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The reality of homesteading has dissolved my "prepper"/homesteading fantasies  RSS feed

 
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So often, I tend to think/fantasize about what I'd do if society collapsed, there was some horrible disaster, I got suddenly broke, etc. I think things like,

  • I would make sure to maintain my tools so they last a long time
  • I'll have lots of sunchokes, kale and daikon radishes to eat
  • I'll eat those random dried noodles I've kept in the back of the cupboard for umpteen years--better keep saving them
  • I'll make sure to oil and paint and protect everything so it doesn't rot/erode
  • I'l chop up plants as fodder for my ducks so their feed costs are lower
  • I'd form a community with my neighbors and we would all work together



  • But, our budget is already tight. Life is already kind of hard. In many ways, it's already half-way to an "end of the world" scenario in my life right now. And, well, I don't do any of those things. I would be able to save money and get by better if I did. But, I don't. Some of that is because, well, no one really likes kale or daikons. And, a large part of it is because I just don't have the time while wrangling two kids.

    Why in the world, then, do I think I'd have time in "the end of the world"?!?

    Seriously, things would be harder and there would be less time. If I really wanted to be prepared for those times, I would be doing the things now to make my life more secure and to build the skills. The habits and skills and mindsets we have now are the ones we'd be bringing into a crises situation.

    I think, far too often, preparing for disaster turns into kind of an escapism fantasy, and, well, escapism is probably not the coping strategy you want in a crisis situation.

    (And, I think I'm probably preaching mostly to the "choir" here, as most permies are actually living their lives largely in a sustainable, prepared way, even if they're not "preppers." And, I'm probably not the only one getting my escapism fantasy bubble popped frequently. One of my mottos recently is to "Live like it's the end of the world, because in many ways it kind of is almost there!" Sometimes this mentality makes things like filing my shovel head fun. I just pretend I'm a character in a dystopian novel, and it's suddenly more epic to be maintaining my tools, LOL!)
     
    pollinator
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    For me the whole end of the world thing is about control . Folks seek to control you be making you afraid of the end of the world . This schick has been used many times before particularly by religious groups for example the JW's have been multiple offender on this there are many others . These days its also used by companies trying to sell you stuff and politicians who would rather folks run away and hide than demand decent services . So just say no and stick to permaculture look forward in hope not backward in fear.

    David 
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    I also really have to shake my head at the ideas I had before I ever started homesteading:

  • I'll suddently be able to grow all my own food if distaster strikes. Um, nope, doesn't work this way. Growing food is HARD, and there's a big learning curve!
  • I'll start fires from a flint stone! Yeaaaah, I can't start them now with a ferro rod, why do I think I'd suddently have the time to learn how to use and start a fire without a match?
  • I'll haul water from 1/4 mile away and boil and filter it! How was I planning on doing that, when I can barely keep my house clean with two kids? Watching them isn't going to suddenly get easier with a disaster happening!
  • I'll figure out how to weave and make stuff. It can't be *that* hard Bwahahaha! Making anything takes a lot of time. It takes like 10x as much time if you have no idea what you're doing!
  • I'll have enough to eat, because there's DANDELIONS in the yard! (1) There isn't enough calories in a yard of dandelions to feed you for more than maybe two days. And (2) I'm not scarfing down on a dinner of them now, why would I then?
  • My whole extended family would live together so as to support each other. Um, pretty sure if we all got suddenly poor, we'd probably not all move in together. My house is too small!


  • I hope I'm not the only one that had these sorts of thoughts that were then rendered really, really silly once I started actually homesteading!

    You know you want to share all your broken illusions of homesteading/preparing! Please don't make me feel so alone in being so ignorant!
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    David Livingston wrote:For me the whole end of the world thing is about control . Folks seek to control you be making you afraid of the end of the world . 



    I think there's a definite subset of people who come to homesteading and preparedness from the fear angle. Personally, I came from reading a lot of fantasy, especially dystopian fantasy, Robinson Crusoe-esk books, and the kind of fantasy where modern-day people were "sucked" back to medieval times. So, I started carrying things like matches and a utility tool in my purse so I'd be "ready" in case I had my plane crash on a deserted island or something. And, then I realized that I could kind of create my own little storybook life and be prepared, just in case there was a sudden "end of the world" (which, usually to me seems about as likely being sucked into medieval times via some space-time warp).

    I also think you're right about focusing on the good and crafting a better world. Even if things get harder, I'm not going to want to go against my morals or values. I'm going to want to build a better world, and that's something I can and should do now.
     
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    This is so true Nicole...

    I left the midwest for the Ozarks with a couple garden tools and a big backpack in '73 when I was 23...not thinking of myself as a survivalist or prepper at all...just leaving the political climate of the time and wanting something much more simple. 

    The list of my 'ideals' and the 'reality' is long and I have letters that I wrote my family to prove it

    I just had the (simple!) idea that I could move to the woods and have a mule for transportation, grow and forage my food, fish, live in a tent and all would be well.

    Looking back, I don't have many regrets.  Those twists and turns were wonderful and so informative even if some was quite negative information.

    Soon my guy moved down here also, we had two children and lived in an unfinished off grid one room log eight sided cabin with no road access for several years, just a quarter mile trail from the dirt road....we continued the balance between seemingly absolutely undo-able 'idealism' and the reality of it all for more than twenty years...and then for the next more than twenty progressively got more realistic I guess and moved to a house! and land with water and more possibilities for successful homesteading.

    Now that I write this, I don't think we have lost all of those 'fantasies'...we still talk a lot about our ideals and how to achieve even now...no hitching anymore, or horses, goats, rabbits, ducks, chickens and the kids are grown...we recently moved to a small farming community, are connected to the grid and have a reliable car!  We gave up the composting toilet....but not the pee bucket

    I think without those fantasies and hopeful ideals we might be too cautious and spend too much time waiting until the time is right to begin a homestead. 





     
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    Nicole Alderman wrote: a large part of it is because I just don't have the time while wrangling two kids.

    Why in the world, then, do I think I'd have time in "the end of the world"?!?

    Seriously, things would be harder and there would be less time.



    I think if we were put into an "end of the world" scenario, we would find/make time for the necessities for survival. For example, there may be no internet, so the time we spend on Permies could be used to do other things. Back in medieval times, or even 100 years ago, children didn't run around and play all the time, they worked along side their parents a majority of the time. Settlers and farmers in America had children, and usually lots of children, because they were able-bodied helpers to assist in farm work. I can only imagine how difficult or almost impossible running a farm 100 years ago with one or two people could be. I imagine if we were put into an "end of the world" situation tomorrow, you may delegate tasks to your children to help out, such as sowing seeds, tending the garden, harvesting crops, carrying water, carrying firewood, etc. instead of all of those chores falling on just yourself.

    My neighbor who raises cows and chickens also works a full time job, and his lovely wife has MS and is in a wheelchair and takes care of her too. He seems superhuman to me, with almost a kind of supernatural motivation and drive and energy to get things done. I don't know how he does it, but I imagine if I were thrust into a similar situation, I would adapt, and just do it because there is no other choice. It would become my new normal.

    David Livingston wrote: Folks seek to control you be making you afraid of the end of the world



    Gosh, people have thought the end of the world is around the corner for thousands of years. The odds of the end of the world happening next week are so astronomically large, I don't think the number would fit on a sheet of paper and would require scientific notation to give it a value. I'm more likely to be struck down by a meteorite while in my garden.

    My wife and I do have, if I had to guess, usually about 2 months worth of food in our house at a given time, not because we're preppers, but because we can't possibly eat the food from our garden while it is fresh, so we dehydrate and can and freeze. Those foods from last years garden are running thin now after going through winter, but in a few months we will once again be saving produce from our garden. We have a lot of frozen meat, only because it's easier to drive to my neighbors farm and buy 40 or 50lbs of beef or a dozen frozen chickens at a time, rather than run down to his house once a week and buy just what's needed for next weeks planned meals.
     
    David Livingston
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    I agree scaring people is not new "They "* are coming is an old old tactic going back to before "the Prince " https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prince

    Trouble is folks are fooled again and again

    David

    *They= others - Black, Homosexual, Muslim , socialist ,Irish, Catholic , Jewish , trans , left footer , communist , pagan , environmentalist  etc etc
     
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    Interesting thread

    I'll say stuff like " you'll wish you had bees when the zombies come". Its all a big joke when i say it. I even have a zombie hut. If you come to my homestead  and you don't bring a talent with you,  in the zombie hut you go. When we go to town to scavenge, the zombie hut people are thrown out as a diversion so we can get away.

    Its all a joke. But it turns to conversations like " it won't be zombies,  it will be a civil war with the government ", or " what if only sheep, cows, turkeys, chicken and horses become zombies.  You'll be in trouble".

     
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    I've read John Michael Greer for more than a decade. One of my favorite sayings from him is:

    Collapse now, avoid the rush.

    In other words, my life has been collapsing for as long as I can remember. That's the normal pattern for me, so I might as well live as if things will continue as they have: A little bit grimmer each year.

     
    David Livingston
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    I always like the song that discussed going to heaven With the line - I have taken out insurance in the form of being poor .

    David
     
    Judith Browning
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    Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I've read John Michael Greer for more than a decade. One of my favorite sayings from him is:

    Collapse now, avoid the rush.

    In other words, my life has been collapsing for as long as I can remember. That's the normal pattern for me, so I might as well live as if things will continue as they have: A little bit grimmer each year.



    That's perfect!  except for the 'A little bit grimmer each year.' part...my first thought when I read 'Collapse now, avoid the rush.' was yes, 'the cup is already broken'  so let's just relax
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    I'm happier than ever. You'd never know it looking at my finances.... I suppose that is because I have accepted the premise that life next year will be about the same as it was last year, but a little bit harder. Each year, I become a better hill person than I was the year before.

    The other day, a young kid wrote me. He has his whole life ahead of him and wants to be a farmer. He told me that he wants to live a life with no compromises. I'm thinking, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry about all the pain that will cause you and those around you. Wishing that you'd jump right into the messy middle and get yourself all dirty, so that you can fit in with the rest of us."
     
    David Livingston
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    I found the words :-)

    Third Millenium

    Oh as I was in the garden
    I was planting out me beans
    The sky betook an awful shade
    The queerest what I'd seen
    So I asked me next-door neighbour
    "Am I going off me head?"
    He says "Oh no it's just the same
    Like Nostradamus said"

    Ah, well the year was ninety-nine
    And we had watched the systems fail
    Extinction of the species
    And the hunting of the whale
    Oh the wise men and the prophets
    They had talked of turning back
    Ah, but sad to say, too late
    As all the crust began to crack

    Wake up, you lazy bum
    For if you don't slow down
    You'll never get to see
    The third millennium

    Oh the farmer and his wife
    Have tried to save the human race
    But the butcher is a murderer
    With no redeeming grace
    Ah, when the revolution came
    It was a party to the fall
    We left the land to reap the gold
    And rape the earth of all

    Oh me heart is full of sorrow
    As I cast me eyes about
    The people are so weary
    Where they used to sing and shout
    Well it's really not surprising
    That disease is still so rife
    Their aching limbs atrophy
    While they lead an easy life

    Wake up, you lazy bum
    For if you don't slow down
    You'll never get to see
    The third millennium

    Oh this song was writ in heaven
    As is plain enough to see
    Me mates have gone the other way
    They won't be joining me
    With their pockets full of money
    They could not get through me door
    I'd taken out insurance
    In the form of being poor

    Wake up, you lazy bum
    For if you don't slow down
    You'll never get to see
    The third millennium
    You'll never never ever ever
    Get to see the third millennium
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    James Freyr wrote:
    I think if we were put into an "end of the world" scenario, we would find/make time for the necessities for survival. For example, there may be no internet, so the time we spend on Permies could be used to do other things. Back in medieval times, or even 100 years ago, children didn't run around and play all the time, they worked along side their parents a majority of the time. Settlers and farmers in America had children, and usually lots of children, because they were able-bodied helpers to assist in farm work. I can only imagine how difficult or almost impossible running a farm 100 years ago with one or two people could be. I imagine if we were put into an "end of the world" situation tomorrow, you may delegate tasks to your children to help out, such as sowing seeds, tending the garden, harvesting crops, carrying water, carrying firewood, etc. instead of all of those chores falling on just yourself.

    My neighbor who raises cows and chickens also works a full time job, and his lovely wife has MS and is in a wheelchair and takes care of her too. He seems superhuman to me, with almost a kind of supernatural motivation and drive and energy to get things done. I don't know how he does it, but I imagine if I were thrust into a similar situation, I would adapt, and just do it because there is no other choice. It would become my new normal.



    Oh, but life DID get insane last year. My husband was hospitalized and unable to walk, so I had him and an infant and a three year old to care for, as well as a garden and ducks.  My daughter's was hospitalized for an infected cyst and was on antibiotics for over a month, which made her reflux so bad that she barely slept at night. My son was tantrum or almost tantruming almost every second of the day, and his behavior was continually getting worse due to the all the craziness in our life. There was no way he'd plant seeds or help out--I was happy if he played by himself so I could get work done, but usually instead of playing he'd scream for me to help him or break things. It was horrible.

    And, the fact of the matter is, I was not able to survive like it was the end of the world. I tried to just keep the garden going and the ducks from being eaten. But, really, we didn't eat that much from the garden last year--maybe 10% of our diet. And, I only held the homestead together because my parents--who are in their 60s--are still in good health and both are retired, and so were able to come and help. They cut up the trees and chopped up the firewood. They mowed the pasture and fixed the broken things in my house. If it had been "the end of the world," and/or we didn't have my husband's income (thankfully his Crohn's didn't get bad enough that he was unable to work), we would have starved. Because, in the end of the world, you can probably be assured there will be sick and disabled people--even more than there are now. The stress from everything tends to set off chronic illness, like it did for my husband.

    So, yes, I adapted, and we technically survived. But the whole time I was putting out "fires." No one in my family was getting the care they needed. Everyone was getting worse. And, if we'd had no income to buy food that we couldn't grow (and to get the hospital care we needed), we wouldn't have made it. I was already doing all I could, and I couldn't grow all our food.

    so the time we spend on Permies could be used to do other things.



    The time I'm on here is the time I have my daughter in my lap nursing to sleep, because that's the only way I can get her to sleep with her reflux. I wouldn't be able to spend time in other ways other than researching and learning...which is what I'm already doing here on permies!
     
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:So often, I tend to think/fantasize about what I'd do if society collapsed, there was some horrible disaster, I got suddenly broke, etc. I think things like,

  • I would make sure to maintain my tools so they last a long time
  • I'll have lots of sunchokes, kale and daikon radishes to eat
  • I'll eat those random dried noodles I've kept in the back of the cupboard for umpteen years--better keep saving them
  • I'll make sure to oil and paint and protect everything so it doesn't rot/erode
  • I'l chop up plants as fodder for my ducks so their feed costs are lower
  • I'd form a community with my neighbors and we would all work together



  • But, our budget is already tight. Life is already kind of hard. In many ways, it's already half-way to an "end of the world" scenario in my life right now. And, well, I don't do any of those things. I would be able to save money and get by better if I did. But, I don't. Some of that is because, well, no one really likes kale or daikons. And, a large part of it is because I just don't have the time while wrangling two kids.

    Why in the world, then, do I think I'd have time in "the end of the world"?!?

    Seriously, things would be harder and there would be less time. If I really wanted to be prepared for those times, I would be doing the things now to make my life more secure and to build the skills. The habits and skills and mindsets we have now are the ones we'd be bringing into a crises situation.

    I think, far too often, preparing for disaster turns into kind of an escapism fantasy, and, well, escapism is probably not the coping strategy you want in a crisis situation.

    (And, I think I'm probably preaching mostly to the "choir" here, as most permies are actually living their lives largely in a sustainable, prepared way, even if they're not "preppers." And, I'm probably not the only one getting my escapism fantasy bubble popped frequently. One of my mottos recently is to "Live like it's the end of the world, because in many ways it kind of is almost there!" Sometimes this mentality makes things like filing my shovel head fun. I just pretend I'm a character in a dystopian novel, and it's suddenly more epic to be maintaining my tools, LOL!)



    I've come up with the motto "You can dump yourself off on a mountain top with $1,000,000 worth of supplies and still die.  You can dump yourself off on a mountain top with nothing but the clothes on your back, but armed with knowledge, and you'll likely survive."

    Maybe take a step back.  It's overwhelming to think of EVERYTHING that has to happen to become totally self sufficient.  Don't even so-much take it down to "what can I do today?".  I'd take it simpler; what can I LEARN today.  Maybe pick something easy; taking the family on a foraging trip.  Learn to identify basics, like morels!  Have a fun outing, the whole family is participating and learning, and you're literally exercising basic skills needed to survive on your own.  $50 in used herb, plant, and mushroom guides can spark an AMAZING amount of curiosity and lead to learning thing you hadn't ever fathomed!  Igniting a passion for this kind of living is really the key to the engine, in my opinion.  It can be super intimidating, but everyone starts somewhere, and sometimes that place is very far away.  That's okay!

    Things I've done that have been invaluable;
    - hunting large and small game alike - you learn so many skills and become aware of so much you never thought of before
    - joining a random animal tracking group on facebook - i didn't even know I had a passion for it, but I can't turn off "tracker vision" anymore.  I've become so aware of environments!
    - plant some plants - food or flower, doesn't matter.  Make a garden or just stick seeds in a pot.  The result can be addicting!  Don't try to plan the perfect garden or devise what you need to grow to feed the whole family.  Grow what you ENJOY growing and nourish a love for it.
    - make some crafts - engage the kids in picking pinecones and sticks and tree moss, make some fun projects, get hands-on with nature, get out on a scavenge hunt, put your hands on the environment you desire to thrive in and feel it!
    - fishing - I don't know what to say about fishing, it's a passionate love of mine
    - raise some small, simple livestock - rabbits are easy, chickens are great starter critters...  pigeons, quail, turkeys, guinea, peafowl, goats, whatever you want!  But start small.  don't overwhelm yourself, and don't go into it trying to be self sufficient from the start.  You need to build experience with the animals, memorize their needs, and start devising ways of providing those things efficiently.
    - experiment.  Do some crazy stuff.  Some dumb stuff.  Some fun stuff.  camp under the stars, hike to nowhere without a trail, dig a hole, swim across the river, skip some rocks.  have fun!
    - get online and research random permie stuff.  It's amazing what you pick up in passing that you remember later when applicable!

    I'm not assuming you haven't done these things, I'm just saying these are things I've done and do do, and it's always a learning experience- no exceptions!
     
    Jen Fan
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    Oh, but life DID get insane last year. My husband was hospitalized and unable to walk, so I had him and an infant and a three year old to care for, as well as a garden and ducks.  My daughter's was hospitalized for an infected cyst and was on antibiotics for over a month, which made her reflux so bad that she barely slept at night. My son was tantrum or almost tantruming almost every second of the day, and his behavior was continually getting worse due to the all the craziness in our life. There was no way he'd plant seeds or help out--I was happy if he played by himself so I could get work done, but usually instead of playing he'd scream for me to help him or break things. It was horrible.

    And, the fact of the matter is, I was not able to survive like it was the end of the world. I tried to just keep the garden going and the ducks from being eaten. But, really, we didn't eat that much from the garden last year--maybe 10% of our diet. And, I only held the homestead together because my parents--who are in their 60s--are still in good health and both are retired, and so were able to come and help. They cut up the trees and chopped up the firewood. They mowed the pasture and fixed the broken things in my house. If it had been "the end of the world," and/or we didn't have my husband's income (thankfully his Crohn's didn't get bad enough that he was unable to work), we would have starved. Because, in the end of the world, you can probably be assured there will be sick and disabled people--even more than there are now. The stress from everything tends to set off chronic illness, like it did for my husband.

    So, yes, I adapted, and we technically survived. But the whole time I was putting out "fires." No one in my family was getting the care they needed. Everyone was getting worse. And, if we'd had no income to buy food that we couldn't grow (and to get the hospital care we needed), we wouldn't have made it. I was already doing all I could, and I couldn't grow all our food.

    The time I'm on here is the time I have my daughter in my lap nursing to sleep, because that's the only way I can get her to sleep with her reflux. I wouldn't be able to spend time in other ways other than researching and learning...which is what I'm already doing here on permies!



    I apologize, I hadn't read this when I posted my reply a moment ago.

    Edited to fix my awful grammar and to add;
    It sounds like you're in a difficult position right now.  I don't know what I could add, personally.  I haven't walked in your shoes.  I hope some folks on here who have had similar experiences will pop up and provide some wonderful advice and input for you :)
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Jen Fan wrote:I apologize, I hadn't read this when I posted my reply a moment ago. 



    No worries! They are all lovely suggestions for many of us. And hopefully now that my husband's heath has stabilized and my kids are a year older--and as long as nothing else horrible happens!--we'll be able to do more of those things!
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    This all reminds me of the verse in Matthew where Jesus says, "How miserable those days will be for pregnant and nursing mothers!" I'd always kind of wondered about that verse when I was younger, but now I think I understand it: life is already really hard when you have young ones--it's hard to do all the day-to-day necessary tasks when caring for kids, even if everything is normal. It's nigh impossible to survive disasters with those little ones, especially without a support network! 

    (I knew things might be crazy if we had a second child--see this thread How to time growing a family and starting a homestead?--but I totally wasn't expecting my husband's health to fail, too!)
     
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:... especially without a support network! 



    Personally, I feel this sentence to be pretty key, Nicole.  Aside from the stereoptyped 'mountain man', it seems that most who found/find themselves embedded within a sustained permie-type lifestyle will have, over time, perhaps 'grown' a network along with the growing of their crops and farmstead.  Not always, but a lot of the time.  Granted that many things have befallen your homestead in recent months, is there a network that you have been able to start growing that is proximal enough to your place to be of help when that help is either needed or requested?  We live part permie-like and part not.....a product of circumstance, transition, and just slooooowly shedding a lot of cultural attributes that we grew up with that are/were at odds with sustainability.  I just feel that we need to recognize the transition for what it is and the time that it will take to get to where we wish to be.  The fantasies that we hold or held that launched us down the permie road can be rightly motivated, but fantasy is usually devoid of the blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to achieve what we are after.  And even after all of that, it's the journey, not the destination,.....maybe?
     
    David Livingston
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    Interesting that you identify networks as I am giving a talk on migrants and vulnerability in a fortnight and it's one of the main indecators I identify for people being vulnerable to harm and exploitation is lack of effective networks .

    David
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    John Weiland wrote: Granted that many things have befallen your homestead in recent months, is there a network that you have been able to start growing that is proximal enough to your place to be of help when that help is either needed or requested?



    Being an introvert, this has been a bit hard for me. I usually form connections with my neighbors by taking my kids for walks and chatting with the neighbors who are out and about, or the new ones that are building the house (I use the excuse of my four-year old loving construction, which he does, but really, I just want to have a reason to meet the neighbors). And, as I chat with my neighbors, sometimes trades happen: my duck eggs for their moose sausage or egg rolls, or my duck eggs and caring for their horse in exchange for them graveling the road, etc. But, when all the craziness happened, there wasn't really time to go for walks. And, I also tend to be so tired during crisis situations, that I forget to ask for help. It's important, if you can, to build those connections before craziness occurs, because it's often hard to find time when you're struggling to survive.

    I do recall one day, in the middle of the insanity, when we'd captured three feral kittens and their mother, only to have the mother give birth in her litterbox to another SEVEN kittens. We weren't ready for kittens! My husband was disabled, and I had two little ones. I know nothing about infant cats! I had no idea how to clean the mother and no clean box for her and her kittens. In my desperation, I took my kids for a walk to my neighbors and asked her for help. Her daughter watched my kids while she and I got the mother moved to a clean box. It was a life-saver. If I hadn't known my neighbors, and built some connections, I don't know what would have happened to those kittens. And, because my husband goes and gets food for our ducks and chatted with the employees about the kittens, and they knew someone who wanted barn cats, we were able to give the 7 baby kittens and their mother to someone who could care for them.
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    gardener
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    Nicole, I think you were (are still) faced with some daunting challenges and you used the resources and knowledge you had available at the time to get you and your family through. Maybe you feel as if you just barely survived or could have done things differently, but I think what you have managed to do is commendable. You took care of the important things and other less important things got less attention. That's what you have to do, prioritize. You can't do it all, no one can. I don't think any amount of preparing would have all details covered. You just scale back and get through. Then, you can build back up until the next crisis, which will come - life's a cycle of ups and downs until the end.

    You mention "the reality of homesteading" and you seem to suggest that your life's routine has become such that your focus is no longer on the "end of the world", "zombie apocalypse", "what if" scenarios, but now mostly focused on just striving to survive daily with looming health issues, raising a family and maintaining a home. I think a lot about the "crisis" I'll be faced with all too soon. We all will, in some way.

    The "end of the world" as a societal collapse may never happen in my lifetime. There's no guarantee of that. What is more likely the guaranteed "crisis" I'll have to face is "self-collapse"; either, as old-age approaches or battling disease. I should be more focused right now on prepping for how I will manage to grow enough food to preserve for the upcoming year and, hopefully, repeat for a few more years after that; also, to maintain a house that's 140 years old already and is very high maintenance; and, to live on little or no money, because you're less likely to be employed or employable after a certain point; all while dealing with physical and mental decline that is only going to get worse as I age. There are already some things I am struggling with. I don't have as much energy, strength or stamina to get done all that I need to. I find that I am now more prone to strained muscles, general soreness and bruising. I am getting more and more forgetful. I can't see as well anymore. I should go to the doctor about this and that, but I can't afford to, so I deal with it the best I can. I thought it was just yesterday that I was 20 and invincible. Time goes so fast and the time to have started preparing for sunset years was back when preparing was the last thing on my mind.

    At this point in my life, I still can grow, forage, hunt, catch enough food to eat. I have a strong survival sense (foregoing the legal and moral aspects when necessary to rely on cunning strategies) that enables me to get things I need in order to get by. In the past, I have been extremely poor and I have been homeless, in which both cases require you to sharpen your survival skills. The most important tool in my survival toolbox is knowledge, by far.

    I know of many people that are far less fortunate than I in terms of money and material things. I am very blessed to have what I have now. I know of some too that have lots of money and no survival skills. I think I know which has real value.

    But, where will I be and what will my life look like when mental decline has faded my once trusted knowledge and weakness has taken my physical abilities? How can I maintain enough self-sufficiency and self-reliance during "self-collapse" to survive? My husband, being older than I, may be in worse shape than myself and may rely on me for care. Maybe I should be so lucky that the zombies will take us both.
     
    Karen Donnachaidh
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    Your kitten story reminded me of another example of me not knowing what the next "crisis" will look like in order to prepare.

    In 2012, I called my husband at work to tell him about the dog that showed up at our house. I had called the phone number on the collar and left a message. In the meantime, I put the dog in our own dog's pen that's attached to one of our barns while our dog ran free outside. My husband said since he wasn't too busy he would just come home. He had only been in the house a few minutes when the tornado hit. The tornado flattened two of our barns, including the one with the lost dog in it. Our dog was outside and my husband told me I couldn't open the door to see if I could get her in at that point.

    After it was safe to go outside, I found our shaken dog to be okay. We went to the barn and, once we figured out where the dog box should be, we dug out the lost dog and she was fine.

    I thought the (mini)crisis of the day was to get a dog back to it's home. I was calling it's owners, making it comfortable, feeding it and how was I to know I had placed it in a dangerous place? I couldn't have.
     
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    I'm not sure that the realities themselves dissolved your fantasies, but more it's the realization of sacrifices and difficulties.  There are things that we do not want to give up, and that makes the transition difficult.

    I am in the process of moving to my land full time.  I have 18 acres and multiple streams on my land (in Western North Carolina).  There is absolutely NOTHING on the land, but I could get utilities installed.  I'm stuck in the decision to live in town and have a job, versus living on my land and having nothing.  I would even need to work on the access point to my land.  A logging road goes down to it from the dirt road, but that needs improved.  Then, my access goes right over a stream, which would need to be protected via a culvert. 

    It's a tough tradeoff, because I need money to make my dreams happen, and to make a fully functional homestead.  I don't have a fantasy that it will be easy, but I do fantasize that it will help me grow as a person.  Good luck in your journey
     
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    I think of homesteading in a different way than many people on this forum.  I don't think that the goal of everyone should be to make their own homestead.

    When I was 10, I just wanted to skateboard. I still skateboard, but I'm not pro.

    When I was 14, my goal was to become a pro baseball player. I still play baseball, but in a lower rec league.

    When I was 23, I wanted to be a professional musician. I still play music, just not professionally.  And so on with hang gliding, kayaking, unicycling, bike riding, and gardening/permaculture.

    I think of real full time homesteading out in the sticks as "Major league permaculture".  The vast majority will never want to put all of our focus on that, nor attain the skills to be able to survive only on that. 

    Most of us will have to live close enough to some town or develop some internet job to have some income to pay electric bills, send our kids to college, buy a car, etc. 

    Plus, there are advantages to living close to others. My city is big enough to have several baseball leagues. I can skateboard and unicycle on pavement, but not on dirt or gravel roads.

    I can ride my bike and check out books and music at the library. I can ride my bike to get enormous varieties of organic produce, much of which I will never be able to grow here: guavas, papayas, amla, most citrus, etc. We have lots of farmers' markets.

    I can go see huge varieties of very skilled live music. I can go to huge numbers of really great restaurants from huge numbers of different cultures on public transit or bike.

    As I get older, having a variety of medical treatments at high quality is a real draw. 

    I like hanging out with my friends and family.

    I think for most of us, the optimal situation is some kind of mix that involves some amount of homesteading-like permaculture on a smaller scale and many of the other benefits of civilization, while avoiding the downsides.

    John S
    PDX OR
     
    pollinator
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    One of the realities that keeps coming back up is the fact that you've got small children.  Those are LONG LONG days, when you've got little ones.  I think you'll find that you'll have so much more time and energy in just 3 years.  Hang in there mama. 

    Perhaps once the kids are old enough that you no longer need to pack a diaper bag and snacks when you go out to the car, you'll find that you'll have a bit more time to turn those homesteading fantasies into realities.

    One day at a time.
     
    pollinator
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    One of my favourite fictional versions of societal collapse comes in the first book, and to a lesser extent, the first trilogy, of the Emberverse series by S.M. Stirling. It is not at all cheery.

    In it, some bizzare phenomenon occurs that saps the power from all high-energy physics, such that electricity, internal combustion engines, gunpowder, and even steam engines, all cease to function. The story is about the communities that form around the leader personalities that emerge from the chaos, and the way their personal choices and solutions to problems shape their identities, but the fallout for all those unnamed characters without benefit of plot armour is very telling.

    No punches are pulled about the fact that, when the Event, as it's called, happened, the world died. Well, their world, along with 90% of its inhabitants, died, some instantly or quickly, as planes fell from the skies and fires burned through cities where no pumps worked, and some slowly, through disease, starvation, and for some, predation by other humans.

    One of my favourite moments in the first book is where a bus of starving schoolchildren in the Pacific North West whose keepers had gone for help and presumably died are adopted out to a coven of witches headed for the shelter of their winter covenstead in the Willamette Valley, even though food was likely to be in direly short supply. When prompted, the answer given was, "Every mouth comes with a pair of hands."

    But that's fiction, even where it agrees with our ideas of how practically difficult it would be to survive.

    I think the most powerful takeaway from the books that applies here, though, is that it really is all about community, which you've basically touched on here, too, Nicole. There are reasons why "It takes a village to raise a child," is still a saying, even when most of us don't live in villages any longer, even though we probably should. Looking after one kid is a full-time job. Looking after more than one is the same job, you're just doing it three times, at once.

    One of the reasons some semi-nomadic peoples are thought to have spaced their children out more is so that children could walk and, to some extent, fend for themselves on the instant-to-instant level before their mothers became occupied with another child.

    I love the idea of having some sort of community near my personal homestead, or even hosting it, where a professional caregiver, or a professional mom (or more if the stocking rate demanded), cared for the children of my nearest neighbours along with mine, and we all split the cost of compensation, or the moms would be compensated in kind or with farm produce.

    I don't see my fantasies dissolving so much as my random, scattered ideas about homesteading are firmed up and solidified as I come across opportunities to realise my permaculture fantasies. They become grittier and more realistic, but then, my first permaculture project involved digging a six foot wide, 18 foot long, three foot deep trench by hand to make a hugelbeet. Toddling, diaper-stage boys with explosive diarrhea, no problem. Been there. Hell, I've been one. Nothing a shower with a detachable sprayer head won't fix.

    I started gritty, and my choice of recreational reading material prepared me for much worse. I mean, until it's time to start diapering invalid adults, that is. The books always seem to find a way around things like that...

    We write our own stories. Thinking about the lives of some of my favourite characters, I think I would prefer to have mine published in a really exciting permaculture how-to rather than a post-apocalyptic survival novel.

    But good luck, Nicole. Hang in there. You've already got the best set of tools for any situation on your side, and as you prove, you can do this.

    -CK
     
    pollinator
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    When I worked for the railroad I had a boss once that tried to pin me down to a whole bunch of possible doomsday scenarios..."what would you do if this happened?" "What would you do if that happened?" After enduring this for awhile I finally said, "Listen, I am not really sure what I would do, but I would do something." He took a step back and stopped asking. I was not being coy; I have a mantra that I often cite, and what most people on here live by; I do as much for myself as I can.

    It covers a lot.

    A lot of dooms-dayers prepare, and that is good up to a point, but the reality is there is no way to prepare for every situation. Hoarding will only get the crap kicked out of you by the neighbors that decide they want it more than you can fend them off. Ultimately it just means rolling with the changes and taking life as it comes.

    What would I do if the grid went down never to return? No idea, and I would feel it at first, but because I have a "let's go" attitude (as do most on here), life would march on. I would miss electricity, but I would have to cope. No use wasting my time fretting over what I cannot control.

    I made a mistake when I retired two years ago and went into full time farming; I failed to properly calculate property taxes. Now two years later, my energy zapped by cancer and I had to draw up a new plan. It is still in line with the overall farm plan, and in some ways it just sped everything up, but it is hard to watch another logger cut 80 acres of my forest too. Still, it is not a desperate slap shot if instead I send a shuffle pass to the left wing for a shot on goal.

    I have been where you have been, sick, tired...sick and tired, and with 4 young kids, but it is okay to give yourself a break sometimes.

    Have you had any blood work done and seen what your Vitamin D levels are? If you live in the northern hemisphere this time of years, due to sunlight it is greatly diminished and a persons well being is off, and their energy levels are zapped. I am not saying that is it, but for many that can be a contributing factor.
     
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