So, you’re setting up a lifeboat community. You’ve got a group of “like-minded” people, a handful of acres, maybe a house or two, and plans to ride out TEOTWAWKI. But do you really know who you’ve signed on with?
by Jennie Erwin, contributing writer
I’ll be talking today about my personal group, and I’ll change names to protect the innocent, but maybe you’ll recognize some of this crazy in your own group. Feel free to chime in if you’ve got insight on any of this to share.
The Crazy Guy
We’ll call him Chris, Crazy Chris. He doesn’t date much, and is a little socially awkward. He’s intelligent enough, and a really nice guy, so joining up with him didn’t seem like that big a deal. He even has experience with organic farms, through the WWOOFing group. Sounds great! Until the crazy starts coming out. He left a good job to come back to the doomstead a few years ago, (a bit premature, but sure, okay). Then we realize his entire plan is to set up in a tee-pee. In Iowa. All year. *sigh*
At that point in doomstead construction, we had a shed, and half a house. No utilities, no food production, just construction. Weeks of gentle, reality-oriented discussions failed to persuade him, and he showed up, with a teepee. He didn’t help with planting or house building. He just set up the tee-pee, moved buckets of dried beans in and left.
We found out weeks later he was living in his parents basement an hour away. He drifts in and out for the next year. His tee-pee falls down at some point. We hear he’s looking for work, but he seems unable to find any. We get occasional emails talking about the “chem trails” and free junk he has found in the area and wants to move to the property. Then comes silence for a few months. Through his cousin we learn he’s in jail. He was living with another crazy person, growing illegal substances and they both got busted and thrown in jail. So, now we’re down one Crazy Chris, and still wondering what we’ll do with the tee-pee.
Will we let him back after he’s released? I don’t know. We have our own semi-legal/illegal schemes we’re considering, (did you know outhouses are illegal in most of Iowa?) We don’t need someone bringing the cops around. His plans are always more fantasy based than reality based. Perhaps he could come back on a probationary term, only if he does x amount of actual work to further our actual group goals.
The Handy Guy Who Can’t Commit
We’ll call him Bob. Oh Bob. He is SO handy. He’s a woodworker, an electrician and a fix-it-man all rolled into one. He loves to tinker, he loves to fix stuff. He made a miniature model of some wind turbines after we had a discussion about them. Just to see if the blade concept would work. When we entered unexplored territory with the buried house, he spent hours running weight calculations trying to help figure out the support structure needs for pouring a concrete roof.
He’s way better at peppin than I am, he can get pepper seedlings with 5x less death than what I manage. But, he’s got this wife. She’s a sweetheart, I love her to death, but she refuses to have anything to do with our “dirt farming.” She’s been clear about that from the get go, so there’s no hurt feelings or anything. We just know that our handy Bob may not join us in the end.
So, we make use of him when we can, and we keep both of them included in our lives, not just the doomstead stuff, but the normal stuff too. We’re always hoping that he’ll convince his wife that the doomstead is a valid back up plan. We’re hoping that once we get the basic infrastructure squared away we can put in something like a pottery kiln that will make use of her amazing creative skills. She would be just as much of an asset to the group as Bob, I’ve seen her create everything from a period dress costume to a dog jacket for an injured pet. Plus, she has some medical training from her day job.
We’re not leaving space for them on the property, not to live anyway. We are planning some space for their creative enterprises, Bob needs more space to cure local wood, his wife might be tempted by the kiln. I figure that if we can get them involved with the doomstead, even on a partial basis, it is better than nothing at all.
Security Crazy Guy
Security Steve, it doesn’t matter what the discussion starts out as, he’ll steer it towards security at the first chance. We run the group using consensus, so I’ve sat through more than my fair share of security wet dreams. At one point I had to be polite while he hashed out the security potentials of cougars. Not, “how do we keep them out,” but “I think we could use cougars as guards.” *sigh*
He lives off of wealthy parents, but has dreams of grandeur, in a fantasy world where he’s a great warrior and can spend his days productively keeping our doomstead safe. Presumably he would not still be living off his parents money, but like I said, fantasy world. He gallops off on Quixotic quests. Right now he’s living in a different state, chasing his current windmill, and dodging the police. Group consensus has him removed from the board, connected only as a friend and potential volunteer, but no longer able to vote.
Will we let him back, if the SHTF? Probably not. There’s probably not going to be any need for that level of security. We’ll train some dogs (read U.S. Military Dog Training), grow some well placed thorny vines, and put some barbed wire up. No need for cougars or a crazy person.
The Gal Who Will Work to Death
We’ll call her Rose. Rose tries to do EVERYTHING. Her and her husband are the landowners. They live in the underground bermed concrete house, with their 4 year old, that we built by ourselves. To say their life is crazy, is an understatement.
This summer we’re helping them move out of the doomstead, into a shed, so that we can rip up the flooring and dry out the subflooring from a drainage issue last fall. She works a couple of jobs, her husband works a couple of jobs, and slowly a homestead is emerging around them.
The biggest problem we have with her is she will literally work herself till she’s sick. She takes on too much and has trouble saying no. Her husband and I often have to work together to get her to rest and eat properly. We couldn’t do it without her of course. Everything would take twice as long without her. But, we constantly have to pull her back from the brink of burn out.
What Kind of Crazy am I?
Well, like every good crazy person, I think I’m fairly sane. This isn’t true of course, I’m probably pretty crazy. We all are. It helps to be honest about the crazy, and treat it like the reality it is. There are types of crazy you can live with and types you can’t. Figuring it out sooner rather than later, is probably preferable.