My Longer Lesson, by D.D.

This is the sequel to my submission published 9/11/15. I am temped to follow in the steps of Larry Niven’s unfinished short story in which he said, “There are some things man was not meant to know.”, and simply write “I should’ve learned.” However, that won’t help you. So, let me expound.

Those You Think Most Likely To Become Prep Allies Probably Won’t

My piece of three years ago basically concluded, with some level of frustration, that the people you think are most likely to become your prep allies probably won’t. So save yourself the disappointment and stop trying to farm your way to a resilient team. (Kit Perez explains this with greater eloquence in her piece over at American Partisan1.) Here is my sad, unlearned version.

New Neighbors Met in New Town

About 18 months ago my wife and I moved to a new town and began to meet new neighbors. Some were met through the local Oath Keepers chapter, some at church, and some while walking our dog. Our neighborhood is fairly remote, somewhat off-grid and adjacent to a national forest. As chit-chat usually goes, the “Where did you come from?” and “What are your politics?” questions quickly down-selected those we were willing to have over for dinner.

We’re not ones to talk about the Kardashians over a meal (or over anything else), so the topics hovered around politics, economics, and eventually settled on the lack of resiliency in our current way of life. I brought up books like One Second After and A Failure of Civility to illustrate both our dependence on electricity and the thin veneer of politeness in society. Here’s where the story goes bad.

The 90% Likely Reply

As I then usually suggest when given the opportunity, “You should really put up some water and food to ride through a disruption. It will give you peace of mind.” Within one or two sigmas, the reply is 90% likely to be “Oh, we don’t know what to do.”

Right here is where I always make the mistake of offering to help with suggestions. If I were working off a telemarketing flowchart at a desk in Mumbai, there would be a fat arrow at this point to a box containing the words “Hang up now!” But, like I said before, I never seem to learn my lesson.

The following back and forth then consists of me offering practical suggestions with their replies best categorized as inane things like “I need to clean the garage first”, ”Company is coming”, ”The dogs need a bath”, et cetera. Now, that’s fine. When faced with this, I have learned to shake the dust off my boots and move on down the road.

In This One Case, My Blood Went Cold

However, in this one case, my non-believing neighbors started pretending as though they were somehow prepared and chose to blab to other neighbors about their non-existent supplies. Furthermore, they did all of this while implicating me as the Architect of Neighborhood Preparedness. They supposedly made me out like Joseph, being willing to open Pharaoh’s warehouses of grain should things go pear shaped. I discovered this one evening while chatting with a new neighbor who had just moved in and told me, “So I hear you have a lot of water and food put up. That’s interesting.” Yes, at that moment, my blood went cold.

Complete Destruction of Our OPSEC

My wife and I are now faced with a complete destruction of our OPSEC and the inevitable choices on the horizon, some of which involve pointing the business end of a firearm at people to protect our own provisions when they come around. Our current thinking is that we will just move to a new, undisclosed location to escape our own well intended but foolish failure of keeping our lips zipped.

What Should You Learn?

What should you learn from our mistake? First, be obtuse when discussing your own preparedness position. You may even want to toss out a straw man like “Have you heard of those people who store up water and food? What a bunch of maroons!”, just to see what the response is. Second, let friendships slowly develop before you reveal your secrets. Measure that time in jars of mustard not sticks of butter. Third, and most important, keep reminding yourself that you cannot help anyone that doesn’t outright ask you for advice.

Skin In the Game

The people around you have to realize they have skin in the game or they will be lining up to take some of your skin. Don’t screw up like we did. It is better to not even be openly part of the game.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 79 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  5. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.

Round 79 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.




62 Comments

  1. You broke the number one rule of opsec,
    “Loose lips sink ships” you have to feel people out, go slow, that’s what today is unheard of.
    I’m 54 and it’s taken me 40 years to learn my lesson. My dad told me at age 18 and 25 also that my mouth was my biggest enemy. At age 40 ish , I woke up to that fact. Remember if they don’t see it our way, just don’t waist your time, you know they never will. Move on.

  2. Humans are creatures of habit and most of those habits evolve around comfort. If they are 30 years or older they are set in their ways. Get to know you neighbor’s but don’t show your cards.

  3. “As chit-chat usually goes, the “Where did you come from?” and “What are your politics?” questions quickly down-selected those we were willing to have over for dinner.”

    “Chit chat” while walking dogs to come over for dinner and discuss preparedness….
    Yes that other couple had something to do with this, but the OPSEC failure is on your shoulders here.

    I’ve said this a thousand times in the last 32 years but too often like minded folks get totally amped to meet ANYONE who will remotely listen to their ramblings about being prepared. It’s kind of like that BS “hero” complex that is often portrayed in survival fiction- the one loner with no social skills that suddenly rises to the occasion and “saves” everyone. That’s total BS folks and the non prepared types will not look at you as some BS “hero” but as a RESOURCE they will use and pick clean. Going to be a lot of “well meaning” people (read: hero complex types) that are killed and picked clean because of this non sense.

    The game is real and you had better embrace that everyone else will be playing for keeps and either get serious or burn your “lists” of crap your never going to do/never going to buy and find another hobby. Your article should be wake up time for a lot of folks.

  4. I am finding out that Time can either be a blessing or a curse, Prepping is about community and tribe, and you can’t control the behavior and actions of others. Its always a risk to share your plans, but what is the alternative? My tribe is as far as my OPSEC is spread, but even that is at risk when family members marry have kids or divorce, or pass away or remarry. It’s the risk we take when we share.
    I hope the Author isn’t beating themselves up too much over this. Whats that saying? ‘ Experience is something you get when you don’t need it anymore”

    1. First, we NEVER talk about our preps with anyone, including our family. I always laugh at the thought process that someone thinks they’ll just go to a prepper’s house. Seriously, do you really think that those of us who are serious preppers have not considered this possibility/probability? And do you really think we are unprepared for those who don’t prep coming to take what we have prepped?

      First: two assumptions; the Schumer has really hit the fan, and there’s a complete breakdown in civil order.

      Those of you ‘takers’ who think we preppers will just provide for you, typically fall into two camps: 1) Clueless bums, and 2) Bad intentioned bums. The former are going to be sorely disappointed. They’ll be sent on their way with a smile and if they’re nice a water bottle. The latter ‘Bad intentioned bums’ – those who intend to take what we’ve worked to build, by violence, will receive the following as far as I’m concerned; I’ll shoot the father or dominant adults and hang him/them from a pole at the end of my driveway as a warning to others and then what will become of your pets, wife and children…? Those of us who are real preppers have considered these eventualities. If you failed to prepare, just keep walking. I hear FEMA, Red Cross, & U.N. camps are loads of fun! Just sayin’!

      1. “I’ll shoot the father or dominant adults and hang him/them from a pole at the end of my driveway as a warning to others”

        more like a flag to others. “hey crying kid, why was your dad shot?”

  5. In this day and age, OPSEC for the vast majority is virtually impossible. People around you are going to find out that you have things they don’t. When SHTF, you have to expect that someone will look to take what you have. Therefore you must plan for it as an eventuality.

    If you base your current plan on other people’s ignorance of your situation, you will be disappointed, and at the wrong time. You had best plan now to make it extremely difficult for anyone to take what you have. If you don’t put in place now a means of defending your stash, you will not have it when the time comes, regardless of how well you think you may have kept “the secret”. If they aren’t family, and sometimes even if they are, they still cannot be trusted.

    Relocating is not the answer. You better learn quick how to deal with the fact that no matter where you are, someone will be coming for your stuff sooner or later. Poor OPSEC will only hasten that effort, but it will come regardless. Just assume people will know you are supplied, and deal with that fact accordingly.

  6. When we moved to the “farm” we removed all stickers, gadsen flags, T-shirts etc. from our vehicles,person, and yard. We went totally grey from our previous lives.
    We know the neighbors, the skills they have to barter for if needed, and who we would barter with.
    They know us as the quiet couple returning to the family farm in early retirement. They have no need to know I was a high profile firearms instructor and politically outspoken.. Or what is in the “bunker”.

    1. Precisely. We’re the quiet retired couple who bought that old strawberry farm up the road; just folks improving the place a bit at time and learning how to keep chickens. No bumper stickers, no Trump hats, no stated social or political leanings.

      And NO OPINIONS. No passion, no emotional investment, no overwhelming need to expatiate our point of view, bring others into the fold or “save” anyone from the coming times. Why would we “give away our position” by shouting from the rooftops, except to succumb to the all too human need to say “Look at me!”

      There’s more than enough information out there for anyone to have “heard the call” and acted or ignored it, reaping their own outcomes.
      They’re not our problem. People have formed their behaviors, habits, prejudices and intentions and nothing is going to change their minds.

      We’ve tested the area, beginning with immediate neighbors, then the “local group,” town and nearest large city. We test by deeds, not words, observing what others value, watching how others react (talk is cheap, but who you are under stress, or when nobody is looking, is who you really are).

      We feel confident about our conclusions, happy with our decisions, and understand that everything will change in a heartbeat anyway. We make our preps, watch the skies and keep our mouths shut.

      I do find it interesting how many of us just had to say something on this subject, however. Human nature. Jeez, what are you gonna do….

      1. “learning how to keep chickens. No bumper stickers, no Trump hats, no stated social or political leanings.”

        (laugh) won’t matter. when the time comes, they’ll all realize you have chickens ….

  7. Short story. We had friends that we knew for a few years but never shared my passion for preparedness. One night we had them over and we where talking (Location – Bay Area of CA, full of libs) and my wife mentioned my preparedness mentality. The comment came back “Well if anything ever happens we will come over to your house.” My immediate response was, you are not invited. They where shocked at my response. I stated, what do you have to offer? what skills can you provide? They had no response other than, “You would honestly not help us?” My response was you are correct. While you two are going on lavish vacations, and buying new cars, I am putting up food stuffs in case of SHTF. Why should I share? 2 months later they asked me for advice as to how they could start prepping.

    1. It’s still amazing how willing people are to enslave themselves to others out of sheer apathy.

      Sure, it’s not the “bill of sale right here” antebellum South kind of slavery, but if you are totally dependent on someone — even a good friend — to house, feed, and protect you, you are a slave to that person.

  8. Very few can be trusted, even those you think as friends. Not bad people, but naturally just being social characters who enjoy meeting and talking with others. A subject of conversation of something in common: “you”! Just enjoy them on a purely social and casual level and keep your business to yourself.

  9. Excellent article. I can surely relate to the author’s experiences. This old coot has been down that road. Hopefully D.D.’s advice will help others avoid some problems. OPSEC can be a double edge sword. Who shows their hands first?

  10. I think this article is useful. Most of us are clearly passionate about our preps and its only normal to want to share that passion with others. As DD points out, sometimes that passion can come back to create issues later. Thanks for sharing your insight!

  11. As so many experienced SHTF experts who have actually lived through it say . . . never, never underestimate the depravity of humankind, especially when things get seriously bad. Neighbors can and will go crazy given desperate circumstances. Being entitlement minded, they will see no problem with “sharing” what you have with themselves . . . no matter what it takes.

  12. I have read of preppers moving after their opsec was blown, & in at least once case, he found a job in a different area. Of course, one has to move far enough away, that no one knows your preps.

  13. When I retired and moved to the country, I personally packed all my preps in a POD container, locked it up and had it moved to my new location. I got my son to come and unload the POD for me. After all was put away, I had the furniture moved and no one was aware of the hidden items.

    The only discussions around here are gardening and canning which most everyone in the country does anyway. Everyone has water well and backups in case the pump fails. There’s a shooting range a couple of miles down the road and everyone hears gun fire almost every day. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

  14. It’s human nature to want to share your passions with others, especially when you sincerely believe you’re being helpful, but your approach to it gave you a lesson in being more discerning and circumspect that will serve you well for the future.

    While there are several ways to gradually learn which acquaintances might share your interest in gardening, food preservation, sustainability, or let’s say, emergency preparedness, one method I find useful is to casually mention a fascinating book I “just finished reading” and lightly summarize what it was about and how much it gave me pause for some deep thinking. (Such as “Lights Out” by Koppel or “One Minute After” etc…)

    IF the folks I’m conversing with express any interest I would offer to lend them the book to read too —- and if they do, wait for them to bring the subject up again with you next. If anyone was interested enough to read the book and then want to talk about it afterwards then you can both begin cautiously exploring “ideas” about things you could do to improve your sustainability etc… and go from there. Never reveal what you already know (or have) though.

    If, on the other hand, no one seems interested in reading the book you mention or reads it but doesn’t seem interested afterwards, just drop the subject around those folks.

  15. How many times have you read articles on survival sites that urge you to develop Mutual Assistance Groups in advance of a disaster? My experience tells me that this advice is nonsense. Just as the author describes here, the overwhelming majority of people you approach about prepping or about preparing for a common defense will develop a “thousand yard stare” and their eyes will glaze over. If not, they will simply offer a string of lame excuses for doing nothing. The phrase “Normalcy Bias” describes their orientation.

    Those who espouse the development of MAGs before a crisis occurs advise you to approach people you know and who you believe you can count on to have your back. That is an excellent idea if you actually succeed in recruiting them. Yet, just because you can have them over for a barbecue on Sunday afternoon or call them when you need help moving a sofa doesn’t mean that they will be willing to store one extra bag of rice or beans for use in hard times.

    Once you fail to recruit them, these same people will know exactly where to go in a crisis. The problem is that all they will be bringing to what they consider to be the
    “neighborhood supply depot” is a knife, fork, and empty stomach.

    That is when you will have a choice. Every day’s food ration for them is one less for one of your children, your spouse, or you.

    I have a copy of “A Failure of Civility” to which the author refers. (It cost around $30.00 a few years ago. It is now out of print and the cost of a copy on Amazon is somewhere in the ionosphere, a ridiculous situation.) What I recall when the issue of developing groups was discussed was that the authors suggested that you simply buy extra food for those individuals who would have your back in a crisis, but who might ignore you about prepping now, because finding people who you can depend on is difficult.

    The problem with that advice is that, given the size of the group you might need, an enormous amount of food would be required in the long haul. There is no easy solution here.

  16. Being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I have found through 17 years of pastoral experience that I can count on one hand the number of men I can trust with my life, and that depends upon them be faithful to the Lord, as all of us must. It is imperative that we build such friendships, especially should the yogurt hit the fan, and they take lots of time and trials to develop. I can’t count the number of times I or my family has been betrayed by believers that I got close too, in either helping or advising. We live in perilous times, but so often we are not aware of the peril that can easily bite you because we don’t expect it from within our own ranks. Community is vital, but a community not built on solid relationships in the Lord that are already proven will bring great sorrows and trials . . . I speak from painful, though very valuable experience.

  17. This is precisely why, when I moved from a medium sized mid-western city to a rural section in the Midsouth, I said nothing, to anyone, beyond how’s it going. OPSEC had been smashed in mid-west trying to form a group. We all know how the story ends on that one. Sorry, but I am of the opinion that groups are useless (inevitably one or more “members” is uncommitted and takes no real preparation beyond shooting a few magazines and running their mouth). They all fall apart eventually. And when they do, everyone knows all about you. Keep it in immediate family (and I mean immediate, as in, “If purchasing/recreational/training activity does not directly and immediately affect their lives or bank accounts, it’s none of their business) and no comments to ANYONE about politics or economics. When asked, I say politics bores me. This answer is accepted by practically everyone, and the conversation moves elsewhere. Running your mouth, at best, gets you labeled “the local nut” that no one wants anything to do with, and at worst, makes you the first target when the balloon goes up. Trying to be “Captain Save-A-Sheep” will get you smoked and burnt.

  18. Start a new rumor running around your neighborhood, perhaps through the same channels that outted you before. The rumor would be how well armed and trained you are to blow away anyone even looking like they’ll come to you for anything in the event of an emergency. At least they’ll think twice.

  19. When I made my move “up here” last year, I met my rural mail carrier one day, a very nice lady. It was amazing, all the things she told me about my neighbors, including what she delivers to their houses! Needless to say, I tell her nothing about myself! When it came time for me to answer her interest about me moving here, I said I had just retired and needed to be in a more affordable area due to my smaller income, and that I had always wanted to live in a log cabin in the woods. Also, I just LOVE having a four season climate!

    I have had people come right out and ask me, “Are you one of those preppers?” My answer is, “I’m just here for the peace and quiet, and to finally have some time for gardening.” It’s hard, keeping my mouth shut; I like to give advice and be helpful.

  20. These are such great comments, thank you everyone for weighing in to help make sense of what we should do. There maybe no single answer but discussing it helps the thinking.

    And Jason I am stealing your “Captain Save-A-Sheep” for my next piece. Might even get a morale patch made with it (and will send you one)!

  21. It is a dilemma.
    Keep mouth shut vs find like-minded possible group members.

    Also there is the concept in the bible about warning those who are headed to destruction. If you don’t warn it’s on you, if you do warn and they go down the wrong path anyway it’s on them. Ezek 3:18-19 and Ezek 33:8-9.

  22. A great many years ago I adopted the philosophy of “benign ignorance” – I don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin – backing that up with an air of slight befuddlement at nearly everything, and steer conversations toward mindless crap. Politics, geopolitical events, economics, they’re all great mysteries to me, but I’ll be glad to listen to your explanations, at least until I begin exhibiting boredom with the discussion and “need to go walk the dog,” “help my wife with (insert meaningless task here),” “watch (name of brainless TV program,” or something else just as inane.

    I’m the older, kindly gent down the street who retired from a government job in another state, always clerical in nature (truthful, actually, because there is a lot of paperwork in police work), the guy who seems fine but just a little bit behind the curve on almost everything and has reasonable, but not excessive, interest in the local sports teams. Always has the paper’s sports section in his jacket pocket (folded so you can’t see it’s 3 weeks old). Carries a pocket notebook all the time to write stuff in so he doesn’t forget it.

    If you need or want tribe members, stay alert and you’ll detect them in due time. If they self-identify, especially if done quickly, they’re not anyone you want to associate with, nor share anything but the baseball scores with. Evangelical prepping advocacy is met with non-committal statements (“gee, that’s pretty interesting”), and the underlying but unspoken theme of substantial financial restrictions due to living on a small government pension (“with prescription / utility / grocery / insurance prices going up we’re concerned about having enough savings to make ends meet”), etc. makes you pretty boring.

    Almost no one will notice either the breed of your dog or that he is extremely well trained, heels automatically without spoken command and sits patiently while you’re talking. Or that he never takes his eyes off whomever you’re speaking with. They’ll never see the .45 in the shoulder holster you always wear, and visiting repairmen never see the loaded AR behind the closet door, the cases of freeze dried food, gun safe or stack of ammo cans in the slightly disguised basement closet, placed behind the “boxes of winter clothes.”

    “Myrtle has always been afraid of driving in the snow” wxplains the 4-wheel drive vehicle. Creative landscaping, done with “complete ignorance” about plants hides the added security of thorny bushes, the pea gravel walkways and flower bed coverings look attractive and no one thinks about how they can’t be walked on without making tell-tale noise or leaving shoe impressions to be noticed later. The 5ft 4in high fence, made with 1X6 boards spaced 3/4 inch apart, looks a little low in comparison to all the neighbors’ 6-foot solid privacy fencing, but not overly so, and no one stops to consider a 6 ft tall person can easily see over it, and the gap between boards is explained with “spacing them like that made it cheaper because it still keeps the dog in and saved me the cost of 30 fence boards.” Your pension limitations will shoulder the blame, that the gaps allow you to see anyone trying to hide or move behind it will not be considered.

    The list goes on but you get the idea. Dull, plain and quiet works and creates options and opportunities.

    1. No one may notice the breed of dog, yet earlier this year an acquaintance mentioned to another, “Hey nice dog, I have a big dog, too – a Rhodesian Ridgeback” it didn’t take long to reveal he is aspiring to be a prepared individual.

  23. I have had a few people walk up to me to say, “I understand you have guns.”

    I look straight back at them with a serious look and say, “Government says guns are evil. That’s why I don’t own one.” Then if they don’t change the subject I do.

  24. Dull, plain, and quite works for me, also thanks Jason, I too would like to borrow “ Save-a sheep” is the quote of the day. This was a very good article that has prompted many good thoughts and comments. I too have found that trying to inform people to consider planning for emergencies never works well. Almost as good as the article by “Gray Lady”.

  25. Walked into a local gun shop a while back.

    Me – Hey you’ve got canned good ?

    Owner- yeah it’s for the Preppers.

    Me – you’re a prepper ?

    Owner – nah , I have a gun I’ll take what I want.

    Wasn’t sure if he was joking . Didn’t sound like it. Told him peppers have guns too. He just srrugged his shoulders. Nice guy, have done lots of business with him, but that mentality is out there.

    Be safe.

    1. “Wasn’t sure if he was joking . Didn’t sound like it.”

      he wasn’t. and there’s more of them than there is of you.

      I’ve pointed out this dynamic before, but everyone responded, “oh we can handle YOU, you looter you”. sure.

    2. The “I have a gun, I’ll take what I want” is like “if I’m hungry I’ll go hunt”. Going to the store to get food to eat is 100% effective 99% of the time. No so with hunting or the “taking of what I want”. Why would you “plan” to have to fight for each meal after SHTF?

      1. “Why would you ‘plan’ to have to fight for each meal after SHTF?”

        it’s not a plan but rather a sensible allocation of resources. they just live their lives the way things work right now, and if the unlikely disaster happens then they have a back-up plan that you and I pay for instead of them. very efficient.

  26. “Community is vital, but a community not built on solid relationships in the Lord that are already proven will bring great sorrows and trials . . . I speak from painful, though very valuable experience.”

    “you that judge others, do you not judge yourselves?”

    seems to me you’re all being just like the non-preppers – looking for a community to uphold YOU. perhaps instead you should just decide to be the leaders of whatever community is left when the time comes, whatever that entails and whatever it takes.

  27. Im lucky in that I work with a lot of guys that have built their own AR’s… occasionally the topic of preparedness comes up… I will usually acknowledge in sort of a soft ball way, that I have put away some supplies, but never go into details… I don’t say how many guns I have, or how much food, etc.
    But we occasionally have interesting discussions about various scenarios…
    “What if the highway were blocked with dead cars and your car would not start… what would you do?”
    Just keep the discussions theoretical…

  28. When talking politics: “I’m a Libertarian”, usually blank stares no matter who I talk to. Who you going to vote for? “Libertarians can’t get elected dog catcher, so what’s the point?” (Actually I usually vote Republican, no one needs to know that.)

    Preps: Never ever talk about what you actually have. The most my neighbors ever see is the bottled water and the bags of groceries. Then maybe the boxes from Sams’ Club. Nothing to see here, move along, move along. (Unfortunately I still live in the city, haven’t found a “farm” yet.)

    Future plans: When I was getting ready to retire I kept getting asked what my plans were. The answer was always and without fail “We’re looking for a small old farm to fix up.” Where are you looking? “Up North”, (Michigan) actual plans call for somewhere in western NC or east Tennessee. I can actually get more for my money in northern Michigan than almost any place else I’ve looked, and I’ve looked almost everywhere. It’s just too darned cold for these old bones. Reality had to set in sometime.

    Family: The only family I care about is my nephews, their wives and kids. I don’t talk too much to them about my preps or my weapons. I love them all, but my nephews have big mouths. Good news is they are learning that talking too much could be harmful to their well being, finally. They had to learn that one on their own.

    Firearms: Handy, but mostly not at home, they’re safe.

    Cars: Nothing you wouldn’t see in any suburban neighborhood. Yet the truck is a 4X4, the car, actually a large modern station wagon, is AWD. Both are quite capable, both have been off road, and both will take a large payload.

    Looks like being the gray man would be my philosophy.

  29. I suggested this before, and will here again, network with people who clearly show they are doing “stuff”, especially working with crop and animal production. They may not become a battle buddy but they are definitely a good resource. I met a farm family locally through a Facebook page, and eventually volunteered myself over to help butcher 9 hogs with them.

    As far as trying to recover a little OPSEC, I suggest where possible you develop a reputation for being a responsible, always-armed citizen who has LEO connections. Since you lost your grayman status, being thought of as slightly dangerous to those with evil intent is the next best option.

  30. Who to trust. At 81 not sure even about the Wife. Ha Ha
    The out come of the Election in NOV could Instill in Me strong desire to GOOD.
    North Idaho looks good but what Can we afford? Youngest Son wants go to go there,
    but he just 51. We all stand on Our Own but not much in the way Surplus Coin.

  31. I have a brother-in-law who is a retired police officer in the Los Angeles area. His attitude towards all of this is “I have guns and I’ll just go take what I want. ” The difference between quality materials and poor materials is how they perform under stress. Same with people. Don’t expect much and plan accordingly.

  32. When people tell me they are coming to my house I tell them ‘go ahead, I won’t be there’. That always deflates them. I don’t talk to my neighbors at all.

    I am fortunate to have found a great group of campers/bushcrafters that have a survival mindset. We share skills and sit around the campfire singing ‘Bad Moon Rising’. Most of them have more skills than I do, so I am not in danger of having an unprepared mob descend on my place. We’ve become a family of sorts, and it is relief to share our preps.

  33. Several years ago, in an attempt to stir my sister toward more preparedness, I shared some info with her. Most of it was about security, but I mentioned food storage, though I understated what I had. Next thing I knew, I walked into the local wine bar and the bartender says “So, I hear from your sister that you’re a survivalist.” I now have a new backup plan that she knows nothing about. I gave her a case of FD food. That’s it. She’s on her own. Learned a big OPSEC lesson. Family can be a bunch of blabbers, too.

  34. Good article DD.

    Recruiting blows opsec to be sure. So does “practicing your preps” by wearing your chicken plates with a pack and hiking through your town for exercise. Of course all in camo.

    My first long term food storage purchase was a couple of buckets with something called “textured vegetable protein” as a main ingredient. That will be my first charitable gift. To be a little less harsh I made up some do it yourself 2 gallon buckets with an assortment of wheat, oats, sugar and spice to hand out. Mylar bagged with O2 absorbers.

    I fear the UPS guy most. Amazon second. It knows all.

    Only had one friend tell me his prep was to keep track of my whereabouts. I did however hear him talk about installing a wood stove that had a heat exchanger that would supply his furnace system.

    You have to remember that among men a true friend’s first response is going to be to give you a rash of crap by pushing your biggest button first and hardest.

  35. At this point, it is probably not necessary to pull up and leave simply because your neighbors think you’re a prepper. But, in the future, keep your mouth shut and go about your business quietly.
    Focus on developing springs or rain gutters and cisterns instead of bottled water. Focus on gardening and wild edible foraging. Focus on health and fitness. Make sure you have sustainable means of laundry/bathing/human waste disposal as your primary lifestyle. Learn to make shoes and soap. Sew, knit, spin, weave, felt, tan. Learn to build. Learn to fix and fabricate.
    If you are busy doing all this stuff, there will be less temptation to blabber to the neighbors about how big a stash you’re sitting on, and if they do take your stash, you’ll be ready to start over. With the confidence that your blossoming skill set brings, you’ll be better able to help the neighbors when they actually need help.

  36. I know this won’t work for everyone, but as far as I’m concerned, the best way to find people you’d trust with your life, involves activities where they prove themselves. As a Catholic member of a well-known fraternal service organization, I have two overlapping circles, men who prove their failfulness to God, and men who demonstrate fraternity and charity. That means they volunteer when someone is needed and no-one else is available. They will get on their knees and pray with you. If you start with these kind of circles, you know who will work their ass off for free because it’s needed, won’t complain, will work to build something important, and who live their faith, and keep to their own business. Highly recommend it to others.

  37. “Experience is a good teacher. A cruel teacher, but a good one nonetheless.” Let me say a quick thank you to the author for your frankness to bare your “mistake”. I think all of us have made one or more of those “Doh!” moments, and that’s ok. Live, learn, and move on.

    I have a primary residence and a “secondary” one that is well out of the way, and have equally prepared both, in all aspects. I recently discovered that my secondary residence has a secret room in the floor of the basement! easily a 8’x10’x8′ room. Water tight, concrete encased, and it took me 5 years before I discovered it. (No buried treasure though…) I realized that I can use this room to store a bunch of stuff that others may want to come looking for.

    The takeaway? Look for areas (or create them) in your GOOD sanctuary (or even primary residence) that NO ONE would think to look, or even notice for that matter, to create hidden spaces. They don’t need to be large; I just lucked out. Take it one step further and store metal items (i.e. ammo, guns) in areas next to conduit, plumbing, etc. that won’t set off a metal detector if someone really gets nosy. Make a false wall in the attic and/or basement, if possible to put stuff behind.

    Finally, this should only be known to YOU AND YOU ALONE. I love my wife and kids, but even she/they could accidentally blurp something out at a lunch out with some close friends.

    Keep your friends close, but not too close…

  38. Just a note regarding Rhodesian Ridgebacks. We have had one now for two years. Don’t talk highly of them or give them too much praise, as it can go to there head. Best dog I’ve ever had but I don’t tell him that. Oh yes and be ready to exercise with him or you’ll ruin him. Just a thought.

  39. D.D., thank you for your article.

    I must say, pretty much most of the comments to this article are somee of the best comments I’ve read in a quite a long time! Thank you all.

  40. When people notice you aren’t starving any gray man efforts won’t work. Mine as well build your bridges now when you can, and try and make your community more prepared. Because when SHTF they will know.

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