The Christian Prepper’s Dilemma

Once again sharing portions of a dialog from the Village’s private board, “Friends of Sewanee Creek”.  Commenter, John (name changed), is a friend of the Village, but not yet a Villager.

Grant Miller shared an article on 01/31/2012 10:57:49 am.
I don’t like labels, but I guess I’m a prepper. My parents were preppers before there was such a word. Back then, they just called it frugal, hard-working, forward thinking and innovative. I’ve been a prepper all of my life, but really got intense about it 6 years ago when I started this project. Being intense always risks burnout, so this blog hit home. You can read the original here.

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Avoiding Prepper Burnout

Ever look at your efforts in preparedness and think to yourself – “Self, is this all just a waste of time?” Ever think about the hours spent reading blogs, visiting preparedness forums, and making plans and consider that all of that time could have been spent doing something more “important?” I mean – that awesome AR-15 that you finally got off of layaway could have afforded the family a nice vacation to the beach.

Is it really worth it?
If you think this way, guess what? Your human and not alone. It’s OK. It’s called “prepper burnout” and it happens to the best of us.

Prepper Burnout can arrive for several reasons:
1st – Nothing happens. That’s right – all your planning and food storage and the world around you just seems to not collapse. Of course that is good. It is absolutely fortunate however it gives non-preppers a lot of ammunition to poke fun and insinuate that your preps are a waste of time.

2nd – Money. Maybe would better stated as “Not enough money”. So many of us are struggling to not just pay bills, put food on our plates and gas in our cars – but we are also trying to stock up on preparedness supplies at the same time. When times are especially tough it is easy to redirect priorities and the corresponding funds to other things and say, “screw preparedness”.

3rd – Lack of Time. In many peoples lives so many activities and distractions take up valuable time and challenge many to find more time to spend on “prepping”. For many of us – prepping is easy to push to the bottom of the priority list and sweep under the rug.

There are many more reasons why some people just get sick (and tired) of prepping.

So what can be done about it? Take a break!! Yes – just take a break from prepping for a week or two – the world won’t come to an end (at least we hope not). Spend time with the family. Do something fun like bowling or go to a couple movies. If you have a hobby that maybe you have not had done in a while – go for it. If possible, have a family meeting and ask everyone else what they would like to do. Money does not have to be spent to relax and have a good time. Visit a park and bring a picnic lunch. Make Saturday a “vegetable day” – meaning that you will become a couch potato and watch movies all day. Invite some friends over and have a cookout. Whatever is chosen – have fun and forget about prepping for a bit.

Preparedness Goals?

Often while taking a break from prepping your mind will start to come back around and preparedness goals will begin to come into sight. It is at that time to throw in your favorite apocalyptic movie – get out a pad of paper – and write. Write some preparedness goals that you want to accomplish. Possibly you may think about getting ready for spring gardening. Start a list of gardening “things to do” to start in early spring. Get it out of your head and on paper.

If money is short do some things that are inexpensive or free. Go to your local dollar store and stock up on some really inexpensive but valuable preparedness supplies. Spend a day scouring the Internet for good info and maybe print some out to place in a “survival information binder”. Ask a friend who has a particular skill that you want to have teach you. Maybe even perform a complete inventory of your stockpile and enter everything in a spreadsheet.

We all get burnt out sometimes. Just realize that it is OK and take steps to refresh, reload, and regenerate. Often you will come back re-energized and better focused on your preparedness goals.

Take care all –
Rourke

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John – 01/31/2012 10:04:35 pm

Prepping is a bit like subscribing to same type of logic that underlies Pascal’s wager on the existence of God. From what I have read on this forum though, prepping has become an opportunity for exploration and discovery. Sounds exciting to me…not a reason for burnout.

I have seen a lot of prepper shows on TV as well as websites and I wanted to ask a question related to something you wrote above, Grant.

“that awesome AR-15 that you finally got off of layaway could have afforded the family a nice vacation to the beach. ”

A large proportion of preppers seem to be people of faith. On this site I have come across Christian references so I assume that many in the community take Jesus as their lord and savior. I also have noticed that the majority of preppers are well armed and are prepared to protect themselves and their families from any potential dangers that might confront them.

But, what is the plan if a prepper community is not confronted by a band of marauding ne’er do wells, but rather a large group of starving families? Would these Christian preppers unleash the hounds and machine guns on a refugee population of starving children to save their food stores? What would Jesus or the values of the New Testament suggest the appropriate plan of action be?

There is a concerning amount of violent undercurrent which pervades many prepper networks and communities that is of great concern to me. There is almost a perverse desire in certain cases to welcome the coming of the apocalypse, or so called cleansing.

In my opinion, what many prepper communities are doing (especially the undertakings that I read about on this blog) should be a model for the greater country as I believe that they are directly confronting the issues of sustainability which in my mind will be the most pressing issues of our lifetime. The image of preppers should be more open arms and smiles and less AK-47’s and land mines.

At the end of the day, I don’t know if I would be able to reply to a legitimate and honest cry for help with the cold response of a machine gun round.

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Grant Miller – 02/01/2012 07:31:24 am

John, as usual, you go to the heart of the matter.

First, let me clarify. I didn’t write this piece. I shared it from another blog, so I don’t own it. Having said that, I would be dishonest if I did not admit to having invested in self-defense measures.

But, underlying a genuine and realistic need to be prepared to defend oneself against evil forces, there is, as you say, a deeper need to prepare to be a part of the solution for those who are genuinely in need. The answers to this dilemma are not easy.

On one hand, no amount of preparation and industriousness (putting back food and water, growing food, becoming energy self-sufficient, etc) would be adequate if the community is over-run by people in need. Years of work and preparation to feed one’s own family could potentially be wiped out in a day, as would one’s ability to assist others in need through a desire to lovingly share.

On the other hand, there is no indication that Christ was a “prepper”. He lived day-to-day, grateful for His daily bread. Having little in the way of material goods, He and his disciples gave what they could to the poor, which was probably also very little even though it was much relative to what they had. The Bible says that Judas was the keeper of the purse and there are a few references to discussions about giving to the poor. One such comes to mind when the controversy arose about Christ being anointed with expensive ointment prior to his crucifixion. Jesus, in defense of this extravagance replied, the poor are always with you.   Mark 14  It would seem from this that Christ recognized that there are inexhaustible physical needs that are beyond our ability to satisfy and that one must choose wisely how to allocate physical resources. But the allocation of physical resources was not at the core of Christ’s teachings. He repeatedly stated that His Kingdom was not of this world, not physical in nature. The abundance of what He had to offer was spiritual and far more important than the physical. It was the healing of the spirit and the body.

It is difficult to visualize all scenarios a prepper or a Christian might be faced with. I certainly want to be among those who would generously share with those in need. From discussions I have had, I am confident that all others who are invested in the Village feel the same. But I also want to protect and provide for the ones I love most. So, I suppose that, in a dooms day scenario where there is mass starvation, I would try to carefully choose between those who are non-violent and in need and those who are out to pillage. An armed mob bent on taking what I have diligently put back would be met with the best defense I could muster. But I would do my best to “give this day, of our daily bread” to the extent that I do not endanger the welfare of those in my personal stewardship.

My favorite play is Les Miserable, based on Victor Hugo’s monumental novel. The pivotal moment that sets the stage for everything else in the story is when the Priest gives all of the Church’s silver to Jean Valjean who has stolen a portion of it. Through this singular act of charity, the convict Valjean is transformed to a Christian life of giving. This example of Christian charity would seem to contradict my rationale of distinguishing beneficiaries by their intent or level of violence. But there are differences. Silver is not sustenance. It was ornamentation for the Church. It could be yielded up without threatening starvation to the priests and nuns. More importantly, the priest had spent the prior evening feeding and, one could assume, plumbing the depths of Valjean’s soul in conversation. I would imagine that the priest gave the silver for a higher cause than feeding Valjean a few more meals. He sensed the goodness there and that giving the silver would be a wise investment in the well-being of many. How many others had visited the convent prior to Valjean in similar circumstances? How many others had depleted all the silver in the Church? Apparently, Valjean was a special case.

Similarly, it is difficult to say what should be the appropriate response to all future scenarios that we face in life.

Being armed and prepared allows me to make that difficult choice in the moment and under real and specific circumstances. I am not Christ and don’t share His mission nor His ability to lay down my life as a Savior for all mankind. I may be called upon to lay down my life for some within my sphere of influence, though. If such difficult choices must be made, I just pray that I will be spiritually prepared to discern and choose as Christ would have.  Like Him, I hope that my choices will transcend the physical and the consequences of those choices will yield spiritual and therefore eternal benefits.

This is why, for preppers, the most important preparation is spiritual.

Matthew 16
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

26  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

I would love to hear more thoughts on this topic from friends and members of the Village.

Our Intentional Community Works Together

I’ve been exchanging emails with some nice folks who went to Italy to set up a ministry, ended up staying for an extended period, but are soon ready to return to America.  Laurel asks some great questions.  As I summarized what’s happening in the Village, I felt pleased with our progress and decided to share it.  The names were changed for their privacy.
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Hi Laurel,
I’ll do my best to answer your questions within the text of your letter below.

From: Tom & Laurel Fitzgerald
Sent: Sunday, December 04, 2011 3:07 PM
Subject: Greetings from Italy

Hello,

We are seriously considering purchasing two lots at the Village. I believe my mother would be happier on her own lot.

I’ve spent many hours looking over modular home floor plans and trying to familiarize myself with the whole building process. We’ve never had a home built before – let alone considered trying it from overseas.  I am the kind of person to research and understand before moving forward – but then I am ready to move quickly as I’ve already spent all that time organizing all the steps and making the decisions ahead of time.

I’ve given some thought to your question about job/income.  Because we couldn’t think of actually living there earlier than 24 or even 30 months from now, it is a difficult question to answer.  However, Tom has agreed that a really neat goal would be to create a job/income via a joint-venture with others at the Village who want to create a business.  How or what this would look like, we are uncertain.

There are others here who are interested in working together to create income.  That could take any of a number of different forms including a partnership/joint venture with joint ownership or separate, yet synergistic businesses, leveraging different skills.  I have found from experience that with the best intent and integrity, partnerships are almost always problematic and tend to create friction.  So, personally, I prefer the latter option.  Some ideas and opportunities might include:

  • The Ensigns (lot 2) are deeply into the “maker movement”.  Fred plans to start an alternative energy company that builds hybrid solar systems (passive heat and PV).  He is an amazingly innovative guy with a tremendous work ethic.  He will do well no matter what he attempts.
  • George Jones recently purchased a very expensive training program that he has generously offered to share with anyone in the Village.  It teaches one how to set up an online retail/wholesale business starting simply with eBay, then graduating to building a website and social media, etc.  He is a bio-chemist and also plans to build a still for ethanol fuel production.
  • Ted Thomas (lot 12) is retired, but he has a PhD in plant genetics and really knows his stuff.  Some time ago he developed a strain of grass used on golf courses that has some wonderful characteristics.  He has indicated an interest in growing turf on plastic sheets for commercial applications.
  • Michael Stevens (lot 11) has had his own business from before he moved here developing websites that attract a lot of visitors and paid advertising.  He continues to do well with that business.  His wife, Sherry, recently got a position teaching at nearby University of the South and loves it.
  • The Fords plan to be here in the spring.  They are accomplished musicians and currently operate a recording studio that they plan to re-open after they move here.  Being close to Nashville will be good for them.  You can listen to their music on  their website.  Proximity of the Ford’s new home to the amphitheater will also be excellent. They are excited about spearheading the community performing theater effort with Village children and whoever else wants to join in.  I’m also excited about finally putting together a Village band so I can enjoy jamming together on my sax.
  • I continue to put time into developing the Village, but in this economy, real estate isn’t profitable.  So, I’m developing other sources of income too.  Recently, my wife and I discovered a health supplement that has made a big difference in our health.  We were so impressed that we have decided to take it on as distributors.  I’m also looking at a couple of other opportunities.  My escrow/title agent tells me there is still opportunity at the low end to buy and flip houses.  The key to success is buying them right and she has an inside track that she is willing to share.  Also, I have a small invention I’m working on that I will test market soon.
  • The cost developing the Sewanee Creek logo, website, blog and brand can be put to better use as the community develops.  Our combined output from gardens or other cottage industry projects can be marketed under the Sewanee Creek brand.  My wife is an expert quilter.  She has put her skill to good use recently making handbags.  She markets them at local markets and on her Facebook page.  I have experience in brand development from a career in chain retailing.  Michael’s website building expertise and George’s training program could be valuable there as well.
  • One of the most critical pieces of any business is human capital.  We have managed to attract some of the best.  There are more that I haven’t mentioned who own property here, but haven’t relocated yet.  I think we are already well positioned to thrive, not only as a self-sufficient community, but one that continues to attract talent and business innovation.

I’ve seriously been looking into the bed n’ breakfast idea and have already decided to go the short-term rental route which requires paying tourist taxes and registering a LLC. I believe we could generate a lot of interest in the location by Europeans, even if it is not a typical tourist stop in the US.

Marketing is always a big challenge, so your connections in Europe would be a BIG plus.

My one concern is that with all of my searching to read the covenants, I could only find a file speaking of it being updated with a Word file attached, but it didn’t show up on my browser. Would you be willing to send a copy of that to us? It would be very helpful during this stage in which we are exploring, dreaming, and researching.

I’m sending a copy of the covenants that were registered with the county several years ago.  You need to know, however, that I intend to make some revisions to them, in the direction of fewer restrictions.  I used a neighboring development’s covenants as a model early on because I was an inexperienced developer.  As I learned and fine-tuned the philosophy of the Village, I decided to opt in favor of greater personal freedom for private property.  That’s why I removed copies of the existing covenants from my website.  The only rules for house construction that will remain are the requirements for a large covered porch and restriction against permanent trailers.  I think porches are important to encourage interaction between families.  We don’t want the village to be a low-end trailer park littered with junk.  As written, the covenants on tree-cutting require my approval to cut trees over a certain size.  Those covenants will disappear for land outside the natural preserve.  I have lived in suburban developments before where the covenants were onerous and ridiculous, especially for a rural environment like ours where we want to encourage mini-farms with animals and technological innovation.  The intent of the changes will be to avoid excess regulation.

I’ve also been kicking around that idea Becky has about starting a retreat. That could be a very interesting idea and if she is looking for collaborators, combined efforts might prove more profitable. Tom and I have experience in organizing church retreats and mission team retreats. We’ve also worked at a Christian retreat center and between us have experience in the areas of housekeeping, laundering, food prep/service and preparing an inventory database for the maintenance crew. If this is something she is interested in dialoguing about, I would welcome that.

We would be all over that idea, except that the nest egg we started this project with has hatched and flown off. 🙂  Not enough left to build a nice retreat with right now.  Working together to service such a retreat would be fabulous, spread some of the work and a lot of fun, I think.  We look forward to a better day when we have some extra cash to invest with no more debt.

Completely changing the subject, we used electric golf carts at that retreat center for dropping off dirty laundry, delivering clean laundry to the various linen rooms, moving cleaning supplies between buildings, moving food from the storage shed to the dining room, for answer maintenance calls and bring supplies, and for carting flowers from the greenhouse to the various flower beds.

I like that!  We have a bling golf cart that could be used for that if we build the retreat.

And speaking of flower beds, I’m interested in understanding how the community garden works? Can anyone participate? Does one sign up? Is there a rotation? How does it all work, exactly? Does the community garden include a small orchard? What about the greenhouse? Is that your personal endeavor, or is that a community project?

Right now, the community garden is wide open.  Those who live here now have all opted to spend their time and energies building their own gardens.  As each lot has plenty of room, it’s just more convenient to tend a garden closer to the house.  The primary purpose of the community garden has always been more for socialization and learning than for production.  We have solved for socialization and learning by rotating every week between families on our private plots.  Each week, usually Thursday, we all get together to work on a project designated for and by the Village owner on that weeks rotation.  Last Friday was our turn.  We had four (4’X10′) cold frames made of PVC and 5-year greenhouse plastic sheeting. They weren’t being used and had been left outside the big greenhouse and damaged in the wind.  We repaired them and since Becky and I aren’t using them this year, lent two to George and two to Michael.  I think Michael is actually going to use them as shelter for his pigmy goats.  We put the two for George on the raised bed garden that we all built a few weeks ago on his property.  Hopefully by next week, the seedlings that we planted a few weeks ago in our greenhouse will be mature enough to transplant to George’s cold frames.  As for the greenhouse, it is our personal property, but it is larger than we can use in winter (2,000 square feet) and we are happy to share it with Villagers in exchange for help in it.  It’s working out great.  While the men worked on the cold frames on Friday, the women worked cleaning out the remnants of our tomato, pepper and peanut crops.  So, even sharing it with others we still have a lot of empty beds that need planting right now.  Everyone is really enjoying working together and sharing.
Back to the community garden.  I built some raised beds in the Commons early on with improved top soil from the local worm farm.  George has planted and tended some herbs there, but other than that, it hasn’t been used much.  The Lewis family, who are building their house now and aren’t here yet have volunteered to take it over and raise a crop this spring.  It will be good to see it being put to good use, as George will no longer need it.  As demand increases in the future, there is plenty of room to add more raised beds in the community garden.  But it’s interesting how things have evolved with people helping each other on their private land.  I think that’s even better than the common area garden.

I hope this answers your questions.  Don’t hesitate to call or write again if you have more.

Happy day of rest,
Laurel

Best Preparedness Manual

A very wise man said, “perfect love casts out fear”  1 John 4:18

Another wise man said, “if you are prepared, you shall not fear”.

In a world rife with fear of many things, these two dictums are prescriptions for peace and harmony. Our motto is, “In harmony with people and nature” .   We seek to follow both of these prescriptions for peace.

I have frequently blogged about the need for communities to be bound together by a commitment to living the Golden Rule, the most basic manifestation of love towards fellow-man.  Communities where that is the dominant principle will do well during periods of social and economic chaos.

Top Ten rules for Self-Governance,   Neighborhood rules for a Sustainable lifestyleAustere but Without Fear, Antidote for an Economy of Fear, Top 9 Antidotes for Hard Times

But, there is another popular dictum that says, All you need is love” . . .  NOT!
Yes, it’s important to surround yourself with loving people, but regardless of how heartfelt the singing, kumbaya does not feed, clothe or shelter.  That’s where other forms of preparedness come in.   To cover ALL you need, combine personal preparedness, know-how and self-reliance in a like-minded community with a commitment to support, share and care.   Another name for that is the Village on Sewanee Creek.

My blog also has a lot of information on preparedness like  Top ten Self-Sufficiency and Survival Skills, and we periodically sponsor preparedness fairs and workshop  events open to the public,

Just as Holy Scripture is the manual for a life committed to love of fellow-man, there is a manual recognized by many as the final, comprehensive word on prepared, provident living.  It’s called the LDS Preparedness Manual and you can download it FREE here.

Follow this manual and you’re halfway there.

2011 Preparedness Workshop becomes Semi-Annual at the Village on Sewanee Creek

Feedback from our Preparedness fair last July was excellent but with plenty of room for improvement.

On breadth of content, we received high marks.  But because there was so much going on, a lot of folks struggled to get involved in all the activities they wanted to, even with repetition over two days.  Things were tightly scheduled, so people were rushed getting from one venue to the next.  This resulted in the most consistent piece of feedback, the desire to have more focus and depth at the expense of variety of topics.  Incidentally, the fair happened to fall on the hottest day of 2010.

In response to experience and feedback, this year we will have two one-day events, one in the Spring and one in the fall to correspond with planting and harvest seasons.   That should assure comfortable temperatures and it leaves room on the calendar for the Village’s traditional Independence Day celebration.  The name is being changed from Fair to Workshop to reflect the increased focus on fewer activities, but by having two events this year we can compensate for fewer varieties at each workshop.

I am especially thankful that this year, the burden of coordinating, setting up and preparing for the Fair won’t fall on me.  Last year, I spent three full months getting ready.  This year, coordination and most of the planning is being handled by our newest Villager with the help of the Provident Living meetup group out of Nashville.  If you plan to come, please register with the Provident Living meetup group at http://www.meetup.com/providentliving/ Make sure you RSVP and add a comment if you plan to camp on Friday night.

That should be enough background on the main changes.  So, here’s what to expect for our Spring Preparedness Workshop.

To see info about last year’s July Preparedness Fair, click

https://1stvillager.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/hands-on-preparedness-fair-workshops/

or

https://1stvillager.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/preparedness-fair-the-village-permaculture/

or

https://1stvillager.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/preparedness-fair-at-the-village-on-sewanee-creek/

We have extra land. Anybody want to farm it?

Food security is the ultimate liberty.  If you can do it in  urban NYC, you can do it anywhere.  For some more inspiration, watch this YouTube video.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDxBEUOImjI

The Village on Sewanee Creek is about 750 rural acres on Tennessee’s lush Cumberland Plateau.  Of that, about 80 acres is cleared land that could be farmed.  Some of it is.  (The balance is either in deep woods or in a deep rugged canyon nature preserve) We have already built a community raised bed garden.  But there’s more.  Either on lots currently owned by Villagers, but as yet unfarmed or on unsold lots.

Want to farm but need land?  We have it and we can help you learn to farm.  Call us at (931) 442-1444.

Top 10 Self-Sufficiency and Survival Skills

These days a lot of folks are thinking about how to survive tough times ahead.  It’s tempting to end your short list after a stash of food, and an assault rifle with plenty of ammo.  Good luck!  In a pinch, it’s not the things you have as much as the skills you have that will be your most valuable assets.  By the way, since it takes years to acquire all the necessary skills for provident, abundant living, I recommend adding COMMUNITY as a pre-requisite to an attempt to become truly self-sufficient.  You will find that the task is much less daunting and the journey more enjoyable if you work with other like-minded people to divide, conquer and share the spoils of your efforts.

Whether you want to move into rural America or stay put in the suburbs, here are some skills you will need whether or not TSHTF.

# 1 Grow Fresh, Wholesome Food

Most people have some experience gardening even if it was just watching a bean grow in a Styrofoam cup way back in kindergarten.  But could you live off of what you grow?  It’s definitely possible.  Our first summer garden in the Village provided us with roughly 80% of everything we ate, but we learned in subsequent seasons that doing it consistently can be challenging.   We added a 2,000 square foot green house, intending to grow food year round and found that it was a whole different animal… uh vegetable.  It takes time to build up soil quality, learn what grows best in your area, how to control insects, crop rotation and a myriad of other complex and inter-related issues. 

Fortunately, gardening is the single most popular hobby in the USA, so you know that it’s rewarding and you can swap knowledge with lots of people.  Agricultural colleges operate an Extension Service in most counties where you can get tons of useful, local information and soil analysis.  Local farmer’s coops are a great source for tools, fertilizer and seeds.  But your best source of information will be your neighbors who have successfully grown food for years.  They know local soils and weather patterns and where to buy or trade non-GMO heritage seeds.

Extend your garden with permaculture methods by planting a fruit and nut orchard that will yield abundant crops year after year without tilling and planting.  But start soon.  Developing a productive small-scale farm takes time.

#2.  Learn to Weld

Learning to weld is easy, especially if you use a MIG wire-fed welder. Just adjust the wire feed speed and voltage to match the thickness of steel you are welding.  You can get the hang of it with just a little practice and a few tips from a friend who knows how.  Community colleges often offer inexpensive classes on Welding. One near us is also certifying welders for work at nuclear plants in Alabama and NE Tennessee. 

I bought a little 120V MIG welder at Harbor Freight for about $100.  It’s a good idea to stock up on a bunch of flux wire.  Not a bad investment as inflation kicks in, especially on commodity intensive stuff like steel.  I use my little welder a lot and liked it so much that I bought a second one that runs off of 220V current and can do deeper welds.  It was about $180. 

If you haven’t welded before you will be amazed at how often you will use it, whether in a survival situation or just doing some DIY repairs around the house or shop.  Then again, you can barter or start your own small welding business for some extra cash.

For real self-reliance you might want a portable generator/welder combo. You can find these for sale all the time on www.governmentliquidation.com or, just use one of the generators you already have.  When we built the amphitheater stage, we added a 40’ container with massive doors that open to a big movie screen and lock closed to house the barbecue and A/V equipment.  It’s in a scenic, remote location at the Village. My 7KW Honda generator and MIG welder worked great.  I’m now putting the finishing touches on a guest house built from two shipping containers.  If you plan to do any welding on this scale, I also recommend getting a plasma cutter, also available inexpensively from Harbor Freight.

#3 Learn Basic Carpentry and Home Repair Skills

Start with some DIY projects around the house.  Build a deck, a shed or a playhouse.  Building it plumb, square and level are the basics and are easily learned. Ask a friend who has some carpentry skills to help out.  The Amish don’t have a patent on community barn raising.  It’s a great way to learn, build something great in a short time and bond with resourceful friends. 

Any long-term crisis requires these skills.  Even in good times there are plenty of opportunities for the service-minded person to enjoy helping a widow or single parent in need.  I have found there is nothing more satisfying than building or fixing something well.  Carpentry, Electrical and Plumbing skills will all be in demand.  Having learned some of these skills from a friend, if you are the one on the block who knows how to fix stuff it’s your turn to make a lot of friends quickly.

 #4 Learn To Trap and Hunt

Hunting is one of those basic survival skills that have also found their way into mainstream recreation. There are plenty of hunters around.  You need to make sure you are one of them so some of the local game finds its way onto your table and not someone else’s.  This is a skill that takes time to master.  It’s not just about marksmanship.  It requires one to understand the movement patterns of animals in the wild – the where and when of their eating, drinking, sleeping, communication and mating patterns. 

Since we have an abundance of hunting land right here in the Village, it has been easy to barter for hunting lessons with good hunters for the right to hunt here.  I think that’s a far superior learning method to book or video learning because it’s local.  But traditional learning methods have their place too.

Trapping gives you a more reliable, efficient way to get fresh meat.  Traps and snares work while you work at something else or sleep. Traps can cover a wide area. A hunter can sit in a tree stand all day and not see a thing.  If you are more interested in dinner than sport as I am, trapping is for you.

There are a lot of different types of Snares, Live/Box traps, leg hold traps and body gripper traps. Each has a different purpose and different methods that need to be learned for trapping anything from small game like rabbits or squirrels, to large game like deer or feral hogs to nuisance animals like coyotes, beaver or raccoons.

Look for a local Trappers Association and join up for their mailing list, workshops or just some fun outings.

 #5 Learn how to Butcher Animals

This skill is a natural, not only for hunters and trappers.  Near the Village there are several small farms that raise grass fed or free range livestock (beef, goats, chickens, turkeys, etc.) One of our Villagers is an avid carnivore.  He’s in the process of buying more land from me, planning to raise his own beef.  I lowered the price a bit with an option to keep a cow of mine in his pasture land.  Butchering skills come in handy for significantly reducing the cost of bringing your beef (or chickens or wild game) from the field to your dinner table.

The first time I butchered a deer, I was pretty clueless.  It was a partial road kill, with a broken back it limped onto my property and I needed to learn quickly.  That deer made it into my freezer and we enjoyed the venison, but it wasn’t pretty.  Later a hunting friend showed me how.  Learning how to properly butcher and store animals for meat is a skill that everyone wanting to be self-sufficient should have.

 #6 Fish for Food

This isn’t about trophy or pleasure fishing where a secondary objective is to have a nice nap in the sun. You need to be able to bring in a quantity of fish reliably and fast.  First, buy and learn how to use trotlines, fish traps and nets.  Then learn how to make your o  wn.

Like trapping, a good trotline can be left to do your fishing while you build a barn or chop firewood.  And when you return, you’re likely to find several fresh fish on the same line just waiting to be fried up or smoked.

In spawning season, many fish will school up and move together.  My wife and I have enjoyed a salmon run on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.  Many other freshwater lake and river fish like Walleye, Bass, Stripers and Crappie have similar spawning behaviors you can take advantage of.

Google trawl and gill nets for supplies you need.

Warning!  These techniques may be illegal where you are. Be familiar with local regulations.  But then, if it comes to a choice of a potential fine versus hungry kids, well… you decide.

#7 Gunsmithing – Learn To Repair Guns

For the aspiring Survivalist or Self Reliant person, having a variety of guns for various purposes is a no-brainer, whether for hunting or defense.  Knowing how to clean, repair, site and adjust guns is probably just as important as knowing how to use them.  Any  guy who has been through basic military training remembers that one of the first things you learn is how to disassemble, clean and reassemble your weapon efficiently so it will work properly? No shortcuts when your life depends on it.  Keep basic spare parts for your guns and learn how to fix each one if it breaks.

Many Video’s and Books on Gunsmithing can be found on Amazon or Brownell’s. Pick ones that cover your gun types.

#8 Operate a HAM Radio

We decided early on that having someone in the Village with communications skills and equipment is important.  With the many skills I need to master, we decided another Villager would take this on.  He happens to be my brother who is just finishing his house.  Since he already had his license, this decision was easy.  For now, he has a good portable HAM, but he’s planning to install a fixed unit with tall antenna.  I plan to get my license when I can get to it.  In a disaster, a HAM radio is your communications lifeline to the outside World.  To appreciate its importance, there was a great TV survival mini-series a few years ago called Jericho.  You can find it on Hulu.com.

Last year, the requirements for a HAM radio operator’s license became a lot easier.  No Morse code is required.  A few hours study and pass an online test and you’re on your way.  Then, join a local club for practice and to build a resilient network.

  #9 Advanced First Aid

“Knowing advanced life saving first aid skills should be the goal of every person who is prepping for life.   And I’m talking about skills that go above and beyond those taught in basic first aid classes.

Learn how to treat major wounds, such as a sucking chest wound, until help can arrive. Could you set a broken bone? How about removing a bullet? It’s not as simple as some macho guy on TV makes it look. You’ll have to assume at one point during a crisis, you’re first aid skills will be needed. If not by you, then possibly by a family member or friend. You may be their only hope for surviving.”
The Survival, Emergency Preparedness and Self Reliance Blog

  #10 Small Engine Repair

Small engines provide most of the power that makes self-sufficient living enjoyable and even doable for folks of our time.  As I look around our homestead, I’m surprised to count the number of small engines I use.  (Chain Saws, 4-Wheeler ATV, Generators, Pumps, Air Compressors, Saw Mill, Rototillers, and the list goes on)

Knowing how to repair any of these small engines is a huge plus because it seems they’re always breaking down.  Because we’re in the country there are a number of small engine repairmen I can and do depend on, many more per capita than you would find in a big city.  Most people around here use small engines a lot.  But in a crisis situation, good repairmen may be overwhelmed.  Your local community college may offer classes on basic and advanced small engine repair. Once you’ve learned the basics, the rest is a piece of cake.

Auto repair has elements of Small Engine repair skills, and I’m tempted to include it here, but in a real crisis I’m thinking of getting back to alternative modes of transportation.  Automatic transmissions or sophisticated electronics built into most newer model cars are way beyond the reach of today’s shade tree mechanics.  If I can fix the small engine on my 4-wheeler that will get me by for transportation within a ten to fifteen mile radius, that will do, especially if I have more than one vehicle.  I do have an older model 4-wheel drive stick shift, carbureted vehicle.  It’s great for off-road use or on icy roads.  And, for those wanting to be prepared in case of an EMP attack, it has no sensitive electronics that could be fried by a massive pulse.  For this older vehicle, small engine repair skills will get me a long way.  Then, of course I could go back to horse and buggy days as some around here do.  I know where to buy a saddle horse for almost nothing.  Come to think of it, where the cost of gas is headed, that might not be a bad idea.

At a minimum, you should be able to change a tire, and change out parts that frequently break like starters, alternators, water and fuel pumps. If you can’t do these simple chores, you’d better have money or another vehicle to rely upon should one go down.

This is my top 10 list.  It is only the start if you want to be truly self-sufficient.  To give credit where credit is due, I got inspiration for this article from a like-minded blogger on The Survival, Emergency Preparedness and Self Reliance Blog.  My list is a bit different from his, so you might want to visit there for more ideas and a different slant.

 

#11 Food Preservation

Yes, there are many other important skills I couldn’t squeeze into the top 10.  I’ll sneak in one more.  Food Preservation is really important because in most climates your winter garden won’t satisfy all your needs for fresh food.  Food preservation includes Canning, Smoking, Dehydrating, Salting, Pickling, Root Cellars, Refrigeration/Freezing and much more.  Maybe I’ll do a list of the next 10 another time and lead off with this one.

Sustainable Living Progress Report

Progress Update

OK, so I have been really bad about posting updates lately. That’s because I’ve been working hard on projects and I’m dog-tired at the end of each day.  The good news is that we’re moving forward with lots of cool stuff here.

Thanks to my wife, the greenhouse is planted and lots of little sprouts are poking their heads up. The weather has gotten warm enough to shut down the greenhouse furnace for now. Daytime temps are in the 70’s and greenhouse temp’s are in the 80’s and 90’s. We still need to install the shade cloth for the summer. Should be arriving this week.

We have engaged a land company on several projects. A huge track-hoe is now sitting on the property ready to begin work this week expanding the retention pond where we plan to raise cattails to be distilled for alcohol fuel and retain water for irrigation.

Chuck is making good progress on the wood gasifier that will also make fuel for the stationary generator installation. This green electricity generating system will also become an economic mainstay for producing a valuable product in the Village.  Chuck is part of the larger community web of folks dedicated to being self-sufficient. When you visit, you should make time to meet him. He’s an amazing resource and an amazing guy!

We have finished grading a large pad for a workshop / storage building. I’m excited about this prototype project because we will be using 40′ X 8′ shipping containers as the green building blocks. These large steel containers are built for ocean shipping conditions. Therefore, strong enough to handle hurricanes but inexpensive because there are millions of these things piled up at sea ports needing to be salvaged. I plan to face the sides of them with oak slab paneling – a FREE byproduct of local saw mills and insulate them with recycled insulation from the many commercial chicken houses that have closed near here. We will install roof trusses with a pitched steel roof and, once again install tanks to collect rainwater for irrigation. The shop will be heated in winter from the same outdoor wood furnace that will heat the greenhouse and two other homes. So, when we’re done, we’ll have a state-of-the-art green facility that costs not a lot more than our sweat equity and has an attractive, rustic look to boot.

Now for the part that really gets my creative juices going. We have purchased three of these containers – two for the shop and a third one that will be used to hosue the screen and backstage at the amphitheater. By this year’s third annual July 4th event we hope the amphitheater will be fully and permanently functional. The stage container will also house electronic sound equipment, a small kitchen and serve as a multipurpose community center.

My brother has been here for the past month working on his house and helping with all these projects. It’s great to have like-minded people who you love focused together on the same goals and having fun at it.

It seems that the worse the economy gets the better it is for the people in the Village.

We look forward to seeing all of you soon.