Letter Re: Prepper Axiom #5

Dear James and Hugh,

Your writer of the day for June 20th brought a smile to me when I read his comments on the fallacy of “bugging out”. This topic is one that is near and dear to me, both personally and professionally as the design director for Hardened Structures and as a former infantryman and Boy Scout. Even with my training and experiences (or especially because of this training) it’s really inconceivable to me to think of providing 2,000 calories per day, every day for my family of four indefinitely, out in the boonies, with only a pack and a rifle, without at least a small plot of land to develop into a micro farm of sorts.

One of my own axioms with clients who ask about bug out planning is: “History has been very unkind to refugees.” So you better have a really well planned place to go and establish life ahead of collapse and not be rejected by the locals. This takes time, being on site personally, and not just a “retreat” that you do not habitat on a regular basis. This usually gives most people some pause, and to those who still really think they are going to be Rambo or Daniel Boone while bringing along the women and children, I mention, “The state of California allegedly has about 480,000 deer roaming about, while the human population is 50 million. Think about how that ratio works out. Who will get those deer? Would it be out-of-towners or the locals who know the terrain?”

However, I am also no advocate of staying put in an urban center during an extended grid down event. I do not know what a future collapse will look like, but we know for certain how things look right now in Venezuela and how New Orleans looked during Katrina and the USSR during the WWII Siege of Stalingrad. – In Stalingrad, the city was cut off from all outside support by the Nazi siege during the winter of 1942-43. After the food ran out, people ate all the birds, rats, squirrels, et cetera, and then later went and dug up the bones from these to mix with even sawdust to make some form of soup or gruel. After that, it was not safe to let your children out of sight, as cannibalism was rumored.

This horrific topic always seems to be the end game of extreme starvation– cannibalism. It’s even mentioned in the Bible on more than one occasions

And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver. And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son. And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. – 2 Kings 6:25-30


Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds. – Eziekel 5:10

Our family, having left urban life in 2013, see daily how utterly foolish our “expertise” was at being preppers in a suburban environment. If you want to have any hope of survival in a post “grid down” event, one needs to either have a very robust, well stocked, and expensive bunker (well over $200k) or be established in a rural location with a home that is capable of operating in an off-grid mode. In the years since we moved out of the city, we are daily reminded how the local folks’ daily life skills so far exceed our own. Folks’ daily life includes raising small livestock for food, gardening, handyman skills, logging skills, hunting and fishing skills, and more! Some are things which my wife and I do have some background with from our childhood, but WOW! How much more the local, life-long rural folks know, and it’s not considered anything special. It’s just life to them. We are learning fast and making great connections by showing respect for our neighbors and being willing to laugh at ourselves with them about what we don’t know when they show us a better way.

Today our children know food comes from plants and animals on our property and around the neighborhood and not just packages in the store. The four year old knows when fruit is ripe to pick and how to tell a black widow from a crab spider and is happy to pick up worms she finds to put in the compost bin. I spend far more hours with a garden hose watering plants or a pick-axe planting more food plants or a come-along hand-winch stretching 100’x6’ horse fencing rolls than I do with a rifle or pistol on the range, but we do have a small makeshift back yard 25-meter range, so practice is just a 100-yard walk back to the fence line, and the orange painted steel discs attached to sawhorses are great advertisement that we are armed and skilled. Blackberries and plums are in season here in Oregon right now, and we have filled 5-gallon homer buckets of each, just in the last two days, with more to come over the next week or so. The blackberries are headed for the freezer, and plums will be cut in half and put in the dehydrator. These will last all through the next winter and beyond.

You can survive four minutes without clear air, about four days without clean water, and about four weeks without food. Be somewhere the air is clean, the water comes from your own property, and you can grow at least some of your own food. Even without a collapse ever happening, it has become the best possible “little life” I could ever imagine for raising our children and escaping the daily stress of the urban life. – D.