“My grandpa taught me how to live off the land, and his taught him to be a businessman.” Remember those words from “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams, Jr.? Those lines are the story of my life. I was born just outside of San Francisco in 1963. I was raised overseas and lived in Singapore, a nation where possession of guns by citizens was (and is) illegal. The extent of my outdoor life was exploring what was left of the jungles around our home, and digging up WW2 relics (casings, helmets, hubcaps etc.) I returned to the US at 13, and lived in Miami during the cocaine wars of the 1980’s. My father was an executive for a multi-national corporation. We were pretty wealthy. Hunting and fishing were not a part of my father’s past, so he didn’t pass those along to me. Our idea of roughing it was going to the Marriott instead of the Hilton. My dad was not a “fix-it” kind of guy. When something broke, we called the repairman, or simply replaced it. I learned early the value of a good auto mechanic. I didn’t think I was totally incompetent. I could change batteries and a light bulb. I could mow the grass, and taught myself how to vacuum out the pool. I played sports in school, which consumed most of my time. I went to college and majored in political science. I didn’t take the time to look at the want ads and notice that there were not a lot of jobs for political scientists. After graduation, it took me a couple of years to figure out that my employment opportunities were limited. I finally realized that I hadn’t been trained to “do” anything. I had been trained to think deep thoughts. What was a 23 year old “deep thinking” guy to do? I looked around and asked, “Who is making money?” It became clear that the lawyers were the only ones I saw getting rich. So in 1987, I headed off to law school. I graduated three years later, $70,000 in debt and unemployed. I managed to find jobs to keep myself fed, until I began practicing law with a small property firm. Eventually, I got married and began a basic middle class life. By the time our first child was born, I was working full time as a Public Defender. We spent what we made, and saved very little. Over time, that changed, and I was able to invest in the market, and slowly began building up an IRA. Two more kids arrived, costs went up, but we have kept our heads above water. Like everyone, we got hit hard in 2002, but still managed to keep going. Over the last 10 years or so, we have been doing okay, watching our investments fluctuate and enjoying the “city life”.
Two recent situations have caused me to take a long hard look at my life, and realistically evaluate my situation. I had a total knee replacement. Everything seemed to be going well, until I developed an infection. My 30 days away from the office turned into 45. My short term disability did not cover as much as I hoped, and it was tough to make ends meet. As the infection refused to clear up, the Doctors started talking about 4 additional surgeries, and being out of the office for about a year. Despite having long term disability insurance, I knew that a prolonged absence from the office would be financially devastating. I began to seriously ponder how I would take care of my family. Thoughts of selling possessions, tightening budgets and possibly downsizing our home, all went through my head. It is important to know that I have no school loans, no car payments, and minimal credit card debt. I wasn’t worried about paying off debt. I was worried about depleting our savings, buying food, and keeping the house. While flat on my back with me knee in the air, I had to start planning for my son’s 15th birthday.
He is a World War 2 history buff, and all he wanted for his birthday was an M1 Garand. I have some limited experience with handguns and target shooting. Rifles were totally out of my realm of knowledge and experience. I got on the Internet and started to check out the availability and price of a M1 Garand. They were pretty tough to find, and I learned that they were cost prohibitive. He really wanted a piece of WW2 history, so we went with a Mosin Nagant. The whole family has enjoyed shooting it. A few weeks ago, my son noticed signs for an upcoming gun show. We decided to go in the hope that he would have a chance to see and touch some WW2 vintage rifles. We spent the day with M1s, Kar 98s, carbines of all types, and just about every type of rifle, shotgun and handgun imaginable. On a whim, I picked up a copy of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles. The premise seemed interesting, and I was in need of a new book. Reading the book has been one of the most beneficial and terrifying experiences of my life.
The latest government shutdown, raising of the debt ceiling, international financial news, international instability and terrorism, our over dependence on foreign made goods (my underwear is made in Viet Nam), the general interconnectedness of supply lines and the “global economy” have convinced me that a Crunch, as depicted in the novel, is not only a possibility, but an inevitability. When it happens, how then does a city boy survive? How do I care for family? How do I protect them? I’m not thinking about giving them the best life has to offer, I am worried about literally keeping us all alive. I realize that I cannot depend on the government or what passes for infrastructure. I can trust in God and in his people, but that also requires that I use the brains and abilities that He gave me to be as prepared and ready as possible. I had to admit that I had neither the supplies nor the skills necessary to keep my family alive and safe. That is a horrible and terrifying thought for a 50 year old, married, father of three. I knew that I had no other choice, but to make some changes and prepare myself to be the husband and father that I needed (and wanted) to be.
My first step has been to get my wife on board. I have shared with her what I have learned, and why I feel a “crunch” is inevitable. God has blessed me with a wife who is more “handy” than I am, and she danced a jig of joy when I told her that I was going to learn to do more of the “fix it” stuff around the house. My best friend has agreed to teach me the things I need to know, to do basic home and auto repair.
My next step was to prepare to “bug in”. In the event of a bad storm, being snowed in for a few days or a prolonged (but temporary) power outage, we would have been in a world of hurt. I realized that we had one flashlight in the house. We had no battery powered radios. Come to think about it, we had no extra batteries. We had little canned food stockpiled. We had few matches and no wood. We had no extra propane. We had no stored water. We had few hygiene items on hand (and three women). We had one fire extinguisher, which is 19 years old. I have taken steps to remedy this by clearing a section of the basement, and creating a storage area of food, water and supplies. The things we need are in one place. If a disaster hits, we won’t be scrambling all over the house looking for stuff. Our next step will be creating “bug out” packs that are ready to go.
I have also expanded my collection of firearms. I now have a Taurus .45, Taurus .357 revolver, Glock 17, Mosin Nagant and my newest acquisition, a Mossberg 100 ATR, chambered in .270. I have just over 1,700 rounds of ammo on hand. My next purchase will be a self defense shotgun. I am acquiring supplies and firearms as inexpensively as possible, while not sacrificing quality. I have made a deal with two friends to have them teach me and my son to hunt and fish. When the crunch happens, we will be able to make sure that we have protein/meat to eat. We will pass those skills on to the rest of our family as we become more capable. I am slowly reallocating my investments, and creating a more liquid financial situation. I am trying to figure out how to survive in a future with little or no cash. I understand that I cannot rely on or expect to receive Social Security or my pension. I am blessed that my wife is a natural born trader/barterer. I am learning how to make homemade soap. My wife is a seamstress. As long as she can fine material, a needle and thread, we will have clothes and something to sell, trade or barter.
I realize that all this is “old hat” to many of your readers. I’m sure some of you want to shake me by the shoulders and ask, “What took you so long”. Rest assured, I know how much I still have to do to truly be as prepared as possible. That is where you come in. Please keep posting your information on the blogs. Let me learn what you have learned. Allow me to grow into the type of compatriot that you would want by your side. In the end, we will all be in this together, and we will need to be able to rely on the person next to us. I am sure you will notice me or others like me, as you do your own preparations. Don’t be afraid to say something. If you see that I am about to buy a lousy piece of equipment, let me know. If you see me at the range and I’m making mistakes, help me out. I know we don’t have uniforms, or pins, or secret handshakes by which we can identify ourselves to others. But we can recognize each other. We can see that innate part of each other that is prepared and reliable. We can, hopefully, see that growing in others. Maybe it is like my Dad said, “You know more about a man’s character by his actions than by his words”. I know I have a long way to go before I will feel ready or truly prepared. I need your help, your wisdom and your advice. Please come along side me, and be the men and women of action, that I know you are.