Last weekend my buddies and I rolled up to the Mountain Preppers Expo in Sevierville, TN. http://www.mountainprepperexpos.com An extravaganza of booths, merchandise, and lectures for the disaster preparedness community.
It was a great time walking around, meeting new people, seeing old friends, looking at the exhibitor’s booths and crawling through an Atlas Shelter. I wish I had known about it sooner as I would have set up a booth myself, but there is always next year.
Attending the expo motivated me to write a post in reference to a mental outlook on preparedness.
First let me say I was prepping, or whatever you want to call it, long before it was cool and the subject of reality shows. I have been into stuff like this since childhood. I was ready for Y2K and subsequently every theoretical “Doomsday” non-event that didn’t happen after that. Like many Type-A personalities, I got in deep, too deep, spending time, energy, and money where it could have been better utilized. It is not that what I was doing was wrong, I was just approaching it with the wrong mindset.
Survivalism and prepping can have a nasty side effect of instilling a “fear” mindset. Hollywood, the media, the marketing industry, and internet gurus all use fear to create a sense of separation among us and to dip into our wallets. Fixating and focusing on “what could happen” and trying to prepare for every scenario can drain your energy and cash reserves and is an impossible goal to accomplish. Thinking your neighbor is going to rape and pillage your supplies, creates a sense of distrust and isolation.
In nature and society, predators prey on scared animals that are separated from the herd, but strong herds always defend themselves against those with predatory intent.
Is it a good plan to have water and food stored for tough times? Absolutely…
Is it good to plan for local, regional, and national disasters? You bet…
Is it a good plan to grow a garden, raise livestock, hunt, fish, and trap for food? Damn straight!!
But do all that because you want to be a self-reliant, healthy human, and not get sucked into a culture of “fear”. My grandparents on my mother’s side canned, raised sheep, chickens, cattle, and horses. They grew a garden, trapped, hunted, and fished, and so did all their neighbors. If you trace your lineage back, you won’t have to go far to find members of your family that were living more independently than we do nowadays.
Were they preppers or survivalists? No. Those words did not even exist because they were just humans living a normal life. I have been called a “Survivalist” and a “Prepper”, but you know what I am?
I am just a human, doing what humans are naturally supposed to do. A hundred years ago the “weirdos” would be the people who didn’t provide for themselves. Modern society and fundamental consumerism has conditioned us to suck the teat of society, making all of us vulnerable if the milk stops flowing.
In all my years, the most “prepared” guy I have met, is a friend who doesn’t even know it. The “Hillbilly Trapper”, as we like to call him, has been a lifelong trapper, runs a damage control business, a produce farm, and raises cattle. He went to business school and has outstanding financial acumen. If everything went to hell in a handbasket tomorrow, he would keep on trucking. His hard work ethic and resourcefulness would allow him to adapt and overcome any obstacles.
So my challenge to all that may read these ramblings is to look at the problem in a different light. If you strive to be a healthy, happy, independent human, then invariably you will end up networking, gardening, storing food, keeping fit, homesteading, and saving money.
Do it because it is fun, healthy, and how you are supposed to live. Don’t let fear pull you into a shadowy world of “what if’s”. Develop the skills, networks, and the independence if something happens to say “so what?”.
BigPig Outdoor’s Fear Busting Research and Tips in case SHTF, Doomsday, Armageddon, and TEOTWAKI all team up and come to your neighborhood looking for a fight:
1. History repeats itself and we can use it do make realistic choices in our disaster preparedness plans. Years ago I found a document that detailed all the disasters in Tennessee from the 1688 to 1998. The book can be found here http://utpress.org/bookdetail-2/?jobno=T01447 I threw the data into Excel and spit out the following table:
As you can see, flooding was a major problem back in the day, but a lot of that occurred pre-TVA. Choosing not to live in a floodplain is a wise move as well.
When my brain boils all this data down I come up with a three fold plan depending on the situation:
- I need to be able to provide for myself and family in case of long term utility outages and the inability to go to the store due to significant weather events. I think 30 days is a great goal, even though most events are resolved in shorter periods. Storing extra to share is great if you are able and I will address that in the community section below.
- Since I have no basement, a storm shelter or root cellar is a good plan for the threat of tornadoes
- I need to be able to evacuate to a safer locale in case of industrial disaster (Watts Bar or Oak Ridge) or chemical spill (Rohm and Hass, railroad or interstate)
Okay, but there is no financial collapse, EMP, nuclear/bio/chem war, terrorists, zombies, etc. in your chart BigPig?
Well if you do the above three steps, you are setting yourself up pretty well to handle those as well. If you research the financial collapse in Argentina (1998-2002), you will realize it didn’t turn into Mad Max’s Thunderdome. http://ferfal.blogspot.com/2013/06/what-really-happened-during-argentine.html
Researching nuclear targets tells me I am in a potential fallout zone, but most likely not in the blast radius so root cellars and storm shelters could be modified, if I thought that was needed http://www.ki4u.com/nuclearsurvival/states/tn.htm
Zombies? If they are the slow ones like in Walking Dead, then I will be a hero converting all my trapping and hunting experience to a sloth-like, mush brained animal. If you are talking about “real” zombies, which is a desperate tweaker that wants to rob my family, well I have plans for that too.
With all the possible threats, at some point, you just have to say “I will deal with it“. Provide for your needs of security, shelter, water, food, and health, and then trust in your abilities and those of your community to improvise and adapt for the outlying needs.
2. People often talk about bugging out to the mountains because of the abundant resources. Well, I “bug out” to the mountains every day for work. I grab my backpack, my rifle, and hike into the mountains to work in a job that mimics “living off the land”. I do this both on a daily basis in the winter months and camping for my work week in the spring. Based upon my 14 years experience trapping and hunting in the mountains, as a full time job, and 4 years trapping the suburbs of Knoxville as a damage control trapper, also a full time job, I can assure you that there are way more critters around town. The “edge effect” of the suburbs and abundant food of agricultural areas are great for wildlife compared to the deep woods. Coons, deer, possums, beavers, squirrels, groundhogs, and turkeys abound in the suburbs, but hunting, trapping, fishing and foraging should not be your primary plan.
If you have shelter, can protect yourself, and have a clean, reliable water supply, then calories will move to the top of the list. Living off the land requires skill, hard work, and a good area. Every time you head out to check a trap line, hunt, or forage, you expose yourself to risk of injury, dreaded “marauders” and burn vital calories. It just makes sense to store a reliable source of food that has a long shelf life. Scarce game, mast failures, crop failures, and the like, do not effect 100 pounds of staples stored in the closet.
A trip to Costco can get you 50 pounds of beans and 50 pounds of rice providing 160,000+ calories for around $75. Another $25 for mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and a couple five gallon buckets will allow you to safely store it for years. 160,000 calories would be 2 1/2 months of food insurance for one person (2000 calories/day) or a month’s supply for two adults and one child, for less than $100. Not that you would want to eat that for every meal or have to as most scenarios resolve quickly, but it is a start of a good food storage program. I can’t think of any good arguments not to spend that $100 and can only imagine if that was the “norm” in this country.
My wife can cook a mean dish of beans and rice, but supplementing it with vegetables from our garden, eggs from our chickens, fruit from our bushes, or catfish from our pond, is not only healthier and better tasting, but also extends those staple calories out if we had to tap into them.
Protein from fish and game, either trapped, hunted, or fished, and nutritious foraged wild edibles are at the pinnacle of my caloric pyramid. Those skills require more time and energy to develop, so build the solid base first.
Give me my pack, rifle, and some ammo and I could live like a king in the mountains. Add my wife, my step-daughter, and my soon to be born son into the mix and now we have a problem. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link and while I know a lot of guys that may be able to hump 20 miles per day and eat things that would make a billy goat puke, none of their wives or little kids are up for that challenge.
I like M4’s, plate carriers, bugout bags, and the idea of running into the hills as much as anyone, but let’s face it those are pipe dreams because nobody worth a crap is going to leave their family behind and to go play Red Dawn. Networking with neighbors and planning to stay in your community or get to a safer one is a better plan for the family man.
3. The best thing to stockpile is knowledge, skills, and abilities. You could take away my house, my land, my food, my traps, and my guns, but just don’t steal my brain. Experiential knowledge, hard work ethic, and the ability to communicate would allow me to start over and build anew.
Having followed a multi-disciplined training plan for years, one “not-so-sexy” skill that I believe is under rated is the ability to inter-relate and communicate, both fundamentally important skills of living in a community. Even though Hollywood and the media would have you believe that we all would turn on each other and carnage would reign, I don’t buy it.
Yes, there was looting during Katrina and some bad apples in the bunch, but if you compare that with the amount of cooperation and help from neighboring communities and states and it is pretty damn insignificant, and most likely sensationalized.
During all the local disasters that I have been involved in, (windstorms, ice storms, and a tornado), people come out of the woodwork to help at their own expense. I believe that this is the “real” human nature as anything else would be contradictory to the survival of our species. Statistics and any law enforcement officer will tell you that the majority of people are good folks and there is only a small percentage of bad apples. I like to think that bad apples would get sorted out pretty quickly.
In a disaster, after taking care of my immediate family, my plan is to extend my help to my neighbors, friends, and then my community. I would share what I could, be it skills, food, or a helping hand and I know that they in turn would do the same. Networking and building a strong local community breeds independence through interdependence.
4. Guns, government, and authority. I have a lot of buddies that worry about gun confiscation, so here is my take.
For five years I worked as federal law enforcement officer for the National Park Service. I was trained at the same academy as the ATF, the Mashals, and 80+ other agencies. Whether it is the legal division, tactics, firearms, or defensive tactics, the instructors are the same for each agency. There was never any mention of gun confiscation during the house clearing and searches block and large portion of the instructors are former local and state cops. The legal division there does an outstanding job, and all officers leave having a thorough understanding of constitutional law and search and seizure.
Since then, I have worked, trained, and befriended multiple law enforcement officers from different agencies in multiple states and a majority of them would refuse orders for confiscation as it would be unconstitutional. If you live in a state where the climate is different, then relocating may be in your future.
Every department has officers that would follow those unconstitutional orders, but considering the culture that courses through America, I would say it would not end well for them. My experience has been that officers that are not pro- 2nd Amendment, don’t have a door busting or shooting skillset anyway.
So that leads to the often quoted “When it is time to start burying guns, it’s time to start using them” Paul Howe, a former LE officer, SF veteran and all-around badass has a great article that addresses this topic. His comments on the resources and talents of federal agencies is spot on. There are a lot of outstanding shooters and officers, but like I said, I doubt they would be the ones following those orders http://www.combatshootingandtactics.com/published/2nd_amen.pdf
The real threat lies in legislating away ammo, guns, and magazines and that battle right now is fought with money, time, and participation. Time spent burying guns and ammo could be better spent teaching someone to shoot and about their rights. Whether you are pro or anti-gun, firearms are an inseparable part of this country’s fabric and rounding them up would rip this country apart at the seams.
Cops and soldiers are really only a tool wielded by legislators and politicians. It is the belief in them and the crap they pass down that is the real danger. Great philosophical arguments center around the belief in authority can be found starting at 1:11 http://peacerevolution.podomatic.com/entry/2012-02-12T18_42_43-08_00
So on this Memorial Day when we give tribute to those who fight or have fought for our freedom, honor them by choosing to fight for yourself.
Fight to be free of the conditioning and controls that society has forced upon you.
Fight to be free from the fear of scarcity and separation among us.
And fight to return to the independence that our forefathers enjoyed and would want for all of us…