Several years ago as we prepared to transition from sprawling urban life to our rural farmstead, my wife and I were filled with excitement about growing our own food and being immersed in nature. Yet, during that period of intense change and learning we also spent many hours discussing, of all things, retirement.
At the time the idea of retirement was many years away for us, but in our “former” lives we at least understood what the plan was, so we rarely thought about it. The plan then was simply to keep working until we were 62 or so and then let a 401K or pension plan fund the rest of our life, perhaps with a little help from social security.
In the years following America’s near economic collapse (Great Recession of 2007-2009), many folks found themselves wondering if far worse times lie ahead. Indeed, an astonishing number of websites, TV shows, books, podcasts and websites (including this one) emerged that focus on preparedness and self-sufficiency.
From zombies to Alaskan homesteaders, the sites and shows are enduring and proving to be very popular. That wouldn’t be the case without a gnawing feeling on the part of the general public that our country may be headed down a troubling path. The polarizing choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump seems to have done nothing to calm these fears.
Even if the doomsday people are correct in their claims that the dollar is about to collapse, the government is about to collapse or an EMP is imminent, it doesn’t mean that times have to be tough for you.
A common misconception is that times in The Great Depression, 80 years ago, were tough for everyone. They weren’t.
While the quality of life is excellent out here in the country, sometimes it’s mighty quiet on the homestead. So, what does a homesteader contemplate while checking off the chores? Surprisingly, I find myself thinking about economic and social unrest trends more than I would like.
Yes, even as my fingers sift through the soil I wonder if the trend in terrorism and social unrest will escalate and if harsh economic times are ahead. In these moments, I feel comforted by the choice we made to opt out of the rat race. Very comforted.
Still, I can’t seem to kick the habit of keeping up with world events, including increasing violence and quality of life economic indicators.
From time to time I look at the real inflation trends. Not the government numbers that suggest 2-3%, but the ShadowStats numbers that calculate inflation the way it was before the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) changed its methods, making the Consumer Price Index appear low.
Society as we know it will break down and collapse in a five stage process outlined here. While it can be accelerated by certain events like war, a natural disaster, pandemic, terrorist attack, or even an impending asteroid impact, history has shown that economic collapse will essentially happen in this five stage process. To survive the collapse, it is important to read and interpret the signs and understand what assets are important to the current situation so you can be prepared for the worst thereby allowing you to survive intact and with as little damage as possible.
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Let’s be honest…many of the “doomsday” ideas that we hear thrown out regarding the imminent demise of our way of life seem a little…well…outlandish. I mean, okay, so maybe polar shifts are possible and little old North Korea is going to take down the American power grid with an EMP attack, but…really?
That hint of doubt that you no doubt hear in my words grows into a loud laughter of skepticism among those who do not share my preparedness mindset. They dismiss those ideas and countless others as not likely to happen. Yet, there are many potential events that could very reasonably occur without ANY notice, and each of them would cause an immediate end of the world as we know it. One such event is a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).
Question: What do you visualize when you hear the phrase homesteading, self-sufficient or self-reliance? I’m willing to bet that many of you visualize a natural setting. Perhaps a loving family working hard together. Something between Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons, for those of you old enough to know those television shows. We often picture a family living off the land, tending to crops and animals while being…well…self-sufficient.
Some of you may even picture the rustic family from DirecTV’s “The Settlers” commercial. After all, even their agency seems to view homesteaders that way.
When we think of homesteading and living self-sufficiently, many positive notions come to mind. Being close to nature, family members working the garden together, the feeling of independence and freedom. Birds serenading as we sip our morning coffee. A family snuggling next to a wood stove as the snow falls.
But, as the DirecTV ad suggests, many people frown on the notion of homesteading. They relegate homesteaders alongside cavemen and imagine a life of poverty, excruciating work, isolation and sacrifice. Even suffering.
Of all the decisions we contemplated when we began farming a decade ago, choosing to farm livestock was the easiest. That meant we would care for livestock, and then eat animals we cared for.
There were four reasons why this path was so clearly right for us then, and continues to be today.
The first reason is that we love animals. All animals. One of the things we joked about when we first bought our sprawling acreage was that we could have as many pets as we wanted. Here I am holding one of our dogs back when we lived in a suburban HOA (when our clothes were always clean and I had an awesome head of hair) 🙂
My wife, Liz, is attracted to pet stores the way Winnie Mandela is attracted to shoes, so it was easy for us to dream of raising chickens, cows, pigs, sheep and any other animals we could get our hands on.
But if you love animals, you can’t eat them…can you?