Letter Re: Preparedness for Families that Move Frequently

Mr. Rawles,
Just finished reading your book “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It. I finished it in one long sitting, and have plans to go over it again with highlighter and pen and paper to take more detailed notes. Great work!

As a member of the Armed Forces, I face a difficult dilemma in that I understand and can clearly see the need to prepare/plan ahead, but my family and I feel hamstrung by our relatively transient lifestyle. I’ve been in the service for just over four years, and in that time I have been relocated every 18-24 months. This makes it extremely difficult to build up a deep larder and establish a self-sufficient infrastructure and a live-in homestead. How do we work around this?

We have a few things going in our favor:
– We are debt-free, with about $60,000 squirreled away in a Certificate of Deposit (CD) that will mature next year; we intend on using that to purchase a piece of fertile land in a quiet corner out west, and are working with some like-minded family members to pool our resources for collaboration and (hopefully) get a better deal. One thing we have discussed is that there are some very good deals on land in Canada – would could by twice or three times the amount of property than we could buy stateside with the same amount of money. In your experience, do you see any advantages/disadvantages in buying in the US or Canada?
– After all the bills are paid, we have enough left over to put about $1,000 away in long-term savings and another $500 left for preparedness purchases. I have a running list of prioritized items (firearms/ammunition, long-term food/water storage equipment, etc.), and as the money comes in I purchase them.
– We are currently renting a small farm property (seven acres) in New England near my duty station. While here, we are taking the time to use it as a practice ground for growing a vegetable garden and small-scale haying for livestock. This will give us valuable experience once we do have a piece of land to call our own. We are coordinating with several friends to learn canning, cheese making, and small scale home brewing to improve our self-reliance.
– We do have two horses, mostly for pleasure riding; I intend on trading out at least one for a larger Draft cross – much more practical for farming/homesteading. My landlord also agreed to let us keep some poultry, so I will use the winter to build a coop for some chickens.
– Deer are abundant in our area, and several wander through our backyard on a regular basis. I’m going to pick up a deep chest freezer this week, and hope to put one or two deer in the freezer this fall/winter.

In summary, my two questions are then:
1) Canadian versus US land?
2) How to build a deep larder in a nomadic lifestyle?

Thanks for everything, and keep up the great work! – MPJ

JWR Replies: Yes, your situation is a challenge, but you are not alone. The good news for you is that the weight allowances for military PCS moves go up, as you gain rank.

Given an option, I generally don’t encourage retreats in Canada because of their more stringent gun control laws. It is fine if you already live there, and have structured a firearms battery that takes full advantage of some loopholes. For example, buying M1 Garand rifles. (The only semi-auto that is an exception to the absurd 5 round rifle magazine capacity limit.) But to voluntarily move from a country that has fairly favorable gun laws to one that does not, just doesn’t make sense to me.

For folks that move often, I generally recommend building up two stockpiles of food: A larger one with very long shelf life food s(such as hard red winter wheat and Mountain House(or similar) canned freeze dried foods) that is kept your intended retreat, and a smaller one with shorter shelf life foods that you will keep with you, as you move from place to place.