safe as those in the central areas more distant from population threats. A person must be careful to select specific locations that meet the survival criteria I and others have outlined in Strategic Relocation. The climate, for example, in this expanded area allows for a lot more use of solar in Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, and Northern Arizona.

And, even though much drier than the Northwest, snowfall does fill mountain reservoirs which provide a reliable flow of irrigation water if you pick the right area.  Sure, the high mountain deserts can’t provide for large masses of people, but we aren’t trying to save the whole world here, just those who have the forethought to relocate in advance of the coming world crises, be they war, economic or disease. This expanded security area centers around Salt Lake City, which is the only big metro area in the region and which has the full range of commercial facilities including an international airport (hub for Delta Airlines).

Most of the other smaller cities in the West have feeder flights into SLC. The Salt Lake Valley itself is not recommended for security even though it is safer than most other large metro areas, unless you have an addition retreat in or past the many secure areas which surround SLC.  Unlike Denver, where the high mountains are miles away from the unsafe city area, in Utah the Wasatch Front of the Rocky mountains come right down to the city’s edge and provide not only quick access to mountain retreat areas but a barrier to social unrest from the cities. This isn’t to say that you have to be anywhere near SLC or the center of the expanded secure area in order to find safety. I still highly recommend the Northern Idaho and Western Mountana areas of Rawles’ Redoubt.  But for people who have to remain in California or So. Arizona, it’s just too far for a retreat.

That is why I have included the forested higher elevations of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah for those needing to get out of So. California or Phoenix and reach their retreat in one day. I have excluded much of Eastern Wyoming, such as the mountains and valleys around Sheridan Wyoming simply because of the danger inherant in being downwind of the Yellowstone caldera.  It’s just too potent of a volcanic threat to areas east of Yellowstone park to recommend for retreats or full time residences.  I’ve only included about half the Colorado Rockies in Colorado to avoid being too close to Denver and Colorado Springs, which are major nuclear targets and contain high density urban threats.

I’ve placed the borders of the secure zone clear into the Cascade and Sierra Mountains of the three most Western states even though they may be too close to the urban areas of Washington, Oregon and California—but that depends on how close you are to the major mountain passes that channel people through the mountains.

You can find good retreat areas in those border areas if you carefully select areas not visible from or easily accessible from the highway passes.  This exemplifies why I emphasize more specific location criteria in Strategic Relocation rather than everyone trying to find the mythical “safe area,” which supposedly allows them to buy a home in a suburban area and feel safe.

It’s never that simple.  Safety is only relative—even in this general secure zone—so you must take care in selecting the homesite, as well as take precautions to secure your home, as I detail in my larger work, The Secure Home (http://www.joelskousen.com/Secure/secure.html). In summary, this expanded area gives you a lot more options both for full time residences near major commercial centers, and for reatreats and survival farms in rural areas—in what we survival experts consider the safest general area in the United States. This is also a good area for ultimate retreats for those who will develop their preparedness strategic first in other areas of the US to the East—which are all covered in great detail in Strategic Relocation (www.strategicrelocation.com).

What I mean is that if you need to stay in the East or Midwest, you should always think about “where do I go from here” if my initial retreat strategic fails or is overwelmed with refugees?  In general, social unrest flows in the US will go from the overly populated East and Northeast to the midwest. There will also be flows outward from LA, SF, and Seattle to the more rural areas but will generall stay within the area confined between the Coast and the mountains.  Few will dare flee into the hostile desserts of California and Nevada.

If you have the financial resources to develop a staged strategic of relocation (suburban safe home, farm retreat and short-term mountain retreat) that’s always better than putting “all your eggs in one basket.”  But, in the final analysis, don’t despair if the task seems daunting or beyond your financial reach.  While you should stretch and save to achieve your preparedness goals, we all have limits and can only do so much.  We do what we can and can then depend on God’s help to make up the difference.  Be sure and seek inspiration in any relocation choice you make.  These major decisions in life should not be made by human criteria alone.

bio: Joel Skousen is the author of Strategic Relocation—North American Guide to Safe Places, and The Secure Home (www.joelskousen.com) as well as the publisher of the World Affairs Brief (www.worldaffairsbrief.com) a weekly news analysis service that attempts to explain each week’s happenings in light of the hidden agendas of government that the mainstream media refuses to reveal.  Mr. Skousen believes that understanding these agendas and the threat they present to our liberty is essential to our preparations for the future.

How we Found Self-Sufficiency in Newfoundland

This is a guest post by Lake Lili and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

We moved last year to Newfoundland. If you aren’t sure where that is, find the Gulf of St. Lawrence on your maps of North America. Go north to Canada and head to the east coast. It’s the large island between Quebec and the ocean. The opportunity to move here and for many other blessing I am thankful. When The Great Lake announced that we were moving, I did what I have done three other times in the past five years. I pulled out the boxes and started packing. My opportunity to do a lot of research prior was limited by the sheer amount of work needed to get out the door and to our new home in six weeks. However on our drive east, I was listening to a radio program in which the Minister of Agriculture for the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador (referred to Newfoundland hereafter) spoke of the concerns he had in that only 5% of the Province’s food needs could be produced on the island. Alarm bells started going off.

As we got settled and I started to rebuild our pantry and felt gut punched by the costs. My food bill has gone up almost 40%. I made the reconnaissance tour of grocery stores and poured over flyers. The main stores are Colemans, Dominion and Walmart. There is a Sobeys here but it is unloved, smells bad and I only go for boxed/canned goods I can’t get cheaper elsewhere. Colemans is fantastic. We have two locations near us and both are well run, clean and reasonably priced. Dominion is huge and gorgeous and if I had a zillion dollars I’d shop there regularly, but I don’t. Walmart also deserves points here for being well run with great staff. Canning supplies are readily available in every grocery store and the managers are please to put in bulk orders for you. There is a CostCo but it is 700km away on the other side of the province.

But remember what I said up front. We are in Newfoundland. It’s an island. Everything here comes by ferry. Everything. From the ferries, it is then trucked across the province. If it is going on to Labrador, it gets on another ferry and goes north. Fuel for the trucks also comes by ferry – diesel, gas, propane – and there was a 15 day period at the end of December when there were no propane deliveries to the Island… The ferry terminals are full of truck boxes waiting for the twice daily crossing. 95% of all food products come from the main land. That’s right. As the Minister said only 5% of its food needs are produced here. Since everything is shipped in, from toilet paper to tires to cabbages to clothes, the system is dependent the ferries running and in the winter… well often in the winter they can’t.

Pantries here are not a prepper’s secret, they are an everybody essential. On this one, there is no need for OPSEC as anyone with half a brain has enough food to last their family for a couple weeks – when it snows here it really snows. We had 14-ft in December, then it rained and mostly melted. We’ve had a further 15-ft since then. We have had five storms that have resulted in the closure of the ferries for 48-hours or more – that means nothing coming in for more than 48-hours and grocery stores here carry the same amount of food as they do on the main land. There is nothing as scary as empty shelves and knowing that you don’t have enough to get through (storm one, three days after arriving). Stores here are just as dependent on the process of “just in time” shipping and as soon as the ferries go down for any length of time, shipments get prioritized, which creates backlogs that can be further compounded by the next delays in shipping. You can’t blame the ferry owners. The Straits of Cabot can be terrifying when the weather gets wild and no one can afford for one to go down… there is no money to replace them.

With such a small percentage of food produced here, I began to look into the state of the farming industry. In Ontario, I bought at the farmers markets and direct from farmers. I hoped to do it again here. In doing so I learned a few more things. Newfoundland is a geologic challenge. The west side is an extension of the Appalachian mountains and share all of the farming challenges you find in the southern part of the range. And while there are farms scattered all across the Province, the Western part of the Province is the most productive. Additionally there isn’t a great history of farming here. Ever since the Vikings first came in 1001AD, the focus has been fish oriented.

From 2001 thru 2011, there has been a significant decline in the number of productive farms on the island. There were 643 farms in 2001 which had declined to 510 farms in 2011. Few of them are full time operations. Again the 2011 Census showed 46.6% had a secondary job off the farm in order to be able to afford to keep farming. In 2005, expenses made up 86¢ for every $1 earned. When looking at that by age, almost all the farmers under 50 are working full-time off the farm. The banks have seen to that. The pattern of borrowing against future crops in order to buy the seed to grow them, and to buy all the latest equipment has sunk many farms, as the practice of calling the loans before the harvest came off the fields came into being. Credit is hard to get and loans almost impossible.

It used to be that every home had a small garden out back to grow potatoes and a few other greens. But those days are long gone and few bother when PEI potatoes are so cheap. But if a 20-lbs bag only costs $4.99 and transport costs are included (Canadian geography lesson #2: go to google maps, start at Charlottetown, PE, drive to the ferry terminal in North Sidney, NS, take the ferry to Port-aux-Basque, NL, and then truck it to Stephenville or Grand Falls, NL). That PEI farmer sure didn’t get much for his product. We need affordable food, but the guy growing it has to live too.

But while the numbers of farms have decreased, the farms themselves have become increasingly industrialized. The average farm is 152 acres, mountainous with poor, thin soils, covered in scrub bush. Good for blueberries and moose – of which there are more than 115,000 when last counted. In 2005, 68 farms account for 82.5% of all farm cash receipts which amounted to $107.0 million, while operating expenses reached $91.9 million. The 2011 census shows that not much has changed in that regard. A quarter of all farms are still earning more than 80% of the farm revenue. No wonder in the 1990s the Province earned more in moose hunting licenses than it did in farm revenues and even today most Newfoundlanders have a moose in the freezer.

A quick look at some basics is very telling.

Dairy

The one area that has become somewhat self-sufficient is the dairy industry. Since the late 1990s, the Province has been self-sufficient in terms of fluid milk production – that would be the stuff you drink. At that time the farmers were able to begin to ship unprocessed milk out of the province. But there are only 40 producers with average sized herds of 140 head, and costs are equally high as there is a lack of developed forage production – only a quarter of the farmland in the province is used for crops (hay, blueberries, veg…).

There are two processors on the island, Scotsburn, a Nova Scotia based company, and Central Dairies, a division of Farmers Cooperative Dairy of Halifax (Nova Scotia), which merged with Agropur Division Natrel of Quebec in 2013. Scotsburn is the larger presence of the two with 30 of the 40 operations in the province supplying them with food. Currently there are 1,200 people employed in the industry and the farm cash receipts are $125 million annually.

Additionally, when the Province began to export raw milk to the main land, they were “invited” (read “pressured” or “no options given”) to join the National Milk Marketing Board. That led to the issuing of quotas. If you don’t have a quota you cannot sell you milk… to anyone… period… not a store… not your neighbour… and with a quota you can only sell it to thru the Marketing Board. And quotas are expensive, currently $25,000/cow. So $25k times 140 head of cattle equals $3.5 million. It is currently estimated that quotas comprise more than 75% of the start-up costs of a farm, that is if you can get them. No credit remember… and don’t we all have a few million handy in our pockets… The supply-management system is not helping us here in Newfoundland and not doing a great deal for the rest of the country either (interesting article: http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/08/15/the-25000-cow/ ).

Since joining the National Milk Marketing Board, the Newfoundland, who was already producing a surplus of fluid milk went from producing 34 million liters in 2001 to 52 million liters in 2007 and they are expected to produce an additional 31 million liters (for a total of 83 million liters) by 2015. It is a colossal amount of milk for a province that already has the highest production costs in the country. How many more cows and quotas will have to be paid for by the farmers to achieve that? Those pesky quotas not only say how much each farmer has to produce but will penalize him if he produces more or less. If he produces more – he still can only sell it through the Milk Marketing Board but he has to pay fines…

Just to finish off about milk. There are only primary production facilities on the island – so the facilities on the East Coast put the milk, chocolate milk, and varieties of cream into containers and ship to our stores. All secondary milk products – butter, ice cream and cultured products are produced on the main land – back across the Cabot Straits on the ferries. At this time it is deemed that the market is too small (just under 527,000 people) to invest in the infrastructure to produce secondary milk products on the island. From the producers point of view it is cheaper for them to take the raw milk off the island and return the finished goods, but that increases the costs to the consumers, eliminated jobs that are desperately needed and increases the energy consumption needed to ship all that around.

Beef

In 2006 farm cash receipts totaled $1.7 million. Almost all beef operations are part-time with most herds being fewer than 25 head. For many buyers it is simpler to bring in beef from Alberta than to try and rely on the small amount of locally produced beef. So locally produced beef is often sold directly to the consumer. Just as a side not, some of the supermarket beef is so tough that it seems like the cattle walked here from Alberta.

Hogs

If the dairy industry is valued at $125 million annually, hog production is comparatively small at $1.2 million in farm cash receipts. In 2006, there were 4,600 market hogs produced on the island from a breeding stock of 300. The stock is currently pathogen free and import regulations are incredibly strict. As porcine epidemic diarrhea has now been identified in PEI and Ontario, Newfoundland’s strict import regulations will tighten even further. There are 31 provincially licensed slaughter houses across the province handling pork, beef, mutton, goat and occasionally moose, and not having to move livestock in and out of the province will reduce the chance that the disease will get here. The grocery stores purchase hanging meat and in-house butchers take it from there. But the simple fact is that the local producers cannot produce enough meat year round to satisfy demand. Who wants salt cod, when bacon can be had… hmmm… bacon…

Poultry & Eggs

Again this used to fall into the category of most homes used to have their own, but the number of homes with their own layers has fallen off the chart and it has become a mostly industrialized process. Quota licenses are required for flocks larger than 100 birds. Farm cash receipts care currently valued at $12 million and in 40 years with the industrialization of the Province’s flocks, the number of birds has grown from 12,000 birds to 23,000 birds. The primary producer is Country Ribbon which grows 2/3 of it birds and contracts out the rest. Again demand regularly outstrips supply and the grocery store shelves are often empty of chickens. When you can get it, chicken is often twice the price of beef.

Eggs are brought in from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. And again demand regularly outstrips supply and the grocery store shelves are often empty of eggs.

Sheep

In 1995 there were 341 sheep producers in the Province with about 9,700 sheep. Since then the industry has dramatically declined. The 2011 Census showed fewer than 2,500 sheep in the Province. And it’s not that demand has lessened – the coolers at the supermarket are full of New Zealand product at $23 for four tiny chops or $45 for a leg, but local product is a direct from the farmer only.

Fish & Seafood

Despite heavy over fishing, there are still fish in the sea and the fight over cod tongues that I saw in the grocery store on New Year’s Eve indicates that it is as important as ever. The outports (isolated fishing villages) may be dying and the variety demanded be more than just salt cod, but much of it comes from away as it is a seasonal product. And again the transportation costs are reflected in the price. The New Year’s Eve tradition of fighting over the last two packages of cod tongues was a new one to me. But as pigs get eaten snout to tail, so does the mighty cod.

As you can see from that brief overview, the Province has a long way to go to address its goal of even partial self-sufficiency. Teaching people to garden again is a big step. But this is a province that has relied for centuries on goods being shipped in and it is going to take a lot to make them see that in the long run it’s not going to work. In the meantime, I stock up when things go on sale and when we go to the East Coast, we rent a U-haul and fill it up at CostCo.

Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo  courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and 1 Case of Survival Cave Food Chicken with 12 14.5 oz. Cans courtesy of LPC Survival.
  2. Second place winner will receive – $100 off of your next order of Fish Antibiotics courtesy of Campingsurvival.com, a Survival Puck  courtesy of SurvivalPuck.com and a SurvivalistBlog.net Coffee Mug courtesy of Horton Design.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy ofwww.doomandbloom.net.

Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on March 17 2014

Questions and answers with The Wolf Pack : Moving to the Redoubt of The East

My family and I currently live in NE Florida and really want to move to a more rural area that supports a self-sufficient lifestyle. Areas in Florida are not ideal, by any stretch so we had been looking in Western North Carolina as a possible area to move the family and start our own homestead. Until I saw your article about the Plateau area of TN

Do you have any suggestions on ways to go out to the area and explore some? I can’t really get a “feel” for the geography through Google Earth or what not and its far enough away to force a multiple day trip to really get any value. I believe Joel M. Skousen suggested around the McMinnville area, do you suggest just driving the area or perhaps you have other remote suggestions first?

I would appreciate any help or direction you can provide. Thank you.

M.D. Creekmore replies : Joseph, the areas around McMinnville are good – such as Spencer. But I prefer the northern part of the Plateau near the TN / KY state-line,  Fentress county and Scott County are  good but as with most rural areas in the U.S. jobs are hard to find and unemployment runs high, and if you do find a job the pay is relatively low.

But then TN has one of the lowest costs of living in the country, no state income tax, and is one of the top 3 “freest states” in the U.S… being self-employed is the key to making it work in most cases…

If possible take a weeks vacation and go camping (or rent a motel) to get a feel for the area and look at potential properties (also go to the local banks and ask about any foreclosures. You can also look for available land here. Remember that no state or location within any state is going to be 100% perfect – you have to weigh the pros and cons before making a final decision.

Local news report : Survivalists deem TN Plateau prime prepper property

Letter from B : Fifty below Zero

You read the title correctly. Last night when I went out to do chores, it was 40 below with wind chill making it feel like 50 below. As cold as the surface of the planet Mars. It was close to midnight and my first chance to get outside. This is the kind of weather that makes me really think about what it means to be a prepper. I’m single mom of 7 kids, some adopted, some foster and some mine from birth. We live on a farm with 6 horses, 7 goats, 12 chickens, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 sheep, 1 llama and a gold-fish.

This IS my BOL. In the summer, I plant a big garden. In my pantry, there is enough canned, dried and frozen food for at least a year. I have my own well, rain water collection system, dugout and 18 x 34 foot swimming pool. Our house stays warm with geothermal heat but the wood stove and several cords of wood are ready to go if need be. We have a camper, several canvas tents, a tipi and a fully equipped insulated cabin hidden the bush. I can sew, knit, weave cloth on my loom and brain tan animal hides. I grind my own grain, make my own soap, cheese, yogurt, bread and pretty much everything else. My kids are home schooled but remain very involved in the community. I have my ham radio licence and am set up with a radio and antenna. Sweet? not.

Even with the power on, maintaining this lifestyle is hard work. Really hard work. That’s why my farm chores don’t get done until almost midnight. I can’t imagine how I will survive if one day I will have to wash the clothes by hand, cut and split my own firewood, use a hand pump to get water for all the livestock. And, what on earth will I do when the animals need hay for the winter? It’s time to sit down again and re-think the plan. I need to have a goal or a set of goals. What do I want to accomplish? How long do I intend to “survive” when things get bad? There are so many scenarios that need to be considered.

Sometimes, looking at my big picture (total self-sufficiency)- is just too overwhelming for me. I need to focus on little bits and then let the big picture come into focus slowly. For now, I have decided take another look at those scenarios that are most likely to occur and try to prep specifically to address at least some of my most obvious shortcomings.

Personal Illness

Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. No more staying up until 2 or 3 AM looking at YouTube videos of how to do home aquaculture. Drink lots of water that has been filtered through the Berkey water filter. Keep moving and lose weight.

Loss of income

Spend less money and squirrel away all excess. Really really work hard at this.

Increase in number of dependents

Being connected to the foster care system means that there is a real possibility that should there be a localized disaster, I may be asked to take in more children. I also have neighbors who have not prepped but know my lifestyle and would come knocking at my door in a heartbeat. It would be wise to stockpile for 20 rather than 8.

Power failure

Do a weekend trial of living off the grid (but not when it’s 50 below) and make a realistic list of what still needs to be taken care of. Understand that loss of power also means loss of transportation (no gas pumps) so loss of incoming supplies.

Tornado

Finish concrete “safe room” in the basement. Build earthbag building and store one third of supplies there and one third at cabin.

Brush Fire

Ensure that there are no combustibles near the house – cut back bush and trees to no closer than 20 feet. Divide preps and store in 3 different locations.

Attack from hostile people

Take time to look into self defense for whole family, consider a fire arm and develop a plan to secure the perimeter of homestead.

Finish secret room. Develop and practice our “run and hide” plan.

Biological agents/Pandemic

Put together kit that contains instructions and supplies needed for scenario. Educate children.

Cold weather/snow

Increase firewood supply to 10 cords and build shelter to keep it from rotting

Overland flooding

Invest in some type of watercraft. Pray that we’re not hiding in April in our nuclear fallout shelter in the basement when the power goes out, knocking out the sump pump and allowing the basement to flood!

Nuclear accident

Check stock of potassium iodide to ensure that there is enough for family and “visitors”. Put together kit with supplies and instructions that can be accessed easily. Prepare safe room in basement to accommodate nuclear scenario. Continue to look into plans for “hobbit house” made from giant culvert buried in dirt.

The internet is full of ideas and recipes for pretty much anything you can think of. We need to sit still for a moment and think carefully about where we are physically, emotionally and mentally, within our family, community, country and the world. Then create a mental picture of our destination (this picture will change as time passes and your circumstances change – that’s ok.). Finally, begin to map the path to get there.

Now, it’s well after midnight, still cold like Mars outside and I have to go out and do chores. The reality of a real BOL. Cheers

WBIR local news TV report – Survivalists deem TN Plateau prime prepper property

redoubt-of-the-EastA couple of days ago local news channel WBRI ran a news report entitled “Survivalists deem TN Plateau prime prepper property.” It was all about the area and how preppers are buying property and flocking to the Plateau, for safety and support in the event of a collapse of the current system.

Sadly, me or TheSurvivalistBlog.net was not mentioned in the news report, despite the fact that I am the main public proponent of the TN Plateau area for preppers living in the east and the reason for the growing interest in the area among preppers.

You can watch the full news segment here

Response from Joel Skousen author Strategic Relocation:

The WBIR TV (Knoxville) piece on survivalist interest in the Cumberland plateau was typical of the mainstream media—more interested in the opinions of a local realtor eager to take monetary advantage of the movement (who admitted he was clueless about prepping until the calls started coming in), than the substantive concerns of the prepper community. To show he is still clueless, the piece focused on his lame idea of putting a shipping container out on the property as if that would make it qualify as “survival property.”

Yes, they did cover the main concern of preppers with economic collapse and social unrest, but it was done in a rather sensationalist manner that most listeners would not have found credible. The number one reason people call me for consultation is concern over economic collapse and that’s because it is the number one reason hyped by so many survivalist opininion makers around the net. I do give them credit for seeing the economic problems: Market fundamentals are poised for a collapse in the speculative markets of derivatives, hedge funds, and precious metals contracts, but there is no credible evidence the Powers That Be (PTB) are intending to collapse the economy in order to create chaos and justify martial law. In fact, we see just the opposite.

I spend a lot of time in my weekly World Affairs Briefings to help people understand that there is zero evidence that the PTB are intent on pulling the plug on the economy—which they could do in a week by simply stopping the flow of new money. With thousands of people watching every move the FED makes, it would be impossible to collapse the economy without taking all the blame. They also fail to see how the FED still has a lot of money creation power to keep things going with moderate injections of new money–that won’t necessarily reach hyperinflation levels. And, that’s exactly what they are doing, and we’ve been living and adapting to the current 6-9% rate of real inflation for 20 years now.

It is my considered opinion that they are going to keep things bailed out until Russia and China finally pull off their long-planned attack on the West, which will collapse the economy. But waiting for war to do the damage allows the PTB come out as heros, evade the blame, and rally people into a miltarized NWO in order to prosecute the war. Then and only then do they have the global organization and muscle to create a new world currency and the control schemes they are now putting into place. But they need that big trigger event not only to evade blame, but tamp down the natural reluctance of Americans to accept a world government system. Everyone will only concerned about the government “saving us” when a nuclear attack descends upon our military—not our liberties (sadly).

The WBIR piece did make a quick mention of the nuclear target in the E. Tenn. area (Oak Ridge National Labs) but no background for it’s validity. Any showing of nuclear mushroom clouds in the modern media is meant to discredit nuclear war as a vestige of a 1950’s mentality. Nevertheless, as we read almost daily in the media about China’s growing assertiveness in the far East, it’s becoming clear to many in the mainstream that they are going to be a big problem someday. The government and the media almost never mention the Russian threat anymore which is also rearming in a major way—and that’s because they still intend to engage in more suicidal disarmament with the continuing Soviets.

I must give them credit for at least reading the relevant parts of Strategic Relocation, which they mentioned and quoted from in the piece, pointing to the advantages of the plateau: 1) that the Appelacian chain would provide the first barrier to refugees fleeing from the populous eastern seaboard, 2) that they’d be too weary from long travels to ascend the 1,000 foot plateau as the flee further Westward and will choose to stay in the more populated valleys where there are greater possibilities of finding something useful to their dire circumstances.

While those advantages still exist, and probably always will because the plateau isn’t suitable for large cities, there is a growing danger of the area being labeled as a “haven for extremists” that could taint it’s reputation and level of security in the future. I’ve always warned people not to buy into “survivalist communities” specifically for this reason. Because these developments are always short on capital and have to advertize and promote heavily in order to gain buyers, they compromise the privacy of the development in doing so. In that process, the locals find out about it and the development soon gets labeled as extremist or worse (a “domestic terror” threat)—with help from the Southern Poverty Law Conference who delights in poisoning people’s opinions about Patriots.

In my opinion, some prepper writers, with an eye for military style defense, make too much about having to be living together in a close knit compound in order to survive. In my 40 years of experience in this field, I’ve never seen one of these community attempt succeed. They are fraught with disagreements over money, strategy and leadership. Survivalists seem to be too independent to be good joiners. Yes, we do need to be mutually supporting, but just not all in the same place. I believe in informal networks for mutual support, within walking distance perhaps, but not in concentrated compounds or communities that can easily be identified and targeted by government or those who will someday resent those that have prepared ahead of time. When you aren’t locked into living and financial arrangments you can more easily agree to disagree and not have to get up and move away.

After this type of publicity, I wouldn’t be surprised if some developer puts together a “survival community” and starts marketing it on the plateau. I hope not, but that’s a possibility. Even if that doesn’t happen, the media can easily poison the area by follow up stories interviewing people who have actually moved to the plateau for survival reasons.

So, the lesson learned by this mildly negative piece, is be descrete. Don’t talk to the news media. Don’t allow yourself to be interviewed for an American Prepper TV show. Don’t go blabbing to realtors about why you want to buy property. Don’t try to convince them of your reasoning. Just give him general criteria and not the justification for it. I fear we are going to see more of these mainstream pieces and they will gradually digress into outright hit pieces—ruining many of the best prepper locations in this country, by giving them a bad reputation.

Cumberland Plateau: A Popular Destination for Preppers

Press Release…

KNOXVILLE, TENN. – Are you preparing for doomsday? Maybe not, but many of your neighbors, friends and family are doing just that. Many Americans feel that the country is in a crumbing condition and are anticipating a doomsday scenario. This has them running to the mountains to seek the amenities of remote land. Owning land provides the potential for much of the necessary components of survival like food, water, security, shelter, and energy.

According to the book Strategic Relocation–North American Guide to Safe Places, 3rd Edition, the Cumberland Plateau is one of the safest areas of the country to live. This has more people interested in buying rural Tennessee land. Natural disasters, man-made events and global unrest can trigger panic and disrupt our social or political order without warning. Preparing for such emergencies can help you and your family survive if ever an event occurs.

“On a daily basis we are speaking with people that are preparing for an economic or doomsday type of disaster. People are choosing our rural land and its many uses to prepare themselves and their families.”, said Don Busby, General Manager of Country Places, Inc.

For over 30 years, Country Places has been offering owner-financed land to those seeking a better chance at self-sufficiency and security without the barriers presented by banks and mortgage companies.

Prepping continues to gain popularity With worldwide unrest, it is no wonder that prepping for emergencies including survivalist tactics currently dominates many blog comments and message board posts.

Survivalism used to be seen as an extremist practice but has moved more into the mainstream in recent years. A spike in sales by emergency product suppliers, camping retailers and army surplus stores is just one supporting indicator that Americans view this as a necessity of our lives.

Many people purchasing land, especially remote properties, do so while considering it as a retreat, or ‘bug-out’ property, for use during any abnormal event where fleeing to an alternate area is necessary. These survivalists, or preppers, realize there are a number of different scenarios, which will dictate exactly what will be needed and focus on a few key factors in an attempt to cover most all possibilities.

Country Places, Inc., based in Knoxville, Tennessee, has now improved several of their properties for those preparing for the worst. These properties will feature a strategically placed shipping container on a hillside location. Some properties will include improvements like terracing for growing food and raising animals. On these improved properties the company offers low down payments and affordable monthly payments.

About Country Places:

Country Places, Inc. has been providing rural and recreational land for sale by owner with 100% Owner Financing since 1983. The company, based in Knoxville, TN, specializes in supplying that perfect little piece of land in the country with no down payment and low monthly payments. Don Busby General Manager (517) 416-0600 [email protected].

×