Letter Re: I Thought That I Had a Clue

The recent submission by K. in Florida left me scratching my head in disbelief. I don’t know if his wife thinks shaving her legs after TEOTWAWKI will be important, but I absolutely don’t intend to shave mine. Nor do I think spare car parts will be important. Folks are thinking in terms of Pre-TEOTWAWKI rather than Post-TEOTWAWKI. This way of thinking is just plain wrong, IMHO. Let’s face it, we can only imagine how things will be. We don’t know how things will be. But I seriously doubt that anybody will be needing replacement parts for his car — because there won’t be any place worth going. And if there was a place worth going, it might not be smart to drive there. Odds are that stores will be looted and trashed almost immediately, so a trip to town for supplies could become a ride into barbarism on a grand scale. Better to stay away. Besides, there will be plenty of abandoned cars for the taking, no replacement parts needed and nobody to respond to the car alarm..

Anybody trying to maintain cattle after the fall of Western Civilization will be greatly disappointed, I suspect. Cattle are a lot of work under the best of conditions. They don’t do well if left to their own devices, and they need supplements to maintain their health. Who will have adequate time and materials to maintain a healthy herd after all hell breaks loose? Perhaps goats would be more practical. They’ll eat almost anything and they don’t need a lot of care. Goats can be milked, hitched to carts for transporting small loads, and they make lots of noise when danger comes around. Plus, they can be stewed, fried, baked, and barbequed. Their hides can be made into gloves, moccasins, and knapsacks. In the US, rather than raising cows (or sheep), raising native animals seems like a no-brainer. The American bison or the Rocky Mountain Elk have a better chance of living off the land, and they are far less subject to predation when fully grown. Many elk herds are already raised on mini-ranches in Idaho. Even California has a few privately owned bison ranches. These animals are being raising domestically today, so it isn’t a stretch to think they can be raised by survivalists tomorrow. [JWR Adds: The fencing requirements for elk and bison are tremendous, compared to cattle, sheep, or goats. Therefore, it is not realistic for most of us to be able to afford to fence a true pasture area for these critters. And supplemental feeding with hay brings with its own large set of requirements–a hay mower, hay wagon, hay storage, tack ,harness, and trained draft animals, (or fuel)!] Think about the native fauna that inhabits your area and study their needs. Then develop a plan for raising them if commercially available today. Bobwhite quail, grouse, and turkeys can be penned and raised for food. Since they’re indigenous species, they’ll thrive in their own environments. They are available from breeders who will ship them anywhere it’s legal to do so. Even some non-native fowl do well in the US and they make good eats — chukar, pheasant, Guinea fowl, and pea fowl. Pea fowl are terrific as alarm animals and as Sunday supper. Guinea fowl had been a staple farmyard species as recently as the 1950s. They have regained some popularity in the past 10 years where Lyme Disease is prevalent because they eat adult ticks, among other pests. I’d think of these bird species before I’d think of chickens because they have better survival instincts.

Successful hunting and fishing forays are not sure things today. Expecting to have success at hunting and fishing when everybody else has the same idea will be even less productive tomorrow. The most numerous animals in the USA today are domestic dogs and cats. Their populations far exceed whitetail deer, black bears, and feral pigs combined. And they breed more often and more successfully than the aforementioned species. So, doesn’t it seem far more logical to plan on trapping, snaring, and/or shooting feral dogs and cats for fresh meat rather than on taking wild game? As long as they weren’t your family pets, it shouldn’t bother you to snuff ’em and stuff ’em. A dog gone feral can be a dangerous animal. Better to eat it before it eats your child. Feral cats will decimate many native species of small game and birds if humans don’t decimate them first. Keep your pet cat as a mouser for the barn, but don’t hesitate to view the neighbors’ cats-gone-wild as lunch.

We have been taught through PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, and other groups that eating horse meat is akin to eating something sacred or even a part of the family. Balderdash! Horse meat kept many a Native American, trailblazer, and westward pioneer alive and strong 150 years ago. A person can ride a horse, eat a horse, and use a horse for burden work. Horses need attention, but they are more versatile than cattle. Think outside the box, there is more to flesh than cows and sheep. There are goats, horses, dogs, cats, rats, snakehead fish, and even exotic animals that morons have released into the environment when they grew tired of them. Throw a reticulated python or boa constrictor on the grill and chow down.

The most difficult thing to wrap our minds around is that The End of the World As We Know It is just that – the end of the old and the beginning of the next. We must stop thinking in ways that mimic today and we must start thinking in ways that anticipate the new reality. We have to think about getting back to basics, about dropping the emotional attachments we have to things and animals, and about making do with less. We can’t take it with us if it means slowing us down, jeopardizing our safety, or wearing us out trying to defend it.

In TEOTWAWKI, less may actually be more. After all, civilization began with a dull rock and a sharp rock – one for smashing and one for cutting. That’s all we really need to start again, and that may be all we can salvage. Don’t let our relatively comfortable lives of today control our thinking about tomorrow. We must think more like the Indians, the pioneers, and the mountain men did. In other words, Keep It Simple Survivalist (KISS). To think otherwise may be our undoing. – Wry Catcher in Northern California