“If anything happens, we’re coming to your place!” – reality check

Homesteaders are often naturally prepared people and as such, have more infrastructure available to them than your average North American household.

Prepared people hear expressions like the above on a routine basis. Here are some other derivatives:

“If the [ SHTF ] [ Apocalypse ] [ world ends] [ WWIII ], I/we are coming to your place!”

“If the [ SHTF ] [ Apocalypse ] [ world ends] [ WWIII ], I/we know where to go place!”

“I/We aren’t worried, we know where to go!”

If we had a dollar for every person who visits our homestead and says such things, we could probably finance another entire homestead!

A lot of people must be expecting terrible times ahead because a huge number of people say such things! Let’s hope those days never come! Nevertheless, if they do, we need to examine some (harsh) realities, shall we? Some of these realities might be harsh.

Reality: If you’re saying these things… you might be a narcissist!

Most homesteaders we’ve met are generous and giving people, and quite willing to help others. Nevertheless, most aren’t spending their time, energy and funds to secure yourself or your family in some future times of trouble. Did you really think they were?

Sure, some (us too) might have their wider family in-mind should such a need arise. Most of us are investing in our homesteads to offer our own families a certain quality of life in the present, and if necessary, the future as well.

Obtaining and maintaining a homestead is tremendously involved and expensive. While many homeowners struggle to provide for the mortgage and utilities, insurance, etc – homesteaders are doing all of those things along with financing and building entire infrastructures to produce food, energy, and more.

Many assume that you just throw up a solar panel in ten minutes and boom! Power! They also assume that growing food is “easy” – you just plant seeds and water them, right? When you seek your own energy and food (among other things), you’re becoming your own grocery store and power company. If you’re also homeschooling or self-employed, you’re also your own educational institution and employer.

If you think your electric and grocery bill is high, try building your own electric company and grocery store, library, and school!

Homesteading is very knowledge, labor and equipment intensive. Many homesteaders have forgone luxuries like vacations, entertainment, rest and relaxation in order to establish and maintain their homesteading lifestyle.

If you are assuming that you should profit from those efforts and sacrifices – having never participated in them – you’ve probably got some narcissistic characteristics!

 

Reality: If you’re saying these things… you stand a very high chance of meeting your demise if such calamities occur.

By saying these kinds of expressions, you’re confessing your own lack of preparation for an uncertain future. That should be reason enough to make changes. Would you tell your neighbors “if our house burns down, we’re hoping your homeowner’s insurance covers it!”.  Try that sometime! How are they going to feel about such?

If you’re not prepared, like or not,  you’re hoping to benefit from the preparation of others – either the government or the good graces of family, friends, and neighbors. Hopefully, people always make an effort to help others, but relying upon that is unwise and irresponsible. It’s a big country. The government can’t possibly meet the demands of everyone at once.

If you’re counting on the blood, sweat, and resources of everyone else to see you through hardship, you’re not only foolish but dangerously ill-equipped for the realities that such hard times would bring. You’d be making some woefully ignorant assumptions:

  1. That you’ll have the opportunity, means, and freedom to move to such places during a time of hardship.
  2. That such places will be present, operational, and willing to receive you in times of trouble.
  3. That such places won’t be overwhelmed by other unprepared people such as yourself, thus having very little to offer you.
  4. That resources alone are enough and that the knowledge, wisdom, and experience to go with them will just magically descend upon you when you arrive.
  5. That prepared people aren’t going to expect something of you that you might not have.
  6. That someone will embrace the burden of someone who has contributed nothing and at the expense of others they love and value.

A “plan” to go where others have done all the thinking and preparing for you is not a plan for your well-being. It’s a plan for your near-certain demise.

Two scriptures come to mind for those inclined to receive them:

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. – Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)

and

Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NLT)

Reality: Most homesteaders aren’t entirely self-reliant.

Self-sufficiency/reliance – a goal of most homesteaders, is considerably difficult to achieve compared to most modern living. Most we know who are working towards such wouldn’t say they’ve reached it yet. Even the oft-referenced Amish who many assume to be totally resilient and who we relate to frequently aren’t self-reliant.

If the people trying daily – and some for generations – if they aren’t yet self-reliant, how far do you expect to get expecting those people to also care for the copious masses of ill-prepared persons like you should the need arise?

Reality: Some are unable to help themselves, but most can do so

Certainly, some are simply unable to do much for themselves to secure their own futures. The elderly and infirm might be an example. Though, most elderly folks we know are wise enough to be better prepared than most younger than them. What then is your excuse?

Nearly anyone can work towards making their lives more resilient. It is most often a matter of values.

We all tend to invest our resources into what we value. Many invest in their own pleasure while others invest in their own well-being. Why should you benefit from how your homesteading or prepared family or friends have invested?

If you have three months of savings in the bank but not three months of food in your cupboard – you simply value one above the other – and possibly to your own peril. You can’t eat your savings and you’re banking (no pun intended) that you’ll be able to retrieve your savings and use it in exchange for your material needs. History is replete with examples where that didn’t work out so well.

The logical person to best suited to look after your future well-being is…. drum roll… YOU! If it’s not important enough to you to look after your self and family, why on earth should it be important to others where you would plan on going in times of trouble?

Reality: Your best bet for receiving help from prepared people is now, not in the future.

The best help a prepared person can give the unprepared is encouragement, knowledge, and advice on how to be prepared before the need arises for such.

If you aren’t willing to receive that kind of assistance today, and won’t invest in such, it’s unrealistic and unjust to expect assistance later, once the train has left the station. Your opportunity is now. Take it or leave it.

Reality: You can have your cake and eat it too (sorta)!

Most basic needs boil down to this: calories, Watts, and BTUs  – all of which require much effort to produce or obtain. These aren’t any less expensive for prepared people than they would be for you.

We realize that not everyone can have a homestead, nor be a homesteader, nor would even want to be. We aren’t suggesting otherwise.

However, if you want to benefit from places where others have invested so that life would be easier or more comfortable in times of trouble, and you don’t wish to create such yourself, you can at least contribute to what others are doing. You can help a homesteader with their ongoing needs in producing those calories, Watts, and BTUs.

Rather than expecting you can just show up in a future time of trouble and consume, how about showing up now and pitching in? There are many ways you can help the homesteader and yourself form a more resilient future for one another:

  • Regularly visit your homesteading friends and inquire about what you see.
  • Offer to learn how things work, how chores are done.
  • Offer to homestead sit so friends can go out, get a break, or visit folks out of town.
  • Lend your time and labor to projects.
  • Build your own library and acquire knowledge useful to a homesteading operation.
  • Board your own animals on a homestead, go there and do the chores.
  • Join a CSA where people grow their own food and where you can participate in the labor. Learn how and where food is produced.
  • Where possible, purchase and stage your own provisions (ie: food, batteries, equipment) at such places. This way, if you need to go there in an uncertain time, your burden on such places is lighter and your contribution valuable.
  • Contribute your own resources toward things that help create infrastructure in places you might wish to go in times of trouble. This can be in the form of material goods, or your labor in helping things get established.
  • Procure resources and keep them at the ready that you could take with you to such places in times of trouble.

Certainly, someone who is well-stocked and/or has contributed toward the ongoing development and well-being of a homestead will be a welcome visitor if they arrive at the gate during a hard time. Those who haven’t would be at a great disadvantage.

Someone arriving with their own means of taking care of themselves or contributing to the greater good is going to be better off than someone with nothing to offer and no skin in the game.

Summary

Our intent here isn’t to scold anyone for making these statements or to express any lack of welcome or willingness to help others if the need arises. We’re quite willing to help others, as we are sure most homesteaders are.

However, since the majority of the population we encounter says things like this, it has occured to us how unrealistic and impossible it would be to help everyone who would need it. Truthfully, we ourselves are alarmed at how many people are inadequately prepared to meet their own needs and wrongfully expect that someone else will do so.

Bottom line: Take ownership in the responsibility for yourself and family, and at a minimum, contribute towards the lives and well-being of those you might wish to partner with during a difficult time.

Are we “Survivalists”?!

Did the title of this post catch your attention? Good. Many, many people sneer at the thought of being a “survivalist” – or “prepper” and not without cause. Many are turned off by paranoid proclamations of doom and gloom and the accompanying encouragement to run for the hills, store up food and water, heavily arm themselves, etc.

Then there is the sustainable homesteading crowd. For some, those words might conjure up images of venturing out west on a covered-wagon train, eating cornbread and beans over a campfire as you hand-clear a hundred acres of raw wilderness with an ax and saw.

“Sustainable Homesteading” – might conjure up other pictures of a bunch of dreadlock-sporting granola types howling at the moon and dancing around a drum circle.

We sometimes get curious looks or inquiries about ourselves. Are we “preppers” or “survivalists” or “homesteaders”, “farmers” perhaps? It’s a difficult question to answer without some explanation.

We would propose that if one were to pursue one of these things, in time they’ll become the others – at least in part.

Now we’re not saying that if you try growing your own vegetable garden, you’ll end up living in a bunker with 25 years of freeze-dried food.  It’s just that the path to being sustainable followed far and long enough, is likely to result in you being a pretty good survivalist whether you want to or not. Likewise, the journey of a well-thought-out survivalist is going to eventually lead toward a life of sustainability.

Why is this?

Because you cannot be/do one without the other. In order to be sustainable, one must be able to provide for a need indefinitely without exhausting all their resources in doing so. So for example, to be sustainable regarding food, one must be able to provide an ongoing, inexhaustible source of food without exhausting their means to keep doing so.

Hmmm… sounds exactly what a prepper or survivalist might ponder as they think about how to indefinitely provide food for themselves and their family in the event of an emergency or disaster. In order to truly “survive” some scenarios, one would need to do so sustainably, or their survival would have an expiration date. That wouldn’t make for a very good survivalist!

To be survivable long-term requires being sustainable. If one is sustainable, they’ve provided continuity for doing what needs to be done for as long as it needs to be done. Those people, whether they like the name or not – are in some senses “survivalists”.

At the deepest level, someone pursuing sustainability is doing so because they want themselves or their environment to flourish despite whatever else is going on in the world. Nevertheless, many (including ourselves) don’t consider ourselves “survivalists”. We would prefer the term “thrivalists”, because what we do, we do to thrive, not to survive. What is the point of the latter without the former?

Why bring all this up? Because the journey to simple, by nature, is a movement toward being sustainable. This entails reducing dependencies on systems and resources that are without and managing those within to the best of your ability. If we can’t keep doing what we do, we haven’t accomplished all that much.

A survivalist might do things because they expect systems to fail. A thrivalist does them because a life that is not contingent upon these things is not enslaved to such things.

The great news is, as one becomes more sustainable, they’re prepared for times if and when those systems and resources ever become unavailable. That’s exactly what the survivalist hopes to accomplish and that is what the sustainable homesteader aims for as well. For us, we’ll stick with “thrivalist” since no other term does justice to our intentions.