In response to my last blog post on the Seven Core Areas of Preparedness, a self-described "urbanite" poster wrote the following respectful comments, which I believe are important to address:
Let me begin by saying I am not a prepper. I have no expertise in this area at all. However, some of the blogs I enjoy do occasionally cover the topic (yours, for example) and I continually see what I believe is a huge blind spot. Unless you grow your food in an underground hot house (which would require a lot of electricity for grow lights and fans), it is planted in a garden somewhere on your property. You can hide yourself, but not your garden. Are you going to take your beef herd into your house with you? In any long-term crisis situation, your cattle and garden will be indefensible and therefore gone in a matter of months. You cannot protect them from a determined large, armed group and still graze them every day. Sure, you could butcher all of them, but there goes your long-term sustainability. Same with the garden. One raid and your entire year's worth of food is gone. Do you honestly believe you will be able to protect a garden plot (large enough to supply your family with a year's worth of food) for an entire growing season? As an urbanite, I know that millions and millions of people will head for the less populated areas of this country. They will travel in large groups for safety and they will be armed to the teeth. They will not worry about "Will the locals welcome you?" They will do whatever it takes to survive, which likely will include murdering "the locals" for their resources. You cannot run without abandoning your food (growing or canned). You cannot hide your food and produce it at the same time. It will become "survival of the most ruthless." So as you're teaching your daughters to fire their assault rifles, have you talked to them about the fact that in a true survival situation, it will be human beings they'll be shooting? Are you "prepping" them for that? It wouldn't take a very large group for you to be outnumbered and then either pinned down inside while all your outdoor food is stolen, or overrun completely. What then? It seems to me that any prepper scenario only works if you're willing to kill others to survive, and even then only until the canned goods hold out. The minute you have to plant and tend a garden, you (and your food) will be sitting ducks. I realize this post must sound really hostile, but it isn't meant to be. I'm just curious about whether preppers think about these eventualities, and what's the plan then?
He later followed up with another comment:
Thanks to all of you for your respectful, considered responses. I appreciate the dialog. I would just caution you not to underestimate the urbanites. We may not know how to butcher a hog properly, but that won't stop the thieves from taking it. I also truly believe you vastly underestimate the sheer numbers you will face. What will one family, even one community, do against literally hundreds of armed marauders? Yes, you may hide until they pass, but your resources will be pillaged. Livestock, barns, hay, tools, machinery, vehicles, fencing, lumber, food, anything left behind will not be there when you return. And as I said, no one seems to have any plan for hiding the food while you grow it. That is the weak link in the food chain. Sooner or later your stockpile will run out (or be taken from you) and producing more means growing it or raising it. You'll have just a few months of growing season to produce enough food for a year. That takes a large garden area. It might be a very enlightening experiment to try to grow enough food to feed your family for one year. Even without any pressure from thieves, it is a daunting and sizable task. And when you add the need to produce the food your food eats (hay, chicken feed, etc.), the job seems impossible, especially if there are bands of marauders you must somehow protect it from day and night. I hear the sentiment that you feel you must try, you must plan to do something. But it seems like you need to rethink the idea that you will be able to continue to produce/grow what you will need. In the end, it will be the very reality that you ARE rural (and therefore relatively sparsely populated) that will be your biggest problem. There will simply be far more of them than of you. Each farm, or ranch, or homestead will make its stand, but I think the overwhelming numbers will win out. They will have time and the odds on their side. They don't have to win every single time, you do.
These are all valid questions and concerns, and it just so happens it’s something on which my husband has given a great deal of thought. So he wrote the following in response:
Hi Anonymous June 3:
My name is Don and I'm Patrice's husband.
You've asked some very important questions, and since these questions and others in the same vein have long been on my mind, I decided to take the opportunity to answer them for you as best as I can. The questions you ask are more in my line of thought rather than Patrice's. Over many years of marriage, we naturally gravitated to those areas closest to our own areas of interest and inclination. She's the "quartermaster" of our home, while security is more my bailiwick.
First off, not knowing much about your own situation or experiences, but believing you are asking these questions with an honest heart, I'll respond in kind. As I don't know your gender, and writing out "Anonymous June 3" every time is too much work, I'll call you Terry. I hope that is okay with you.
Terry, it seems to me that you do not have a clear grasp of the differences between urban and truly rural living. So let me give you a general outline of the geographical conditions that the many thousands of rural preppers live under.
Our little homestead is located between an incredibly large area of farms and ranches on one side and the upper foothills of a very sparsely-occupied range of mountains on the other. We are forty miles as the crow flies from any moderate sized urban area (considerably farther in you figure it in road miles). Even those "local" urban centers are isolated, surrounded by places similar to where we live. There is nothing even remotely like a "metroplex" within many hundreds of miles of us.
Of greater importance with respect to security is the fact that we are also surrounded by thousands of others who think and prep like us. These are multi-generational farmers and ranchers and loggers and foresters who have known each other all their lives. They are related to each other. They attend the same churches, the same fraternal organizations. They know their neighbors. They know the thousands of acres around them like the backs of their hands.
Every one of them we know keeps a large store of preserved food on hand simply because stores are usually a ways off and shopping is often a monthly exercise. They all have plentiful supplies of fuel, tools, and heavy machinery. They have wells, cisterns, ponds and running streams passing through their land. Nearly every one of them has a fireplace or wood stove that they use regularly, either as a secondary or primary heating source.
They also, each and every one of them, have weapons. Weapons they know how to use. Weapons they practice with. Weapons they hunt with all year round on the lands they know so well.
Let's compare this with modern urbanites. Folks come and go. People in urban environments typically move about. Family members rarely live near each other. Most people in an apartment complex or suburb have little or no idea of who lives next to them. No one keeps any appreciable amount of food because the grocery stores are close at hand and restaurants are plentiful, and people in the cities spend less time at home when compared to their country cousins. Most city folk don't have any source of water other than their tap. They heat with electricity or gas – both of which are delivered to them by an "on-demand" system. They have little-to-no fuel storage, little-to-no tools, and relatively little in the way of weaponry. They certainly don't have the same degree of experience in weapons practice or use as rural dwellers.
So Terry, in the long-term crisis you mention, I expect to have very little to worry about from my friends and neighbors. You see, we go to those same churches. I'm an active member of a local fraternal organization, and in the relatively small population of my area, I know most everyone, including the county commissioners (I buy hay from one of them). I know the sheriff and his deputies. I know my neighbors (every Sunday we have a pot luck dinner with our nearest ones). I don't have to hide my garden or my cattle from my neighbors because they have gardens and livestock too. If things ever do go off the tracks, we'll be right were we already are now: helping each other, worshiping with each other, sharing our food, our tools, and our time with each other. And we'll be defending each other as well. I'm not too worried about being raided by them.
But what about the "millions and millions of people" headed our way, traveling "in large groups for safety" and "armed to the teeth"? That's the real problem, isn't it?
I'll answer that in a future post. I have to get to work now.