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What's the perfect homestead for when s*&t hits the fan?  RSS feed

 
Jayden Thompson
Posts: 120
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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Here's a scenario for you to ponder...

Let's say you have about 15 acres, 5 wooded and 10 mostly overgrown pasture with a large pond and a small natural spring. You have a house on the land and no mortgage, totally paid for with off-grid amenities such as sceptic, rain catchment, and a large cistern. Power is on-grid for now, and heat is natural gas. Nothing is yet growing (neither plants nor animals), just hard and softwood trees in the wooded 5 acres.

And now lets say that you fully expect shit to hit the industrialized fan within the next few years so you want to be ready. With the catastrophe you would see savings melt along with the economy, gas prices skyrocketing and destroying the globalized food system. So your first thoughts, I would imagine, would be on the basic life necessities of food, water, shelter, and heat. What would you do?

What would be in your garden and pasture?

What animals would you raise, if any?

What tools would you make sure you had?

What books would you want on your bookshelf?

What would be your general approach and philosophy on life?

What questions am I not even thinking to ask?
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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I'm going to answer one narrow little corner of this question having to do with "what to plant".

Any active farm with a wide variety of interconnected plant and animal systems will serve you well in your scenario, but if like many people you are working off-site jobs, there's a limit to how many farm systems you can maintain in your "free" time.

It's for this reason that I am specifically interested in tree crops of all sorts, because trees tend to be long-lived perennials that will -- at some level -- keep pumping out food crops whether they get cared for or not. And they will produce even better once hungry people start nurturing them.

But trees take a lot of time to establish, and if your unpleasant scenario eventuates before your trees grow up, potential problem. Tummy growling.

So I am interested in other perennial and self-seeding or self-propagating food crop plants -- stuff that you could plant on your land that will still be there, pumping out edible crops, if you suddenly need them five years from now.

The best one I have found so far is Jerusalem artichokes. I only have one season's experience with them so far, but they churned out a respectable crop of tasty tubers without any attention from me, and from my research I expect they will continue to do so whether I harvest them or not, reseeding from buried small tubers and bits of root that I miss while harvesting.

There are lots of other perennials that will fill this role to one extent or another. But it's a function that I would focus on very sharply in your scenario.
 
Ross Raven
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What's the perfect homestead for when s*&t hits the fan? . The one that's paid for in full.
What would be in your garden and pasture? Squashes. SHTF Tactical squashes. Its a joke but its not a joke. Pay attention.
What animals would you raise, if any? We have chickens. We couldn't feed them here. Rabbits might be better.
What tools would you make sure you had? A U-Bar. A chain saw for amateurs. A scythe for professionals.
What books would you want on your bookshelf? I have an extensive prepper library. If I had to leave, Im not sure I would take a single one. There seems to be some disconnect to real survival. Store food. Store firewood. Store Gas. Grow a garden in advance because your first few tries will fail. That's a book that you can fit in a scrap of paper in your wallet.
What would be your general approach and philosophy on life? Given a long enough time line, everyone's survival probability is Zero. Find fun where you can. Don't be a douche bag survivalist.
What questions am I not even thinking to ask? Dinner parties. It sounds trite but after several decades of survivalism...no one survives by survival tools. They survive by dinner parties. That's the survival advice I hope gets repeated after Im decomposing. Repeat after me. Where is your lighter? Where is your Knife? When is your next dinner party?
 
Ross Raven
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Ditto on Jerusalem Artichokes or sunchokes. They are a gassy pain to eat but once you plant them, they are there forever. Don't plant them in your garden. Make a separate garden for them. They are the ultimate survival, back up food source . Very old school prepper.
 
Jay Grace
Posts: 236
Location: Nauvoo, AL
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Rabbits, and American guinea hogs.
Along with a scythe (like Ross said)
With just a scythe you can cut and stockpile feed for both those animals for the winter.

Rabbits breed like, well rabbits. I've always heard a buck and three does and you could raise up enough to eat rabbit more than twice a week.
Gestation on a rabbit is around 30days. That adds up to a lot of meat fast.

AGH are a smallish docile dual purpose pig meat/ lard.
Good AGH stock can gain weight purely on good pasture. Throw in some table scraps and rabbit guts on occasion and spend time with the pigs and you'll have a nice and loyal pets that you won't have to chase down or try to round up every time something goes wrong. Just holler to them and they'll round themselves up.

In a SHTF scenario small animals trump the larger stuff. Mainly cows, and modern hogs as far as portability and ease if care go.

Plus if it came down to it and you needed to round up all the animals to bring them in the garage or house at night to keep them from being stolen small and friendly
Go a long way.

As far as perennials go. You're not guaranteed something will happen within 5 years. I'd say go ahead and plant the standard tree crops: pears, apples, pecans, and black walnut. The fruit trees will produce at 4-5 years of age. While the nut trees 7-10 years. Berry crops are a good bit of bang for your buck as the propagate easily and produce tons if fruit relatively fast. Mainly blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, goji, goumi, and seaberry. Within 3-4 years of proper propagation and you could find yourself with more berries than you would know what to do with.

Long lived perennial vegtables are good too. Asparagus, and Jerusalem artichokes are what I'm familiar with.


Down here in the south we grow yellow squash, zucchini squash, okra, sweet potatoes, red potatoes and tomatoes they are prolific enough to live off of during the growing season.

The squash come in first, then by the time the squash bugs get pretty outrageous. Tomatoes start coming in. When it's to hot for the toms to produce fruit. That's when the okra is at it's best. You're able to gather small red potatoes during most if this time as needed. Then finish it off with sweet potatoes at the end of the season.

You can squeeze in a second growing season of squash too if you are far enough south.

 
Jay Grace
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Location: Nauvoo, AL
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Get to know your neighbors too. Find the good ones, the bad and the in-betweens.
Safety in numbers. IMO
A friendly chat with that ex-military borderline phsyco gun nut prepper guy down the road might end up saving your ass one day.



Oh and how well managed is your pond? A pond is a great asset. Water and food wise.
 
Ann Torrence
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Perfect being the enemy of good, I'd be glad I have invested in building a support network of like-minded folks with complementary skills. I'm not keeping a buck goat, but I know someone who has. You might want a thanksgiving turkey, I'm good at raising them. I can butcher a chicken but haven't done a larger animal like a pig yet (have an invite to a friend's place when she slaughters her pig soon).

If I really thought there wouldn't be fuel or power, I'd be investing in 3x as many fruit and nut trees as I thought I needed, subdividing my pastures for rotation (we use electric fences), adding fodder trees like mulberries, and learning to make cider, wine and mead. I'd add some sun tubes into the dark areas of my house. I'd learn to like to drink goat milk, because I'm not keeping a cow.

Mostly I would enjoy life now, because the things I have most worried about haven't come to pass, but I never saw coming the stuff that knocked me to my knees.
 
John Wolfram
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For me, the perfect s*&t hits the fan homestead would be the entire island of Lanai, and it could have been mine for a mere $600 million but Larry Ellison beat me to it.
 
Ross Raven
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I thought I would give further explanation for a few of my comments. Paid for land. If you don't own it completely, You will lose it. Consider the sub prime mortgage situation and all the homeless people that resulted. Now, put that on steroids. Better to have small and paid for than perfect and mortgaged.
SHTF Tactical squashes. I did a quick count and we still have about 40 assorted squashes around the house wile we creep towards February. They store well. They are big. They are really hard to fail at. They are easy to figure out how to get seeds from. The chickens and dogs will eat it if cooked. Pigs and other animals will eat it raw. Ive had some last over a year. One strain of pumpkin has lasted two years.
Chickens may do fine down south but up here in Canada, that means feeding them for half the year and all of our attempts corn or low production grain have failed miserably. I'll make one more attempt at corn but this time, I am forced to start them in the green house. Fingers crossed.
A Ubar http://www.leevalley.com/US/garden/page.aspx?cat=2,42578,40769&p=10521
got me thinking about an upgrade http://www.easydigging.com/broadfork.html
Chainsaw because firewood is not a suggestion. Do as much as you can now because doing it later with a bowsaw will blow.
Store food. Because its cheap. because its easy. Because your great grandparents wouldn't understand why you didn't and be really angry. Firewood. Already covered. Gas. Rotate rotate rotate. Every six months. Gas breaks down after a year. You may be able to stretch for 2 years but expect to have to clean out your carbonator after use.
Dinner parties. Other people is the single greatest prep. That must be fostered and reinforced through repetition. Build trust and commitment.
 
Nicole Alderman
gardener
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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I'll chime in on the animal question. I'd go with, first off, whatever small livestock would naturally do well for your area--i.e. it's natural habitat is close to what you own (ducks in the desert don't make sense, for example). But, since you have water, forest and pasture, I'd go with ducks and sheep. Both give you great cooking fat. The tallow from the sheep has many uses along with cooking, such as candle making. Sheep also make delicious milk, yummy meat, and also have wool for fiber making (Icelandic sheep, for instance are a tri-purpose breed making milk, meat, and nice wool). Ducks can lay just as many-if not more-eggs as chickens, and the eggs are larger. Their feathers are also useful for insulation (yay for down feathers!), as well as for fetching arrows. Ducks also eat slugs and are less destructive to your garden. Their only downside is their poop and fouling (fowling? ) of water, which can be managed by herding/rotating them and changing their water daily (the dirty water can be used for watering gardens)
 
Ross Raven
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You Know, I think I am becoming a broken record. Over the last two months, I think I have developed a man crush on John Michael Greer. After my last post, I went on to read his latest blog. Its very relevant to this particular thread. You will recognise the part when you get to it. http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.ca/
I might have found the right forum to be on after all
 
Jayden Thompson
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Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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Thanks everybody, this was really helpful. It's mostly in line with what I was thinking, but it's good for reassurance and I also got a few new ideas...

@Ross - I also read JMG's blog, and that last post was perfectly timed towards how I've been thinking. I hope he's wrong with his timing (he has been for the past several years), but I suspect it's a matter of when, not if. Either way, I want to be ready for anything, and I'm enjoying the challenge of learning all things permaculture in the mean time. I'm retired, but physically quite healthy - so this is just god free fun and exercise for now. Unfortunately I am an uptight introvert, so my biggest challenge will no doubt be the dinner parties.

@Nicole - Of all the animals I've been researching, ducks and sheep have been low on my list. But you make an excellent argument, and I'm especially interested in the sheep. We want milk, and I don't want to deal with a cow. I like goat's milk enough, but from my minimal research I think sheep might be more conducive for our land and what we're doing with it. Ducks will have to wait until I fix up my pond leak, but I'm hoping to do that soon after moving in. I'll probably try to get some pigs to fix it for me.

@Ann - friut and nut trees are a top priority for me. Unfortunately, I'm not sure when I'll get moved, and my plan is to set up swales on my slightly graded land before putting in a few hundred trees. So this means I may not beat the seasons and be ready for planting those trees until 2016... If that's the case, I'll probably overpay for a few larger established trees this year, just to get them planted and be that much closer to my first fruit/nut harvest.

@Jay - I've heard great things about AGH's before, so I'll do more research. If they truly can gain weight mostly on pasture and some supplemental food, then they would be perfect for what I'm starting out with (almost 10 acres of overgrown pasture of unknown grasses and weeds). I suspect the nutrient density will suck the first go around, but as they clean that up and fresh forage starts growing, it will be much better.

@Dan - artichokes are on my list. I know nothing about growing them, but I like to eat them... And if they prove to be perrenial in my climate, that will be awesome. My wife already said she wants to make lots of artichoke dip (everything is a Chili's menu to her, it seems)...
 
Patrick Mann
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Dean Moriarty wrote:@Dan - artichokes are on my list. I know nothing about growing them, but I like to eat them... And if they prove to be perrenial in my climate, that will be awesome. My wife already said she wants to make lots of artichoke dip (everything is a Chili's menu to her, it seems)...


Sorry to disillusion you, but Jerusalem Artichokes are nothing like regular artichokes.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Patrick Mann wrote:
Dean Moriarty wrote:@Dan - artichokes are on my list. I know nothing about growing them, but I like to eat them... And if they prove to be perrenial in my climate, that will be awesome. My wife already said she wants to make lots of artichoke dip (everything is a Chili's menu to her, it seems)...


Sorry to disillusion you, but Jerusalem Artichokes are nothing like regular artichokes.


Yep, they're the root of a large sunflower-like plant (another name for them is Sunchokes). I haven't tried them yet, but am excited to try them this fall when mine produce.

Though, speaking of perennial veggies, I guess normal artichokes are perennials in some zones (I have no experience growing them). So, depending on your climate, they might be a sustainable, delicious addition to your homestead!
 
Ken Peavey
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A perfect homestead? Beats me.
A pretty good homestead would be one which has been developed for at least a few years. Systems are in place, working well with the bugs worked out. Crops have been grown in areas that have been under natural cultivation for a while with open pollinated seed which evolved specific to the location. Livestock has been bred on site and are well adapted to the environment. Pests are in balance with predators.

Most importantly, the skills required to keep the place going have been internalized. All the books in the world won't do much good when it's crunch time. Experience with the land must be developed over at least a few seasons to gain an understanding of the patterns of nature on the site and how to take best advantage of them. The people involved will be familiar with each other and fully assimilated into the local community. They'll not the good hunting and fishing spots, where to find wild berries and nuts, who to go to to get something fixed, who has what to trade with, who has specialized skills, who can be depended upon for a helping hand or sound counsel.
 
Ross Raven
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" @Ross - I also read JMG's blog, and that last post was perfectly timed towards how I've been thinking. I hope he's wrong with his timing (he has been for the past several years), but I suspect it's a matter of when, not if. Either way, I want to be ready for anything, and I'm enjoying the challenge of learning all things permaculture in the mean time. I'm retired, but physically quite healthy - so this is just god free fun and exercise for now. Unfortunately I am an uptight introvert, so my biggest challenge will no doubt be the dinner parties. "


I here you on the timing thing. Some of us keep wondering how this empire keeps rolling on its own momentum, held together with bandaids and bubblegum. Its tempting to say, They said it would crash but it hasn't so they were wrong. See, Walmarts still open. But if you detach yourself and think back to 2005. Everything HAS changed in the last decade. Its just that the crash hasn't happened like the movies. This could still go on for a while. An Ah Ha moment for me was reading Ran Priers article, The Slow Crash http://www.ranprieur.com/essays/slowcrash.html . This is an updated version.

I tell people that, when envisioning an economic collapse, stop thinking of it as, light out, let the shooting begin, and start picturing it as, you gat a handshake and a final check and that would be the last time you had a job for the rest of your life. It will be humiliating because someone else somewhere might still have a job. They will be saying, See, the collapse didn't happen, its just a recession, recovery is just around the corner and all the homeless people are just lazy and need to get a job.
Its all about partial crashes and partial recoveries, but in a downward spiral.

But you cant wait till crunch time because it takes years of mistakes and you want to make those mistakes at a period where if you fail, you can still throw more money at the problem or head off to someother job and start the process from scratch. You don't want to find yourself a Y2K refugee
 
elle sagenev
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I would make sure I had good fencing, big dogs and guns. There is no point in raising or collecting stuff if you can't keep it when the people who didn't come looking.
 
elle sagenev
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Ken Peavey wrote:A perfect homestead? Beats me.
A pretty good homestead would be one which has been developed for at least a few years. Systems are in place, working well with the bugs worked out. Crops have been grown in areas that have been under natural cultivation for a while with open pollinated seed which evolved specific to the location. Livestock has been bred on site and are well adapted to the environment. Pests are in balance with predators.

Most importantly, the skills required to keep the place going have been internalized. All the books in the world won't do much good when it's crunch time. Experience with the land must be developed over at least a few seasons to gain an understanding of the patterns of nature on the site and how to take best advantage of them. The people involved will be familiar with each other and fully assimilated into the local community. They'll not the good hunting and fishing spots, where to find wild berries and nuts, who to go to to get something fixed, who has what to trade with, who has specialized skills, who can be depended upon for a helping hand or sound counsel.


I think books would be needed on health care mostly. Do I know how to deliver a breeched calf? Nope. Better get a book. Better get some books and medicinal plants going too.
 
Ross Raven
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Danielle Venegas wrote:
Ken Peavey wrote:A perfect homestead? Beats me.
A pretty good homestead would be one which has been developed for at least a few years. Systems are in place, working well with the bugs worked out. Crops have been grown in areas that have been under natural cultivation for a while with open pollinated seed which evolved specific to the location. Livestock has been bred on site and are well adapted to the environment. Pests are in balance with predators.

Most importantly, the skills required to keep the place going have been internalized. All the books in the world won't do much good when it's crunch time. Experience with the land must be developed over at least a few seasons to gain an understanding of the patterns of nature on the site and how to take best advantage of them. The people involved will be familiar with each other and fully assimilated into the local community. They'll not the good hunting and fishing spots, where to find wild berries and nuts, who to go to to get something fixed, who has what to trade with, who has specialized skills, who can be depended upon for a helping hand or sound counsel.


I think books would be needed on health care mostly. Do I know how to deliver a breeched calf? Nope. Better get a book. Better get some books and medicinal plants going too.


Yes, I was tempted to say Medical texts as well. But this is what gets me back to dinner parties. let me explain. If I am faced with a breech birth, that's probably not the time to be leafing through a book...but 5 minutes down the road is a dairy farm. I wouldn't drink his milk or use his manure on our garden but its good that we know each other. Im sure he has delivered a few breech. 15 minutes away is another friend with the experience of being way up in the nether region of a cow. Now we get silly with each other on a regular basis. Another of our regular party folks is a doctor and nurse combo. So basically, I have surrounded myself with living books. Now, I am one of those big scary guys with big dogs and guns so those folks I mentioned have a friend that is sort of scary when they need someone scary. No one other than people that Ive supped with several times need to know that I am sort of like my big dogs. They may looks scary but they just love strangers
 
elle sagenev
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Ross Raven wrote:
Danielle Venegas wrote:
Ken Peavey wrote:A perfect homestead? Beats me.
A pretty good homestead would be one which has been developed for at least a few years. Systems are in place, working well with the bugs worked out. Crops have been grown in areas that have been under natural cultivation for a while with open pollinated seed which evolved specific to the location. Livestock has been bred on site and are well adapted to the environment. Pests are in balance with predators.

Most importantly, the skills required to keep the place going have been internalized. All the books in the world won't do much good when it's crunch time. Experience with the land must be developed over at least a few seasons to gain an understanding of the patterns of nature on the site and how to take best advantage of them. The people involved will be familiar with each other and fully assimilated into the local community. They'll not the good hunting and fishing spots, where to find wild berries and nuts, who to go to to get something fixed, who has what to trade with, who has specialized skills, who can be depended upon for a helping hand or sound counsel.


I think books would be needed on health care mostly. Do I know how to deliver a breeched calf? Nope. Better get a book. Better get some books and medicinal plants going too.


Yes, I was tempted to say Medical texts as well. But this is what gets me back to dinner parties. let me explain. If I am faced with a breech birth, that's probably not the time to be leafing through a book...but 5 minutes down the road is a dairy farm. I wouldn't drink his milk or use his manure on our garden but its good that we know each other. Im sure he has delivered a few breech. 15 minutes away is another friend with the experience of being way up in the nether region of a cow. Now we get silly with each other on a regular basis. Another of our regular party folks is a doctor and nurse combo. So basically, I have surrounded myself with living books. Now, I am one of those big scary guys with big dogs and guns so those folks I mentioned have a friend that is sort of scary when they need someone scary. No one other than people that Ive supped with several times need to know that I am sort of like my big dogs. They may looks scary but they just love strangers


I think the only problem I see with this thinking is that if there is no power or whatever then how will you call them to get them to come help? You'd have to go get them. Then your friend that is 15 minutes out is now 30 minutes out since you have to go there and back. A cow can die in that amount of time.
 
Hans Harker
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Ross Raven wrote:
Yes, I was tempted to say Medical texts as well.


I would suggest investing some time in gathering knowledge of traditional/natural healing practices and herbs. Also self-healing arts like yoga, tai chi, qigong or something like it, come handy when injury or illness come. Plus they may not look like it but they add significantly to your (self)defense capabilities.
 
Ross Raven
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There lies the rub. Your first time delivering a cow probably shouldn't be after the balloon has gone up. It should be when someone is there to hold your hand and walk you through it. Now don't get me wrong. As I type this, I am surrounded by over 300 books. Everything from Mao Tse Tung on guerrilla warfare to the Herbal Drugstore. From Permaculture, a designers manual, to the LDS Preparedness Manual. Some day, I might even get around to reading some of them. LOL. Probably not any time soon as this years projects are building a cold storage out of tires and turning the front of the house into a green house\ solar heat collector. Its my hope in all this that by the time we no longer have a phone, that a few of those people will already be living with us. The doctor and nurse has already pre positioned a trailer for themselves on the property. That doesn't happen without the dinner parties
 
elle sagenev
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Ross Raven wrote:There lies the rub. Your first time delivering a cow probably shouldn't be after the balloon has gone up. It should be when someone is there to hold your hand and walk you through it. Now don't get me wrong. As I type this, I am surrounded by over 300 books. Everything from Mao Tse Tung on guerrilla warfare to the Herbal Drugstore. From Permaculture, a designers manual, to the LDS Preparedness Manual. Some day, I might even get around to reading some of them. LOL. Probably not any time soon as this years projects are building a cold storage out of tires and turning the front of the house into a green house\ solar heat collector. Its my hope in all this that by the time we no longer have a phone, that a few of those people will already be living with us. The doctor and nurse has already pre positioned a trailer for themselves on the property. That doesn't happen without the dinner parties


Hey I think the Walking Dead has shown that a good veterinarian is better than a med Dr. Humans and animals all rolled into one. I'll just go steal me one of those and keep them locked up in the basement . Haha

I think other than the rednecks that live near us we are the best positioned to survive a horrible happening. We have the ability to grow and defend. Plus, unlike some of my neighbors, killing a chicken to eat it is something I'm willing to do. I think a lot of them might starve to death. What we lack is power. We aren't off the grid as far as power goes. We could be but it's costly so we haven't done it yet. Eventually.....

Interestingly, a lot of the farmers we have around us farm their land for the one crop (cows or wheat) and don't do anything else. So the cow farmer will be in need of produce and the wheat farmer will be in need of everything. It is kind of interesting how many farmers around here couldn't even feed themselves. (not all, of course)
 
Sam Barber
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I think the ideal SHTF property would have a large 20 or 30 year old Food forest, several large ponds, and relatively permanent animal paddocks, a wofati with an RMH and a compost heater for water and stuff.
I think one the most important part of surviving any disaster is a good community/group.
 
Sharol Tilgner
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I would also have a dairy goat myself. I have raised them and made a lot of products with their milk. You can make amazing cheese. I have made gouda, parmesan, brie and more. They like to eat bushes and low tree boughs more than grass as they have a high mineral intake need. They do well in forested land as long as there is enough of it there for them. They will eat grass too, after they have their fill on bushes. They do need protection at night. However, they will also leave you manure in the barn/enclosure and you will need that for your garden.

I would also suggest to learn about seed collection. I collect most of my own seeds. The book "Seed to Seed" is great.
Potatoes are easy to grow and easy to save over the winter for next years planting. Not as abundant and self cared for as Jerusalem artichokes but I think tastier and still easy to grow. My grandmother existed for over year on almost nothing but potatoes when food and money was short. Some kinds last better through the winter than others. Try some different varieties to see what you like best and which of those last longest.

Learn to be self sufficient now. Don't wait. I have been farming/gardening/growing herbs/self medicating/healing others (I am a doc) for many years (I am 54) and I feel like I barely have enough skills to survive even though all my friends think they are coming to live with me as they think I know how to survive. The fact is you really need a lot of experience and even though I know a lot, there is so much I don't know. I suggest you learn to ID most of the edible wild plants and know how to use them for food and medicine (I have some good blogs on this with plant photos), know how to ferment food, know how to make cheese if you plan to have a dairy animal. Know how to preserve your food without electricity. By they way, get a good hand pump. I posted a couple blogs on a wonderful hand pump. Here are the links: http://dreamingabeautifulworld.blogspot.com/2010/10/hand-pump-for-well_15.html and http://dreamingabeautifulworld.blogspot.com/2012/01/hand-pump-update_10.html Know basic construction skills for shelter. Have other like minded people around you with skills you do not have. Start taking all the classes you can on skills you don't have.

Focus on Food/water/shelter/healthcare
 
Dan Boone
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Danielle Venegas wrote:I would make sure I had good fencing, big dogs and guns. There is no point in raising or collecting stuff if you can't keep it when the people who didn't come looking.


Those are all awesome (especially the dogs) for sleeping well at night. But as others have noted, community matters too. Throughout history in times of lawlessness people have had to cope with bandits, who typically come in clumps and clusters too large for one family to fend off. I really like Ross's formulation of the the "dinner party" as an important survivalist tool.

Community doesn't have to be tight and it certainly doesn't have to be co-housed. But good relationships with the neighbors (defined as "three shots in the air and they'll come running") is more important than a whole cellar full of MREs.
 
elle sagenev
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Dan Boone wrote:
Danielle Venegas wrote:I would make sure I had good fencing, big dogs and guns. There is no point in raising or collecting stuff if you can't keep it when the people who didn't come looking.


Those are all awesome (especially the dogs) for sleeping well at night. But as others have noted, community matters too. Throughout history in times of lawlessness people have had to cope with bandits, who typically come in clumps and clusters too large for one family to fend off. I really like Ross's formulation of the the "dinner party" as an important survivalist tool.

Community doesn't have to be tight and it certainly doesn't have to be co-housed. But good relationships with the neighbors (defined as "three shots in the air and they'll come running") is more important than a whole cellar full of MREs.


I do agree. I think a lot of people around here can be really spread out though. In Wyoming you can have sections between people. We do live on a section that has been subdivided into 40s, so we do have neighbors, but we are like an island of people because all of the sections around us are simple farm land. In a lot of cases you'll see 1 farm house per section. Just a lot of open land here. A lot of people here aren't going to be able to rely on others in times of crises.
 
Ross Raven
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This brings up another important question in the 'What questions am I not even thinking to ask?' category. A few people in the prepper world are starting to ask this question. The question is, Is being out in the middle of BF nowhere where you really want to be in a collapse. A few people are beginning to say no. Im actually one of them inspite of where I live. We live in some pretty private paradise out here but it is also extremely limiting. There is squat for industry and once you are here, you are pretty much stuck, with no real future for your kids. I actually have a novel theory that in a collapse, instead of people fleeing the city, people out in the country, cut of from services, will flee the country (after the snow melts from un cleared roads) to get to a place with any job possibility and the potential for any public assistance. I can see that as a potential in our area. As people get poorer and can no longer afford the gas, will they voluntarily chose to stay in absolute seclusion going shack wacky.

There. That should give you some mental popcorn....and hopefully not start too many fights.
 
Glenn Herbert
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Back in preindustrial times when people had no option but to depend on very local resources for everything, habitations tended to be in small villages or settlements with their land around them, rather than each dwelling separated by the width of their farmland from the next. It seems likely that that pattern evolved because it worked better than alternatives.
 
Ross Raven
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Glenn Herbert wrote:Back in preindustrial times when people had no option but to depend on very local resources for everything, habitations tended to be in small villages or settlements with their land around them, rather than each dwelling separated by the width of their farmland from the next. It seems likely that that pattern evolved because it worked better than alternatives.


You got it. The late Mel Tappan, A survival expert from the 70s was the first to point out the fallacy of the lone cabin in the woods. Mel was a mega douche but he was a smart douche. His recommendation was a town of 5000- 10000 in farm country, at least a tank of gas from a large city.
FerFAL or Fernando Aguirere, documenting the Argentina collapse of 2001 pointed out that in cities, Home invasions and express kidnappings was the issue, but for the people on isolated farms, because of the lack of other people around, people that were robbed were often raped or tortured for days or a full week. No one to hear you scream. I know from experience that a lone house like mine is impossible to defend. If I had mayhem in mind, not even a special forces trained person with cameras, motion sensors and trained attack dogs could keep me out.

Now I chose to live out here for the buffer zone it gives me, and its the only place I could afford to have paid for land. If I chose to stay here, There is only one option. I have to create a village. Its one of the reasons I am here meeting new people. Hoping to meet potential villagers in my region. Ive given up on preppers as they don't play well with others. Permies, Deep Greenies and Transition Town are more conducive personalities to this type of arrangement.
 
George Hayduke
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The perfect homestead is one that supplies all the food, water, electricity, and shelter you need to live for an extended period of time, together with the ability to defend it all. Depending on your locale, this isn't necessarily a large amount of land.

The first priority is to drill and equip a solar powered water well unless you have a natural water source on the property.

The next priority is to plant a diverse orchard because it needs a long lead time to become productive.

Then build a small house, gardens, and housing for small livestock.

All of this should be run off solar power (probably), or in the rare case with appropriate conditions you can use wind or water power. Avoid fuel powered generators as part of an extended survival plan. They will eventually run out of fuel and they are noisy when they're operating.

Permaculture principles are very relevant to a successful strategy.

 
Sharol Tilgner
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I agree that a well is important and solar/wind is a good way to go. I posted a link about the "Simple Pump" above and although I have mine set up as a hand pump, the company also supplies everything you need to hook it up to solar. I really like my pump and that is why I wrote a blog about it. I have no connection with the company at all. I was just amazed at their craftsmanship. It is not cheap either though. I suggest you check it out when you are looking for pumps. I can be a hand pump, electric, solar, wind.
 
George Hayduke
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I had a Simple Pump and found that it took a lot of physical effort to pump water from a depth of about 90'. It was well made (no pun intended), but was kind of noisy. I ended up installing a SunPump submersible and that seems to do the job with a minimum of fuss.
 
Sharol Tilgner
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That is good to know. My well is only 35 feet and the simple pump works like a dream as a hand pump there. I have it in the same well with a submersible along side it. I like to have a hand pump back up just in case it is needed. Water is the number one priority as far as I am concerned.
 
Ross Raven
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I stumbled across this recently. A rope pump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8NVXsxdIYE .Though not designed to go down a drilled well like mine, I think I might be able to pull something like this off in a DIY way. Its a worthwhile experiment. I just have to design the turn around at the bottom small enough to fit down the hole. I think its possible. Manly, I have to try it because it might solve the low tec option for less than prepared folks.
 
Peter Ellis
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Dean Moriarty wrote:Here's a scenario for you to ponder...

Let's say you have about 15 acres, 5 wooded and 10 mostly overgrown pasture with a large pond and a small natural spring. You have a house on the land and no mortgage, totally paid for with off-grid amenities such as sceptic, rain catchment, and a large cistern. Power is on-grid for now, and heat is natural gas. Nothing is yet growing (neither plants nor animals), just hard and softwood trees in the wooded 5 acres.

And now lets say that you fully expect shit to hit the industrialized fan within the next few years so you want to be ready. With the catastrophe you would see savings melt along with the economy, gas prices skyrocketing and destroying the globalized food system. So your first thoughts, I would imagine, would be on the basic life necessities of food, water, shelter, and heat. What would you do?

What would be in your garden and pasture?

What animals would you raise, if any?

What tools would you make sure you had?

What books would you want on your bookshelf?

What would be your general approach and philosophy on life?

What questions am I not even thinking to ask?


How big of a crash are we talking about?
If the distribution system that transports food has broken down, then the distribution system that transports all the other transported goods has broken down.

Take a few minutes to think about what that means. What, other than food, do you produce on your homestead?
As your clothing wears out, how will you replace it?
As your tools break down, how will you replace them?
One poster listed electricity as a necessity. Are you equipped to make batteries on your homestead? Do you have the skills and materials to repair photovoltaic cells?
Do you know how to smelt ore to produce metals and does your homestead have metal bearing ores that you can access?
Some have suggested that guns are important things to have. Are you equipped to repair them? are you equipped to make replacement parts? Can you make gunpowder, of a kind your guns can use? Can you make ammunition?
How do you store your food?
What is your energy source for cooking your food, heating your home, providing light?
How many people do you have to do the work around your homestead?
How many person hours of labor are required to do all of the work that must be done around the homestead if you cannot bring anything in from the outside?
How do the labor hours available match up with the labor hours required to get everything done?
Where is your water coming from?
How do you keep your seeds for next year's crops?

How do you keep a safe water supply?
Do you have sufficient livestock to maintain your herd/flock?
How good are you at reading your weather?
If you are isolated, are you so isolated no one will find you?
If not isolated, are you on good terms with your neighbors such that you watch out for one another and pool skills and resources?
Consider this - as a rule, hermits subsist. Communities flourish.
How will you handle injuries and illness?

Some of my answers to some of your questions. For livestock I want chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits. Small animals, easy for me to manage and not likely to injure me. Low maintenance demands. Goose down gets harvested for insulation. Some of the rabbits would be angora, to produce fiber that my wife can spin. Rabbit furs can be made into warm mittens and hats, scraped and tanned rabbit hides make writing vellum. Maybe goats, but not necessarily, fifteen acres is not all that much space.
In the garden? Beans, corn, squash, sunchokes, amaranth, quinoa, potatoes, turnips, beets, chard, onions, mustard, garlic, basil, dill, sage, lavendar, rosemary, mint (various), sunflowers, echinacea, yarrow, seaberry, hazelnut, chestnut, apples, pears, plums - that is just off the top of my head, surely not complete.
Books - any and everything I could get my hands on. Ok, no self-help nonsense, barely anything in the way of computer stuff (only texts that would directly help with repairing what we had), a focus on books with practical applied information - engineering texts with material specifications, chemistry texts, animal husbandry guides, plant identification guides, mushroom identification guides, blacksmithing manuals,preferably from the nineteenth century with no electric blowers, geometry texts, thermodynamics texts; poetry, fiction, plays because culture is more than physical things.

Philosophy and approach to life? Cooperation beats conflict. Assuming that makes me a pushover could be bad for your health.

Tools. Lots of human powered stuff, primarily hand tools. Axes, adzes, saws, chisels, planes, drawknives, braces and bits, hammers, prybars, pulleys, block and tackle, scythes,sickles, billhooks, needles, spinning wheels, looms, anvils, pliers, clamps, tongs, scissors, knives, shovels, broadforks, pitchforks, digging forks, mattocks, breaker bars, sewing machine, threshing machine, mortar and pestle, pressure canner, mortar mixer, multipurpose sifter (compost, sand, etc.), screwdrivers, wrenches, oxyacetylene welding rig (for as long as the gasses hold out), potter's wheel, hole punches, metal shears, files, rasps, scrapers, vises, stakes, pencils, measuring tools, ropes, cables, chains, winding sticks, levels, suveyor's transit, carding paddles, buckets, baskets, bags, fire starters (lots of options, whatever works), jacks, compass (measuring/scribing variety), magnetic compass, windup clocks, oil lamps/lanterns, oil press, cider press, tap and die, shave horse, treadle lathe. There is a pretty good start
 
Ross Raven
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Oh, Here is one that goes down a small hole. So it can be done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRtVErYZCTc
 
Dan Boone
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Ross Raven wrote:Ive given up on preppers as they don't play well with others. Permies, Deep Greenies and Transition Town are more conducive personalities to this type of arrangement.


I actually think of serious permies as "deep preppers" or "resilient preppers" or "sustainable preppers" even when they don't think of themselves as preppers. Preppers are as varied as the weather, but a common theme involves stockpiles of resources that will be irreplaceable when gone. Those stockpiles are hard to defend, as people in this thread have pointed out.

Farmers historically have been vulnerable to roaming bandits, because farming involves seasonal stockpiles of stealable food and typically animals that can be drive away. But somewhere recently I saw a tree crops enthusiast (maybe Salatin?) speculating happily about the survival advantages of tree crops, which are (he argued) less vulnerable to banditry. Stores of food are no different, but if the bandits steal and eat all your animals and your seed corn (or anything else you were planning to save seed from) you've got a much bigger problem long term than if they just pick all your apples. Old-school military scorched-earth campaigning might cost you your orchards, and bandits may cut a few trees for firewood, but all-told a food forest is easier to defend and preserve than just about any other food system, and perhaps the most likely to be overlooked by foragers too, at least in most seasons.
 
George Marsh
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I just wanted to say that I think this is an awesome discussion. Some really good points being raised and put across very intelligently.

I'm just wondering what you guys would suggest is the correct "people to acre ratio". If you have a hundred acres, can you sensibly support a micro community of 5-10 families? I personally believe that this is a good number, many hands make light work and you can do a lot more with 5-10 people than you can do with 1 or 2, but on the flip side, they will take a lot of feeding, when that becomes 5 families, we're talking about the potential for 20 people, in some cases more.

I firmly believe in survival by co-operation. In my former military career, I've seen the truly horrible things that happen to people who are isolated and unable to get help. The things that happened, and that are still happening, to the farmers in South Africa and the former Rhodesia, really do show that it's dangerous to be isolated on a farm if there are bad guys looking to do you harm.

The Kibbutz is probably the best working example of a homestead community designed specifically with a SHTF mentality. Everything was organised for maximum productivity and durability, but also defense and self sufficiency. Another historical example could potentially be the complexes built by Roman Legionaries after they were given land at the end of their enlistments.
 
George Hayduke
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If you're talking about growing almost all the food you consume, you are essentially now in the business of converting sunlight into digestable calories. So, assuming you have adequate available water, the acreage required will in rough terms be a function of the number of people you have to feed and the amount of sunlight each acre receives. In some cases, you could probably produce enough food on one acre to feed four people in a sustainable way. (That's an average of 2,500 calories per day per person.) In a cold northern climate it might require several acres per person. Bottom line: local environmental conditions will dictate the amount of land you need to sustainably support human life.

I'm building a place capable of supporting several people on a very small amount of land. When I say "support" I mean provide virtually all of the water, food, electricity, and housing necessary to not only allow people to subsist but actually enjoy the abundance of the land. I'm in Year 3 of my experiment, and while I have much more to build out, based on my experience I think it's possible to achieve this goal.
 
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