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How to prep for “slow collapse”

In a sort of shout out to the blog post on ‘best preppier movies‘ the topic of “slow collapse” has been on my mind lately (while nervously looking around, wondering if it’s already too late?).  Pardon if this has been covered already and I missed it.

The movie “Children of Men” is a great visual for this but it’s also a bit harder to wrap your head around – the sort of “frog won’t jump out water if its brought to a boil slowly” metaphor comes to mind.  Bug out bags and off road cars are great in an emergency, but what are good strategies for like 10-20 year slow build up events?  What sticks out to me in the movie is that the protagonist in that movie was still living their life, going to coffee shops in the morning, going to work, etc and would have been just fine for probably another decade if they’d kept their head down but their world was obviously, unequivocally falling apart (but then there is also that great subtle scene where the father figure kept his long driveway camouflaged to stay off the radar of people passing by, like thats some great world building and what I’m sort of driving at here).  

By its very nature I think its hard to really predict this because you’ll have time to adapt and re-adjust your expectations as you go.  You’ll get used to things and not see it as a building threat. I admit there is also the risk of a sort of “phase change” when the slow collapse passes a point of no return.  Where the years of neglect eventually results in a quick catastrophic failure mode, but with such a failure mode “the pot boils over” and the usual “emergency plans” do become more relevant.

To be honest, I don’t think we’re *really* there yet, but I do feel like the last year and a half has been a great object lesson in what to expect: decreased availability, increased prices, lowered standards of living, deferment of “routine” health case and maintenance, a shrinking of tribes/social circles, and general increase in scarcity.

So, if you’ll humor a not totally pessimistic scenario – imagine if 2020-2021 is more like the warning shot and not the begging of the end, what would you do if you had 20-30 years of slow/gradual decline – before any sudden phase-change event?  

  • Spend all your money before it’s purchasing power diminished?
  • Invest more aggressively to adapt to cost of living increases and an uncertain future?
  • learn to just do more with less and become more self reliant in general?
  • Would you start stock piling items that you wouldn’t expect to fail for a decade, but might be much more scare/expensive but still technically available in decade?  This one is really hard – is it better to save/invest money and pay a premium but have flexibility, or lock in now at a better deal but “guess” wrong on what you’ll need in the future?
  • Look at an actuarial table, be glad if you don’t have kids, and live normally as long as you can? (I don’t mean that as a preferred strategy, just aware some might)

I understand that most of the common advice still applies, and that self sufficiency is the name of the game for almost every scenario.  I guess what I’m really asking is, in such a scenario is there a contrarian angle that might thrive, that might fly in the face of conventional wisdom, or even ‘conventional preppier’ wisdom?

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  • Comments (35)

    • 2

      I believe society et al has been in decline for at least 60 years, BUT after all ALL societies, dynasties and empires inevitably wither and fail.  AND most are destroyed from within.

      Syrian, Greek, Persian,  Roman, Norman, H R Empire, Moorish empire, Ottoman empire, British empire etc etc ALL GONE.

      I’m not trying to be political but historically as any great civilisation became more civilised, then they also became more decadent, and the rot accellerated. ( Personally I believe morality has been in decline for a long time)

      How much would a Dollar buy 5, 10, 25, 50 years ago, is your new vehicle worth what you paid for it.  Is your home worth what its costing you. Look at the rising prices of gasoline, electricity etc. Many of our cities CORE infrastructure is life expired and failing and those same cities simply cannot afford to fix things.

      Is your job more secure, Has your wages risen with inflation, are your kids doing better than you did at school, do you feel safer now than you did 10 or 20 years ago, is the world going to be better for our children or worse.

      Whats crime like in your cities??, ALL UK cities have seen a steady increase in crimes of violence for decades. Terrorism is increasing globally, Population is growing much faster than we can feed and house populations.  then you can include Pandemics ( I believe are caused by gross overcrowding in many cities, not just Covid but drug resistant TB in many diverse cities.

      Just about every western nation is bankrupt, national debt runs into TRILLIONS, who is going to pay those debts. Many cities are bankrupt ( and some states)

      Climate change regardless of causal factors is creating much more severe weather events from prolonged droughts, record rain storms, record monsoons, massive dust storms, stronger storms and more violent with it.

      Then the increase in global geopolitical tensions and conflicts, then yes in my opinion the slow collapse is well underway, and the super rich, the well educated and enlightened, and the astute can see what is going on…………………and are prepping, getting away from the urban connurbations and cities, trying to grow more food, becoming more self sufficient and self reliant.   The writing is on the wall for those who can read it.

    • 3

      1) make good friends with your neighbors 2) reuse stuff 3) learn to tolerate some hunger 4) raise some of your own food. 5) explore loss of electricity, natural gas, piped water, and fuel for vehicles.  These are all things that many of our parents and grandparents lived through in the 1930’s.  They could do it, so can we. 

      • 2

        I try to bring a plate of cookies 🍪 to new neighbors that move into the area  and at least introduce myself. Gives me someone to wave to 👋 when I’m out walking and I feel like they’d have my back if I was in trouble.

    • 6

      The nice thing about slow collapse is you get plenty of time to prepare for it, as long as you’re aware it’s happening. It’s a good time to buy land and plant trees.

      • Spend all your money before it’s purchasing power diminished?
      • Invest more aggressively to adapt to cost of living increases and an uncertain future?
        learn to just do more with less and become more self reliant in general?

      I’ve been investing (or at least trying to) in resilient physical goods. My rough estimate is my money is worth 5% less than a year ago, but my broadfork still works just fine. Things like scythes, wood stoves, and grain mills will last for a really long time.

      The problem with traditional investments at this point is unless you’re getting a super high return (and thus taking on more risk), you’re getting eaten alive by inflation, at least in the short term.

      I like to look at what rich people are doing with their money. Bill Gates is buying up farmland. Peter Thiel’s Palantir is buying up gold. As John Ramey pointed out in the CNN doc, he spent a few years trying to help the government and then left to found this website.

      That’s not investment advice, but it’s hard to go wrong with land and durable goods. 

      • Would you start stock piling items that you wouldn’t expect to fail for a decade, but might be much more scare/expensive but still technically available in decade? This one is really hard – is it better to save/invest money and pay a premium but have flexibility, or lock in now at a better deal but “guess” wrong on what you’ll need in the future?

      I guess I’m already doing that to some extent, but you have to look closely at what you’re putting your money in and consider how robust it is against shocks. For instance, buying a coffee maker would probably be a bad bet. They fail after a few years and need electricity. But if you buy a nice coffee-boiling vessel or a stainless French press that won’t break or need electricity, you’re making a better bet. (I’m not sure if coffee will even be widely available in ten years, this is just to give you something to frame your thinking.)

      • Look at an actuarial table, be glad if you don’t have kids, and live normally as long as you can? (I don’t mean that as a preferred strategy, just aware some might)

      I already have kids and just had another. Personally, I think kids are a great investment in the long run. But you definitely should maintain some level of normalcy. That’s part of why Jon Stokes buys so many board games. Resilient entertainment!

      I have a lot of trouble with this in my own circle. A relative really wants a propane grill. I tried to convince them to get a charcoal grill instead because charcoal can be locally sourced, but they insisted on a propane grill. Well, I’ve spent over a month trying to get one, but have failed repeatedly either due to labor shortages or the fact that propane is in short supply so stores aren’t stocking propane grills. But unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t living in the current reality where supply chains are continually busted. Those are the people who are going to have the hardest time. If you’re aware of the situation and act accordingly, you’re going to be much better off than many people. (See my post on the Stockdale Paradox.)

      • 3

        I agree with all you said and had been thinking much the same but could not put it to words as well as you do.

        My dilemma about buying land is where? The reason I say this is because of the climate changes and changes in the jet streams. Some places that were considered great for long term prepping are already facing challenges now. Its hard to predict how the weather changes will affect us in the future and I have been searching for scientists that have that answer but all they seem to be saying is it is hard to know. Any insight on this? 

        My other challenge is I debate on keep working and investing but barely have time for solid prepping, or take the financial hit and quit (I can afford it but then retirement would be limited) and focus on taking that time to be more self sufficient? Obviously not looking for an answer on this one but sharing my thoughts since I’m sure others here have the same conundrum. 

      • 3

        Relocation is a thorny issue. The so-called American Redoubt has been hit hard by climate this summer. Nowhere you move is going to be perfect. I think the top considerations should be cost of living and culture. If I were forced out of Tennessee, I’d probably look at New Hampshire. Cold climate, libertarian bent, good educational opportunities, kind of remote, but not too far from major metropolitan centers.

      • 2

        Thanks Josh, all good points.  your examples about non-electric Coffee making and charcoal grills are great!  I’d known about Jon’s interest in board games but I guess it hadn’t fully clicked “oh, right, you can play those by candle/sun light!” – you’ve got me thinking about other durable goods (bikes that are easy to repair, for example) that might be more appropriate for my situation.

        When it comes to the more survival related aspects, I think most would agree that homesteading is probably the gold standard in realistic survival preps (short of mythically unobtainable New Zealand private estates?).  I guess where I’m approaching this from is: is that the only viable strategy (even if its the best, is it attainable for everyone?) and if there are other strategies what might they look like?

        If homesteading is the only viable strategy, it starts to raise some interesting questions:  how many homesteads can practically be established on land good enough to raise food for self-sufficiency?  Does the entire Southwest empty out due to lack of water?  Whats that do to the population (growth, decline, and distribution)?  Does the country start to look more like it did 100 years ago?  Even 100 years ago (even 200+ years ago) there were still people living in cities, specializing in trades, and making a life for themselves.  Maybe thats the long term trajectory but some non-homesteading ideas come to mind:

        • Figure out what resources are more abundant in your area (farmland, forestry, fishing, hunting, mining/industry) and start picking up hobbies to relearn how to process the resources you’ll have best access to?  Even if you can’t farm your own land, if you know what you’re doing maybe someone will pay you with food to help them?
        • Start learning how to repair things, even electronics, and other comparative “luxury items”.  Maybe learn how to turn car alternators into generators or stock pile electronics for voltage regulation for charing USB devices (maybe thats silly, trying to think outside the box)
        • Stock-piling specialized high quality hand tools for maintenance/repair might be an option for those without farm land?  Everyone has a Philips head screw driver, not everyone has a set of threading taps and know how to use them without breaking them?
        • Because this hits closer to home for me, I feel like some skills such as cartography and surveying might come back in style, but who knows?  
        • Heck, paper/ink making even?  people will probably still want ledgers for inventory and who owes them what.
        • Start learning [frontier medicine] for when you either end up too far away from a “real” doctor to matter, or for when equipment starts getting scares?
      • 1

        I personally think homesteading is the best way to prep. You just can’t beat being in a remote area and able to grow your own food. For my family, this was once known as just “living.” I don’t think it’s the only viable option, but it’s the best path to resiliency.

        I do think the future is a return to local resources. People used to get a lot of their food from closer to home, even city dwellers. It’s a much more sustainable way of doing things than what we have now.

        All of those are good ideas. I’ve started saving chicken feathers to dry and turn into quills and I’ve investigated plants to grow that I can make ink out of. I’m also interested in growing gourds to use as containers. These might not be the most practical ideas in the world, but I love the idea of sourcing everyday items from my land.

    • 4

      While learning about history in school and by talking to my grand parents and parents, I have seen a small glimpse of what things used to be like and how they are now. 

      Inflation, rising housing 🏠, schooling 🏫, and medical ⚕️ costs all are things I worry about. 💸 Will I have enough money to buy a house or retire as well as my parents are going to? 👴

      So far… my pay and raises hasn’t been able to keep up with just the food price inflation that has happened in 2021 🥑 and I’m already seeing me look to cheaper options just to eat. Budgeting and picking and choosing what to spend my money on will be something the rising generations will need to work on. 

      • 2

        To the best of my knowledge, the food price increases that we have been seeing are because of supply chain issues, heatwaves destroying farmer’s crops, and covid issues. The sad part though Molly, is that even when the supply chains and such recover I don’t think that prices will just magically go back down to pre-2021 prices. These companies will probably keep things as they are because we’ve been able to buy things at that rate during the past few months right? 

        No more dollar menu at McDonalds… Really bummed about that.

      • 2

        In the UK back in the 70s there was a massive problem with the potato crop, most of it was destroyed and europes crop was not much better, the price of potatoes more than doubled. The following year there was a glut of potatoes but the prices never came back down.

      • 2

        Great example! Wish I was wrong about this, but history repeats itself.

      • 1

        How long do folks this insanity can carry on?

        infographic-28-trillion-national-debt

      • 1

        Bill, you bring up a great point regarding debt and while I realize global economic systems are complex and perhaps even the experts aren’t entirely sure, what would the results of such a debt default scenario look like (i.e. what happens when the borrowing stops?).

        While the US economy is larger than the examples mentioned here, it looks like other countries have defaulted on their debt, including Iceland, Dubai, and Greece.  So even though the scale might be different these could be object lessons in what might happen?  I’m sure there were painful consequences, but I’m also pretty sure these countries didn’t descend barbarism or a complete collapse situation.

        I was Inspired by your infographic so I tried to find more information about who holds the US public debt, this article came up with the following lines (my emphasis added):

        “If you add the debt held by Social Security and all the retirement and pension funds, almost half of the U.S. Treasury debt is held in trust for your retirement. If the United States defaults on its debt, foreign investors would be angry, but current and future retirees would be hurt the most.

        So I wonder, would this be more of a situation where retirement for an even larger swatch of the country becomes unobtainable, maybe it becomes common for people to effectively work until they die, and probably the demand for and cost of elder care services go up.  I’d argue this is already reality for some segments of the population, maybe that segment will grow dramatically?

        It’s perhaps not the idealistic outcome but the trains of civilization are still running, they’re just dirty, late, and occasionally broken down trains.  So in such a situation how might you prep for that over 20 years?  A few ideas come to mind:

        • Double your retirement savings estimated requirements and lower your expected standard of living in the future?
        • Take extra care for long term preventative health care to age more gracefully
        • Start retraining for jobs 10-20 years out assuming retirement is not an option
        • position yourself for a more nomadic life style, assuming you’ll have to migrate to where conditions are better (This flies in the face of “conventional wisdom” but is the kind of contrarian angle I’m curious about)
    • 2

      Rich DC, I really appreciate your comment. Risk homeostasis is a big problem. A 1% change is barely noticeable, but after 70 years you’ve halved your sperm count, arable land, nutritional value in food, etc., or doubled your pollution, pesticides, violence, etc.

      To go in a different direction from the other excellent posts: it’s so important to hear from wiser generations and to remember that it hasn’t always been like this…or maybe it has in some respects (I remember an informative book called The Good Old Days: They Were Awful!). What has gotten better? What’s stayed the same? What’s worsened? Steeping ourselves in ancient history and in oral history maybe could serve as a much-needed wakeup call to get out of the pot before it’s too late.

      Look to the past generations and also think about future ones. In 30 years, my children will be grown, possibly with kids of their own. Those grandkids will begin their lives (of hopefully 100 years) in 2051. I may see the “phase change” toward the end of my life. My grandkids will just be entering it. I need to invest in building up my childrens’ resiliency so much that they will want to pass it on to their own kids. To make it stick, this can’t simply be “Dad’s weird obsession.”

      • 2

        Hey Bob, i believe we are financially wealthier these days but far more vulnerable to economic collapse, we are healthier thanks to medicine, better housing, vaccines, anti biotics etc but at greater rish from pandemics or disasters because there are so many of us these days. We are more secure but crimes of violence, civil disorder and non domestic terrorism are rising fast. My biggest concern is population there is now something like 9 billion of us on a planet that can only comfortably sustain 6 billion.

      • 2

        Good morning Bill,

        I thought I was just reading Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859 [?]);

        “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epochof incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of dispair”.

        Charles Dickens and his book are famous.  No one even heard of Algore’s book, nor, for that matter, even “Go Quietly or Else” by former VP Spiro Agnes (VP to Nixon).

        At least much of the planet’s overpopulation will be eliminated in their own region and little spillover to the other areas ( I have been wrong before).  Africa’s 3 biggest cities, Lagos, Cairo and Kinshasa, DR Congo are enroute to a population explosion. I think the spillover will be contained.

        Soon to be mega cities are Dar es Salaam, Tanzia and Luanda, Angola.  Once the oil from non-attached Cabinda Province (once owned by Gulf Oil and later by Marc Rich of Zug, Switzerland) stops getting pumped, the place closes down.

        My only – but still not big “worry” is India and China. Believe only China is thinning out their population.  India has a larger population where ~ 40 % do not own toilets – won’t mention number not even using ’em. They might start to appreciate extra gifts of COVID vaccines. The germ theory of disease need not even be leveraged.

        Now, one thing I pay close attention to is the AGE of municipal populations. Note that Kanshasa has a population with 75% under 22 y.o.

      • 2

        India,  40% dont own toilets a similar percentage cannot read or write but they have a space program, a huge navy with aircraft carriers and are among the top countries for Billionaires, talk about inbalance breeding resentment.

    • 2

      Good morning Rich DC,

      Some of the good strategies – with proven records – can be read about re the 1930s and 1940s Themes are present.  Chinese cities’ evacuations from the approaching mperial Japanese Army illusreates both the dispair stories and the success stories. The bankers had the latest immunizations, were avid users of “New York Painless” dentistry as it was getting developed. Etc.  The water vessel operators maintained the most current maps and charts of the area and onward. They were well taught about the Great War and the preceeding Ru-Japanese War of 1904-05. I’ve spoken to some of these folks.

      “Only fools and sages make predictions” but risk management is about past events and anticipated trends. What the senior folks at Lloyds of London know and do beats out the Pentagon, EU Brussels (read: Berlin), and our own governmental emergency preparedness organizations.  A premier entity to study as a microcosm is Israel.

      Currently, besides “routine” health care, so, too, is emergency life-threatening health care. Going to a hospital now can approximate a 1901 soldier checking into a US Army medical clinic in Cuba or Peurto Rico for treatment of saddle sores. The soldier gets discharged with Yellow Fever. Is this not today’s hospital waiting room scenario ?!

      In specific reply; 

      I’ve already experienced the 20-30 years of slow decline. Being saturated with the World War II stores – even the uncles who did not talk about them, sent a clear warning message to me – I relied on my elders and took augmenting actions.  I partly left the Veterans Health Service for private care.  This personally cost me much but the real comparison is the doctor visits versus not being able to work and thrive. Diet got adjusted to also use food for it’s medical value.Pastrami went out and healthier foods replaced it. Etc.

      Investment, at least for America’smiddle class, are primarily governed less by economic principles and muchmore so the tax code, anticipated changes (This is real soothsaying predictions).  Don’t spend most of limited $ because DEFLATION might be re-introduced into domestic economy. 

      Children, like pets, further one’s health and soon enough a later source of family labor.

      Too few of us preppers are studying the overall real aspects of the pandemic and immunization program. The few who did such as the Fairfax Department of Health told Richmond that Fairfax would not particpate in the statewide immunization program.  They’ll do it on their own.  It’s much too important a matter  for Virginia Department of Health to be relied on.

      Enough early AM ramblings for now; need another espresso and admit to missing Zinns Bake Shop Old Town Alexandria. They open at 6 AM whereas their Arlington place opens at 7 AM meybe due to needing more time to sober up. 

    • 4

      Rich, I appreciate your thoughts and questions. My perspective might fly in the face of conventional prepper wisdom because self sufficiency and homesteading are not my goals. That’s mostly because of my time horizon as a retired woman without expertise or stamina or a long enough growing season in a northern climate for self sufficiency and homesteading. I also have caretaking responsibilities for declining family members, and caretaking is likely to get more pronounced in the coming years. I need to factor in my own probable aging related limitations, though at the moment they are minimal.

      What makes sense to me is to live in a small town with family members a short drive (or day’s walk) out in the country nearby. I need to be part of a survive and thrive network since self sufficiency is not feasible. The people in my network don’t know they’re in it yet. They are neighbors and acquaintances and friends. 

      I make sure to participate in a CSA (community supported agriculture) each year. I switched CSA’s recently to connect with one closer to the out of town location of family members. I promote them on social media and in conversations. I even offered to loan them money at an interest rate lower than they could get at a bank (and higher than I could earn on a CD). They hunt, fish, grow food, and preserve food.

      If SHTF, I hope to be a manual laborer in their fields, and I have other skills (computer skills, people skills, business skills) they might find useful. At my age and with my background and with steep learning curves on practical prepper things, I need to affiliate with experts rather than try to become one myself. For example, I respect others who have firearms, but I don’t have them. I’m aware that I can only go so far in protecting what I have, so I err on the side of having assets that don’t need that kind of protection. It’s a calculated risk. 

      Regarding investing with an eye toward possible slow collapse or fast collapse, diversification is the best strategy, I think. So . . . real estate (an older home that’s fixed up the best I can afford), professionally managed (not managed by me) investment accounts inside and outside retirement savings to hopefully match inflation, and low interest rate CD’s and cash on hand. I doubt that the banking system will fail so catastrophically that I can’t withdraw money in time to buy tangible goods or loan money or use it as wallpaper.

      Since aging as well as possible is my retirement life purpose, I intend to simplify things rather than make them more complicated regarding preparedness and being a resilient citizen. I will learn as many new things as I can and practice what I learn as often as I can, but I hope to invest in relationships enough that I don’t feel like I have to survive and thrive on my own. Oh, and “under stress, people regress.” So I will prioritize my own mental health, good boundaries, and physical health, realizing that under the stress of a slow or fast collapse, almost everyone will be nowhere close to their highest functioning selves.

      Thanks again for the thoughts and questions, Rich.

    • 3

      i doubt very much “slow collapse” will take 20-30 years, more likely it will be months.

      modern life is based on the globalisation model and there are so many links in the supply chain that should any one of these links fail it will bring the whole system grinding to a halt.

    • 6

      As a couple, my husband and I are working on this. We are working towards turning our rural home into a homebase. We have only fledged one so far but the others are not far behind and wanting to spread out from our area. As a result, we are using our extra cash now to make sure our old farm house is well maintained (not magazine worthy, but sturdy and functional). We are also in the process of revamping our garden areas to make it easier to keep producing large amounts of  food as we and our equipment age. The goal is to make it so our property can be turned into a communal living environment for our kids to come back to if they need to. That way each kid and/or family will have their own space while still all pulling together. That way there is some privacy as well as an ability to work together. Right now we are thinking tiny homes place around the property, but still investigating our options.

      • 1

        That’s a great idea and I wish you the best in your endeavors. I hope you will continue to share more about your journey, because I am very interested in learning more from you. Like how are you planing to scale up production but still manage everything until the children come back?

    • 5

      I’ve been feeling like we are slow decline for a while now (or maybe just noticed it at that time).  Particularly with the climate changes I’ve been seeing.

      My strategy has been to diversify as much as possible to build resilience. Two years ago I sold my house in a heavily HOA active neighborhood where nobody ever came out of their house, and we were the only kids who played outside regularly.  I don’t think those neighbors would easily come toghether in a crisis, and after 7 years I literally only knew the family across the street.

      I moved 2 miles away into an older neighborhood that has one entrance to the triangle of 3 main streets and multiple cul-de-sacs.  I live in a cul-de-sac consisting of 7 houses of friendly neighbors who all know each other, and most of us gather for parties and the kids play in the street together and everyone keeps an eye out for cars entering and knows who belongs there.  

      I have solar panels on the roof and both gas powered and electric vehicles, and a wood stove in case the power goes out in the winter and a finished basement to weather heat waves. And a couple of generators and enough fuel to at least get us through until we eat everything in the refrigerator and freezer.

      I have enough chickens to provide more eggs than we need for protein, and a large yard to grow a seasonal garden and I’m working toward permiculture with fruit trees and perennial plants.  

      I don’t think I would be able to subsistence farm (but who knows?) but I push myself to learn how to grow a few new things every year. I probably have enough land to

      I work in healthcare, so have desired skills and a LOT of job security.

      And of course I have stored food and anything we can’t do without in a FIFO system.  It is amusing to me that toilet paper is becoming scarce again and so many people around me did’t think to stock up the first time.  I had a year or more worth of the stuff on hand the first time around. 

      And my favorite prep is the Travel Trailer I bought at the beginning of the pandemic.  We have a truck that always has enough fuel to get us to a bugout location (fire evac) or sleep in at home (earthquake) and it’s stocked with enough to get us by comfortably for a while. And as a bonus is has been a great source of COVID safe entertainment (camping!).

      In the past year or so we went from wildfires with local evacuation orders and smoke, then an ice storm, then a record heat wave.  And all during a pandemic.  It baffles me that it hasn’t occurred to more people around me that it may be time to start thinking ahead about these things.  My best friend has a BOB and freeze dried meals stored, but when she lost power during the ice storm she “didn’t have any way to cook/eat” because her oven is electric. She has a camp stove in her preps she doesn’t know how to use.

      • 3

        Now that is truly PRACTICAL PREPPING, you are like me ie willing to move home to improve your prepping chances. sadly not everyone is able to relocate but kudos to those who make that sacrifice.

      • 2

        I moved out of a city 22 years ago when I married a country girl born and bred.

        we moved again 12 years ago when TPTB decided to build a new nuclear reactor on the coast not far-as the crow flies- where we were then living.

        I now live on the edge of a small rural town with a low population (we have been told by a Doctor that we live “in the middle of nowhere”) which suits me!

      • 1

        LOL the funny back story was that I moved out of the house my ex husband’s ex wife picked out.  He got it in his divorce and passed on to me in ours.  I never liked it, and neither did he.  So I sold it and picked out a place I could feel at home.  Planning for prepping helped me figure out what I wanted in a home. I tried to pick well.

      • 1

        You sound like you are very prepared Courtney.

        What are your long term plans for chicken feed? How many months of feed do you store at a time?

      • 3

        I try to keep 3-4 month’s worth of feed on hand. Longer term, I’ve researched compost feeding from the garden. It looks like a good long term solution, but I don’t want another system to maintain right now so I’m not planning on doing it unless I have to:

        How to Feed Chickens Using Compost (Food Waste)

        In a scenario where garbage pickup is not reliable, this minimizes waste.  And it would be a win-win to get food scraps from my neighbors (cutting down on their trash needs) and feed my chickens too.

        But currently we have a rat problem and this would make it worse. 

        My husband and dog are currently collaborating on a solution: my husband “mines” an area with traps where the dog can’t reach them, and my dog flushes out the rats and drives them through them through the “mined” area 🙂

      • 1

        You are right about there being more scrap food waste that can be given to them as a food source.

        That’s a pretty ingenious way to take care of your rat problem! You guys made me laugh.

    • 3

      I’m reading a mildly entertaining novel that paints a pretty vivid scenario of slow collapse (written from the wife/mother’s point of view). It’s called “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah. It is set in Texas, and begins in the good years between WWI and the Dust Bowl/Great Depression, and follows one family through the slow, agonizing collapse.  Bank failures, apocalyptic dust storms, crop failures, foreclosures, gradually running out of resources, starvation, dust pneumonia, intense psychological pressure, finally leaving Texas behind for the Golden State in a Model TT truck.  Tragic visions of other raggedy people on the march, threats, food riots, government indifference, and now the pushback from Californians against the influx of refugees. I haven’t finished it yet. Hoping for a good outcome.  It paints a pretty good picture of what a slow collapse might look like, as the book spans years.

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        That has to be an awful time in history. I can only imagine people living through that era and how they must have thought it was the end of the world.

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        My dad’s family was caught up in it, but I only got scanty details from my mother.  Dad’s father died when Dad was 15 from black lung.  Lost the farm to “a pittance of taxes”, widow left with 5 hungry kids.  Dad was on the run by about 1925, hopping the trains, working for the CCC, picking strawberries in Oregon, then joining the navy and fighting WWII in submarines. Then there was Korea.  His family survived, including the widow, but was scattered to “the four winds”, most of them ending up in California, not necessarily for better, though a really strong woman steered my dad to a comfortable retirement.  For the life of me, there’s no way I can put myself in that early picture and fathom how I’d get through it.

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      I hope I’m allowed to reboot this thread in 2022.

      First off, I adore Children of Men. It was one of my favorite movies until I realized it was essentially happening.

      I think a lot of the vibe of everyone in that movie is mostly from a sense of hopelessness, dread; there aren’t any more kids so things may not go on. Nobody young to work and nobody young to pass the torch too, which is just eroding everything away.

      Thankfully, we haven’t hit that point, I don’t think zika is being as wide spread and I hope it stays that way, but everything else is happening.

      But we do have less people able to work and more don’t want to work for garbage pay. Skill trades are aging out or getting sick.

      I don’t remember where I read it, but it was basically that, yes, there’s a war/collapse on. You go to work. You go home. You party. There is still a war on.

      Outside of the U.S., there are so many places that are war torn or already declining. Mexico. A lot of the middle east. The Balkans. Ireland I think. Ukraine. Cuba. Sri Lanka is in the midst of a lot of things.

      While I don’t think they were able to have a solid read a few years ago, with COVID running everything down even faster, they may have had some time to plan and prepare. I think looking to them for reference and inspiration would probably be the most informing step.

      You’d see The next step after what’s happening in the US now, and many steps farther. The solutions and short comings.

      You could probably reference older declines like Rome and such, but there are modern problems and modern solutions.

      Like directional long range Wi-Fi antennas in the Amazon rainforest that throw signals hundreds of kilometers without wire.

      I’m sure in all declines, people were thinking what to do, what to prepare for. They must’ve been successful enough that things continued.

      It will suck, but I think we can figure out how to at least make it suck less..

      I think my great aunt lived through the tail end of the depression, and war rationing. If you have things half decent, and don’t expect everything gold plated, it can be sufficient. She’s still around, she said her favorite food is beans and tortillas and chili.

      I think the only thing that would be the worst is medical care. What’s not having everything fancy and comfortable to just making do? But without medical care, eeeehhh. Have to bring back the plague doctors.

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      Nice bump.

      P D James’ book was great and the movie too in its own right, especially the long continuous shots without editing. Try to watch for them next time you see it.

      TL:DR…

      All of Rich’s options in the OP are basically trade offs of “opportunity cost.” Either earn as much as you can, while you can, or; forfeit earnings now to prepare now with limited means: “collapse early” to borrow a phrase. 

      Buying a small rough parcel now and learning hardscrabble, subsistence skills ahead of collapse has a cost, which is that you will likely not be earning as much cash you would living frugally in a city with a good job. On the flip side, the cost of going for cash money is you are just not going to learn as much about getting by without money as you would if you had bugged out early.

      I’ve kinda done both. I made money for a period, then bugged out to a small farm post 9/11 and pre-2008 crash, mainly because of impending economic doom (triggered by the real estate bubble) and peak oil. It was a great move and we lived a pretty fun, frugal life for a dozen years doing all the homesteady stuff. I worked remotely before it was easy and I didn’t earn much. 

      My judgement is you should really get to know yourself (and your partner) well before committing to such a big leap. You can’t shoehorn yourself into a lifestyle for which you aren’t adept. And even if you are adept and eager, subsistence ain’t all that romantic, living low on the hog is actually a lot of drudgery. Me, I was long interested in old-timey ways and was a prepper before “prepper” was a word. I was a kid back when “homesteading” was what my great grandfather had done … and what hippies were doing. I thought the whole idea was awesome. It was called going “back to the land”— Going up the Country … so  say goodby to the landlord for me…

      Still, for all that, we only made it a dozen years living what had actually been a lifelong dream of mine before I started to feel burnt, bored, itching to do something more. My wife, every the trooper, was a little lonely for the family as well. My wife was game. She is better at doing what needs to be done than me. I’m probably undiagnosed ADD, LOL. I’m down for the new experience and the learning but no so keen on the day to day drudge. So we sold the farm and the last few years we have been sort of traveling around flipping houses.

      Long story longer, my considered opinion is few would be successful attempting the homestead route solely in preparation for some vague, far off possibility. I bugged out in preparation for an impending energy imposed collapse a mere decade off, not to mention, the whole  homesteading idea was a big dream and lifelong goal. And still, by the time fracking came along and promised a decade or two of continued partying I jumped at the chance to get back on the dancefloor!

      So don’t feel bad for being hesitant to pre-emptively abandon modern life— if you are cut out for the ‘stead you would know it. If it isn’t a dream good times or bad, find a different route. Earn what you can, learn what you can. Build up your pantry, acquire tools and skills by doing things yourself. Stay out of debt, save money, and take a vacation once in a while. Remember,
      All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.