Country Living Series

Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting out of the cities when the time comes...

There is a fascinating article up today on SurvivalBlog called A Husband and Wife's Thoughts on The Crunch. It's written by a couple who lives on an historic farm and who frequently have guests and visitors anxious to learn about rural life.

"Lately," they write, "the two of us have been talking about world events and the need for folks to organize in like-minded communities or to acquire 'survival' retreats. But there is something that has puzzled us. As long time readers of SB, we have of course taken notice of the many letters and articles about bug-out-bags and getting out of the cities 'when the time comes'."

"Many people seem to think they need to get the just right gear and vehicle in order to leave the cities and go someplace else in the collapse because the cities won't be livable. It seems to us that kind of thinking is a bit backwards. If someone who has spent a life in the city suddenly tries to move to the country in the time of turmoil and confusion, it's the country that will be unlivable. 'Country liv'n' is just so vastly different from city life, that few city folks are likely to be able to make it."

See the whole cartoon HERE:

What this couple articulated so well in their article is that just getting to a rural place in a "bleep" situation isn't enough. In fact, it's nothing. Sure, you might be safe from roving gangs of marauders, but then you're faced with the immediate and pressing need for food, water, and shelter. Camping in the woods offers none of that, at least for any length of time.

It always cracks me up to hear the Rambo types announce that they'll just camp in the woods and bag a deer to feed their families. To which I want to reply, have you ever hunted? Can you field-dress a deer? What do your wife and kids think of the bloody mess you're creating? How will you fend off predators (two and four-legged) while dressing the deer? And most important of all, how will you preserve the meat?

And this assumes, of course, that you're even able to shoot a deer to begin with. Because believe me, if you're out in the woods hunting because you're desperate for food, there are likely to be thousands of others out there with the same idea. There won't be a deer around.

In short, this comes down to what I've been urging for a long time: if you feel the need to learn about sustainability, start now. I'm not talking about the urban definition of "sustainability" where you take a bus instead of owning a car and recycle your aluminums; I'm talking about going as rural and low-tech as possible, starting now.

Yeah yeah, I can hear your litany of excuses now, about why you can't leave the city and move rural... and I don't want to hear them. I'm not saying your excuses aren't totally valid and entirely truthful; I'm just saying I've heard them all already. But those excuses, however valid, won't hold water if your city is crumbling around your ears, there's no food to be had, and you need to escape.

That's why this couple who wrote in to SurvivalBlog are urging you to walk the walk NOW. "If you are already living your TEOTWAWKI existence as you believe it will be," they write, "you won't much need trade goods for getting what you may need. You'll have already gathered the tools of self-sufficiency... The problem is, if you haven't already been living in 'the country' and acquiring the knowledge, skills and goods you'll need, you will be just like [a] fish out of water... You'll have a very hard time functioning in a strange environment. You won't know what you need (except by reading someone else's barter list. Viagra! Really?) Simply put, you won't know how to live if you only know a pre-crunch 'walking on cement' life."

In other words, the knowledge and skills and equipment (and community!) necessary for a successful post-bleep life don't happen with a three-day bug-out bag on your shoulders and a rifle in your hands. It comes from years of trial and error. It comes from experience. It comes from failure. Because the worse -- the very worse -- attitude you can have about country living is, how hard can it be?

I suppose I identify so strongly with this letter because of the constant struggle Don and I have even after so many years of rural life. Since we knew virtually nothing when we first embarked on our rural adventure, everything we do here has been a strong uphill battle, an incredibly steep learning curve. Everything is more expensive than we anticipated (and/or is correlated with a lower income than most people are comfortable with). Building up a self-sufficient farm from scratch is virtually impossible from bare land, not without lots of money and (more importantly) lots of time and dedication. And if you're living in the city (and this assumes you have a piece of land to begin with...!), you simply don't have the time and dedication to build a homestead.

In our case, we had the advantage that the biggest infrastructures on our farm were already in place when we bought this land, namely a house and outbuilding, and rudimentary fencing. Imagine how much more time and money it would have taken had we needed to build a house, buy the fencing materials (did you know T-posts are now going for about four bucks each?), build outbuildings (believe me, building the new barn last year was expensive enough!)... and this doesn't even begin to address the complications of gardening with our short seasons and hard clay soil, the intricacies of caring for livestock, and the challenge of growing wheat.

I guess my point to this rant is, don't have a Rambo mentality. Don't depend so much on your bug-out bags that you believe once you escape an urban environment, everything will be ducky. Don't think you can acquire knowledge post-bleep.

Here's a guest post I wrote for The Survival Mom on bugging out to the country.

This couple concludes their article with these prescient words:

"I will close by saying, forget the bugging out bags. There's a world waiting for you to discover. You can live in it now. You can learn it now. If you don't, well, it may soon be too late. ...[I]t's a whole different world when crunch time comes. And you better have learned what those differences are while you still have time."

Couldn't have said it better myself.


  1. the time you have to bug out it's too late anyway....

  2. Something else to think about, is making sure that you have a way to secure your livestock inside a locked building. When people realize that the deer, elk and moose and other, smaller game are gone or hiding, our livestock, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, chickens will be "fair game" at least in their minds. We need to be able to lock them inside and protect them, with violence if necessary. They are as important to our survival as all the food and supplies we have stockpiled in our storage and what is growing in the garden at the time if the season it right. It is a sickening thought, but one which has to be considered and planned for.
    I believe things will be very difficult for all especially with the availability and use of drones by government and NGOs. Very difficult to hide and/or secure anything when they can "spy from the sky" with unmanned drones and even satellites. Has anyone taken a look at their google earth view lately? They were recently updated and I can tell you with a 48 hour period when they took our pictures based on what I see way too clearly.

  3. We made our move last fall; got 10 acres out in the boonies. Right now we have fruit trees set and a garden going. That's it. I MIGHT get the chicken coop built before winter... getting some pigs and goats ain't happenin' until at least next year, and I'm still working 4 days a week in town. It's a slooooow process but we still love it.

    1. Fruit trees and a garden? Sounds like mighty fine progess to me!

      Just Me

  4. bugging out is only when bugging out is the only choice you have..and it will pay to know where you will be bugging out to and knowing also that you wont be returning to the place you bugged out from for a very long time or ever.

  5. My wife and I moved to our retreat 30 years ago, However as we are now old and have some medical issues we have moved to a "rural" town of about 9000 souls so we can be close to atleast a rudimentary hospital where the wife can go or be taken if the need arises. I left my garden and other self sufficientcy modes behind. Now it looks like her sister is willing to let me garden at their really rural house. I am so thrilled that I can grow whole cans of peas(lol) on my own. Thank You Patrice for your great blog and Don for your very sober perspectives occationally.

    carl in wisconsin

  6. Everything takes longer and costs more than you think it will...bugging out is a hail-mary sort of thing, when you have absolutely no other choice.

  7. I guess the "roving bands of marauders" will never make their way out to the rural areas around cities. Point is, we will ALL be targets-city or country dwellers. Once all the cities are emptied of anything to sustain life, and even preppers admit that will take only a short time, people will be out in the rural areas doing the same damage. Then again, I keep wondering what all the prepping is about anyway. Sure, going back to a no-tech lifesytle is a great idea for the day when world economy goes kaput. Then what? Will the world get better after a global anarchy meltdown? So one only has to wait it out until the world gets re-organized, cleaned up and settles in for unlimited decades? How long will that take for mankind to rebuild the planet? How much damage will be done; what poisons will be left in our water, land and air? Isn't it possible countries would aim nukes at each other, thereby causing poisons to spread globally? What about Nature's cataclysmic disasters-hurricanes, earthquakes,sunamis,etc.? Those events will continue to destroy large portions of an already devastated earth. I suppose my question is: what happens after tshtf? The peoples of Earth all to back to wild West days, somehow recovering and rebuilding the world? Apocalypse: total destruction.

    16 hours ago · Like

  8. To Anonymous above, if a real apocalypse happens, we're done. About all we'll be able to do is pray. There's plenty of things that are short of that that can happen. We are not going back to the era of cheap oil ever again. The Fed us trying to jumpstart the economy by printing up more money. Our govt fights over gay marriage and social justice while our debt is downgraded. Even if govt was rightsized tomorrow and austerity measures were taken, there would be whole sections of our population that would riot when the EBT and SSI is cut off. I don't want to be in a major population center when the cities burn. That's why me and my wife are learning to grow our own food, and will move to the country as soon as we can.

  9. Mom, I have to take exception to your comments about John Rambo, implying he is some sort of crazy devil may care vietnam vet. Mr. Rambo has been intensely trained in survivability. Hunting and surviving have been drilled into him, he didn't wing it when shtf for him. Please lay off Mr. Rambo and be grateful we have characters like that in our armed forces. Did you notice how physically fit he was, that takes years of work, not like your weekend fat doughboy preppers. Just sayin!

  10. Patrice,
    One of the main reasons I read your blog is I always learn valuable lessons. My husband is a professional civil engineer; for all his adult working life. He has his PHd, not a handy man and country living is very foreign to him. However, it helps that he reads WND, Alex Jones, etc and know thats depending on the government for food, etc. can be devastating for those that don't have a clue about living off the land. Since I started being your "top" fan, I've learned so much! and have encouraged him to see the advantages of living off the land, etc. So, last year he bought me almost 18 acres of very fertile land in east Texas. He sees it more like a weekend thing and more than likely a retirement place. But I know that living like that has to start now. I felt so frustrated that we can't leave 'NOW' I have to patient. However, because of your blog and your suggestions, there are many things I can do now to prepare. I've gotten tools (shovels, electric saw,hoes),etc. at pawn shops, garage sales and sometimes when they go on sale at the big hardware stores. I'm reading all I can on agriculture, husbandry, Joel Salatin books, etc. I'm spending less, buying clothes at resale stores, have grape vines, a few fig trees, growing my own small vegetable garden; that my husband is very impressed with. He had never eaten a freshly picked tomatoe or pepper before last summer. He just okayed me to get some chicks. So, thank God he's coming around little by little. I'm also canning now and loving it!We know we have to get out of debt and learning how to make things, just motivates me even more. Who knows? we may get out there sooner than when he can retire. Your blogs motivate me. Keep writing; you're awesome.
    Blessings your way,