Remember the movie Red Dawn? Think about when Colonel Tanner said: “You think you’re tough for eating beans every day? The scarecrows in Denver would give anything for a taste of what you got. They’ve been under siege for about three months. They live on rats and on sawdust and sometimes… on each other. At night, the pyres for the dead light up the sky. It’s medieval.” Do you have a plan set up to keep you and your family from become scare crows? I mean a realistic plan that you are working on every payday?
A good friend once told me. My place is going to have one foot thick concrete walls, solar, wind, and a positive air system to filter out all nuclear, biological, chemical attacks. Solid steel doors and steel shutters. That is all fine and good but do you have the $100,000 to build it? Ah no? It is far better to have a 12×12 hunting camp with a hand pump well, kerosene lights, a wood stove, and a propane cookstove than a dream retreat that never got built. Start with the basic stuff first the Five Bs: Building, bullets, beans, bacon, and buckshot.
An apartment size propane cookstove with a small oven is very efficient. Normal everyday usage is from 2 to 5 gallons a month. Five gallons of propane is commonly called a 20 pound cylinder. You can get two 25 gallon cylinders (100 pound) and hook up with automatic switch over when the first tank is empty it switches to the full tank. Hook up to a propane stove and you have one year supply of cooking for a family of four. This is just an estimate–your results may vary. Now this is not a camp stove but a regular looking small apartment size propane kitchen stove.
What about light for a year? If you use a Dietz lantern for light and use it 4 hours each night you will need how many gallons a year? 26 hours per fill up on I believe is 22 ounces, 128 ounces in a gallon, one gallon will give 150.8 hours of light or 37.7 days per gallon. A little less then 10 gallons of lamp oil or kerosene per year. Plus extra wicks and at least one spare globe. You can burn kerosene it is cheaper then lamp oil but it smells. Make sure you test it before depending on it. That means kill the lights for 1 hour and burn it and see if you can handle the smell. Please be careful with a lit flame in your house around children, pets and anything flammable.
The most important thing to have on your property beside owning it free and clear is a drilled well. Hauling water is for the birds. I have advised many people it’s better to own five acres with a well than forty acres without one. Water is vital and after the first few days of hauling water more then ten feet it become old, tiring, and a dreaded chore. They say each person uses seventy gallons a day that includes, cooking, drinking, flushing the toilet, and showers. You can get by with ten gallons a day pretty good except when you wash clothes. A solar shower sold in camping supply stores are a great thing to have. Fill it in the morning place where the sun can reach it and you have a hot shower.
A drain field for most states requirement for a drain field for even a small cabin is a ridiculous price ranging from $6,000 to $20,000 to meet new strict codes. Before you buy property make sure you find out the cost. Normal problems are typically found in the blue states with too many bureaucrats. Some states are so strict they will not allow National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approved composting toilets. That is a clear indication it is time to vote with your feet and move to a red state. If you can use a basic composting toilet, a sink, a shower drain hooked to a small drain field. It works great.
If you do have a well on your property there are lots of ways to get water from windmills, hand pumps and solar power pumps. Water is a requirement that you need every single day. So, the first thing you need on any property is a well.
Are you heating with wood? How much wood do you need to get through a winter? Depends on the size of the building, how well insulated, where you live and how efficient your stove is. Cheap $100 wood stoves are for the birds. Get a better airtight stove. Buy the better thicker pipe, buy the cleaning rods and brush, if you have a chimney fire how do you put it out. There is a couple of ways you can set up a chimney cab that slams shuts on the top. This cuts off the vent and air or another way is they sell a item that looks like a road flare you can toss in your wood stove that is suppose to put it out. I have not tested either. But have cleaned my pipes and chimney every year. I don’t burn pine or fir or cedar. If you do burn soft resinous wood like pine I recommend you clean your chimney once a month. Another safely precaution is a metal roof it might just save your house from burning to the ground if you ever do have a chimney fire. If you have never had a chimney fire they say it sounds like a tornado shooting up the chimney and flames shooting straight up 4-5 feet or more. Normally they happen in the coldest nasty weather because people really fire up the stove then. Might just ruin your whole winter to watch your retreat burn to the ground. Hopefully you have smoke detectors and everyone made it out safe. Be careful wood stoves can be dangerous.
Get a good chain saw like a Husqvarna 141. They are good on gas not too heavy and very reliable. Extra chains, spare bar, spark plugs, pull cord, sharpening files at least 6, and air filters. Maybe a spare electronic ignition brain. You will need 5 gallons of chain and bar oil, or in an emergency you can use used motor oil. 10 gallons of gas per year and enough 2 cycle mixing oil for the gas. Now how are you going to haul the wood back to the cabin? A 2 wheel cart is one way. Splitting mauls make sure you buy them with fiberglass or steel handles. Axes with fiberglass handles same with rakes and shovels use fiberglass handles. You are going to need safety goggles and plenty of leather work gloves. Cutting down standing trees is dangerous if you never handled a chain saw before it might be a good idea to go out with a trusted friend and have him teach you the safe use of dropping trees and chain saw use.
Okay, so far we have talked about a small hunting camp with a metal roof heated with wood, a propane cooking stove for summer cooking, a well, compost toilet with a small drain field for sink and shower, good tools, etc. Now what else? Just the basics of what you will need. A .22 rifle with a good scope and 1000 rounds of ammo, a 12 gauge pump shotgun–I prefer the Remington 870–with assorted shells: slugs, buckshot and bird shot, a good hunting rifle, at least a .308 with a good Leupold scope and 160 rounds for it.
Now what else? gill nets, four dozen assorted snares , extra matches, good flints, traps, garden seeds, a way to can or dry and store food. Flashlights, in 9 volts like the PAL Light which is great because it is has a always on feature that last two years on one battery. The solar yard lights are fairly cheap come with AA Batteries that can be put in to use in other flashlights. Or remove the batteries at dusk place back in the day and recharge again. Lots to do with that idea. Use your head. Having a working flashlight 6 months into a real emergency is God sent. Worst comes to worst you can use them inside for your night lights.
A year supply of food. A good basic storage assortment with just the essentials and don’t forget a wheat grinder so you can grind flour. This is written for a single person or small family that would want to live at their deer camp for one year. I am not even getting into retreat defense or other assorted guns [and the amount f ammo required for that]. As I have stated in another article if I was going to be in a thick wooded area give me a Browning Buckmark .22 [pistol] and a good old reliable .30-30 Winchester.
First aid. Don’t forget spare eye glasses, chap stick, Vaseline, prescription medicine, super glue, tweezers, Advil, aspirin, assorted Band-Aids, gauze, wraps, antiseptic, etcetera. Make the kit according to your family needs.
Make sure you cover the basic needs first. What good is 12,000 rounds of ammo, two battle rifles, BDUs, one flashlight, and one case of MREs after the first week? You must have a full plan to survive. Providing for just one year takes some serious dedication to reach that level. A couple of decks of cards, pens, papers, small note books, the list can go on and on and on. You have to be well rounded. Can you skin a buck, run a trap line, drop a tree with a chain saw, plant a garden, protect your garden, preserve your food? Do you have dogs? Do you have enough stored food for them? How about pest control, mice traps, squirrels, rabbits, coons, ground hogs, can sure tear up a garden do you have traps for them? Think it through: Chipmunks, gophers, garden pest, and bug control. Mosquito netting is the best thing you can buy if you plan on being outdoors.
Sit down and try to put a list together for one year of supplies. You know just the basics like where are you going to get water every day. How are you going to cook? How do you heat in the winter? Have you ever tried to chop a years supply of wood? Do you have children? What kind of medicine will you need for them in 1 year? What kind of non power games do you have for them to do? Does you wife sew or crotchet? Do you have some supplies like that put away. A knitted wool hat or mittens sure would be nice if you didn’t have them when you left. How about washing clothes? One way that works ok is to take 5-6 gallon buckets and cut a small hole in the center of the lid just big enough for a toilet plunger. Fill 3/4 ways with water add soap (you did remember laundry soap for a year right?) add clothes for about one person pants, shirt t-shirt, under wear and socks, plunged for 1 minute let soak for 5 minutes plunge again for 10 seconds. Dump out water, fill with fresh water again plunge for 1 minute dump out, fill again with clean water plunge for 1 minute dump out. Hand wring the clothes, hang out to dry or hang near wood stove in the winter to dry. Again be careful you don’t allow clothes to get to close to the wood stove or you have a fire hazard.
You did put away enough toilet paper for a year, right? You also protected this toilet paper with traps or poison so the mice and chipmunks didn’t chew it all, up right? How about feminine products for a year. What about yeast infections? I know not the most pleasant thing to talk about but a must if you are seriously planning to survive. I talked to an old timer once that grew up in the Depression and I asked him what did you use for toilet paper his words “Last year Sears and Roebuck catalog, oh and by the way I sold all my furs to them too.” What would be a good catalog today? How about some thick old city telephone books, might be a good choice to store away for back up toilet paper.
I did this the old fashioned way through hard knocks. Trust me, the first time you have to haul water for 100 yards you will wish you spent the money for a well. When your Coleman lantern runs out of fuel or breaks, you will wish you had a Dietz lantern back up. When your splitting maul wooden handle breaks you will wish you had spent the extra money for fiberglass. When your ammunition is damp and unreliable you will wish you’d spent the $5.00 each for used ammo cans. Trust me, I learned these all the hard way and still had the luxury of running to store for replacement supplies. When I say I tested everything that is what I mean and along the way I had several lessons learn the hard way. Having a fully stocked retreat is a comfort. Having tested everything yourself it gives you experience and know how.
Lots to think about. You will be glad that you put up a year supply of food, it sure will make a welcome sight every morning instead of surviving like scare crows eating sawdust and rats, that is brown rats not the good tasting marsh rabbit–what most folks call muskrats. :-). When you have water, heat, a cook stove, and roof over your head life will seem pretty good. Lots to do when you sit down and really look at what it takes to survive with just the basics for one year. Don’t waste your time worrying, get to work. After you take care of the basics then you can move forward with more advanced plans. – Buckshot