Prepper Fantasies Deconstructed

10 mins read

The Gentleman Adventurer nails it:

Of course you will be much better prepared in a location like rural Kentucky than in downtown Los Angeles, but the idea that in a better position you can get on with your daily life as civilization collapse around you is somewhat naive. I mean, come on people; look at history for God’s sake.

Assuming you survive the balloon going up, you will still get on with your daily life the day after.  But your daily life will be very different than it is today and than you might expect.
Your life will in all likelihood quickly coalesce around the activity that has demanded the most time of most people in most societies forever: the production, preservation, and preparation of food. Your great grandmother did not spend long days in the summer kitchen because cooking beans outdoors was more fun in 1936 than it is today. She spent them there because cooking for a lot of people takes a lot of time and it was too hot to cook in a house without air conditioning or even electric fans.
If you want to get a feel for how things will be “out in the country”, turn off the power and don’t buy anything for a month. You’ll have no fresh milk and no Cheerios to pour it on. Unless you have chickens, you’ll have no eggs for that bread dough. You probably have no oven to bake it in. Unless you stored feed for the chickens, they will not survive long after the first frost takes out the bugs. What are you going to eat next month if the power doesn’t come back on?
That said, the subsistence farmers of East Prussia ate during the Turnip Winter of 1916-17. In 1923, they ate while the nation hyperinflated away its war debt, and while the professional and middle classes in Berlin rented their daughters out by the hour in exchange for bowls of dog stew. The rural farm can negate a good number of balloons going up.
But it is not an idyllic life until one masters it. Very few people – definitely excluding me – have mastered it today. Life is about to get hard everywhere. Really freaking hard and unforgiving. It’s going to kill most of us. That’s just the way it is. But it will be marginally less hard away from starving hordes of game journalists.

Mom may remember how to use this.

Which brings me to another point that is overlooked in a lot of “escape to the country” bugout fantasies.
You are going to need a lot more than beans, a camp stove, and an AR to get along in this future that is really the past, the normal condition of mankind. You’re going to need men. You’re going to need men to dig the gardens that you will have to put in*. Men will be necessary to haul the manure, to cut the wood, and if things go big-bad like I suspect, to protect the men hauling manure and cutting wood.
You’re going to need neighbors for sure. But you’re also going to need your sons, your daughters’ husbands, maybe your brothers and your dad as well. Men you can trust. Men you must lead.
You’re also going to need women who can cook, who can sew, who can make cheese and applesauce**.
And you have to prep for them. Today.
There’s this idea afloat – and it’s a very lazy idea – that stored food is a survival item. It is not. Your stored food is a transition item, designed to get you through your mistakes as you learn to live your new daily life. You cannot store enough food to relax the rest of your life, unless it’s a short life. But you can store enough to get you and yours through the next winter. Shoot for that, then shoot for the winter after that one.
And Gen X beware: there’s an attitude in our generation that runs, “Hey, I told my parents and the lazy Boomers didn’t do anything, so they’re on their own.” If you’re a Christian and you turn your folks away in their time of need, you’re worse than an infidel (1Tim 5:8, Mark 7:9-13).  Our responsibilities before God do not change with the rise and fall of GDP. Prep for your mom and dad. Maybe especially if they are insufferable Boomers who have ignored prior advice and squandered their living on Carribean cruises and Woodstock fan art. It’s not about being right or wrong, wise or foolish; it’s about obeying the Lord’s commands.
Be ready to accept your brothers-in-law and their bedraggled families, even if you’ve previously declared them unwelcome. Prep a couple of “refugee bags” as well – 72 hours’ worth of canned goods, water, and Sterno.
When they arrive uninvited, hand him a shovel and a pair of gloves, and say, “We work here. So I need ten wagon loads from that manure pile moved down to the new raised beds. After that, we’re having 9-bean soup. My bible says ‘Whoever doesn’t work, neither shall he eat.’ And that bible is the law here.”
Then hold out a refugee bag.  “Or you can take these supplies for your journey.”
His choice. And his wife and children – your blood relatives – will live or die by it. Our responsibility ends where another man’s begins.
As we swing away from globalism toward nationalism, I do not suspect that the pendulum will stop anywhere peaceful or convenient.*** Once collapse gets rolling, I suspect it will swing further and faster than any of us are prepared for. And if you do see the rise of the tribe, you’ll likely not see the return of the nation-state. That may lie centuries in the future.
But it really doesn’t matter, so far as the man who follows Christ is concerned. The politics of far away, unless you are in a position to do something about them, don’t matter. What matters is that you live the best you can in the time you’re given:

I know that there is nothing better for [a man] than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.
— Eccl 3:12-14

Your isolated farmstead cannot save you, only Christ can. Fear God and walk upright before Him. Care for those he has put under your authority to the best of your ability. And remember that only deeds last forever. The stuff is all going to burn sooner or later.
*As I write this on August 19th, there is still enough time to start a fall garden most places, even without a greenhouse. Do you have enough shovels, work gloves, and seeds that you could plant one in a week given enough men?
**You have those kinds of cookbooks on hand already, right?
***The natural organization of mankind is not the nation-state, it is the tribe for barbarians and the polis for civilized men. From those bases empires are built. We might see clans in the shorter term as well. What we will not see is democracy. Good riddance.

El Borak is an historian by training, an IT Director by vocation, and a writer when the mood strikes him. He lives in rural Kansas with his wife of thirty years, where he works to fix the little things.

13 Comments

  1. I concur. The “canned beans in the basement” mentality I think is a holdover from the old civil defense stuff. “Oh, you just need a little stored up in case of rationing, but everything will be back to normal eventually.” This is the fall of Rome, not the Blitz. Things will never be back to normal, not in our lifetimes. I rather like the idea, foreign as it is to most Americans, of returning to clans. When I was a kid, (I was born in 2000, so I probably still am a kid to you guys) I often found myself thinking how cool it would be to belong to a clan, or how much nicer to grow up in a village, where we all knew each other and shared traditions. It seemed much better than moving as much as my parents did. I really do think that people were meant to live like that, in smaller communities rather than cities.

    • Most people don’t realize how abnormal our present world is, because it’s normal to us. And while a number of studies have been done (some of them good, some junk) about the effects of an EMP, etc., most folks don’t realize the effects on our modern world if we just lost power for a week over a large area. Or a month.
      Just think about how much refrigerated medicine would be worthless, and what would happen to those who depend on it. How many 20th floor apartments would be without water or waste disposal, and what the results of that would be.
      We as a society are so dependent on our stuff working just in time that it’s scary. Except we refuse to be scared by it – or rather refuse to think about it – because for now it works.

      • We as a society are so dependent on our stuff working just in time that it’s scary. Except we refuse to be scared by it – or rather refuse to think about it – because for now it works.
        It’s because people are sheep. The man characteristic of a sheep is the belief that bad things don’t happen to them because they are special. Thus they do not think about this stuff or make preparations because to do so would be to counter the narrative that bad things do not happen to them.
        Excellent post as well. I particularly liked the part about welcoming your despised relatives as per the bible. I had not considered that.

  2. Crap. This again? I see the levels of interconnectedness and I’m astounded at every level. Each and every industry – from canned soup to advanced medicines – the support levels and supply chains are massive. I just can’t believe it all goes belly up in a few months. No. The rich and well-connected will still have their supplies and their food. They’ve been planning for the draw down for decades with better resources and planning than any of us could dream of. I think it would be much closer to Hunger Games than The Postman.
    As for self-sufficiency, well, we’ve been on 5 acres for a couple of years now and it just isn’t going to happen for 98% of people. Even in the rural area we are in, people are busy. Selfish. Or just overwhelmed keeping a job. Growing food is difficult. We had a good crop of tomatoes and green beans, but insects and our chickens claimed as much as 25% of the yield. And we couldn’t keep the corn planted because the chickens jumped the fence and ate all the seed. Twice. So no corn for ourselves or for feed – if we had any livestock other than chickens. Going to butcher our first round of meat chickens in a couple of months. We’ll see how that goes. How would we store them without refrigeration? I have no idea. We don’t have a smokehouse, nor would I know what to do if we did have one.
    Soil must be built up. Fences put in. All hard when land has gone fallow for a few years. We get eggs every day, but their feed comes from the coop, not our hobby farm. And forget getting through the winter without the coop. We’ve lost a couple of generations’ worth of knowledge when our grandfathers and great grandfathers left the family farm for whatever reasons. When the Aunts and Uncles chose to sell off the old farm instead of keeping it going. The story has been repeated thousands of times. And don’t expect any help from the County Ag Centers. They are bought and sold and fully indoctrinated into the idea of large corporate farming being the best use of resources. And GMO’s are a god-send. System people who will fight to the death to defend the old order.
    But at least we’re here. At least we’re trying. Better than being in the city and 110% vulnerable. Perhaps God will give us favor and community and resources and time to continue to rebuild skills. But perhaps His just judgment will come swiftly too. Pray for one another. We all need it.

  3. But mainly it’s the mind set. No one works together. The compartmentalization and individuation preached from the public school indoctrination centers since at least the 1930’s is now complete. We have a neighbor across the street with a fancy automatic gate. No amount of us being outside and trying to interact will get them to even wave at us as they are driving in. Only those people who can form groups of complimentary farms and services in a community will survive in the long run. That’s the part most prepping sites won’t talk about too much. Building the relationships are paramount and should be done in parallel with the food production and storage.

  4. working in west texas oil fields, but I can be anywhere withing about 6 or 8 hours of midlan odessa. Have a brother down in Victoria, that I am shopping for land around, but If there is a cluster somewhere from west of ftworth, down to victoria, to over to midland, i am flexible.

    • I know there are quite a few MOTW folks in the general Austin and/or Houston areas (most in surrounding regions). There are some up near DFW too. Not as many out in West Texas.

    • Victoria area would be a good place to be, especially with family to give you stability. You have water down there, and rain and humidity, and can grow crops year round. We lived near Port Lavaca for a few years. The locals are good people, salt of the earth. On the down side, the coast has lots of part-timers who may be planning to use that as their bug-out place, so there will likely be an influx. I can’t remember, but I think the canals are navigable? If so, they’d be a boon for getting to the coast and back for fishing etc.

      Out west, in Midland, where we raised our children before this latest boom, the locals are also good people, but there is no water. It’s on the edge of the desert, and the heat and dryness would make it very very difficult or impossible to grow enough to eat without municipal water or a good well – even then it will be a challenge. For livestock, where other regions think in “cattle per acre”, in the Permian Basin, it is “acres per cow”. On the plus side, it is too far from cities and too desolate to see an influx of refugees if the worst were to happen.

      • yea, I am really interested in Gonzales county, the water table is like 50 to 75 feet there. West texas land prices are outrageous, crap land, no water, no minerals, oil companies have rights that supercede your surface rights on a ton of it, and they want 10 to 30k per acre on land that can barely support a covey of quail, two rattlesnakes and a kangaroo rat or two. stupid. But you will never run out of natural gas to burn in the zombie apocalypse.

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