Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting Started on the Path

One of the members of the permaculture meet-up group I joined recently posted a link to an article on the OilDrum that provided a timeline for "survival homes." While I think it is really important that people be realistic about what it takes to really have a successful homestead in the country (how much time and energy ... and yes, even money is required), I think there really is too much emphasis in some survivalist circles on "bugging out", and I think there is some wisdom to be had in the idea that "digging in" might be just as good an option.

For those new to the whole TEOTWAWKI prepping, I wanted to offer two of my favorite resources for getting started with staying put. I found both of them at the beginning of my journey, and it really has made a difference in my outlook with regard to my future.

The first is Dolly Freed's book, Possum Living. It was out of print for a very long time, and several years ago was available (probably illegally) online. It is being republished in the very near future, and if you follow the link on my side bar to Amazon, you can pre-order a copy. This isn't my very lame attempt to get you to buy something, but rather my advice, as a sort of veteran prepper. The first few things I read about Peak Oil, and then about the impending economic collapse, really scared the bejeesus out of me, and it wasn't until I found Dolly's book that I was able to gain a better perspective and start seeing possibilities rather than limitations. Dolly was not by any stretch a "doomer", but she was living a grand life on very little money, and in her book, she explains how they managed to do that.

Why would I recommend this book so highly, then, if it's not about prepping for TEOTWAWKI? Because the advice Dolly gives about living with no money is completely applicable to what we will likely be facing in our future. It's what Argentina is going through right now where no one has any money with which to buy basic goods, and what happened in Russia when their economy collapsed on the '90s. She has good advice for surviving without money and without a years' supply of Ramen Noodles in the cupboard.

The second recommendation is actually a television show. I know I rail against televsion, in general, but this particular show was one of the catalysts when I first started down this path toward self-sufficiency. The program is called The Good Life and was produced by the BBC in the 1970s (hmm? You reckon those folks in the 70s knew some stuff we should be learning?). It is about a couple who live in a London suburb and decide one day to become "self-sufficient", but they decide not to move out of the suburbs - much to their neighbor's dismay. It's a very funny program, and while some of the stuff they do couldn't happen in many of our suburbs (like raising pigs), it wouldn't be hard to translate some of their experiences to our modern reality.

The key is not to be afraid, because fear-induced action will always lead us astray. The key is to take control, and those two resources helped me a great deal, and I even had a few laughs ;).


  1. If you go to Netflix it appears to be under the title Good Neighbors and it's on the instant watch queu. I'm going to start today.

  2. I've never understood the "bugging out" thing either. I suppose it might make sense for people who live in apartments, or in areas where there's a high risk of natural disasters that make staying put an impossibility - flooding perhaps, or wild fires. Fortunately, we're not in either of those situations. My first choice is always to stay put. I figure by the time they get around to evicting us (if we were to somehow fall behind on the mortgage,) they would have other priorities. We're not underwater with our mortgage and have paid ahead, giving us a good chance of recasting the mortgage to a lower monthly payment.

    By the way, another option for getting ahold of Possum Living is the inter-library loan. That's how I first read it. And I did get one of those downloads that was available a while back. As far as I could tell, it was legit. The book is extreme, even by my standards. I have a few ethical issues with her advice. But that doesn't diminish its overall value. As you say, it's a good book to read, contemplate, and then adapt to your own situation.

  3. You just make me laugh. TEOTWAWKOI. You are hysterical.

  4. Oh we LOVE The Good Life/Good Neighbors! It's one of our few "keepers" as far as DVDs, since we don't have regular TV and all that stuff. I only wish they'd continued the series a few more seasons :)