Letter Re: Hiding Livestock From Looters

Forgive me if this has been addressed, but what do you think is the best way to hide livestock from looters if/when the shtf?  it is no secret that we have animals.  Our property is such that the only clearings for pasture are near our house, which is in plain sight of our quiet country road.  From the street, you can see our house, a coop, a pen, an old tin barn, an outbuilding, a goat pasture, free ranging chickens and turkeys, etc.  We read that a privacy fence up front at the street would be a bad idea, as people can peep through the cracks, while the fence obstructs the view from the inside. Just locking our animals in coops/barns at night (or around the clock) wouldn’t leave much of a mystery.  I haven’t been able to find much info on the web about this topic.  one person was considering a hole in the ground to keep chickens out of view, but comments didn’t support this idea.   another suggested bringing animals into your house!  Since half of our property is wooded we were considering building a hiding place there for our animals and some supplies, perhaps with a few moveable pens to allow forage.  Would it be wiser to hide in the woods with the animals, or stay put at the house and guard the perimeter?  Thanks for your advice.  – Lori R.

JWR Replies: There is essentially no foolproof way to conceal your livestock from looters and rustlers.

I’ll begin with a bit of family history: In my late wife’s family, there is an oft-repeated story of hiding their horses from “requisitioning” by the Union Army, during the Civil War. (They then lived in Ohio, well inside Union territory.) Whenever Union troops would pass through town, they would hide their horses in their timbered “Back 20,” which was their wood lot. This ruse worked up until 1864, when a Union Cavalry unit passed through. One of the sergeants inspected the family’s barn, and the distinctive sight of horse manure alongside the cow manure was unmistakable. They were “compensated” just $10 per horse, including the father’s prized saddle horse, that was worth at least ten times that sum.

There are a few things that you can do:

1.) Keep your livestock quiet. Keep only cows and hens. (No bulls, no peacocks, and no roosters!)

2.) Position your livestock an poultry sheds behind foliage and behind buildings, so that they cannot be seen from any public roads.

3.) Keep your neighbors well-supplied with eggs, milk, meat, and butter, partly in exchange for them keeping mum about the existence of your livestock.

4.) Organize a Neighborhood Watch on Steroids.

5.) Having both a watch dog and a reliable intrusion detection system (such as a Dakota Alert) will be essential. (The Chinese-made driveway alarms are unreliable junk, and should be avoided.)

6.) Recognize that if your stealth and camouflage measures fail then it will probably come down to force–or the perception of the willingness to use force–that will deter looters.