Country Living Series

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Response to concerns by an urbanite: Part 3

For those who have been following the lively discussion about a "bleep hits the fan" scenario, here's the third (and final) part written by Don (Part one is here; Part 2 is here).

It's a fairly long post, so grab yourself a cup of tea and dive in. (To the post. Not the tea.)


I should know better than to read the comments when I'm on a roll; but unfortunately I was tricked into it by Patrice, who suggested I might want to take a look at some of them. Sooo, before I launch into Part 3 of my argument, let me toss in a small digression first. (I started to write another opus, but realized if I did that I'd never get Part 3 written, so that rant will have to wait.)

It seems there is a bit of confusion working its way into some folks’ minds. The original premise I was addressing was Terry's (anonymous) contention that hordes of armed-to-the-teeth urbanites would successfully flood the countryside following an End-Of-The-World event, destroying or taking everything in their wake.

I (and many others) argue the “Golden Horde” concept is overblown, because for that kind of thing to occur would mean there has been a nationwide destruction of the infrastructure. In one word, TEOTWAWKI.

But I see in such comments an “anonymous June 9” that there has been an attempt to change the conditions on which I've been basing my hypothetical story.

Yes, a financial collapse will be horrible. And war is hell, as the saying goes. But while such events would certainly be, and have been, transformative for our nation, they are unfortunately not all that uncommon. Wars and economic collapses happen, all the time all over the world, and most people survive them.

My Part 1 and Part 2 story is not based on a "mere" economic collapse or a war. It's based on something entirely different, something that's never happened before in the history of humanity. My narrative involves the destruction of 200 years of human progress caused by the loss of a fundamental aspect of the modern human condition: the utter and complete dependence of civilization as we know it on electricity. Every single moment of the average American's day is regulated, controlled, and facilitated by the vibration of electrons in pieces of metal. Should those vibrations ever cease: TEOTWAWKI will occur.

Without electricity, you won't eat, you won't drink, you won't move, you won't communicate, you won't receive medical care, you won't, you won't, you won't…

So how can our society lose electricity? It’s such a broad topic that I’ll never get started with Part 3 of my scenario if I get into it. So take a look at the following links instead:

Okay, on to Part 3.

Terry and his group have made it out of the city and into the country. Welcome to the wide open spaces Terry!

You should be quite proud you made it here. (Of course, I helped a bit.) Most of the folks trying to leave a metroplex in the early times of a SHTF scenario won't be so lucky. But you made it and now you have to make some decisions. Now comes the icky part, I'm afraid. After all, a lot of the people who make it out of the city and in to the country ARE planning to make their living by someone else's dying.

Terry, I am not accusing you of this, of course, but really – what are your options? The “Golden Horde” of modern end-of-the-world fictional fame was actually a term created by Russian writers in the sixteen hundreds to describe a specific Khanate of the Mongol empire. That “horde” consisted of incredibly disciplined, well-armed, and militarily proficient horsemen. Tens of thousands of them. None of those terms will apply to the vast majority of hungry, angry, weak or injured folks who made it out of the city. And as PioneerPreppy pointed out so accurately, those who do make it out to the country will never numerically approach the concept of a “horde.”

If your goal was simply to get rural; if you know no one who is expecting you; if you have no final destination in mind – then may the good Lord God protect and succor you … because practically no one else will.

Since I'm sure that you, Terry, will not be traveling with anyone of evil intent, let’s look instead at the travails of another, less-moral, group. This alternate group is also 100 strong, also in vehicles with full gas tanks, and even better armed than your own fellow travelers. I sincerely hope you don't meet them. For them, prey is prey. And like all predators, having your prey come to you is always better then chasing them; it saves valuable energy.

So let’s follow the travels of this group (gang?) which has left the city and is now hitting true rural terrain. It could be mountains or foothills or flat plains. It might be desert (high or low). It really doesn't matter. To make this easy, I’ll use my neck of the woods as an example. The suburbs and satellite communities have been left behind. As the group convoys down a winding two-lane highway, our Bad Guys see rolling hills to the right and tree-covered ridges to the left that seem to go on to infinity.

(Just as an aside: Terry, next time you take a drive through the mountains or farm county, look – really look – at what I'm about to describe to you. The open spaces are reeeaally open. Fun fact: If you took every citizen (and even all the undocumented dependents) of these United States and packed them in tightly in one place, they’d fit in an area about the size of New York City and half of the Bronx. The rest of the nation would be empty.)

The Bad Guys begin to caravan down the road. They wind their way past small two-lane paved roads and dirt tracks that branch off from the highway every mile or so. See this in your mind's eye, Terry. What’s up that road? Or that one? Or that one? Every mile, over and over, there are roads leading off into the distance. Mile after mile after mile. You can't see beyond the bends. You can see a few scattered houses or barns off in the distance, but have those already been looted? Are they empty or defended? There’s no way for the Bad Guys to tell – and can they really spare the time to find out? After all, there won't be any filling stations to replace the gas they're burning. Checking even one of those county lanes, even if it's not defended, will take time. A lot of time.

They say an army marches on its stomach. For an army to be successful, it must have a supply train following it. But unlike an army, there is no re-supply train following the Bad Guys.

With some increasing desperation, the Bad Guy leader decides to travel down one of these roads. He (or she, don't want to be sexist) needs to do something proactive, otherwise everyone else will begin to wonder if all he's going to do is drive until the fuel runs out. So he turns the caravan down a side road and begins to cautiously advance. The road weaves through a valley bottom next to (and occasionally crossing and re-crossing) a small stream. After a mile or so, he stops near a big ranch house tucked up against the ridge that forms the valley. He sends a squad forward to do reconnaissance.

What do they find? A house, but it’s empty of anything truly valuable. Sure there's furniture and clothing. But the large pantry is bare. The barn yields nothing either. Any livestock is gone, and while there are farm tools and vehicles in the barn, none of those vehicles will start and none of them have any fuel in their tanks. There's a garden, and it has a lot of vegetables and fruits. But it seems a pretty poor return on the time spent so far.

The leader now has to figure out what to do. Does he go on further? Turn around and get back to the highway with nothing to show for the time and fuel wasted?

Actually, that decision is taken away from him by the sound of a large diesel engine coming from down the valley back towards the main road. The engine roars for about a minute and then goes quiet. The sound of gunfire follows briefly and then all is quiet once again.

The Bad Guy leader wisely decides to send a heavily-armed squad on foot to check it out. The squad returns about 30 minutes later to inform the Bad Guy leader that there is a multi-ton road grader parked across the entire width of the road (which as it happens is pretty much the width of the valley at that spot). What a coincidence!

The tires of the grader are shredded (that was the gunfire they heard) so it can't be moved. The Bad Guys are trapped.

The Bad Guy leader tells his people to mount up. And that's when the sniping starts.

Okay Terry, I'll stop the narrative now. You can end the story anyway you want. But there are a few details you'll need to know about rural areas in order to reach a realistic conclusion.

Let’s say there are about 70 people who live up that valley, not an unusual number. They or their ancestors have lived there for about 120 years. (Except for one couple from Oregon who bought a house up the valley about ten years ago. But they're okay. Oh, and he's a gunsmith.)

It really doesn't matter in the end if the gang of Bad Guys consists of 100 people or 200 or 500. You see, the folks who live in that valley know it like the backs of their hands – because they've lived there for 120 years. They know every game trail, every creek bed, every twist and bend. They've got lots of guns – really good guns, if you get my drift, with lots of ammo and lots of experience. And they DO have a supply chain. Just over the ridge is another valley. And beyond that valley is another valley, and another. And in one way or another, almost all of the residents of those valleys are related. They went to the county school together, they dated each other and they married each other. So ... if the going gets too hot in the valley in question, they'll be waiting for the remnant of the Bad Guys in the next valley over.

Now I could tell you what would have happened to the Bad Guys if, instead of the valley, they came upon one of the small farming towns further down the highway. Or I could describe the sheer-faced cut road that runs past a lake on the way to the county seat. Or I might mention the surprising number of small-time blasters who keep the local rock quarries in business. Or the local construction firms who create and remove roads on a daily basis for the timber companies. But the results would be the same and this post is already too long.

So we'll leave the Bad Guys here at this point to make their plans. But before anyone tells me what a “great story” this is, please understand something important: This is not a story. It's quite real. That valley, and all the other situations are real. I know the family that currently lives in that “empty” house. I know their son, who operates road grader. I know most everyone up that valley … and I know their plans. I've been to barbeques with them. I've gone to church with them. I've helped them with their projects and they've helped me with mine.

I am them.

Now truthfully, I don't know them as well as they know each other. I never will. After all, Patrice and I have only lived here for twelve years. But practically everywhere I've ever called home was just like here. This is now my home and hopefully it will be the last place I'll ever live. My home. My family. My friends. My people.

And I've got a 1600 square mile back yard.

I don't want “the end of the world” as I know it. I'm 57 years old and I'd really rather live for a few decades longer and see my children's children. I want to keep walking in the woods for as long as I'm able, without fear and with Patrice holding my hand when I do. I want to keep sharing tall tales at the Sunday potluck. I want to call no man my enemy. I want, as a Christian, to always help those in need to the best of my ability. And I can safely say that these are the feelings of those who live around me as well.

But be aware.

Around here, folks live by the land and, more importantly, by the word of God. We don't “live by the sword.” But if you do live by the sword, and you plan on harming my family, my friends, or my community, you'd better give heed to the second part of that sentence.

This is Patrice speaking now. I just want to add one more thing to Don's post.

Most people aren't preppers. A lot of people aren't preppers because they're can't be (health, disability, age, finances, whatever). A lot of people aren't preppers simply because they're not situationally aware.

But a lot of people who could be prepared (but aren't) ARE situationally aware and, for whatever reason, don't care. Their "preparedness" plan is simple: if the bleep hits the fan, they'll steal.

This is the take-home message to anyone and everyone, urban or rural. If the bleep hits the fan and you're not prepared, your only options are to beg or to steal. What will you choose? And if begging doesn't work and you can't steal what you want or need, what then? Murder?

Think it through, folks.


  1. I am not sure I like being the first to comment again. But Don, you have said it all. Many years ago when I was 10 feet tall and bulletproof I rode motorcycles with a group of fellows who I would not like to meet again. One of the things the "club" had for every member was a metal sticker to put on your bike, it read " if you value your life as much as I value this bike, DON'T F___ WITH IT". Well that is how I feel about what is my life now. I will be friendly to you within reason, but do not cross that line of civility.

    Carl in the UP

    Excellent series Don, Thank you. I apologize for the four letter word.

  2. Ech, I keep having trouble commenting - sorry if this is a duplicate. Anyway, just one little quibble - the Bronx is actually part of NYC. When you say "New York City" you're probably thinking of Manhattan, but there are four other boroughs.

    1. Hello Anonymous 5:38, Did I write something you didn't understand or that you disagree with? I didn't think I'd written anything controversial or unverifiable or argumentative or even irrelevant in anyway. I was referring to this: "an area about the size of New York City and half of the Bronx" in the seventh paragraph after the start of "Part Three."

  3. Wish I had followed in my Grama's ways. She had her garden and canned tons of stuff, made jams that were the best, made most of their clothes and didn't owe anyone. They were Yoopers ( upper michigan). Ted Nugent's hunting playground.
    They were not preppers, but the closest I came to what people do.
    I'm 67 and am not able to hardly walk. Ugh!!
    Thank you for the 3 posts. I salute you Don. Great reads!
    Love from NC

  4. Great Analogy. Sorry I been offline for most of this week so I cannot comment much. But it's spot on with my own thinking on the subject.

  5. Don, you're telling our story.

    Life is rugged here in the west, and even along the coast it's generally a lot less populated than the eastern US.

    The mountains are steep and treacherous, the rivers are swift and ice cold and the woods are as dark and deep as the night.

    The roads are narrow and the inhabitants are peace-loving and most are people of faith. Many have horses.

    If, God forbid, that awful time ever came, they would know what to do.

    Even if the 'golden horde' materialized and could get this far, they probably wouldn't stand a chance against the locals.

    I pray we never have to find out.

    A. McSp

  6. Thanks for the outstanding series of posts. The original urbanite's post seemed to be simple city smugness--what are all you bumpkins doing, when we'll just come take it when the going gets tough. But in a big way, his thoughts were irrelevant. You've said before that you are where you are because of quality of life issues. You're not just hunkered down like Burt Gummer from Tremors, waiting for the world to end. I'm in the process of shifting about 50 miles farther out from the suburbs for the same reason (though I expect to continue working in the city, at least for a while--I haven't come up with a home business idea yet that is viable). The urban guy probably figures that nobody would live out where you are unless trying to build against the apocalypse. He's clueless on many levels.

  7. There's one thing you can thank city/suburban preppers for. Whatever bad guys make it out to your part of the country -- they had to come through us first.

    You're welcome.

    1. Very good point! And thank you in advance!

  8. 'Most people aren't preppers. A lot of people aren't preppers because they're can't be (health, disability, age, finances, whatever).'

    THey aren't prteppers because they CHOOSE NOT TO BE. Period.

    I have a person I help who is a prepper. She preps ONE CAN A WEEK when she goes shopping. Sometimes more, but bever less.

    Amazing how many cans and boxes of food she has built up in a year or so.

    It ain't a years worth of food, but it IS a start.

    She is a prepper.

    Most people don't even bother to try. They choose not to be.

    And, BTW, Don is right...Even here in Indiana where the situation is a bit less well defined, resistance will be....Strong.

  9. don please read one second after and really digest every page,go to bosie to a real fine gun shop and look at the weapons they have.think of the storys you have read about allthe really trained guys there are out there and pray they dont get together to find food.i assure they would not drive up your driveway an a recon.just thoughts from a 90 year old.thanks for hitch in the navy.

  10. I once had a man, from California, ask about moving to the small town near me (10 miles) his concern was could he put in a trap range or would it be a problem. I told him that on a nice spring day it sounded like WW3 so the only problem might be his neighbors wanting to come over and shoot with him. We would even bring our own ammo.

    1. LOL how true.

      Not long after we moved out here to rural KY, we decided to do some shooting in the backyard, and were somewhat worried about disturbing the neighbors. Not 10 minutes later, you could hear gunfire coming from at least 3 different properties surrounding us. I guess it wasn't a problem.

  11. If the end of the world as we know it comes along I am pretty well prepared. I am not a prepper just a rural guy who lives very frugally. I know if I don't have something I need one of my neighbors does I'm sure if I asked they would let me use it, and vice versa. Outsiders would be met and told there is nothing here for them. You can bet the person meeting them is covered many times over by people they do not see. Not because we don't like outsiders (I was once one) I don't live where I grew up I left there at 17 and never went back for very good reason. The reason we don't want outsiders around is most of us sacrificed our time with our families and our money that could have been a trip to disney or ice cream and a movie on a summer night not to mention the sweat to put back for a rainy day, all the while everyone else was busy living it up in town taking vacations and spending money frivolously. Not learning how to grow their own food, or coming out to help put a new roof on the barn or mend fences. So why should I share my sacrifice with them. If you are worried about where you will go if the shit hits the fan find someone with some land and go learn how to grow your own food, maintain rural property, get to know your rural neighbors, and let them get to know you. When everything goes south and if you actually make it out of that deathtrap they call a city, you at least have somewhere to go. For those who think they will just come and take as they please, I spent 14 years in the Marines, 7 of those years in Recon. now I am a disabled veteran, (no regrets.) I was taught how use small numbers of people to take out large numbers of people and train others to do the same. I have and will teach my neighbors as they will teach me. I never learned how to work on cars, do home repairs, work on appliances, do blacksmithing or woodworking when I was growing up, all I learned was how to get the crap beat out of me by my dad. My neighbors taught me how to do that stuff, I'm not the greatest at it and it's not pretty but it works. I taught them how to secure their property from people growing pot, making meth, or stealing or squatting on their property. They are not the best at it, and sometimes they call me for help (as I do them.) But I'd put good money they are better at it than most city folks. The bottom line I am making is take your weekends and get to know folks in the country and let them get to know you. You will be infinitely better off for it. Maybe you can learn to grow stuff in your back yard and reduce your grocery expenses or if worse comes to worse you have a place to go instead of wandering aimlessly in the wilderness with the other zombies.

    1. Amen.
      A poster on part 2 stated their plan was to basically go find someone living in the country and labor for them. Best wishes to them on that. A better plan would be as you suggest, to go NOW and help and store their own food, working with that family NOW, building skills NOW. Unless they are a field surgeon or had a skill of value to a community in a time of need, their plan to walk until they find someone who needs their strong back, armed no less, is poorly thought out.
      I don't think many are going to let strangers be their "help". I'm not going to say what I think will probably happen to strangers walking up long driveways with a rifle.

  12. I say let's do our best to prepare...Noah built an ark after all, but not put all of our faith in our own efforts,,,let's pray for God's protection...God help us all.

  13. Dear Patrice, and Don. Thank you. I've been reading along and I used to think we were doing pretty well for ourselves. Well, we USED to be doing pretty well. Because it USED to be just 2 of us and our dogs. Well now... it is 6 of us and this morning after a week long struggle with rotavirus we woke up to the power off. Then and there I was smacked in the face with the fact that we are ill prepared to deal with about anything right now. Just to cook breakfast for our horde (who feels like they haven't eaten in weeks) would have required some serious investment of digging out the camp stove and the propane that goes with it. I will NEVER understand why people like electric stoves. ((SIGH)) Then water the garden AND the chickens... Anyway I truly realized things needed that shake up here. THe ticket is don't ever think you have got this, keep moving forward in your plans, don't hold still, don't think you have it all under control, keep planning and preparing because you just don't know. Thank you for all you do.
    Learning in NY

    1. Oh, but that mention of rotavirus brought it all back. God bless you for your efforts - even with the power on. Stay well!

  14. Thank you, Don, for your valuable posts, and for taking time away from your work to edify "the hordes".

    Your posts are both nerve wracking, because I hate to think about TEOTWAWKI and calming, because I think it reaffirms the thinking at our household.


  15. Great posts. I live in rural western Canada. It is very much the same here but the distance from the "large" centers (over 50,000) is much further, we have to go over 2 hour to get to one of those. Look up Saskatchewan - large province, land wise - and we have just over a million people and most of those are in 2 cities. I had commented on a previous post that my husband's theory is that they have to find us first. Like many in your area, we have been on this ranch for over 100 years, that knowledge and the terrain will be a huge benefit. He has also mentioned this. We have just about 5,000 acres to hide in, that we know like the back of our hand. Only one road in and out. A cow lost her calf last week, it took me, knowing the terrain six hours on a quad to find it. And it wasn't even trying to hide. (She is not the brightest cow and was determined that the calf was were she left it but it had got spooked and took off running) Anyways, I think you get my point. I am thankful for were we live. But they still have to find us. Terri

  16. Oh dear this is scary! I live in the south of England and it would be almost impossible to get more than about 20 miles away from a sizeable town. I have built up a good store of food after reading blogs like this but it could easily be stolen by anyone armed with a gun. As it is difficult to buy guns legally here anyone with a gun is likely not to be a law abiding citizen. But do you really think that people are so bad? Think of the many people in WW11 how helped refugees even though they were hungry themselves. The family who hid Anne Frank's family for years is just one example out of many. I will have to trust that human nature is still basically good. I have to say I find it strange that so many people making comments, who seem to be Christian, can be at ease with planning to kill others, apparently without asking questions or finding out their intentions.

    1. Sorry to be cynical, but unfortunately we're not living in a time when people are humane enough to sacrifice for people they don't know -or even for people they DO know. Those days are past in most parts of our world.

  17. Don, this was an awesome series. Thank you.

    Maybe TEOTWAWKI never happens. Maybe everything will be OK. At least in the meanwhile we can enjoy the blessing of living in what many folks would describe as 'God's country'. It sure beats living in NYC or the Bronx.
    Montana Guy

  18. Just a thought...

    How many of these "looters" and members of the "Golden Horde" will eventually realize that all the killing and taking isn't profitable anymore (based on the dubious predication they were successful to begin with) and decide they must settle somewhere and set up their own homestead, complete with garden, livestock, etc.? Seems they will find themselves awfully sorry they acted the way they did among the very people who could have helped them build a sustainable life. One can only steal so much before supplies run out completely.


  19. Dear Don, your post has been excellent! It is very TRUE, very sensible and full of facts and good common sense. But I'm afraid when it comes to "Terry" and his/her ilk, it will just fall on deaf ears, as usual! Liberal-progressives are too far gone. They have been conditioned to think one way and one way only: the liberal-progressive way. PERIOD! Because there's no getting through to these brainwashed folks, I've learned to just ignore them. Less frustration and less strain on my blood pressure. --Fred in AZ

  20. I read your blog almost daily; I don't remember how I found it. Thank you for your voice of reason. I live in Southern CA, and would like to prep. But the husband is in complete denial. Now I suspect it is laziness -deny the possibility and you don't have to exert effort. The drought is preventing a garden this year. We always need to prep for earthquakes, so that is what I tell the husband I am doing (solo; no help even with that). I suggested getting a weapon, but he denies the need, even after being reminded of the Katrina hordes. We would have the South Central hordes. Oops, this is turning into venting; sorry about that. Please keep on educating me because I do have the dream of finding country space and living quietly and simply.

  21. Thanks Don so much for your blog. I think, like some others have mentioned, that our (rural prepper) problem would be not so much "golden horde" as our dear government. But what I wanted to point out was how the "empty" farmhouse got that way.

    The reply above mentioned the peace and quiet of the county. A horde of 20-30 or more vehicles can be heard miles away. From personal experience I know a single Harley can be heard over 2 miles away (as the crow flies) on a quiet night. After a week or two of almost total traffic shutdown people will notice ANY motor traffic at distances that would give plenty of warning.

    With people that are already on edge because of lack of communication and news clearing the pantry and running the cattle into the woods would be a first response to more than a couple of cars or trucks coming down the road. If it's not a "golden horde" then it's probably government coming to collect supplies.

    I don't like seeming so negative about what our government would do to "help" people, but history repeats itself. Most government officials have never had a problem with forcing farmers to farm without seed or breeding stock.


  22. Don, I would rather engage a company of dismounted infantry than a dozen hunters that know how to shoot and know the woods like the back of their hands,

  23. One of the most interesting posts you guys have ever done... really a good thing getting folks thinking/talking. I feel that the hubs and I are better prepared than 80% of the people who list their preparedness plans on the net. Not bragging, just stating a fact! We are 2 old farts that have more experience than some though.... How ever when I look at the BIG PICTURE I see our areas of weakness, what we could be working to improve, etc. Reading the comments in these posts... I see a lot of over confidence. Just saying. An interesting experiment would be for us all to throw the main breaker to our house and do with out power for a week. Any takers out there??? Anyone?? Here would be my situation......2 freezers down, me trying to can the contents in 90 degree heat over a wood fire, with out enough empty jars to contain it all. Carrying the water & finding the wood to have the fire. Smoke on a 90 degree day, means food to any idiot. Am I a pessimist or a realist?