Thursday, November 17, 2011
What would it take......
One of the questions my husband and I are frequently asked are "what would it take to set up an off grid system and not change my lifestyle?". Sir Knight turns to them, with a level gaze and replies unflinchingly "anywhere from a quarter of a million to half a million dollars". They stare at him, flabbergasted, their dreams of living the off-grid life vanquished.
The reality of an off-grid life is that unless you are independently wealthy and have a crew of technicians at your disposal 24 hours a day, you will have to change your lifestyle. Gone will be your electric stove, electric dryer, forced-air electric heating system and electric hot water tank. You will never again own an electric stock tank heater or an air conditioning system. A large freezer is a thing of the past (you might not even get away with a small one) and that cute little electric fireplace - not so much. Without an endless stream of money, you are going to have to make some changes to the way you live. And that is really the point, isn't it?
When Sir Knight and I used to dream of being off-grid, we planned an elaborate system that ran perfectly and allowed us to live in the way which we were accustomed. Oh, there would be an adjustment here and there, but really, nothing too major. Then suddenly we were unwillingly thrust into the real world. The world of faulty generators, broken inverters, wind that blows too much or not enough and sun that just won't shine. Out went our plans for a propane dryer (they use way too much propane!) and our idealistic notion of powering our generator with homemade bio-diesel (when would one find the time?). The farther down the road of off-grid living we traveled the more convinced we became that being off-grid was not for the faint of heart. We had to change our expectations and our lifestyle or become nothing more than urban folks who said "I once had an off-grid farm in Idaho".
As I watch the survival/preparedness movement take root and gain steam, I have noticed the same trend among preppers. The basic motivation seems to be "what would it take for me to take care of my family when TEOTWAWKI happens, and not change my lifestyle". This cannot be! If our world crumbles we are going to have to change the way we live. Regardless of what kind of preparations you have made, how much food you have stored up and how many knowledgeable members you have in your group, life will not go on as normal.
Think of it. The electrical grid is down. Chaos reigns. People are starving. Dying. And you are living, fat and happy in your off-grid, stocked, armored up enclave. Really!?! No. Truth is, you have no idea how long the world will be turned upside down. You have to start food rationing immediately. Your solar system works great for the first 6 months and then, in your attempt pacify your sick children, you allowed them to watch a few hours of cartoons while you conduct perimeter patrols and care for livestock. Your batteries become depleted (not as much sun as in the summer - and you didn't want to attract attention by running the genset). The winter temperatures drop to an unheard of low of -10°. You wake up in the morning to battery acid all over the bathroom floor. Your batteries froze and the cases split. No more solar. Now you are truly "off-grid".
Then, your area is hit with an epidemic. People (the few who are left) start showing up on doorstep, begging for antibiotics to save their children. They had some stocked up, but they went through their supplies in the first few months. Your are their only hope. You have a store of Amoxicillin (you bought in bulk from a pet supply website). You know that it takes 24 pills (500mg every 8 hours for an eight day run) to cure this particular bug. There are 7 people in your family. They haven't come down with this nastiness, but how long can that last? Just your family would require 168 doses. You have stockpiled about 500 doses. But this is just one bug. And you are only into TEOTWAKWI 6 months. What do you do? I know what you don't do - you don't live your life as if nothing has happened. You change your lifestyle.
The bottom line is this - we don't know what tomorrow holds. There is no possible way that we can be prepared for every eventuality. We can't possibly expect to have every base covered. And really, we need to change our mindset. We have to expect to have to go without. We are going to have to be ingenious, inventive and creative. We have to think outside the box and not expect to maintain our current lifestyles. We need to think of the possibilities and work out solutions ahead of time so that we are not caught off guard.
If we don't expect the unexpected, we are sunk. If we really think that we can stockpile enough to insulate ourselves from the end of the world, we are sadly mistaken. Just because we have antibiotics doesn't mean we will survive the epidemic. Just because we have a solar system doesn't mean we won't end up with the unprepared masses, burning candles to light our nights. Survival isn't about the stuff. Survival is about cultivating the proper mindset and attitude to make do - whether you have gear - or whether you don't.
The question isn't "what would it take for me to survive the end of the world and not change my lifestyle". The questions is "what would it take for me to survive the end of the world". That is what being a prepper is all about. Get the gear. Stock the food. Beans, bullets and band-aids, by all means. But - get your head in the game.
Use it up.
Wear it out.
Make it do.
Or do without.
Old Pioneer Saying
Don't expect to go to the end of the world and have it look like your world looks now. Plan to change your lifestyle. It is much easier to prepare for a difficult lifestyle than it is to be thrust into a difficult lifestyle. And so, I urge you - prepare.