This weekly column is a collection of short snippets: responses to posted articles, practical self-sufficiency items, how-tos, lessons learned, tips and tricks, and news items — both from readers and from SurvivalBlog’s editors. Note that we may select some long e-mails for posting as separate letters.
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A legislative update from the Gun Owners Of America (GOA) with news a good bill that deserves your support:
“Senator Marshall of Kansas introduced the SHORT Act in the Senate. It sends a simple but strong message to the ATF. It stands for STOP HARASSING OWNERS OF RIFLES TODAY.
This crucial bill will remove the unconstitutional taxation, registration, and regulation in the National Firearms Act of Short Barreled Rifles, Short Barreled Shotguns, and those classified under ‘Any Other Weapons.’”
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There were several letters in response to my article Revisiting The “Worst Case” Retreat Potential for Northeastern States.
First, from Animal House:
“When I retired I had planned to move to southern Utah to be near my husband’s family. The area they live in is shown to be 10-25 population per square mile on the map. However, when I went there looking at real estate I found the prices to be extremely high for what little you would get for your money. A single-family 3/2 home on 1/3 acre was running at 200K and above. Plus Utah has the usual water issues of all western states.
I ended up in southern Tennessee, in the same population density of 10-25 per square mile, I found a 45-acre farm with house, barn, and a small shop for $145,000. I have plenty of water on the property, 25 acres of raw forests, 15 acres of planting fields and 5 acres for animals to graze. I have neighbors, but land here goes from the county gravel and oil roads, behind the houses, with between 1-2 acres of land on either side of the houses. So you might see your neighbor’s house but they are not right on top of you, which is the situation in many other states.
We can hunt and shoot our guns on our property, which you cannot, in some states. I am 3-1/2 hours from a metro area, 2-1/2 hours from a city, and 1 hour from a town with big box stores. There is a small town about 20 min away with grocery store, gas station and medical clinic. We start planting in late March and keep plants in the ground until around Thanksgiving. There is no state tax in Tennessee and personal property taxes are lower than many other counties around me. Not that I’m advertising for people to move here; please don’t! We are friendly and help our neighbors, but more people make for more problems. Check out Idaho and Nebraska; they are nice places to live.”
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From J. & C.:
“We started reading your blog in 2008. In 2018, we took your advice, and moved west of the Missouri River. Your advice is 100% correct. Where did we previously live, you ask? Fort Myers, Florida — recently destroyed by Hurricane Ian. We recognized the dangerous position we were in then. Thank you ever so much for your timely, well-reasoned advice.”
“As a faithful reader of SurvivalBlog for the past 13 years, I have followed this thread that comes up from time to time regarding where you might bug out or live during a SHTF event. I have lived in SW Virginia since newlywed days (almost 50 years now) and since I married a West Virginia girl, have spent a fair amount of time in West Virginia. I completely understand that the sparse population and state politics favor moving to the American Redoubt. But, as your article mentions, people have their reasons for having to or wanting to live in the NE corridor of the US, specifically Richmond, Virginia to Boston, Mass. I would submit to you that since life is full of compromises, one compromise might be to look at a location in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains. I noticed that a trip from New York City to Martinsburg, West Virginia can be done on one tank of gas. If you’re in Boston, you’re screwed. If you have an electric car, you’re screwed. Granted traveling down the interstate has its own perils, once you get to Interstate 81 heading south, get off and head west into the mountains, you can get into frickin’ rural territory in nothing flat. This kind of topography and sparse population extends well into North Carolina and farther. You have snow, you have rain, but you don’t have much chance of earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes. There are not a lot of nuclear targets to the immediate west. Actually, your biggest problem, and I guess that goes for anywhere you might go, is that you’ll be an outsider. Who will trust you and how will you know who to trust? I was able to build my bugout location in a rural county and move out here almost ten years ago, but I had to start over and meet people in my general area and show them what kind of guy I was before they would trust me. If you know someone in this mountainous area and can find out if they are on the same page we are all on, that might at least be a start. If you can read the headlines today, you know time is short. Start working on solutions.”
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“I live in rural Maine. I live over 500 miles from New York City, over 300 miles from Boston, and over 600 miles from Philadelphia. I am 75 miles from a major town of 32,000 people. I am 30 miles to the closest store with a mini Wal-Mart. That town has a population of 2800 people. My town has a population of 600 surrounded by many townships of 200 people or less. The taxes are low and many people open carry, especially during bear season. There are two Maines. North of Augusta with the exception of Bangor. And there is southern Maine (AKA North Massachusetts). North of Bangor, the people are self-reliant and the population is scarce. Just my two cents from a rural homeschooling mom.”
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From Tunnel Rabbit:
I am now 40 miles from the closest town with a population of less than 2,000, and a tad further from a city of about 20,000, and many hundreds of miles from a major city. We are on the edge of the wilderness, 10 miles from a county road, deep in the forest on a mountain. In the event that we are threatened by gangs, we have a huge strategic advantage out here in remote Montana. Being strategically located and having the logistics in place that includes an ability be self-sufficient in all regards, including communications is key. With in-depth planning, we would then be in the best positions to adapt to anything that might come our way. Yet we must come together as a community.
The willingness and ability to help each other can make bring us together in a mutual defense of our family and friends. We are planning to help and support the small mountain community. Those who lack water to irrigate a large garden will be supplied with water with portable solar-powered water pumps, and be provided garden seed if needed. Surface water is everywhere out here. And we would till their land with one of several tractors to get them started. I am also setting up the community with two repeaters, one a low power cross band repeater on directional antennas, and the other, the Argent Data System, ADS-1 simplex repeater for use with the most common low powered transceivers (GMRS) that are incapable of operating standard duplex repeaters used by Amateur radio operators. As an substitute for a low powered repeater and to avoid RDF attempts, a transceiver can be operated remotely via field phone. The commo plan includes CB radio as well as Amateur radio. And there will be an off grid network of commercial and military field phones that also supports a hard wired emergency alert system that can awaken entire households of sleeping persons up to a mile away with a general emergency alarm. It is not a matter of money. The Good Lord provided it. The people in close proximity will be far more valuable than those further away.
Bring to the table what you got. And be a jack of all trades, or a Swiss Army knife of skills, if you can. Acquire skills rather than just more stuff. Get training or do the best you can on your own. If I am too old, I can teach. I know much more than just radio, even though that is what I mostly write about. Get the book, Tactical Wisdom by Joe Dolio and read the entire series. We are mostly ‘preppers’, heavy on logistics, yet light on defense tactics. Get some.
It needs to be a community effort. Building on what sense of community is already present, we are making it stronger. People are both the problem, and the solution. It is not unlike the story of the Three Bears. Too many is too hot, and not desirable. It’s gotta be just the right kind and number, and we’ll not find this in most places in the U.S. today. Together we have a long list of critical skills, and the equipment. It is actually impressive. And we do process a common sense of morality, or traditional American values. We are blessed to have many Christians here, and this fact is key. This occurred not by accident. They landed here for a similar reasons. Without these values, we would not likely have a chance.
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“Your article struck a current chord.
We left a very “progressive” urban area for a more rural and conservative region about four years ago. We didn’t move that far, but we were able to pay off debts, own our property outright, and remain close to family and friends.
However, we are seriously considering moving for the following reasons.
Anywhere along the Interstate-5 corridor invites trouble. Up and down the west coast, drugs, crime, and homeless drug addicts thrive.
And the absolute worst trend for me has been the rise in fires caused by arson. There’s no stopping the fire starts from “ warming fires” for the homeless, busted cars pulling over and burning up, the passed-out drug addicts, the deliberate arsonists, and I haven’t even mentioned the illegal grows.
Anyway, I realized that no matter how elections go, or laws change the huge amount of drugs fueling dysfunctional behavior isn’t going to stop for a long time.
So I’ve been researching moving further away and will be taking several drives through the redoubt.
I like to research, yet I know finding the right place will happen organically and through divine grace.”
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And 3AD Scout sent this lengthy response:
“Jim, I understand the thought process concerning the belief that a low population density is imperative for a survival retreat. I think that thought process comes with some important caveats.
First, it depends upon the ability of the land to carry/support the population. For example, in a very long-term grid down scenario can the land naturally or by sustainable human interventions, provide for the population? Antarctica and the Sahara Desert have extremely low population densities but the land can not support even a low population density of 15 people per square mile without modern technology. Lancaster county Pennsylvania has a high population density but in a prolonged grid-down scenario can it provide for its population? Lancaster county Pennsylvania is inhabited by one of the largest populations of Amish. About half the population of Lancaster county is Amish. There is no question that this population is very accustomed to not only living without electricity but for the most part but also continues to use low-tech agricultural practices that can be sustained in a prolonged grid-down event. That leads us into the next caveat.
What is the resiliency of the given population? Take the Amish population out of Lancaster county and replace them with modern-day farmers with modern-day agricultural practices. In a grid-down scenario will those farms still be able to operate? The knowledge, skills, and abilities of an area’s population can also add to its ability to survive with a higher population density. The other resiliency factor is the area’s infrastructure. The Amish population relies upon very little infrastructure compared to non-Amish. The Amish will be able to provide water to their homes during a grid-down scenario. The farming techniques and machinery will continue to operate in a grid-down world. The Amish do rely upon some modern technology but are in a much better position to pivot without it. Like us, the Amish rely upon the just-in-time delivery system. They aren’t ordering off of Amazon but they still order from catalogs and thus rely upon the post office, FedEx, UPS, and other elements of the transportation infrastructures. Even with that, however, their lack of reliance on technology and doing things “old school” will allow them to adapt and find alternatives.
The third caveat is what does society look like before the disaster? That is, does it have a good local economy with low poverty and low crime? Disasters magnify the good and the bad in our communities. That is if you live in a community that helps your neighbors now, that spirit of cooperation will become magnified during a disaster. For example, if a member of the community has cancer does the community help with fundraisers? If the community has high crime before the disaster it will increase during and after a disaster.
Additionally, for the most part, throughout history there has been a symbiotic relationship between the urban and rural populations. Again, the issue in a grid-down scenario is resiliency, in this case can the symbiotic relationship survive and remain balanced in the post-grid down world. Trade and commerce have been around since the dawn of time. Those who till the earth or raise livestock or hunt have ultimately, at some point, traveled to a location for trade. The same will be true in a post-grid down world. So your location may seem like a good location now but will it become the new “New York” city based upon the post-grid down societal reshuffling and balancing of trade and commerce. Have you ever watched a post-apocalyptic movie with the main character heading to or hearing about a “safe zone” or “place where they are rebuilding”? The scriptwriters and producers in Hollywood might be liberal but they do understand history and Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs, hence why this is such a common theme in apocalyptic movies and books. Look at the recent migration to Idaho, was it a good thing or a bad thing?
In the most pragmatic contemplation of life in a grid-down world and choosing the best place beforehand, the answer is there are no great places, only those that are better than others and that place that fits an individual’s needs and capabilities. Each location will have its positives and negatives. What we need to focus on is identifying what we will be able to influence and control in our post-grid down world. I suggest looking at the theory of the Circle of concern versus the circles of influence and control (by Steven Covey). Our circle of concern is vastly bigger than what we can influence and the circle of what we actually can control is even smaller yet. This will not change in a post-grid down world. There will be many changes in the post-grid down world.
Anticipating these post-grid-down changes will allow us to look for ways to influence and control their impacts on us. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit we in the prepper community tend to be of the opinion that most people are “bad”. Hence why we, for the most part, prepare as individuals or families not as a group. Statistically speaking very few preppers prepare in groups. Looking at the situation in a pragmatic and honest view, those preppers who prepare in groups will have better chances for survival. Why? For the same reason why throughout history. As the Bible says “many hands make light work.” The division of labor allows us to do more as a group versus as individuals. It is a simple truth, one that preppers need to understand and embrace now.
A few years ago we moved to our “bug out location” full time. We could have kept to ourselves and prepped like we were in the city. Many people have the vision that people in the rural areas are “rugged individualists”. For the most part that is true but the rest of the story is that they are also willing to help people. Two of my neighbors neighbor grew up on dairy farms. One neighbor has for his entire life raised his own food and has been a “jack of all trades.” When I say “help” that does not mean do it for you but help means teaching. As for being as “independent” as they are, they are not afraid to ask for help either. My neighbor owns and operates his own small business. It is very difficult for him get to certain businesses before they close. My neighbor called to see if I was heading to the feed Mill soon. I was the next day. What I gave my neighbor was something that is invaluable – time by going to the feed mill for him.
Many people in rural areas live a “prepping” lifestyle but they do not call it that. They just call it life. The township where I live has a population density of about 40 people per square mile. But who are those people? Our township has many Amish families and even more Mennonite families. It is not uncommon for these families to have 10 or more members. For the Amish, many of their homesteads are multi-generation whereas they have three generations on the same property. So a high population density, by itself, is not necessarily a negative factor.
I know more people in our new neighborhood then I did when we lived in the city. We have tried to use local businesses whenever possible even if it was a few dollars more. Why? For living “in the country” there are a lot of businesses in my township. That goes back to the high number of Amish and Mennonites who it seems like all operate some type of small business. Knowing your neighbors and talking to them is priceless. With Covid and supply chain disruptions it has been very hard to find injectable penicillin for animal use. I work in the suburbs of a city of about 100,000 so I can literally go to Tractor Supply at lunch or after work. After 3 months of looking 3 to 4 times a week, I finally found a 500 ml bottle of Penicillin. I didn’t need it at the time, but I always like to have some on hand. About 2 weeks later I had a sick heifer calf. This was only the third calf I had so my body of medical knowledge wasn’t that great. I walked across the street to ask my neighbor if he could look at the calf and tell me what I should do. I really thought the calf might die. He came over and took a look. We took its temp and it was 105 degrees which is a little high. The neighbor said about the only thing I could do was give the calf some Penicillin. I asked how much. He looked at me and asked if I had penicillin and I said “yes”. My neighbor’s family operates a decent-sized local dairy. He was a little shocked at my answer and asked “where did you get that?” I told him and he then stated that they had been trying to buy some for months. I told him if he or his sons needed it, to let me know. About three weeks later he came knocking. My point to this story is we need to prepare by being part of a community versus just living in a community. Since then another neighbor who has been a tremendous help since moving in has also used a few CCs of penicillin for his animals too.
I get that we need to be careful about our population density but we cannot let a fear of people get into our way of really being prepared for a pro-longed grid down scenario.
With all that being said, if someone from New York or Pittsburgh walks their happy butt up here in a total grid-down situation I will be amazed. No GPS, no smartphone, no idea about water purification, no initiative, and no clue how to do anything without technology but they are somehow going to walk their obese self 100 or so miles? Let’s think about that for a minute. A hurricane comes with advance warning and the government tells people to leave and some do and some don’t. I don’t think there will be a lot of warning for an actual long-term grid-down scenario like an EMP. We might for a CME but even so how many people will evacuate without the government telling them to do it? And even if the government does give a warning there will be a crowd that won’t leave, much like they don’t leave when given a mandatory evacuation warning. Criminal elements will stay put to loot like they always do. Once they have looted all the stores, drank all the alcohol, and smoked all the cigarettes they might start thinking about walking out of the city. By that point, communities will have set up checkpoints, established security, and otherwise adapted to the new reality. All those little communities between me and those big cities will take care of the problem long before they get here. I think there are places in the UNE that are viable, not perfect, but the shortfalls can be mitigated with prior planning and action.
Get to know your neighbors, folks. You don’t have to join MAGs and train with them (that would be great however) but just getting to know them, their knowledge, skills and abilities as well as establishing trust will go a long way in a long-term grid-down scenario.”
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Mark from Myakka sent this report on Hurricane Ian:
“I have just gotten Internet access back from our outage due Hurricane Ian. All my family came through okay. I can not lay my hand to any task without giving a prayer of thanksgiving for the LORD’s protection during this event.
I would also like to thank you for SurvivalBlog. I have been a follower since 2005. I cannot tell you how much of the knowledge gained over the years, I used during this storm. I guess more importantly is how much of this knowledge I used BEFORE the storm.
I am a public school teacher (one of the Last of the Mohicans, conservative, Christian teachers left). Prepping can be done on a median income! I selected my homestead to be well east of Sarasota (because of hurricanes) and west of Arcadia Florida. (Too much family here, to leave for the Redoubt).
I found myself renaming my preps as I have been cleaning up the mess:
- The house is “The Stronghold” from Nahum 1:7 (no telling how many times I prayed that scripture between Tuesday and Thursday. Storm force winds started Tues PM and did not end until Thurs AM. )
- The 15 KW 803A military gennie is the “Mighty Man of Valour” 2 Samuel 23:8. This was wired directly to my electrical panel to run my entire house and barn.
- Sidearm, “Constant companion Exodus 32:2
- 1999 GMC pick-em-up, the “Mule” Okay that one is mostly from the film Romancing the Stone.
A confession, I have been a reader for years but not a [Ten Cent Challenge] contributor. That changes now. The knowledge gained from you and your blog was invaluable. Thank you for your faithfulness to it over the years. It has been a blessing to me and I am sure for many others during this storm and many in the past. I encourage you to continue on. It is a blessing.
Well, time to get ready for church and shut down the “Mighty Man of Valor” for a well-deserved rest.
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And, lastly, SaraSue sent this snippet:
“This past week was all about getting ready for what is forecasted to be a deep winter – even here in Tennessee. Most of my week was cleaning out and organizing the barns, the garage, the refrigerator and freezer, closets, pantries, stocking up on animal feed, hay, propane, taking trips to the dumps/recycling, etc. I bartered fresh milk, eggs, and a couple laying hens for help in the barns. Wondering how I’m going to milk a cow in the snow and thought maybe a sled would be a good idea rather than a wagon for hauling milking equipment to and fro. (I milk outside under a roofed stanchion.) I made butter for the first time by scooping a half gallon of cream off the top of 4 gallons of milk to yield about 2lbs of butter. Ruined a large batch of yogurt and cheese this week. There’s an art to this milk processing skill! Some folks have expressed interest in purchasing the Jersey milk. In Tennessee, you need a “cow share agreement” to sell raw milk. If I do decide to sell, it will be to a select few due to OPSEC. For now, the purpose of the milk cow is for my immediate family.”