This Couple Built a Tiny House, But Now They Have to Live in It

After years of meticulous planning, researching, and blogging, Carolyn and Tim Dolton reportedly moved into their completed “Tiny House” last week. According to their blog, the couple was “bursting with excitement” about moving into their new home, but the excitement turned to “intense regret” within the first couple of hours. The house is a 400-square-foot feat of engineering, complete with a fold-away kitchen, pop-up toilet, and not much else.

8 secrets to grit and resilience, courtesy of the Navy SEALs

Sometimes you just want to quit. You know you shouldn’t but nothing seems better than crawling back into bed and hiding under the covers. (I am there right now, actually, with my laptop.)

The emerging science of grit and resilience is teaching us a lot about why some people redouble their efforts when the rest of us are heading for the door.

Research is great, but it’s always nice to talk to someone who’s been there firsthand, and to see how theory holds up against reality. So who knows about grit and persistence? Navy SEALs.

So I gave my friend James Waters a call. He was a…

10 Skills Needed to Thrive in a Post-Collapse World

Knowledge is something that no one can take from you. It’s the eternal wealth that will help you thrive in a Post-Collapse world.

Meh. Somebody’s been reading a little too much survival fiction, I think?

How about: The ability to sell? The ability to network? The ability to keep a keen eye out for what people want?

I could go on. And I probably will, in another post.

How To Get Accepted Into Any Community, Anywhere In The World

I was talking with some friends recently about the benefits of gold vs. owning a home overseas.  There isn’t a real fail-safe option that satisfies all scenarios.

– Gold can be confiscated (or stolen).
– A house overseas (in addition to all of the regular problems with owning real estate) can be taken or lost. Squatters, title theft, laws banning foreign ownership, etc…

Even having a self-sufficient ranch of your own here in the States: You could lose it in a fire. Or you could be forced to leave it due to an unforseen environmental catastrophy.

So– the question I’ve been asking myself is: In the event of a “Get Out Of Dodge” scenario, what would allow you to be immediately welcomed into a foreign community?  (Foreign being either here in the States or overseas).

The first answer that came to my mind was: Be a trauma surgeon. But I have neither the intellect nor the desire to learn to be a trauma surgeon.

The second idea that came to mind would be to: Become a celebrity within a certain niche. A niche that has a broad international network of people who might be willing to take you in, or at least help you get back on your feet.

Take Jiu Jitsu Master Royce Gracie, for instance: There are Jiu Jitsu clubs all over the world. He could literally go anywhere and get a job teaching, almost instantly.  Because of his celebrity status within the niche, he’d find no shortage of people willing to take him and his family into their home and help him get back on his feet.

Now that’s real security!

I’ll never be Royce Gracie. But I might be able to get good enough at one or two niche specialties that it would afford me access to communities all over the world, more or less.  The secret to doing this would be:

1.  Become really good at something.  I.E.  A champion or expert.

2.  Promote yourself within that niche.  Make friends.  Build networks.  Help other people reach their goals.

Storing Things You Never Read About On Lists

One of the tricks to prepping is to keep an eye out for the things you use in everyday life that may be mission critical to you, but perhaps not to somebody else.  They’re the type of things that won’t make the “Lists of Lists” that you read about on other web sites.

Sure, the first thing that comes to mind is: medication.   But you’ve read about stocking up on necessary medications before.

What I’m talking about are the type of things that you will never read on anybody else’s list because they are specific to you in some way.

Let me give you an example: We live in the high desert.  We get something like 350 days of sun a year and it’s “a dry heat.”  What that means is that when growing a vegetable garden, your plants need shelter from the constant sun. And the wind, to a lesser extent, but mostly the ever-blasting sun.

shade

“Speaking of shade… somebody’s got it ‘made in the shade'”

We’ve found that constructing hoops out of conduit over our raised beds and then attaching shade cloths over the conduit hoop accomplishes two things:

  1. It filters out (roughly) 60% of the sun’s rays.
  2. It creates a micro system the plants respiration and prevents some of the water on the plants and soil from evaporating.  (The shade cloths still allow the sprinklers to water the plants).

The only drawback to the shade cloths are that:  They eventually rip, tear and wear out.  So, stockpiling extra shade cloths for the garden– at least in my micro climate– would be a wise thing.   Especially if mass inflation takes hold and I one day wander into my garden store to find that my $12 shade cloths are now $200 a piece.  Yikes!!

What types of things are specific to your lifestyle that you can stock up?

Dave Canterbury On Preparing For The Big Storm

Despite his fiasco with Dual Survivor, I’ve always felt that Dave Canterbury is a straight shooter– at least when it comes to searching for the truth about what works when it comes to survival.  I discount a lot of what they showed on the DS show as showmanship and the producers looking for sexy footage to make viewers tune in and buy more toothpaste.

But if you read some of Dave’s stuff (or watch his videos) he takes a very sober look at outdoor survival.

Below  is a video he did for some friends and family members right before Hurricane Sandy rolled onto the east coast.  I first saw it quite a while ago and it stuck in my head for some reason.  He talks about a lot of stuff you just won’t hear (or read) if you frequent the various survival forums online.  Like the importance of buckets, for example: Basic, unglamorous 5 gallon buckets you can use as a toilet or an improvised trash bucket or about 1000 other things.  Dave suggests stocking up on at least 25 of ’em.  That’s good, plain ‘ol common sense advice.  But something I’ll be a lot of people overlook as it’s not as fun as running off to the gun store.

Here’s the video.  Enjoy:

An RV Park For Preppers?

Over the past several years I’ve frequently thought about setting up what would basically be an RV park for preppers. Something along the lines of setting up a private self-storage facility in addition to an RV pad that each person would get (and access to utilities if available) and then charge a monthly fee. Probably have a wide fence that– if SHTF– everyone could participate in standing watch, too.

An RV Park For Preppers —
Might Get Pretty Chilly…

I mentioned the idea to Rawles a few years ago and he brought up the (very valid) point that anywhere you’d want to do something like this would get too cold for RVers in the winter. So, you would need to have cabinas (little cabins) with wood burning stoves or heat boxes so that when people arrive in their RVs, they’re not sitting in Winnebago meat lockers in a grid down scenario.

Obviously, the idea would need to be fleshed out in more detail. And the various dynamics of having what amounts to a survival retreat with several different families who don’t know each other– all with different values and levels of preparedness– might very well doom the idea from the start. Certainly, you’d need to set it up in such a manner that each renter/camper would have their own private area they could do with as they pleased. Easier said than done when somebody’s mangy mutt happens to repeatedly run into your RV or steal food from your campsite because everyone doesn’t have the same ideas about “personal space.”

But that could also be dealt with ahead of time with a clear rental agreement and understanding that the park manager has the right to evict tenants if they do not adhere to the pre-agreed standard of living.

Is There A Way To Make The “RV Park For Preppers” Idea Work With A Clear Rental Agreement?

Hard to say.  Something to think about, anyway.

Why You Should Think Like A Green Beret Instead Of A Doomsday Prepper

There is a disaster coming and you have a decision to make: Is it better to live like a rat in a hole (a bunker) or to network with your neighbors and organize your local area of operation?  Sure, it’s a loaded question but it brings up an interesting point: That even the lone wolf can’t survive long by himself.  We are social pack animals by nature and the stronger we make our local “pack” the better our chances of survival.

I’d rather have a local neighborhood of 400 organized, motivated individuals defending an area and watching each other’s back than to go it alone in a ten foot corrugated pipe buried in the middle of nowhere.  And if we agree on this point, then it makes perfect sense to look at the Green Berets for inspiration.

The Green Berets are the U.S. Special Forces elite commandos who get dropped behind enemy lines and are tasked with organizing the local or indigenous population toward a specific goal.  They are smart, motivated and trained in tactics that make them extreme force multipliers.  This should be your goal as a prepper, because surviving alone is too big of a job.  The days of “Liver Eatin'” Johnson, where a mountain man could live in the back country for years at a time, wasn’t even a high survivability endeavor back in the 1800’s.  The odds that one man or even a small family can, “face it alone” are very slim.  Sure, you might get lucky and pull it off, but personally I prefer to play the odds.  And if we look at history, the odds on survival as part of a community are much greater than going it alone– which is why communities formed in the first place.

In a disaster scenario where there is No Rule Of Law (sidenote: See NutNFancy’s excellent Youtube video on WROL:  Without Rule Of Law) there will be a power vacuum.  People will be scared and afraid and this is where we as preppers need to be ready to step up and provide leadership.  People will only huddle in their homes for so long and if an organizational structure isn’t set up quickly to utilize your neighborhood’s strengths and resources, then you may lose them forever.

First Things First

One of the first things that a Green Beret unit will do when deployed to an area is to set up an operational base in friendly territory that serves as both an operational and administrative focal point.  The operational base is used for:

  • Planning and Direction of Operations
  • Communications Support
  • Intelligence Support
  • Logistical Support
  • Briefing and Staging
  • Infiltration
  • Liason and Coordination
  • Training
  • Administration

Can you imagine setting up an operational base similar to what the Green Berets use by organizing your neighbors– perhaps at a local elementary school– and how it could be an asset in helping your community get through a Without Rule Of Law scenario?

Let’s compare two scenarios contrasting how modeling the Green Berets would work out much better for you and your family than modeling the typical character as portrayed on the Doomsday Preppers TV show:

A Tale Of Two Preppers

Timmy The Tool:  Timmy has modeled his prepper plans in a similar manner to what he’s seen on the TV shows, including a buried corrugated pipe bunker that he’s stocked with two years worth of food for himself, his wife and his two kids, Timmy Jr. (9) and Susie (4).

Timmy lives in a non-descript suburban neighborhood in Bacon, Georgia.  He doesn’t socialize or interact with any of his neighbors and the one’s who have made an effort to get to know him report that he is somewhat anti-social and odd.

When the balloon goes up, Timmy packs his wife and kids into his Chevy Suburban and gets on the road toward their buried bunker in the middle of nowhere.  The trip is uneventful and Timmy hides his Suburban under a camouflage net and then ushers his family into the bunker.

Everything seems to be going swell the first night.  But after seven days of living underground in a 10  foot by 40 foot bunker the kids won’t stop fighting and Timmy’s wife Helen is starting to show signs of emotional strain from being cooped up for so long without outside social interaction.

By Week 2 the radio stops working and Timmy can’t find where he put the backup radio.  He’s now got a short temper and blames his wife, who’s close to the end of her fuse and can’t stop crying.  Timmy’s daughter, on the other hand, has stopped communicating and their son spends most of his time escaping into books and has developed a strange cough.  His wife is now begging Timmy to let them return to their home in the ‘burbs.  But Timmy knows they must stay in the bunker in order to survive.  It’s the only way at this point.

Two more weeks into the Crunch and Timmy’s wife has had enough.  The boy is virulently sick and the antibiotics that Timmy had stored don’t seem to be helping.  Their daughter has stopped eating and Timmy’s wife finally gives him an ultimatum: She’s taking the kids and returning to their home in the suburbs with or without him.  Timmy weighs his options and decides that he can’t let her and the kids venture back to their house unprotected so he grudgingly packs their Chevy Suburban for the drive home.  Or what’s left of their home.  Looters have destroyed their neighborhood and most of the houses have burned to the ground because nobody organized the neighborhood into a defensive force that could have prevented the looting.  Unfortunately, Timmy and his family will never make it home to see the wreckage because the highways are either closed or have been converted into ambush “kill zones” by marauding gangs before the military can restore order.

Meanwhile…

Ralph The Realist has adopted a different approach based on what he learned in the military as a Green Beret.  Instead of withdrawing from his community he has taken proactive steps to deal with a “No Rule Of Law” scenario.  Ralph is good friends with both the president of the neighborhood HOA and the principal of the nearby elementary school.  Along with his wife and a couple of other friends of a similar mindset they have formed a prepper group and had begun taking action before the Crunch.  Including storing ten 55-gallon drums of rice, wheat, beans and pasta in an unused storage shed at the local elementary school.

When news of rioting and societal breakdown begins to reach maximum velocity, Ralph and his group each begin to reach out to other friends and neighbors who– to no one’s surprise– are now very concerned about the current state of affairs, too.  Many are open to taking action but nobody has a plan… except for Ralph and his group.

After the power grid goes down, Ralph’s prepper buddy, the president of the HOA, calls a neighborhood meeting and they discover that many of their neighbors have excellent skills that will help them survive the Crunch: One is a trauma nurse.  Another is a welder.  The guy down the street is a doctor and an avid hunter and there are several retired cops who live one block over.

Ralph asks for volunteers to form a neighborhood watch and almost everybody volunteers. They makes plans to barricade access to the neighborhood using old cars and RVs and set up a defensive perimeter.  With roughly 150 families in their neighborhood there are more than enough adults with firearms experience to stand watch in shifts.

When Ralph’s son develops a strange cough, his wife takes her rifle and walks to the doctor’s house, a block over.  She does not have to worry about leaving her house unattended since the “neighborhood watch on steriods” (hat tip: Rawles) is keeping the riff-raff out.  The doctor correctly diagnoses her son’s cough and prescribes the right antibiotic.  She then leaves her daughter to play with the doctor’s daughter for a few hours.  The little one is coping with the Crunch as if it was a free day home from school: Fun!

After a week, Ralph’s son is feeling much better.  His wife is happy and she has formed a gardening club with some of the other women on her block.

Three weeks later, Ralph receives word that things are still pretty crazy outside of their neighborhood.  They’ve had a couple of gun fights when looters tried to gain access to their neighborhood but nobody was hurt.  Word quickly spreads among the undesireables to leave Ralph’s neighborhood alone.

Everyone is coping reasonably well when a expedition group from another neighborhood proposes a trade of fish antibiotics (which can be used by humans) for some extra ammunition.  The doctor advises Ralph that it would be a good trade, and since Ralph’s neighbor has a reloading press in his garage, they’re in no fear of running low on ammunition.

After another month, the military is finally able to get things under control and rule of law is restored.

A tale of two preppers: One a complete failure for adopting an ill-thought Lone Wolf strategy and the other successful after organizing his local neighborhood to withstand the perils of a Without Rule Of Law scenario.