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Showing posts with label Off The Grid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Off The Grid. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dripping Survivalism to Neophytes

I was talking to a friend of mine this past weekend. He knows generally that I am a prepper but he does not know to what extent. He (we'll call him Bill) said that prior to the Presidential election he was concerned about the country falling in anarchy. So much in fact that he bought a gun. Bill told me he had inherited a 12 gauge "bird hunting' shotgun from his father, but never had plans to buy another gun until he got 'scared' - for his family and himself. So he went out and bought as Glock 9mm handgun. He didn't even know what model number.

Bill is some sort of a financial planner, trust funds or something, I really don't remember and could not give a shit less, but I could not pass up the opportunity to educate him and used that angle to get him thinking:

UrbanMan: Well Bill, having a gun, several guns in fact, are a good idea for protection especially when the security situation becomes worse, but you need training and well as have some ammunition stocked up for the time when it gets scarce. Ammunition, as well as food, batteries, water, etc., will be the first to fly off the shelves - and before it flies off the shelves the price will raise dramatically.

Bill: I guess you are right. I have a box of 50 bullets for the Glock.

UrbanMan: Bill, if I were you I would buy another 150 or 200 rounds of ammunition and continue to buy at least a box a month until he have 1,000 rounds minimum. Plus you need to have some 12 gauge bird shot and buck shot, as well as some slug shotgun shells also.

Bill: That's a lot of ammo! Do you really think I need that much? Although you are right about the shotgun. I don't have any ammunition for that.

UrbanMan: Yes, you need plenty of ammunition. You don't want to wait until you need it. At that point it will be expensive, maybe very hard to find and you will expose your safety going to gun shops trying to find it. Go buy two boxes of bird shot, which would be 50 shot shells, five boxes of 00 buckshot (total of 25 rounds) and two boxes of one ounce slugs (10 rounds). Buy a couple boxes of each, every month until you have two to three hundred of each load. Get an old Army metal ammunition can and keep it in your closet. It won't take up much room and it'll give you peace of mind.

Bill: I don;t know. That's a lot of money.

UrbanMan: Jesus Bill, you make a lot of money, so stop buying beer or ice cream or movie tickets of whatever else you don't need every week and invest in your survival insurance. Also what are you going to do if the banks close or the dollar tanks or the ATM stops working or the government says you can only withdraw $100 a day and food prices go up 1000%.

Bill: Well, I think we'll have more problems than money if that happens.

UrbanMan: That's right, hence the guns. And the food you have stocked up in your pantry and garage. And the safe place you have a plan to get to rather than staying in the suburbs.

Bill: I am really uncomfortable planning on the world to collapse.

UrbanMan: Uncomfortable? How about not being able to protect or feed your family? That in my book would be a lot more uncomfortable. All I am suggesting is a modicum of planning and preparation. You deal in the financial world. Is diversification of investments generally a good thing?

Bill: Generally, it is. You don't want to have all your assets in one area, say stock funds.

UrbanMan: Well, consider a little prepping as diversification of your survival portfolio. Do you track the precious metals exchange?

Bill: Yes, I have clients who own gold and silver stocks. And come to think of it, I do field questions from existing clients on adding that to their portfolios. I really don;t recommend too much resources devoted to that investment.

UrbanMan: You are talking about 'paper' gold and silver, which will do you no good if everything collapses. You should think about buying at least some silver each month and put it away as a hedge if the dollar collapse or hyper inflation hits. Silver is about $16.75 an ounce right now, but if you research it, you'll see that U.S. silver production is declining significantly over the past couple of months and expected to decline further. So solely as an investment I'll think you see silver increasingly around $3 to $5 an ounce within the next three months. Just a few months ago it was around $21 an ounce and remember it wasn't too long ago when silver hit $48 an ounce.

Bill: You may be right, but the precious metals market changes from time to time under forces we never fully understand,...everything from price manipulation to large purchases by various countries.

UrbanMan: Exactly. That's why you need to protect yourself. I am not advocating an 180 degree change in your financial planning or monthly spending. I am just talking about small changes, re-directional really, that plug holes in your ability to survive.

Bill: Okay. Well I'll think about it.

UrbanMan: Ok, you think about it. In the meantime, I'm going to send you some website and recommended reading. Don't be the dumb ass left out.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Off The Grid, Prepare for the Collapse Example

Another "motivational, if they can do it, you can do it" article about a couple who moved off the grid and is making it happen. This article is from Yahoo Finance and was published about this couple living on very little income. You will have to link to the article to see the pictures of their house and way of life. It is evident that they did not approach this from a pepper's point of view, and that is considering security or defense.  While they are saving money and sitting pretty well for an economic collapse, you can tell that they are not prepared for what the worst of humanity, or government for that matter, will throw at them,.....and here's a thought, "don't let people know where you live!".

At a time when we carry computers in our pockets and our cars practically do the driving for us, a certain subset of people have willingly chosen to cut the cord on modern American life — for good. Off-the-grid living — that is, using natural resources like sun and wind power to provide amenities like heat and electricity — has become commonplace in places like Terlingua, an isolated community in Southwest Texas.

What was once a bustling mining town is now a veritable ghost town, tucked into the foothills of Big Bend National Park in the north Chihuahuan desert. To Abe Connally, 34, it was the perfect place to go off the map. In 2002, Connally moved to Terlingua, leaving behind a lucrative job as a web designer in Austin, Texas in order to try his hand at rural life. "I’ve always enjoyed rural life, and the thought of sustainability and home-scale energy production intrigued me," says Abe, who grew up in New Mexico and Texas. "On top of that, I wanted to see how integrating systems to reduce waste and improve efficiency would affect the architecture and other components of this lifestyle."

Within a year, he met and married his wife, Josie, a British expat who was raised in Africa, Portugal and England before she finally settled out West. They never questioned whether to build their own home or not. It was only a matter of finding the right land and the right resources. "When we started building our first home, we figured that if we could build a sustainable homestead from scratch in the desert, then we could do it anywhere," Josie says. "We realized that if we could reduce our needs and resources, our lifestyle would be cheaper to maintain, giving us money to save or invest."

More than a decade, two hand-built homes and a pair of energetic sons later, they've dedicated their lives to maintaining their sustainable home, using their blog VelaCreations to teach others how to follow in their footsteps. Here's what it’s like to live really off-the-grid: "When we built our first home, we had almost no money," Josie says. "We bought 20 acres of pristine desert land for $1,000 and moved an old bus onto it. The bus — retrofitted with a bed, small stove, solar panel and batteries, etc. — was our home until we could build a better quality one."

Neither Abe nor Josie were particularly experienced home builders — far from it. They relied on books, blogs and online tutorials to learn everything from bricklaying to building solar panels for energy. Abe: "[Renowned architect] Michael Reynolds introduced us to the concepts of architecture as a group of integrated systems. From passive solar designs to using waste as construction materials, his books showed us that it was possible to live like we wanted to."

They built their first sustainable home in 2002 near Terlingua, but they were 30 miles from the closest schools and hospitals — not exactly ideal for raising small children. In 2007, they moved closer to town and started constructing home No. 2.

Like their own personal Rome, their new home took years to complete and is a constant work in progress. Abe: "We added to each system as we could afford it, in other words, little by little. For the house itself, we used adobe, mixing the mud with our feet and putting it into forms (made from scrap materials) straight on the walls. It took a long time, but cost almost nothing."

For off-the-gridders, the sun is crucial. The Connallys rely on solar power for all of their heat and electricity (with help from a homemade wind generator). "The house is partially buried in a south-facing hill [and] the thermal mass of the hill helps to keep a constant temperature inside the house year-round, like a cave," Abe explains. "The house stays about 70 degrees for most of the year."

Abe: "Our water is collected from the roof. We live in a desert, so rainfall is limited, and the majority of our rain comes from July through September. We store this water in large tanks we make ourselves and then filter for domestic use."

"The first part of off-grid living is to conserve, and reduce your needs, so that it’s easier to produce your necessities for yourself," Abe says. By using a composting toilet, which requires no water, they cut down on waste and fertilize their land at the same time.

Their $9,600 annual budget is planned down to the dollar. They earn a small income through Abe's web consulting business and some freelance writing, but their farm is their real paycheck. When they decided to rebuild, they sought out more fertile land with enough rainfall to sustain a garden and livestock.

As a family, they bring new meaning to the term "farm to table": "We've had tomato plants that produce for several years, and they become these jungles of fresh food right in the dining room," Abe says. "In fact, our youngest son, Nico, will sit there and eat every red tomato he can reach, but if you put one on his plate, he refuses to touch it."

Josie: "We grow a wide variety of things, depending on our tastes at the time. We regularly grow tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, okra, cucumbers, squash, corn, sunflowers, melons, greens, roots and several herbs. We also have a few fruit trees (plums, apricots, peaches)." They've even got a tiny village of beehives for fresh honey.

Meat is also on the menu. The Connallys have gradually raised a menagerie of livestock, including pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens. It's vastly cheaper than purchasing their meat from stores.

Everyone lends a hand in the family harvest. Josie: "The kids collect eggs and feed all the poultry. We feed the rabbits, pigs and all the other little critters. We then all go look at any baby rabbits and the kids often get out their guinea pigs to play with."

Nothing goes to waste. Josie: "We sell any surplus. We often have extra meat (especially rabbit), which we sell locally. We also sell eggs, as well as trading them for raw milk. Any vegetables and such we tend to preserve (drying, canning, kimchi) as we don’t yet grow enough to fill our yearly needs." Even rabbit fur gets turned into cozy hats and slippers.

Josie: "Right now, we’re spending about $800 a month: $100 on fuel, $500 on [feed for the animals], groceries and other household items, and $100 on Internet and phone. We also continue to improve our homestead, which costs a little extra, depending on the task at hand."

With two kids under the age of 5, the Connallys admit they've made some allowances in their off-grid lifestyle. They have games for game nights and keep a healthy stock of books and DVDs for entertainment. They keep a car handy for trips to town and to cart the kids to and from school each day. Their goal this year is to get their car running on natural fuel supplies. Josie: "We live about a 20-minute drive from a small village, where there’s a kindergarten, primary school, clinic and a couple of basic stores. That’s actually one of the main reasons we moved here before starting a family: still very rural, but with everything needed for small kids."

I admire the out of the box thinking of this family.  Growing your own food, from gardening to the livestock aspect is great - a model for all prepared Bug Out locations, however, I would certainly be concerned about OPSEC and hope they have a plan for security and the defensibility of their homestead.