March 8, 2019

Poised for Disaster

"I play a mental game with myself that helps me bring our progress into perspective. It's a “what if” game, based on whatever imaginary emergency or doomsday scenario suits my fancy at the time. What if Dan was suddenly unemployed for months on end? What if, for some reason, civilization as we know it collapsed? How prepared would we be?" 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, Chapter 5, "The Establishment Phase"

I don't blog much about preparedness. This isn't because I don't see a need to be prepared, it's because Dan and I believe that the very best thing one can do to prepare for __(fill in the blank)__ is lifestyle.

Changing our lifestyle over the years has been a top priority, because we have long seen the root of the world's problems to be its industrialized economic system. I know many people love this system's promises of convenience and wealth, while others hate the inevitable inequality it produces. Trouble is, both points of view are too personal to be realistic. Step back for a bigger picture and it becomes easier to see that as long as industrialized manufacturing and agriculture consume the lion's share of the world's resources, we are headed for global disaster.

People look to politics for answers, but honestly? I think that's a pretty lazy excuse. If politics was actually interested in solving problems, then maybe. But it isn't. It's about power. What we have going on in this country, at least, is nothing more than a giant game of King-of-the-Hill. And it's not a friendly game. It's driven by hate, with one political party literally hell-bent on destroying the other at any cost. Even if it means climbing out on the limb of a tree and sawing that limb off. America's self-destruct button has been pushed. No amount of finger pointing is going to change that.

What's lifestyle got to do with it? Your lifestyle is the one tool you've got that can make a difference. When politicians and government make promises to fix things, it becomes all to easy to assume nothing is required on the part of Self. It's the government's job to provide __(fill in the blank)__ . That mindset enables us to turn a blind eye on problems and needs around us. Self can continue to pursue it's own desires. That's why I say that looking to politics is an excuse.

You can only make choices for you. As much as I wish my opinion may help someone, it's only my actions that make a difference. Dan and I have chosen to decrease our dependence on the current economic system. This is not just some wild, idiosyncratic hair. Historically, folks who live with farms and gardens fare much better when disaster strikes, because they can grow at least some of their own food.

"There are no one-size-fits-all solutions... It is better to grow one potted tomato plant on the patio than none at all. It is better to have a small suburban garden than none at all. It is better to keep a few potted herbs under a grow light than none at all. It is better to do something rather than nothing." 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, Chapter 6, "Food Self-Sufficiency: Feeding Ourselves"

 Poised for Disaster © March 2019 by Leigh

32 comments:

Ed said...

Excellent think piece. I personally think our country/government is doomed to failure as have all countries/governments throughout history. Eventually, they have all collapsed from ancient through historical to modern times. But, from the ashes, new ones have risen again and so eventually, something will rise from the ashes of our country. I think this is inevitable but probably not likely to happen during the lifetime of my kids.

My question to you and one that I have pondered a lot myself, if the world/country collapses in our lifetimes and 99.9% of the population are unprepared, what will happen to the 0.01% like yourself and Dan who prepared? More specifically what will happen when those with nothing see your resources? I have always felt that such a world is probably not one I want to live in.

Mama Pea said...

Very few of us today were alive during the last Great Depression when people in our country did not have enough to eat or place to live nor do they have any idea of the mental and emotional anguish or actions that can cause.

I echo the sentiments in the last paragraph of Ed's comment above for three reasons. First, we now have fostered a society where only a very small percentage of people have any sense of self-responsibility but rather rely on other systems, structures or businesses to provide nearly all their basic needs. Second, the population of our country is now far greater. And third, during that near collapse of our country, a large number of our people had relatives or friends still on small family farms where they could go for shelter, food and some sense of safety. The 2,000 acre farms of today devoted exclusively to growing soybeans will not provide the same haven.

Cockeyed Homestead said...

Good points. Somethings are out of your control. Food in your mouth, shelter overhead and clothing on your back is all God promises His children. That doesn't mean you won't have to work for it.

If the SHTF scenarios do arise be it the whole country, the globe, or in your personal life those three basic things are important.

My answer to Ed is, "You can try to take it." :oP It might sustain your needs of the moment, but without the knowledge and skills to homestead. Their gains are short lived. We have those. Cockeyed Jo

Leigh said...

Ed, that's a valid question, and I think Mama Pea and Cockeyed Jo have made an excellent contribution to its discussion. It's a question that's always in the back of my mind, and I have to admit that the scenarios I come up with are not endearing. I think it will largely depend on how a collapse might possibly come about.

If it's a slow economic deterioration, the general population will experience a series of gradual changes while they look to the government to provide answers. Nobody will like it, but there will be time for mental, emotional, and lifestyle adjustments to take place. Unless, of course, our government follows the same script that the Venezuelan government did. In that case, it will be the government itself that takes everything away from everybody.

If it's a sudden collapse there will be massive panic and chaos. Any city, for example, that experiences a disaster of some sort, also experiences widespread looting and violence. I've seen the mob mentality in action and it's ugly. No one would give a second thought about trying to kill us to take what we've got.

Mama Pea, your points are excellent. Our culture is extremely different from even a hundred years ago. What we have now, however, is massive retail distribution centers. Dan routinely delivered to them when he was a truck driver. The warehouses store acres and acres of food and goods for regional retail stores. Not surprisingly, they are guarded like Fort Knox, with very high security protocols for anyone wishing to enter. They would definitely become targets.

Jo, I agree. The majority of folks today would have no clue of how to take care of themselves. It is likely that they wouldn't even be able to identify many of our home-processed foods in our pantries. Much less know what to do with it. And there's no quick, easy way to impart the knowledge and skills.

Of course, we're all hopeful it won't be a nightmare, but for anyone interested in one man's well thought out scenario, Robert Wayne Atkins wrote a rather sobering piece Are You Prepared for a Worst Case Breakdown in Society?.

Fiona said...

Wonderful post. The news from the Halls of power have become a nightmare. We are taking our life in a more self responsible direction. We find people here are becoming more determined to garden and raise more food. This country was built by people who were not afraid of work.
Thank you Leigh, you show what can be done with the rjght mind set.

Rose said...

I agree with so much of what you say...this was an excellent read. Until the past few years I have always had a bit of a garden...I grew up where we raised almost everything we ate. I LOVED canning and freezing our food. Love raising it, too. I always think how when we can our own food, how little there is to throw in the trash--one little domed lid.

I could go on and on...but I won't. Just wanted you to know I read and enjoyed this.

PeteForester1 said...

One need only look around to find enough "ferrinstances" from which to build out a plan. Many people get hung up on things like economic collapse, pandemic, and the like. Fact is, ANY ONE of these things could be "the thing." I start from "What if the lights go out... and stay out... and work outward from there.

None of us will ever be 100% prepared. That's why God gave us community. The best things we can do are to get close to God and prepare as best we can. The worst thing we can do is get caught up in "paralysis by analysis..."

Leigh said...

Fiona, I think one of the most devastating loses this country has experienced has been the loss of a work ethic. The unwillingness to be responsible for oneself then becomes an excuse. We are experiencing the sad consequences of these things, yet it seems so few people are willing to wake up.

Rose, thank you! You are so right about how much self-reliance decreases waste. The only things Dan and I throw away are things we bought from a store - always tons of packaging, plus everything that breaks and can't be fixed.

Pete, very well said. It helps to focus on one step at a time and know where our true strength lies. We humans weren't created to stand alone: either socially or spiritually.

Chris said...

Unfortunately, the way to make a society willing to open it's wallet and trade on the free market as if their life depended on it, is to make them believe the lie, "everyone deserves prosperity". And, "we are such a prosperous country", etc. Whatever the flavour, I know that has always been Australia's popular, political slogan. Problem is, it doesn't make room for shifts in change, when things aren't so prosperous. Plus now we have countless generations that believe we're "meant" to have abundance, always.

So now, those on the land (especially farmers) are viewed as somewhat crazy to trade in natural resources, when the changing climate is robbing them of crops. They stay on and try another year though. I say, they're the realists. Not the giant ag business types, spraying everything to death. Rather the smaller operations, which don't abandon their posts at the helm, to run back to the city where the resources "seem" to be flowing. They'd rather die on the land, because they know, that's where true prosperity comes from. For which they are considered crazy. Who would "choose" death?

It's crazy that we don't understand anymore, if you don't participate in your own food production, death IS the only option. I'm being hammered by a pretty intense drought at the moment, hitting a large part of our country. In areas which are traditionally wetter. So for me, securing a water supply is of utmost importance. We're working towards saving for a bore (well, in the US). I'm losing mature fruit trees on the lack of rainfall.

So my concern isn't so much, if the industrial system fails - rather when the rain stops falling in more patterns, than the established deserts of the world. So even those who attempt to grow their own food, cannot. This is going to sound hypocritical of me, but the only reason we can still eat, is because of the industrial system. And we're trying to reverse that. The weather isn't cooperating. Even the farms around us, are suffering. The weather is hammering Australia at the moment. If the rain isn't falling, it's coming down in floods. Neither are conducive for growing food.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

or one small courtyard garden for two old people. do what you can. just broke my arm so my garden may be a little behind this year. can't wait. nancy

Lady Locust said...

Your words are always so sensible. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I work in a professional setting where we don't speak politics. If a client begins going down that road, my typical response is "I believe in personal responsibility." That pretty sums up my view on just about any topic.

Rachel Helberg said...

Totally agree - and I just love your posts. Oh, and the sweaters on your goats always makes me laugh. Are you sure you are prepared? How will the goats survive if they don't have sweaters? hee hee hahaha Then again - are you spinning? I used to - then the fire took everything. Starting over is not easy. Thank you for the great posts (and awesome pics!).

Leigh said...

Chris, having followed your blog for so many years, I feel like I've had a front row seat to the challenges you've been facing. What's really scary, is how many people don't see the connection between their climate and weather patterns, and their food sources. Hang in there, my friend. And I pray you may soon be able to afford your bore.

Nancy, oh no!!! I'm so sorry to hear you broke your arm! What a nuisance. Hang in there with your garden! I know you'll be pleased with whatever you can produce.

Lady Locust, I that your office doesn't talk about politics. That alone has to make your workplace more congenial and relaxed. What used to make for interesting conversation has become a stressful path to tread. Great response, BTW.

Leigh said...

Rachel, oh gosh, my goats are spoiled rotten! LOL No, I haven't done much spinning in a long time. The sweaters are acrylic yarn, but fun to work on. I'm trying to find some time for sewing, but have been caught up in Dan's new project. Rainy days tend to do that!

Chris said...

Thanks Leigh. I didn't mean to make it sound so dramatic, but I guess that's what's happening on the ground at the moment. I should say though, it's good we all keep pushing towards growing more of our own food, even when the weather isn't cooperating. I like reading your posts for keeping it real, and where we should be continuing to focus. :)

Leigh said...

Chris, even though we're on different continents, our experiences have paralleled one another's in many ways. That's why I get what you're saying. I can identify with your problems and see answers for myself as you explore your options. I feel like we're in it together, LOL

Annie in Ocala said...

I play the 'what if' scenario out in my head all to often. My folks were born just before the great depression and always lived a somewhat self sufficient life style. I have followed suit, always raising, growing, foraging, even slaughtering and fishing for some of my eats. In the past 5-6 years I've ramped it up to locally source most of my needs. I regularly think of just how can I pay property taxes, electric bill, and some $ for incedentals... I still work an it seems I do that to pay for a vehicle, insurance, more taxes, work clothes and comfortable shoes, some convience foods, because of time an such... Oh an l work nights, so during the summer I HAVE to run the AC to sleep in the daytime... So, essentially, much of why I work is to pay for work! What I lack most is a like minded partner. My little community in the woods is a good one, the husbands seem to understand what's on the horizon, and spend a lot of time hunting and target practicing, but the wives are busy raising kids, watching the latest flick on their outlet of choice, being happy consumers....
Excellent post! I'm totally with you on this one...

JR said...

This article is food for thought! Again! I have your book and just pulled it off the shelf since it has been a few years since I read it. Looks like it's time to read at least these 2 referenced chapters again. Really enjoy your blog. Found it several years after you started it but I have gone back and read most of it. Now I follow you daily. Always good information.

wyomingheart said...

Great post, Leigh! Having been raised on a 3 1/3 section ranch in Wyoming, taught all of my family to think in what if's. Being prepared was instilled in all my 12 siblings, and I am thankful for it. When I was ready to retire in Florida, I was anxious to move out of the heat and into a climate where I could plant crops without the use of all the chemicals needed for their survival. We were very fortunate to find the property on the ridge and it has reduced my what if's to a few small scenario's. We are like you and Dan, with our list of projects each year, and getting ourselves as independent as we can possibly be. It's sorta like, "How do you eat an elephant?" "One bite at a time!" I am going to go back and reread those chapters in your book...lol!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, this is a brilliant post (and mirrors a great deal of my own thinking). The one thing I walked away with from Macro Economics was how fragile the entire system truly is - one really bad interruption and thing can rapidly disintegrate.

You are right - ultimately, it is about power. And your quote is exactly on the mark: "What's lifestyle got to do with it? Your lifestyle is the one tool you've got that can make a difference".

I cannot control the government or their regulations or the wind and weather. All I can control is how I choose to live and what I choose to do with my life.

Leigh said...

Annie, you bring up an excellent point : one that most people don't understand. It costs money to keep a job! It's an interesting exercise to add up everything one has to buy and pay for because of the job, and then see what's left. It's nice that you have a good community. That's the best asset anyone can have.

JR, thank you!:)

Wyomingheart, "reduced my what if's". That's an excellent way to think of it. I've realized, though, that I can approach them from both ends of the stick. One is to find alternatives, the other is to learn to live with less. Ultimately, they seem to go hand in hand, don't you think?

TB, I don't think many people understand that and, unfortunately, have put their trust in both the system and the people who influence it. Problem is, there are always folks with a touch of daredevil who want to try to cheat the system, just to see if they can get away with it. We watched a movie the other night about a stock market dupe and what stuck with me was the line - "the algorithm isn't meant to do that." It's a human system and everyone assumes it's foolproof and that the built in safeguards will hold. To me that assumption is no better than walking around with one's fingers crossed.

Mark Shaw said...

Great post we are gradually settling in and I can resonate with your post. We have started planting we only have onions garlic and strawberries in so far. But we bought 3 chickens 2 days ago and so far have had 3 eggs. It's a good feeling knowing we should be self sufficient for us anyway in eggs and that's now something ticked of the list we no longer have to buy from a shop. It can only get better as we grow more food and decrease our dependancy on consumerism.

Leigh said...

Mark, it's great to hear about your progress. Such a good feeling, isn't it? It's one step at a time for all of us. It seems slow at first, but I find that because of our blog we find we're making better progress than we otherwise think.

Harry Flashman said...

Things are happening so fast now, it's hard to keep track. Most of the "information wells" have been poisoned, so it's hard to know what to believe and what's outright lies.

Although I'm 66, and lived through the Clinton and Obama years, it seems worse now. I don't blame President Trump at all, it's just that everything seems to be about petty hate and pushing agendas. It wasn't always like this.

Leigh said...

Harry, I agree. People have always disagreed on politics. But in the past it was expressed through rational discussion and agreeing to disagree, not emotional hysteria and bullying. Since the last election the ideological schism in this nation has escalated to the point where I honestly thing it is irreparable. The two belief systems in this country are at polar opposites. Divided we fall, eh?

The Wykeham Observer said...

I liked the post. I've sort of reached the point where politics is irrelevant in my life, except here at the township level. Why is it that a small town board made up of farmers and working people or a local church council can make decisions and do their best to manage wisely, but the state and nation are always in such an uproar? It's best not to feed into the foolishness, I guess. What is the old hymn, Brighten the Corner Where You Are...? I just was going through canning jars the other day, and many of them from the 30's and 40's are still in use. I am really a fossil, but a happy one.

Leigh said...

Phil, I think "activism" gives people a sense of purpose in their lives, something that our modern lifestyle doesn't really offer.

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Yes all good points, we are in the same mindset. Do what you can, where you are, barter, develop a skill set.

Leigh said...

Nancy, exactly.

Powell River Books said...

My grandparents were farmers on 20-acres near Los Angeles during the depression. They could still sell their products because people needed food and they had almost everything thing they needed for their own use right their at home: fruits, vegetables, a cow and pigs. The money they made from selling their corn and beans at the downtown farmer's market filled in the gaps.

Quinn said...

Raising a glass in your general direction, Leigh :)

Leigh said...

Margy, things like that always come to mind for me. I know we all wish we lived in a fail-proof world, but it just seems prudent to raise at least some food.

Quinn, thanks!