Neighborhoods That Will Survive

I think back to many of the neighborhoods I’ve lived in over the past 25 years.  Most of them were pretty similar: Nobody talked to one another.

Sure, there was a cursory wave when you drove by or pulled your car into the garage.  But for the most part, that was it.  People would get home from work, drive their cars into their garage… and then close the garage door and walk into the house.

I’d imagine that if there was ever a real SHTF scenario, people would probably get to know each other pretty quickly.  But you’re going to be at a distinct advantage if you already know who’s living in your neighborhood… before the SHTF.

The neighborhood we live in is different.  It’s an older neighborhood and everybody knows everybody else for the most part.  Unlike the neighborhood I grew up in, in Southern California– everybody owns guns here and it’s not uncommon to see a gun safe in a garage as you drive by.

Same thing with gardens: The guy behind me has a green house.  The guy across the street has a garden.  So does the guy on the corner, and on the corner across from him… the fellow’s whole yard is nothing but rows of vegetable crops.

Neighborhoods That Will Survive

The guy next door to me has an eight year-old kid.  He and the kid watch our chickens while we are away.  When we return, we made chit-chat and he casually mentioned that he was waiting on his CCW (concealed carry permit).  He’s also a private airline mechanic and an avid off roader with two jeeps and a toyota truck in his yard– all custom built.

“Think a guy like that will be helpful to the neighborhood when the SHTF?”

The woman who lives next door to him has an adult son who lives with her.  He spends all of his free time fishing.  Across the street (the guy with the row garden) is an avid hunter and his wife is a veterinarian.  Across from them is a retired iron worker.  Next to the iron worker is a retired National Guardsman.

I was chatting with the Guardsman and he told me that: When an area a few blocks away flooded, lookie-loos were driving by to see the flood damage.  Every time they drove by, it caused a little wake that pushed water into the residents’ houses.  Two old guys who lived on that street got pissed off and started sitting out in lawn chairs with their shotguns.  If you didn’t live on that street, you weren’t getting in.

Eventually the police came and set up a road block.

A block and a half from the corner where the iron worker lives are two twin sisters.  They’re in their 60’s.  They are master gardeners.  Their backyard looks like Disneyland.  Literally… master gardeners.  Talk about a real asset to the neighborhood if there is a long term crunch!

One of the sisters has an adult son who lives on the other side of the neighborhood with his Dad.  The son is a handyman extraordinaire.  That guy (the son) has a brother who is a green beret in Afghanistan currently.  His father was a drill sargent for the Marines, if I remember correctly.

Across the street from the two sisters is a guy who built a canoe… from a log… in his garage.

You get the point.

The people who live in this neighborhood have skills.  Real, tangible skills.  Contrast our neighborhood to so many typical suburban neighborhoods filled with lawyers and accountant and insurance salesmen.

Now, you’re probably wondering: “Sobert… you’ve only lived in your neighborhood for less than two years!  How do you know so many of your neighbors?”

It’s a good question.

For starters, it’s an older neighborhood with a lot of retired folks.  I don’t mind living around retired folks: They’re around during the day so they can keep an eye on things.  And they’ve all lived in the neighborhood for so long that they know all of the details about the topography and history of the area, too.  These people also have more time to socialize with each other, compared to your average yuppie who spends most of his time at work.

Secondly, I have a dog who I take for a walk through the neighborhood… every day.  At pretty much the same time.  When you walk your dog a lot, the neighbors get used to seeing you around.  That makes you “familiar”.  And once you’re familiar, you’re no longer a stranger– which makes it safe to come up and talk with you.  Plus: Just the fact that you’re walking a dog means– to most people– that you must be a nice guy.  Sure, it’s a ridiculous conclusion to draw.  I’m sure there have been several mass murderers in history who’ve owned dogs.  But regardless: People will come up and talk with you when you walk a dog.

Try it yourself and you’ll see I’m right.  Maybe not the first time, maybe not the second time… but after awhile, people will start coming up and talking to you.

And that’s how you learn who is an asset in your community and more importantly… who is not.

Visiting Weatherby Rifles Corporate Headquarters In Paso Robles, California

Cool place. Very knowledgeable staff. Their Mark V model line looks like a very nice rifle.  I don’t like going to California per se, because I can’t legally carry my concealed carry weapon.  So I don’t.  It’s a risk  you just have to take sometimes.  But if the Zombie outbreak happens while I’m in California, this is where I want to be when it happens.

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Recession Proof Business Idea: Buying and Selling Used Appliances

I’ve been studying recession proof businesses for quite awhile.  They’re harder to find than you might think.  When the Great Recession hit, many people were asking, “What small business can I start that will be recession proof?

Many people proffered their ideas about what would be recession proof.  Few proved correct.

For example, many people think that practicing criminal law is recession proof, but it’s not.  Sure, crime doesn’t go away.  In fact, crime frequently increases during a recession.  But guess what also happens?  All of those lawyers who were practicing business law suddenly decide to practice criminal law, since the business clients dry up.  Even the bankruptcy lawyers– after an initial spurt of business– suffer.

I remember reading an article in the L.A. Times about students in mortician school worrying about their future.  Seems that when money is really tight, more people opt for cremation than burial.  On the other hand, there there are articles like the one about Mexican Morticians Making A Killing As Drug War Spirals.

Who knows?

Benjamin Roth wrote a great book about his families experiences surviving the Great Depression called, “The Great Depression: A Diary”.  It’s a fantastic book.  He lived through the Great Depression and kept a diary.  Both he and his father were business lawyers and that gave them a cat-bird seat to view what was happening in … I believe it was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?  In any event, the big take-away from the book was: When an economy dies, almost everybody suffers.  There wasn’t anybody who he came into contact with who didn’t suffer.  Although that doesn’t mean there weren’t people who did alright.

If we ever see something like the Great Depression again, I’d like to have my ducks stacked in a row and already be set up with a counter-cyclical business that will help me get through it.  Preps are good… but let’s face it: Even the best stocked bunker will eventually run out of stuff.  Having a continual flow of income (cash, gold, barter… whatever!) is something that can be set up now and kept in place in case you ever need it.

Ryan Finlay is doing just that: He’s buying and selling used appliances on Craigslist.  What’s interesting about this business model is that apparently there is a continual high demand AND supply of used washers and dryers.  If the economy continues to crumble, the demand will continue to grow.  What Ryan does is he buys them for pennies on the dollar  (or picks up free appliances that aren’t working), fixes them if necessary, applies any cosmetic fixes and then resells on Craigslist.

And he’s doing well enough that he doesn’t need a regular job and is able to support both himself, his wife and his four kids.  God bless America!  The man knows how to hustle.

buying and selling used appliances

According to his blog, he learned how to repair used appliances by watching Youtube videos.

Part of Ryan’s success is that he offers free delivery and pickup of the old appliance that the customer is getting rid of.  Ryan’s a sharp guy.  To learn more about how he makes a living buying and selling used appliances, take a look at his blog: ReCraigslist.com

I Just Killed My First Rooster

My heart rate is still elevated, even though I killed my first rooster more than half an hour ago.

It was the second bird I’ve ever killed.  Growing up in the city, they don’t teach you this kind of thing, but they should.

We bought eight chicks about six weeks ago.  4 Buff Orpingtons and three Rhode Island Reds.  We ordered all females, but if you don’t order a “sex-link” breed, it’s a crap shoot as to what you’re getting.  They tell you that they can tell with 90% accuracy.

So, we ended up with one rooster.  Here’s a picture I took about a week ago.  In the last week I’ve been amazed at how much weight he put on.  His rooster-esque features became even more pronounced than in the picture below, too.

Rooster

We live too close to the neighbors to have a rooster.  Even chickens, although it’s legal to have them, I worry that their noise and any possible smell will ruffle some feathers, no pun intended.

Whatever.  The rooster had to go.

I called a local feed store owner I know, but he told me that he can’t own roosters, either.  There is a local “chicken rescue” and for a $5 donation, they will “rescue” the chicken and either place him in a home or keep him and guarantee he won’t be eaten for food.

Won’t be eaten for food?  WTF… we’re talking about a rooster here, not a house cat.

Plus, I’m way too cheap to spend $5 to have somebody come and get my rooster.

I thought about putting him up on Craigslist.  At least then he might go to a needy home.  But this time of year, Craigslist is flooded with ads for roosters that people are giving away for free, and it didn’t look like there were many takers. Plus– to be perfectly honest– there was a certain part of me that felt it would be a good experience to butcher the rooster, myself.  You know… go through the process with a full belly and when I’m not in dire need for a bite to eat, and rather than doing my “dry run” during a grid down scenario when I can’t afford to make a mistake… better to learn by doing, now.

What kind of mistake?

I don’t know.  Maybe not knowing how to grip the rooster properly.  Or missing with the axe and cutting myself.  I mean… you can watch how to do all this stuff on Youtube, but until you actually do it a few times yourself will you really KNOW HOW TO DO IT.  Experience is the best teacher.

My wife– while supportive– still felt a little “down” about me killing something that we raised since day 2 of it’s life.  But she also understands that six weeks in our backyard is a fantastic life compared to nine weeks in a professional poultry production house  where the birds are raised in boxes with no light or room to move and pumped full of antibiotics because they are forced to  stand in their own excrement before being butchered, never allowed to free range or know what it’s like to hunt for a worm in the tall grass, like our chickens do.

So, before I describe how it went down, you’re probably wondering about the first bird I ever killed?

It was from the same batch.  Three days after we got the chicks, one of the Buff Orpingtons got blocked up and wasn’t defecating.  We did all we could, but after a few days she was in such bad shape that the other chickens were trampling her, she wasn’t eating or drinking and she pretty much couldn’t move.

But she  was still alive.

I used my machete on her.  Picked her up from the empty stock tank we were keeping the chicks in, placed her on a 2×4 and whacked her on the neck with my machete.  She squacked and made a horrible scream for life.  I wacked her a second time, determined to put a quick end to it.  Her body convulsed and in an instant, the chick was dead.  It was the humane thing to do.

How It Went Down

When I killed the rooster a half an hour ago, I was dealing with a much larger bird.  Imagine a bird about 70% of full size.  I’d guess 4-5 pounds with a wing span of maybe 1 1/2  to 2 feet.

For those of you who’ve never done it: You grab them by the feet and hang ’em upside down, then lower the rooster’s head toward a piece of board.  They kind of lay their head on the side of the board and are (fairly) still.

Then you bring the axe down.

 

Budgeting for a Lifestyle Contraction

Here’s a pretty good article I stumbled upon by Gary North on budgeting for a lifestyle contraction.  Yes, it’s the same Gary North who was one of the main proponents behind the Y2K alert/scare.  He has his own membership site that I belonged to a few years ago.  It had some interesting ideas in it.  He is a good writer and he is fantastic at writing headlines that make you want to read his articles.  The discussion forum was a weak point: After you’ve read through most of his articles, you’ll want to visit his discussion forum.  The problem is: He rarely posts to the discussion forum, and when he does it’s usually just to link to one of his previously written articles.  Or else he gives a one-line answer.

Some of his ideas are goofy.  Many are infused with Old Time Religion.

I remember one of his recession proof business ideas was to start a day care center/private school for children.

Uh, yeah… right.  No gracias.  I don’t think I could come up with a more liability-prone business model if I tried.  (Maybe coal mining?)

He does, however, have some very good ideas about living beneath your means, keeping things in perspective and having the good life without competing with your neighbors.

He writes frequently for LewRockwell.com, an online libertarian hub as well as for a couple of his own sites and one of Ron Paul’s sites, too.

Anyway… here’s the article on budgeting for a lifestyle contraction.  Let me know what you think of it.