Where’s Calamity been lately? I’ve gotten a few emails lately asking if I’m still going to write here. Have no fear, I’m still around, and still writing. Things have been a little hectic in my real life. Hectic in a good way though. Certain things have reached a tipping point in my personal evaluations of the long decent. Hubby and I are in the process of getting closer to the doomstead. That means I’m juggling job hunting for a new day job, while ramping up the small vegetable growing operation on the doomstead land, while gathering references from my current day job and trying to go out on a positive note with a company and team that’s really treated me very well.
By Jennie Erwin, a contributing author
Heading For The Doomstead
Needless to say, I’ve not been trialing any new gear or equipment lately. Sometimes though, prepping means more than collecting a nifty assortment of gear. It can mean keeping your life moving in the right direction, sometimes in a literal, geographical way. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Like a lot of preppers, I’ve got one foot in the default world and one foot a little further down the long descent. It’s a balancing act not to let the default world woo me with its siren song of cheap consumables and easy credit and promises of eternal growth. It’s a balancing act to resist that siren song without completely cutting myself off from the good parts of our still-relatively-intact infrastructure. It’s a balancing act to keep a roof over my family’s heads and keep my debt load serviced with my engineering degree, while building up a business that should be crash proof, but isn’t a big money maker yet.
Also Read: Making A Living On The Doomstead
I feel like we’re only a couple of bad-luck breaks away from our nations electric grid slipping from the D+ its currently graded at down to an outright failing grade of F; complete with rolling brown outs, mandatory blackouts and all the fun and probable job loss that will come from that. And I personally don’t think I’ll retire doing what I do now, because I think things will literally crash long before that point. I can’t walk into an interview and say any of those things though, not if I want to get hired. So I have to shift more of my weight to one side of the divide and put on my happy eager citizen face to keep paychecks coming in for as long as possible. I’ll tell them we’re moving to get closer to friends and family and culture, and none of that is untrue. I won’t mention we’re also getting closer to our doomstead and lifeboat community.
It’s been awhile since I talked about the doomstead here, so let me interject a little bit of back story here for readers who are unfamiliar with it. A decade ago a small group of friends sitting in my living room thought maybe we could collaborate on a small parcel of land to provide a bit of protection for us. The 6 of us had a range of interests, woodworking, vegetable growing, perennial food growing, chickens, communal living, martial arts, guns. Since then, the 3 couples involved have morphed into 3 families, a couple of the more gung-ho gun and marital art fanatics have peeled themselves off for various reasons. Maybe it was too much talk of growing carrots and harvesting woodland crops, or too much peaceful tranquility. Because really, there’s very little need for security right now, the only thing to shoot is deer. I’m sure it’s hard to stay hyped up on a thing when the rest of the group is telling you they don’t want to spend time and money on crazy large-cat security schemes. (He really did want to run panthers around our perimeter for “security.” lol) And the free-spar sessions got to be sparsely attended once half of us were busy popping out babies.
So they self-selected out, and if you’ll take my advice, let people do that if you are forming a lifeboat community. There are different types and styles, and don’t be afraid to let people go if your style of lifeboat is not what they are looking for. You can’t be everything to everyone. Our focus was on shelter first, then food production and then supplemental income. One family bought the land, it’s only 5 acres, but it’s a great start. That family started building what I now call the doomstead, with help from the rest of us. It’s an ICF (that’s insulated concrete form) bermed house. Bermed is a fancy term for partially underground. It was finished a few years ago. Then a poorly placed pile of berm dirt sent storm water flooding in, and we’ve been replacing the floor for the past few years. But that family is living in it, on the land. A second family lives in the largish city nearby, and my family was in the same city till we moved out to the boondocks a few hours away for a job. We’re now moving back to the edge of that metro. (Keep in mind, this is a city in Iowa, not the same sort of beast as what you would find on a coast. We face a far smaller chance of dealing with roving bands of starving city-folk. Our priorities reflect that.)
It will put us within a 45 min drive of the doomstead. That’s close enough I can start to ramp up the food production that up until now has been sporadic test plots, random herbs, naturalized flora and a few chickens. That’s the food production at the doomstead mind you, I have been doing lots of food production in my own yard, practicing the skills I’ll need now, and growing out the seed I’ll be using this spring. Sure it would be easier to focus on my default job(s) and buy groceries at the store. But that brings me back to the title of this little piece, “Don’t be sheep, people eat sheep.” That tag line has been on my email signature for well over a decade. Sheep buy all their groceries at the store, and wouldn’t know how to grow their own food even if they wanted to. Sheep trust that their default job will always be there, and never make any plans for anything else. Sheep count on someone swooping in to save them when things go wrong.
Time Is Being Wasted
I trust I’m not talking to many sheep here. Are you still working your default job? Is it likely to survive a grid down situation? You have started up the learning curve on your fallback job right? Are you near your lifeboat community? Are you checking off goals from the list for your bug out location? Time’s a wasting. Gas is cheap right now if you still need to get closer to that bug out location. And let’s face it, everyone probably needs to be getting closer to those, unless you’ve got a solid shelter-in-place plan. The next financial collapse is already shaping up in the fracking bubble and student loan default rate. Nothing’s going back up Hubbert’s curve. The police state is clearly getting worse. Between that and the growing levels of poverty among the general populace, things are nearing a flash point. You couldn’t pay me enough to live in a large city right now. I certainly can’t recommend it for any of my readers.
I know better than anyone that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that needs doing. Try anyway. Turn off Game of Thrones and use that hour to practice a skill. Don’t turn the TV back on until you need it to track weather or mobs. Don’t be sheep folks, the time that’s approaching is not going to be kind to anyone, but especially not sheep.