Let me begin with a brief history and a few insights into my journey towards being prepared for The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI.) I was born and raised, until the age of 7, in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States (the greater Los Angeles area). At which point my parents came to the realization that city life was no way to raise a family. So, they moved my sister and I to the Central San Joaquin Valley and began my education in rural life. At age 18 I joined the military and was able to witness rural life in Texas, Illinois and finally South Dakota (where I spent 4-1?2 years). While in South Dakota, I married a local girl, my wonderful wife of 25 plus years. As a result of that marriage, I was introduced to a deeper and somewhat more rudimentary rural lifestyle, by her and her family. As a city boy who was never comfortable with the city lifestyle; I had found my calling. After serving my Country, along with with my wife and then three children returned to the San Joaquin Valley to start the next chapter of our lives. As it turned out that was to be a very short chapter. We quickly realized that what I had believed to be a rural community was in reality very urban. Shortly before we headed back to the Valley her parents moved to the Northwestern portion of the American Redoubt, of course we didn’t know it would eventually be labeled as such at the time. During our brief stay in the Valley we had the opportunity to visit the in-laws and decided that was the place for us. We have now been living the very rural life of the American Redoubt for the past 20 years.
My education in the art of self sufficiency began at about age four when my Grandmother–who started her family before the Great Depression–began to teach me to garden, harvest fruit and to fish. Both of my parents have a love for fishing and continued where my grandmother left off. At the age of 8 my parents began to raise rabbits for butcher and made sure to involve their children in the raising and butchering. My mother continued to teach us the art of gardening, cooking and preserving the food that we produced until it was time for me to leave home. This was done in order to teach us the value of the food on our table along with the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from putting it there. At about this same time I was blessed with the gift of a Red Ryder BB gun. I was taught the proper safety and use of the gun and after an acceptable amount of time under strict supervision I was allowed to practice with it, under minimal supervision, whenever I had free time. (At this time I would like to say that any of you who are attempting to prepare and either haven’t yet learned to properly handle a firearm or haven’t become proficient as of yet, get a BB gun and shoot thousands of rounds with it, then progress to the .22 Long Rifle and repeat. It is my opinion that the cost and intimidation level are such that you will comfortably progress to the more lethal calibers with much less trepidation). By age 13 I was hunting pheasants and working part time on the neighboring dairy. These things having been taught to me by my father or neighbor, respectively, who were both born in the 40s. While stationed in South Dakota I had the great privilege to get to know two of my wife’s Great Uncles, one of whom was born in the late 1920s and the other in the early 1930s. These two crusty old gentlemen decided that a 19 year old kid might be worth their time to teach a thing or two. They taught me to saddle and ride a horse, how to harness a team, the basics of putting up hay with a team of mules, and most importantly how to grind wheat and make delicious fresh bread from the resulting flour. Upon moving to the American Redoubt the revelation of my level of ignorance was astounding. I was soon learning to run a chainsaw, fell trees, build fence and do a lot of my own repairs on most anything. My father-in-law, a man born in the late 1930s and who lived the rural lifestyle his whole life, was the one to point me in the right direction for many of these tasks. My mother-in-law (whom I won’t date as that wouldn’t be proper) has continued to teach my wife and I food preservation methods. For the last 20 years we have been leasing a house on a 4,000 acre ranch. That lease payment is made by working for the owner of the ranch. The owner of the ranch is a man in his early 80s. He continues to work the ranch every day, mostly by himself. From this man I have learned most of what I know about farming and a lot of what I know about animal husbandry. During our 20 plus years of living here we have managed to befriend some of the families that have been here for forever and a day. From this corner of our lives we have been privileged to learn to properly slaughter, butcher and preserve large livestock and wild game. The man most responsible for our knowledge had been taught by his parents and they were of an age and background to know a bit about depression survival.
As you have probably noticed, there is a theme to my little history lesson. Yes, I am giving the approximate age of almost every one of the mentors that I have listed. As I’ve been reading the blog and many of the archives, I haven’t come across a single mention of what I feel is one of the greatest assets that one can to tap into, in order to survive in the long term after TEOTWAWKI. I wish to admit that I haven’t read all of the archives and probably won’t find the time for all of them, but from what I can tell, no one has been preaching the value of our elderly. These people have either lived through the Great Depression or were a lot closer to it chronologically than most of us. They may not be able to perform many of the tasks of survival in the long term, but they can certainly pass on their knowledge of “How To”. In addition to their knowledge there are many tasks that they can perform with more knowledge, confidence and experience than those of us that may be stronger of body. Things like cooking, canning, repairing tack, maintaining firearms, watching children, snapping the beans, shucking the peas and on and on and on. With some of these chores removed from the shoulders of the younger generations, more can be accomplished in a day, making a better life for all. I realize that a lot of people out there are thinking of the elderly, but from what I have read it appears that they are only thinking of what they have to do in order to take on the burden of providing for them. I say that they are not a burden to be taken on, but an asset just like the thousand pounds of grain you have stockpiled, the medical supplies you have so carefully laid away or the guns and ammo that you will use to protect it all.
In this life my wife, my kids and I have reached the point where we provide most all of our own meat through our livestock. We can provide the hay to feed them. We grow most of our own vegetables and some of our own fruits. We have the ability to preserve our food. We cut the wood for 100% of the heat for our homes. We have the ability, wherewithal and fortitude to defend it all. Without the knowledge that was freely given, by those that came before, we would never be as prepared to provide the basic needs for ourselves and our extended family and friends WTSHTF, as we are right now. I would like to suggest to those who are planning to provide for the elderly members of their family to please rethink the asset vs. burden issue. I believe that if you are to take the asset side of the issue and treat them as such you will gain some valuable information and they will be more interested in helping where they can instead of sitting around just consuming the assets that you do have. No one wants to feel that they are useless and just a drain on those around them. If you make use of their knowledge and abilities, they will not feel that they are a burden and will truly be an asset to themselves and the group as a whole.