I am not a loon!

Sure, you see something in a bio that includes inevitable economic collapse and the first thing you think is “What a cook!” Believe me, I her you, and in most cases I would surly agree. We may not agree on the scale of the problem, but I bet we can agree that current financial situations around the world are connected. I also bet we can agree that the worlds leaders have done a smashing job running things for the last few decades. Many world leaders will admit that “mistakes have been made” though I doubt those leaders would cop to having been the ones making those mistakes.

We may or may not agree that the 2008 economic oops in the United States was only the beginning of a string of financial boo-boos that will cause more head and heartache than the great depression of the 1930s. I believe that we are indeed in for some much harder times, and I for one do not want to be caught with my trousers down about my ankles.

“Here we go… loony survivalist time.”

Not exactly. I am not planning on isolating myself and my family from the world, I am not going out and buying lots of guns and ammo, or other stuff normally attributed to fringe groups. I have no animosity towards any social, ethnic, or religious group, nor do I think the commies or the gov’ment are coming to get me. For the most part I am a pretty moderate and conservative type person (not to be confused with a right-wingnut religious fanatic or a leftist commie).

I believe in being prepared for emergencies, natural and/or man-made. I believe in living within my means. I believe in being as self sufficient as possible and always striving to be more so. I believe that the American middle-class is what can return the country and our economy to a healthy state, if it is allowed to. I believe that the post WWII consumer-based economy has grown out of control. I believe that government reliance is out of control. I believe that rampant mismanagement of public funds has lead the entire country down a dark path of credit reliance, debt, and consumerism. I believe that the centralization of our monetary and food systems have placed us in a very precarious position. I digress…</soapbox>

So now what?

My wife and I started moving away from what we consider a broken system several years ago. First we got rid of all of our credit accounts. This is easier said than done for most people, but it is amazing how much less stress is in your life when you stop relying on credit. It forces you to face some of the hard realities of your life and puts you in the position of conducting business with cash-in-hand. If I don’t have money in hand, I can’t afford it. It is that simple and it is actually a very powerful thing, it keeps you honest with yourself and makes you plan ahead. It also makes you stop and think about what it is you need as opposed to what you want.

Another related item was closing all but one bank account, and that one account is only used for cashing checks. The stock, commodities, and currency markets are crazy and very unreliable in this economy, don’t believe anything to the contrary. If those of us with lots of disposable cash want to play in that sand box, good for them. Most of us can’t afford to loose what we have. How many millions of people over the last decade have lost there entire retirement? Just think back over all of those news reports that pissed you off about companies mismanaging retirement funds and going bankrupt. Don’t think too hard on it though, it’ll probably freak you out. If you need an investment, buy gold or silver, and be sure to get it in hand physically, gold “shares” and “certificates” are not by any means reliable if the markets do crash; they will be worth about the same as that one-dollar bill in your pocket when hyper-inflation hits like it did in the 30s. If it aint in your hand, you don’t own it.

In a move towards healthier living and supporting local business we started buying as much of our groceries fresh and from local farmers as possible and buying fewer prepackaged foods. We buy american made products, and we buy them from local merchants when ever possible. A big one that we are still working on is to not buy from major chain stores at all. That is a big hurdle for all of us these days, and it’s becoming harder and harder every day. One big win in my eyes was no longer shopping at Community-Killer (Wal-Mart).

Next on the Hit Parade…

One of the best investments you can make is property. When I say property I am not talking about that 100′ x 100′ lot in the suburbs and certainly not a condo.what I am talking about is a plot of land that you can build a home, grow the food you need for your family, a place to homestead like many of our great-grandparents (or great-great-grandparents) did. A place where you can declare your independence from the grid and the failing financial system. Whatever you do, don’t buy this plot of freedom on credit! If you do, it’s just another piece of debt in a flawed system.

Not everyone is suited for homesteading, I get that, but for those of us who are, why aren’t we doing it now? That’s what I have been asking myself anyway. If you are not suited to it that’s fine, but you should take the time to educate yourself on where the stuff you buy every day comes from, oh, and I don’t mean “the store.” Learn where and how the food is grown and how it gets to the store you bought it from. This information may surprise you. Be educated on where your supply lines are and find alternates in case there is an interruption.

My grandmother grew up on a farm in Kansas and she instilled in me a desire to know where stuff comes from, how it’s made, and how it gets to market. I like to call it the “farmer mentality.” I am not a farmer by any means but I think I poses many of the characteristics of those who set out to homestead across the wilderness in the eighteen[th] and nineteen[th century’s] hundreds. I have always been fascinated by the trades and I have spent some time learning at least a little about many trades. I have cut and milled timber, I have worked a forge, worked on a log cabin, done some excavation, rebuilt a house, done cement work, plumbing, and electrical. I have varying levels of experience with a lot of “practical skills,” and a few less practical, and I continue to try and learn more every day.

[I grew up with an understanding that things should be fixed not thrown away. Failing repair, an item should be repurposed, even if just turned into a planter. My grandmother grew up in Kansas in the 20s and 30s, you just didn’t throw stuff away. I don’t recommend hording or collecting piles of unused stuff, for one thing, most of what is manufactured today is not generally repairable and you would end up with a lot of planters. What I would recommend is buying stuff with an eye towards durable long lasting and repairable goods. Take the time and spend a little more for well made products.]

There is always an obstacle to overcome before heading down the next leg of the journey. For us, the current obstacle is finding a property, once I have that bump in the road behind me the details of the plan can be drawn up. For now, I am finishing some schooling, gathering funds for the property, and studying up on the skill sets I think are most practical for the foreseeable path; these include milling, timber framing, and stone masonry which I have some skills in. I am also looking at some new sustainable building skills like earthbag, cob, and lime-based plasters.

Once We have a site to build on the [my] focus of this blog will shift to that. Until that time it will be a conglomeration of things moving down the road to self-sufficiency, stuff like alternative building materials & techniques, earthen materials, water-shedding, alternative power, aquaponics, organic farming, and similar topics.

If you have feedback or suggestions and resources for materials and/or techniques please let me know.

* This post moved from FBJ Off Grid on 2013-02-12