Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You can't get a little bit pregnant. Or prepped.

An anonymous commenter on a recent post said that land was $40,000 an acre in California... therefore he/she could not have livestock... his/her garden would have to suffice.

There has been a great deal of debate around the web... "adapt in place" or migrate? I chose to migrate. The Universe does not give a good fart about what is convenient for you. I want to say this very nicely... If you think there is going to be challenges and troubles and you think you are "prepping" because you bought some silver bars and a gun... well, my sense is is that your analysis is all f*&^ed up.

I tend to look at things in terms of return on investment, if you will. I think things are going to be very, very different 10, 15, 20 years from now. Where should my children come of age? What experiences will they have that will help them? What will hold value? What provides security? Each of us has to make our own judgement call about what the future will bring and how best to meet that future. For me, it was life in a small town on a family farm (near a hospital, university, and train station) with enough land, fencing, and barns to grow substantial food stuffs, and enough advance time so that I could learn what I needed to learn. I did this because I don't think you can prep in L.A. Or San Fran. Or New York City. Irrespective of how much silver you have or what guns or how many cans of Dinty Moore's beef stew. The Amish are prepped. Very few others are.

Gardens are for growing vegetables. Tomorrow morning, when you are eating breakfast, do a quick count of the vegetable matter you are consuming. Not much, huh? Oatmeal? You ain't growing that in your garden. Bacon & eggs, coffee with cream and sugar? Nope, not from the garden. How about lunch? Take a hard look at how much vegetable matter you are consuming at lunch... my bet is it just ain't that much. Same with dinner. Fact is, most of the plant matter we consume is not "garden" material. Corn? In volumes that matter corn, like other grains, is grown in large fields. Potatoes? Same drill. Pasta? From wheat (in fields).  Dairy? Eggs? Meats? Poultry? These require animals, and animals require pasture, fencing, care, feed...

Take stock of what you eat. That's what you have to prep for... "by any mean necessary".

It takes money, it takes time, and it takes effort.  That's why few people actually do it. Carrying capacity is carrying capacity, not a lick more... nor a lick less.  The markets are telling us that something is incredibly f***ed up. How it all gets reconciled is anybody's guess. One thing for sure, life will go on and meals will need to be served... preferably hot, plentiful, and on time.

To paraphrase Vince Lombardi: Prepped is not a sometime thing. Prepped is an all the time thing.  You can't get a little bit pregnant... and you can't be a little bit prepped.


dennis said...

The closer I come to being food self sufficient the more I understand just how much knowledge was lost in the last few generations. The acreage needed, the tools, the livestock are out of most peoples grasp. I'm afraid most preppers are going to find themselves "a little bit pregnant."

Charles said...

The hardest thing isn't the land, or growing the veg, or looking after the cow. The hard bit is getting your head around the idea that things will never be the same again.

Most people, even those who fully understand the inevitable consequences of Peak Oil, the growth of China, the financial crisis, etc, etc, still want a foot in both camps, to hedge their bets. After all, surely there's a reason most people aren't talking about disaster? If things were that bad, wouldn't our politicians be doing something about it?

For most people the consequences of this reality are too horrible to contemplate, the costs of truly preparing (financial and emotional) are too great, there's just too much to give up to fully embrace 'prepping'. And what do you tell your wife? Your kids? Your neighbours? it takes a rare commitment.

I've often said to my daughter, if someone is telling you something, try to understand their reasons for telling it to you as much as what they're saying. What's their agenda? For politicians, bankers, estate agents, media companies, its easy to work out. As they largely control the agenda, most people will remain only partly convinced, even as the events unfold (and are 're-interpreted' by all the above), even as disaster unfolds. Look at New Orleans; people move back, try to rebuild, even in the full knowledge that another storm means another disaster.

Most people won't prepare. The problem is that, when the shit hits the fan, those people will displace, looking for food, for rescue, for land.

PioneerPreppy said...

Your view of a preparedness plan is very Napoleonic Greg. That certainly isn't a bad thing at all especially if you have the time and resources to develop it.

At this late date however I am more of an advocate for a bit more of a Wellingtonian plan for those who are stuck in place. They will not have, nor can most make, the fine harness before the decline picks up. They will need to adapt and fashion their ropes as best they may.

Even after oil there are many skills and work which will be needed. Not everyone will be gentlemen farmers. Local economies will also adapt and fill the vacuum. There will always be trade of some kind.

Or so I hope anyway.

kathy said...

I hear the "little bit pregnant" talk, even from my kids. My son expects a major dislocation but he still got the college degree, just in case. I do a lot of buying from my own bank account rather the family account because my husband is still big on savings while I'm more interested in investing in tools and equipment. I hope the balance works out here as well as it has in other things. We are heading out for a couple of days to sit by a pool with our kids and grandkids. There are many things to invest in. Our family is the most important. This Massachusetts Liberal thinks we should encourage all families to go to one income and have one adult home full-time. Unemployment would be reduced and families would be stronger. There would be time to work on a household economy to everyone's benefit.

Anonymous said...

The dollar is swooning, get ready for the fun. Hope everyone is as ready as they say because when the dollar fails, it is all over but the singing. It is funny that the average American thinks we are immune to the laws of economics, Rome thought they were to. I can already see the flood of dollars coming home to roost as a tidal wave of inflation. Have fun!!!!

P.S. Charles the term you are looking for is normalcy bias.


Greg T. Jeffers said...


I think my strategy works for a family with young children. The children require care and oversight, and they must be fed. A family farm fits nicely in that scenario. If my children were older, I would encourage (but only encourage) them to homestead AFTER they ran around a bit. I don't call it gentleman farming. What I do is laborious - nothing gentle about it. Yet, after watching my contemporaries on Wall Street drop dead, or become laden with medications, or become impotent, carrying a bag for a belly, etc... well, this laborious lifestyle becomes more appealing.

I fully intend to engage in commerce. Running a homestead does not preclude that, but it probably precludes having a regular job with regular hours. Kathy has one solution: In a family, one partner works out of the home, the other at home. My solution is to work from home to the extent possible. Either way, "income" is happening for goods and services one cannot produce, but food supply risk has been cut significantly. Homestead production of food is also an important "income" for a family, but not at all for a single person.

I think Dennis at the top of the thread is correct. I never considered myself a "prepper". Until recently, I did not even know what a "prepper" was. The more I thought about it, the more I began to think these people had the right idea... and after doing it, and thinking about that comment from Anon on the last post the more I think that most doomers and preppers are not doing what they could do.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

To All:

In short, I think one must look at the problem holistically - and mathematically.

I take a financial analysis approach to my food production.


Family consumes 100 head of broccoli per year. How many seeds will result in seedlings will result in transplants will result in a harvested plant? What storage area will be required to preserve and keep the produce?

Family consumes nearly 4000 eggs per year:

How many hatchlings will make it to laying age and how will I provide their feed?

I then take each problem on its own and construct systems to accomplish meeting my need.

I attack the problems (supply items) in order of importance. What do we consume the most of? In our house it was dairy, eggs, grains, fruit, vegetables, meat. Pretty much in that order. Meat is a by product of egg and dairy production. That left grains, fruit, and veggies.

The only grain I have grown is corn, but next fall wheat is going into the picture.

I also want people to know that this can be done, and without great difficulty. It is fun, challenging, and healthy for family, mind, body, and soul... it CANNOT be done in localities with high land prices, high property taxes, and high state and local income taxes. Those things are enslavement mechanisms of our POS political system. My point is, don't live there.

James m Dakin said...

Greg- I agree with everything you've said. I just might add that for those too poor or who think there isn't enough time left to emulate you, bulk grains are better than nothing. You can buy three years worth of food ( a minimum near starvation level, anyway ) for the cost of three months of cell phone and cable TV payments. Take advantage of the last of the Oil Age's subsidized machinery farming.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


Absolutely true. My bet is, the same % of the economically challenged will take your excellent advice as the moneyed set will take mine.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Running my homestead takes, perhaps, 20 hours per week. Sounds like a lot... however, I think I can get it down to 15 hours (some of these hours are on weekends). Now think about how much time you spend commuting AND getting ready and unready for work + how much time you spend going someplace to get some exercise... my bet is, that totals more than 15 hours per week.

Imagine working from home at all manner of odd jobs and services + homesteading. I don't care how broke you are, if you are in shape and healthy (this is not for the elderly, seniors, or out of shape) you can EASILY make this work. THere is a 6 acre farm down the street from me for sale at $180k - and they would be thrilled with $150km I bet. That's what? An $800 per month mortgage? Taxes are $1500 per year. So your taxes AND mortgage AND insurance is about $1000 per month.

Who can't make that work?

I will tell you this. The Amish would buy that place and in 2 weeks it would be fully functional.

PioneerPreppy said...

OK I can't allow James' post to go un-challenged.

He agrees with Greg?

I wouldn't be so bold as to say either one of your strategies is bad or wrong. Yet James' blog consists of (among other valuable information) buying small amounts of high desert land with no real agricultural value and adapting to a nomadic/steppe type of lifestyle post collapse.

James also points out quite frequently on his blog that would be preppers should prioritize getting basics, including cheap stand ins if you can afford nothing better, just so you have something before it is too late.

This is what I am trying to say here myself. Get something in order, anything to increase your time to adapt to the changes. If you are able to see before it all goes down and adapt fully thats great but necessity breeds invention and people will adapt. If we preppers who blog can start them down the road to adapting we have done God's work and maybe saved those who can be saved.

There isn't enough land left for everyone to have their own small farm anyway and not all of them would be cut out to run one anyway. There are plenty of skills that can be used for trade or barter.

My own system is to have everything set and alot of it already done. If I woke up tomorrow and collapse was on us I would shift my priorities and have chickens within a week and more than likely cattle soon after. I have the materials already stored and some working knowledge. I have a fair number of sheep to trade for other stock along with other items. I would also have my battery charging solar kit up and running, etc etc.

Each person's circumstances are different and each person's ability to adapt is also different depending on circumstances. If I had small children, just as you pointed out, I would do things much differently.

James m Dakin said...

PP- just to clarify, I personally think being stationary is a bad move worse case scenario, mad max future. If you are not that paranoid, Greg's way of doing things is a model for you. So I totally agree with him if farming is your thing. Logical, unless you think the new baron will turn you into a serf.

PioneerPreppy said...


I am not knocking either your way of thinking nor Greg's. I happen to agree with Greg's almost to a tee, except in the fact that I think it is more possible for people to adapt during the decline... maybe... anyway. I guess I am just saying there are a few possible sideroads available to the same destination.

I love reading your stuff as well James but I don't see your philosophy meshing with Greg's at all. I guess your clarification is just lost on me.

Anonymous said...

I could think of a few town pairs that would be just spiffy to divide your time amongst; Somewhere around Port Isabel to spend the winter coupled with somewhere slightly west of Colorado Springs to spend the summer. Altitude and latitude make all the difference. It would be cheap too since you wouldn’t need much in the way of shelter because the whole point is to go somewhere where the weather is nice and you would want to be outside. I think people that vacation the other way around so they can fry at the beach in the summer the freeze their %^&$ off on the slopes in the winter have rocks in their head, but I digress. It would only work if we had a lot more oil or a lot less people. As it is, there isn’t enough oil to support the status quo, we have strip-mined the gulf fisheries, and then poisoned them for good measure, and finally the population density of the mountains would also prohibit you from making it by hunting small game and fishing the streams during summer.

That leaves us with a homestead that ties you in place. The garden needs tended to regularly and animals daily. There currently aren’t too many other options.


Anonymous said...

Historically the only people who traveled much and had decent life were young men that hadn’t settled down yet or extremely wealthy. The ideal of a mobile middle class is relatively new.


John said...

Well said all. Thomas Chittum, in his excellent book Civil War II, believes an ulimate super-predator-dictator will run things. Until then, having a vertically integrated farm will provide the most acceptable lifestyle.
Does anyone besides me believe we are in a hyper inflationary cycle already? It seems to me to be so. Yet I notice exceptions (like ammunition). Does that prove the rule?

westexas said...

Some of Doug Casey's comments (he is no fan of Trump & Palin):

. . . he (Trump) does have business experience - cutting costs, making layoffs, etc., so it's hard to see how he could be worse than Obama... but then, I didn't see how Obama could be worse than Bush, nor how Bush could be worse than Clinton.

It's as I've always said about the Roman emperors: People thought it couldn't get any worse after Tiberius, but then they got Claudius, then Caligula. They really thought it couldn't get any worse than that - and then they got Nero. And then a civil war. This is exactly the way it's going in the U.S. now. The people who actually want to be president now are among the worst among us. It's hard to imagine a decent person wanting the job at this point, or at least anyone who's not an egotistical fool, since it's impossible - at least in my opinion - to salvage the current ship of state. Whoever is at the helm when it sinks will be blamed for it, even if he isn't directly at fault. I see Ron Paul's efforts as being only... educational... in nature.

westexas said...

Minor correction to Casey's comment. Caligula came after Tiberius.

Anonymous said...

Ten years ago, I scoffed at another guy who said the US was vulnerable to facism. I said that it would never happen here- America's traditions of freedom and individualism would prove too strong for such an occurence.

Of course, today, not only a facist dictatorship but also the concept of a new US Civil War is gaining traction- and the concept no long seems unreasonable.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the idea of land ownership be moot come a WROL (without rule of law) situation? As of now the only thing that stops me from being able to fence off and build on a piece of BLM property is the fact that someone would inform them, or they'd notice while driving around milking the time clock, and a SWAT team would come to remove me. They have to have funding and an operational economy for the agents to want to come "do their job". James said on his blog something along the lines of "good luck competing with all the other un-prepared people for a spot on federal land come the collapse". Let's say that you've been squatting for a few years already, un-noticed, and have a semi-established dwelling. How are they going to be able to tell who are squatters, and who are actual property owners?

Look at it from the other side too...I could legally own some property that borders BLM land, but come a collapse wouldn't those same people that were "headed to the hills" come to my property and kill/remove me? The only thing that stops them from doing that now is my ability to call the police and/or have support from the legal system to defend my property. That wouldn't matter if the the police/legal system wasn't there in my opinion.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Localism will rule.

I live in rural Tennessee. The people here are all armed to the teeth, they have hunted game and slaughtered farm animals, and many have military experience.

I wouldn't "run for the hills" toward here unless you WANT to wind up as garden fertilizer.

That's not the point. The point is that anarchy will not rule locally, and local will rule over national. People tend to get along with their neighbors, especially if they NEED them.

I think life is to be enjoyed, and I think that homesteading offers one of the best investment options financially and for your personal happiness.

In the end, each of us makes their own decisions based on their interpretation of their environment and their experiences.

PioneerPreppy said...

"Localism will rule"

Well said Greg.