I have been a long time reader of your blog (several years) but have never posted. It is my recent experience with Todd Savage of Survival Retreat Consulting that has prompted me to write.
My wife and I have been married almost 27 years and have one child who is married to a like-minded young man. My journey to prepping started as a boy when I watched my parents garden, can, sew quilts, raise ducks and chickens and many other endeavors that were not considered prepping as such but just normal activities in the 1960s. We had a one acre homestead in a small Midwestern suburb complete with a “fraidy hole” for the inevitable tornadoes. My dad was a mechanic and carpenter and could build or fix just about anything. He took me camping, taught me how to fish (I wish I would have paid more attention) and tie knots (again with the attention deficit disorder). He drove a big 4WD truck and always carried survival gear with him, although I just considered it to be stuff he needed for his job. I attended one Cub Scout meeting but it didn’t appeal to me.
As I grew up, friends and I went on numerous camping trips all across our state. I don’t remember ever having a tent, just an old sleeping bag and a Coleman lantern and stove. We always had a great time sleeping under the stars.
As I grew older my dad seemed more eccentric about the gear he always had and as a normal teenager, I had no desire to copy him as I graduated high school and moved away to college. After college I lived the typical urban yuppie lifestyle and my accounting degree proved to be a good choice to help me make a living.
Fast forward to the late 80s. After several years of hard living, God sent me my soul mate. We quickly married and resumed the yuppie lifestyle. We had so much in common politically, spiritually and emotionally there was no doubt that our relationship was predestined by God. We cleaned up our acts, joined a local evangelical church and decided to raise a family. I don’t recall a time when prepping was on our list of things to do.
When our daughter was almost four, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. Twenty years later I am still in remission and give God all the glory. It was one of the highlights of our spiritual lives.
Like a lot of your readers, we first starting getting serious about prepping before Y2K. I can’t remember what all we bought but I remember feeling that we were probably better prepared than a lot of folks. Y2K came and went and most of our preps sat undisturbed in the garage.
Also in the late 90s we made our first visit to the American Redoubt (back before it was called that). We immediately fell in love with the area and the people and made it our goal to live there someday.
Things really started coming into focus after 9/11. I remember us watching it unfold on television and my wife saying “We’ve waited too long!” It was then that we started considering a host of “what ifs?”. We were self-employed and working together so even though our time was somewhat flexible our resources were limited. Having our daughter in Christian schools and looking down the road to college kept us limited on extra expenses. We did buy a generator after a storm knocked out the power to our home office which rendered us unable to work. By this time I was a CPA and did a lot of tax work. No manually prepared returns for me!
We soon had a chance to visit the Redoubt on business. My family joined me on a weekend and we had the chance to meet [name deleted for OPSEC] at her home (which was for sale at the time) and had some of her delicious carrot cake cooked in her wood stove. Dreamy! The time wasn’t right for us to buy her house but at least we were doing something to fulfill our dream.
Fast forward again to 2011. Our daughter was out of the house and we were empty nesters. We decide to vacation in the Redoubt and (unbeknownst to my dear wife) I was ready to look for our retreat. We drove around 600 miles (even looked in Canada) and fell in love with the place all over again. We looked at everything from ”Unabomber Cabins” to two story homes with acreage. Nothing seemed quite right for us. On our last night in town as we were returning to the cabin in which we were staying we got to within about a quarter of a mile of the cabin and we saw a house we had passed several times. My wife looked and said: “There is a ‘For Sale’ sign on it.” (A God thing.) We whipped down the road, looked around the vacant house, peeked in the windows and decided to call the realtor. It was almost dark on a Sunday evening so we didn’t expect much. But as we later discovered, most small town people are very willing to help “flatlanders” like us. Twenty minutes later she was there and we conducted a thirty minute tour. We were hooked.
We returned home, called the realtor, started negotiating and closed on the property in 45 days. We remember thinking, “What have we done?”.
First, a little about the property. I consider myself to be a poster boy for SurvivalBlog. Based on your advice, we have both a precious metals IRA and a real estate IRA (which we used to buy part of the property). We have plenty a lot of beans, bullets and Band-Aids, lots of coins and bars. Most importantly we are on the same page about prepping and definitely have prepper mindsets. I recently have become Red Cross certified. The house is on 2-½ acres, has a well and septic tank, plenty of trees, good garden areas and a natural wetland bird and deer habitat. The neighbors are great and everyone kind of keeps to themselves. We are very close to a large fresh water lake. We quickly installed a wood-burning stove, a manual pump for our well and a gas range. The house has a good sized basement/bunker for food and supplies storage and maintains a constant 65 degree temperature year round. There is a root cellar that needs some work but will be great for food storage. The house had been completely remodeled so there was no work to do on the house itself. We feel truly blessed. Two major things convinced us to eventually move to the Redoubt. One was your giving it a name and encouraging folks to move there. The other was when Chuck Baldwin made the move and wrote about his reasons on his web site. We felt sure we were doing the right thing.
My job kept us from moving there permanently so we visited a lot. I installed a web-based camera security system and hired a good Christian man to be our caretaker when we were away. Earlier this year we sold our suburban house in our home state and decided one of us should move to the retreat. Still bound my job constraints, we decided my wife and dog would move to the retreat full time. Much like the protagonist in the novel Patriots, it looks like my boss is going to let me telecommute starting in January so I will be able to join my wife at the retreat soon.
So what’s the problem? Our perfect homestead/retreat sits very close to a major US highway. Even though there are advantages (access to town about 20 miles away, snow plowing, etc.) there are distinct drawbacks (the “Golden Horde”, potential for hazardous spills, limited defensibility, etc.). What to do?
Enter Todd Savage and his associate. Based on your recommendation, I talked to Todd by phone and explained our dilemma. From the outset I could tell he was the type of guy I like doing business with. We quickly arranged a time for him to come visit our retreat. He and his associate arrived promptly and hit the ground running. He took lots of pictures and measurements; we walked the entire property and toured inside from top to bottom. The entire time they were making observations and recommendations and also asking lots of questions. After a few hours I paid him (worth every penny),shook hands and he drove away leaving me with a lot of things to think about.
Approximately a week later I received a fifty-plus page defense analysis. He graded my property on various aspects of our retreat (food production, water availability and defense capabilities). It was extremely thorough and comprehensive and made me appreciate his abilities even more. It also caused me to ask him a very important question:
“So, all things considered, would you keep the property or look for another? It seems to be a perfect ‘homestead’ but less than ideal place for when the Schumer hits the fan.”
His answer: “If you like your place, stay, if not look to relocate. If you wake up every morning happy then so be it, be happy! Professionally speaking, yes, you should look for another place.”
What candor! He knew my dilemma and responded in a very practical manner that I very much appreciated.
Now as we enjoy our homestead/retreat and ponder our next move, we are most thankful to God for directing us here. We also appreciate your blog more than I can say. Finally, I would not hesitate to recommend Todd. He will be the first one I call if/when we decide to take the next step.
– Tom H.
Somewhere in the American Redoubt