As world events, both nationally and internationally, explode in violence, deep debt, instability, and uncertainty, I ask myself have I done enough? Am I far enough away from the violence? Do I have systems in place that will hold me and my family in good stead for years to come? It’s complicated, and a heavy burden, to detach from the culture, from the world systems, and to create a self-sufficient lifestyle. It is also freeing. There’s so much detail to each aspect that it’s no wonder people throw up their hands and say it’s impossible. I think it’s possible to a large degree, and I accept the things that still connect me to the “System”. Until… I find a way to sever those things, or I am forced to, whichever comes first.
Examples of things that still connect me are: banking, taxes, insurance, electricity, products I cannot make myself, and Internet access. Those are not small things, but they are the things that remain until I am able to detach from those things too. I have done a good job of avoiding excessive taxation, but I can’t go without banking or insurance. I could live without the products I cannot make, raise, or grow, certainly. And I would be happy if the entire Internet crashed and burned – really. I fully expect bank closures on the order of weeks, not days, so keeping the gas tank full, the home well stocked, and having some cash on hand, as well as barter items, makes sense. Affording alternative energy has been a problem for me with so many other demands. If the grid goes down for a very long time, I don’t think being able to purchase enough gas for the vehicle and generator is a long-term solution. Maybe if the cost of solar wasn’t so outrageous, I could at least keep the basics running. In the North, the worst problem is keeping warm, so a wood-burning stove is critical. But, in the South, the worst problem is keeping cool enough to function. The “Himidity” (heat and humidity) is suffocating.
We each have our own set of fears or threats that we are trying to overcome, and it’s different depending upon where you live and how you live. I have completely detached from the culture, and that has given me wonderful peace of mind. I have more work to do in becoming self-sufficient though, and I often analyze and reset priorities.
I worked in corporate America for most of my adult life, so I am familiar with the SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. I often think of SWOT when trying to gauge my ability to overcome obstacles. Maybe it will help you too if you aren’t familiar with it. Every time I start to panic, I calm myself down with this type of analysis of my situation. It helps me think logically rather than emotionally, and it helps me formulate approaches to solving problems in order of criticality. At least, that’s my experience.
I will do the SWOT analysis in answer to the question: can I live off my land/farm right now, if everything outside it became impossible to navigate? Could I “close the gates” for a considerable length of time and still survive? Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s see if I could.
The very fact that I developed a farm (I should say, the fact that the Lord blessed me with a farm), rather than retiring on my laurels and doing decadent things, is a strength. I could have spent my time in endless entertainment, eating and drinking fine foods and wine, traveling the country or world, availed myself of the salon and fine clothing, etc. The result of that pampered lifestyle would be utterly useless in a SHTF situation. I’m not saying those things are wrong. I know people who can somehow balance a lifestyle with one foot in the world and one foot on the farm/ranch perfectly well. They probably have a larger support system than I do, or a heck of a lot more money, and that’s fine.
My choice in lifestyle has resulted in a physically and mentally stronger Me. I don’t need my mind filled with frivolities to feel alive. In fact, I feel pretty alive when one of the cows kicks the bucket with a vengeance and barely misses my face! Or when I have to grab the rifle because a coyote has come dangerously close to the livestock. Oh yes, I definitely feel alive then.
Living the farming lifestyle, in my opinion, has made me strong and resilient. Nothing goes according to plan, so being able to go from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C to “let me think for a few minutes because I know I can solve this problem” is a tremendous strength. I don’t need “a boss” to line out my work for me, or instruct me in his or her approach, nor do I have a bevy of “assistants” save the one young farmhand I employ for a few hours a week. Things have to be taken care of in a timely manner or animals may die. The land must be tended to or it won’t produce. The lifestyle makes you strong in so many ways. Reminds me a lot of young motherhood! The children had to be tended to lovingly through all their stages, no matter how tired I was, how sick they were, or what things had to be accomplished.
The location I live in is a Strength as well. I’m in the middle of farming and ranching land, far away from any big city. Therefore, crime is very limited. I often think that our local police department is overstaffed. But, then again, maybe the staffing level is why there is precious little crime. Just about everyone is growing something, whether that’s produce or animals. The Locals joke about how they solved the “egg shortage” very quickly by producing their own, then selling or bartering or giving them away. Living in the “Bible Belt” has many advantages as well. There’s a church or two every mile or so. Most everyone goes to church. Most every church has an outreach program and a food pantry. There are even “Blessing Boxes” here and there. A “Blessing Box” is a wooden box where people voluntarily fill it with household supplies and nonperishable foods. Often, if someone has an overabundance of produce, they just put a box of the produce next to the Blessing box. Anyone who is in need has lots of choices. I’ve noticed tremendous local generosity. If someone needs a ride, or some cash, or some help, they just ask, and numerous people jump into help. There’s a real sense of community here.
There are many more examples, but in summation, the lifestyle choice has made me stronger. The location choice has brought many benefits in the areas of community, safety, and resiliency. I know now, that if I can’t grow it or raise it, my neighbor can. That fact cannot be understated. Since I raise and grow food, I have the ability to barter for things that I need with like-minded people.
When I lived in the city, the weaknesses were a legion. The daily grind was exhausting, not to mention the cost, the commute, not to mention the negative health impacts, not to mention the lack of safety due to high crime, etc. The inability to grow food; the inability to protect one’s property; no privacy, etc. But, there are weaknesses to country living. Living somewhat remote from a big city means that Home Depot is not around the corner, neither is the doctor. The largest hospital is a several hour drive. Shopping is limited – there are no “malls” with an endless array of choices. Now that I’ve been living “in the country” for about 5-6 years, I don’t consider those weaknesses. I consider most of the inconveniences a blessing because I don’t have to deal with the unintended consequences of having more choices (like, mall shootings).
My primary “weakness” is I can’t do it all. Managing a farm is more than a full time job, and it’s physically demanding. That means, your body is taking the brunt of the work, although your brain gets a good problem solving workout. You can’t take a day off unless you find a farm sitter who knows how to milk cows, if you have cows in milk without the aid of a calf. When you get sick, you have to keep working. I had one incident last year when I ran a high fever and had the terrible flu for a week. I called several local people and begged them to come fill the water troughs and feed the animals. I turned out the calf with her mom so I wouldn’t need to milk. I sweated it out and recovered. I learned that I could depend on my neighbors in an emergency. But, without the community I would have been in dire straits because my animals may have not lived through my illness. I have learned to set up systems for the animals that will keep them alive in my absence, but they need refinement.
Speaking of which, if you have a disability or two or three, you can still farm. You just need to get creative. I am not dismissing disabilities because I have several. In fact, my recent CT scans looking for cancer tumors (there were none, praise the Lord), showed a tremendous amount of inflammation in my body. No surprise. Ever since I had encephalitis and spinal meningitis many years ago, the inflammation has never left nor has the pain. Cancer also causes inflammation. So, I have definite physical weaknesses. I manage them with diet, hydration, sleep, and a refusal to be in artificially created stressful environments. Bad stress can kill you. Good stress makes you stronger. Bad stress is being freaked out all the time because of the environment, other’s opinions, or a sinful lifestyle. Good stress is getting your heart rate up doing farm chores, pulling a calf that is stuck, rearing godly children, attacking those messes, and focusing on organizational skills.
I am not criticizing anyone who doesn’t choose this lifestyle. I am attempting to encourage any who want to. The quiet serenity of the countryside can heal your mind, and that will help your body. All that to say, you can do a lot if you decide to.
Other weaknesses are that the farm still requires some outside inputs. I buy hay from a neighbor, and I purchase minerals from the farm store, along with non-GMO feed. I figure that while these things are available, I will take advantage of them. I also hire out the mowing, bushwhacking, and handyman services. I know that should it be required, I can barter for these services, and I do a little bartering now so that I understand what that looks like.
And finally, I do not have alternative power save a generator that requires gasoline to function. That’s a weakness I have not yet overcome.
The opportunities in this lifestyle are, in my opinion, absolutely endless. Learning to grow your own food, learning to work with the land, and the weather, and the animals is a fascinating experience. I keep thinking I’ve figured something out, only to learn that what I learned just became obsolete. For instance, we didn’t get enough Spring rain, after an Arctic Blast and subzero temperatures. The pastures struggled to recover. Many plants I thought had died forever, eventually came back, but everything was slow to grow as we charged into a very hot summer. My “grass fed” cows needed supplemental hay and minerals and grain (nonGMO) in order to hold condition. I’ve learned a lot.
To me, the opportunity to grow food (vegetables, meats, dairy, eggs) is huge. Although, my gardening efforts were pretty awful and I must continue to improve methods. But, I know my neighbors are really good at growing vegetables, and are open to bartering. My goal is to grow or raise everything my family needs, but that is often not realistic. Accepting that you will eat what you can grow is an interesting adventure. It is a worthwhile goal, in my opinion, so I limit what I purchase from grocery stores. If I can’t grow it, raise it, or get it from a neighbor, I’m likely to go without. Going without increases one’s self-discipline.
The opportunity to have plenty when The Powers That Be (TPTB) want us to eat highly processed foods, bugs, and MRNA lettuce (and meats), is priceless. We haven’t gotten to the point here in America that the Dutch have – forcing farmers to sell out, and close down, in order to worship the climate change gods. But, if we ever get to that point in America, we aren’t going down without a violent fight that includes a call to arms, in my humble opinion. The “authorities” will not be shutting this farm down and I will die on that hill. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Small farms are the lifeblood of a community. Having the opportunity to be a producer rather than a consumer is a position of strength.
There are numerous threats in our country. The primary threats are political and spiritual, and wholly jeopardize our Constitution and Bible as written. There exists a very active battle against our Traditions, against the sanctity of marriage, pregnancy, children, and the family as God intended. It can only be described as demonic. Farming has been demonized, “cow farts” has become a meme, large factories have been erected to produce our new food sources (soylent green anyone?). TPTB are discussing “shielding the earth from the sun”. Can you imagine what havoc they can wreak? And they will.
In the face of these threats, we have the opportunity to Stand against it all, in prayer, and physically thanks to our right to bear arms. Let us never give that right up. TPTB wish to destroy our way of life and bring us to our knees in submission. May we never submit.
Living far away from big cities reduces the threats tremendously, but there are larger evil forces at work. My approach is to remain armed physically, mentally, and spiritually. As well as learning everything I can about my chosen lifestyle, always improving.
If I had to close the gates, could my family survive on what this farm produces? Yes. It may be akin to the carnivore diet which includes animal products (meat, dairy, eggs), but I’m hopeful that I will learn to be a better gardener. We can’t grow things like coffee here, but certainly many types of herbs and plants for teas. We can’t grow rice, but potatoes are a good substitute. And so on.
Regarding all those other things we take for granted: paper products, clothing, personal products, specialty foods, tools, etc…. As I go about my day, I ask myself simple questions: “What will you do if you can’t buy dog food?” (feed them off the farm!); “What are you going to do about toilet paper?” (cloth “wipies” have been a thing for millennia!); “Do you have all the quality tools that you need to keep the farm going?” (Almost); “What is the condition of clothing? Will that last for a decade or two?” (Yes); “Do you have a spare part or two for that?” (Not quite) And so on. Those are the things I put on a high priority list to stock up on or have a well learned alternative.
I actually think we could survive on this farm with some adjustments. I have no need to leave the farm, but about once a month for supplies. I don’t need to go grocery shopping on a regular basis. I can haul out trash or burn it. With the addition of a few more tools, and alternative power, we could close the gates, and that gives me some comfort.