The American Conservative: The Answer is the Coming Small-Town Revival

Small town USA

The Answer is the Coming Small-Town Revival was written for The American Conservative by James Howard Kunstler. It was published in April of 2021. Kunstler wrote that as conditions deteriorated in the United States, small towns would need to be revitalized in order to cope. Do his predictions still sound valid and are we still on the same track?

Years ago, I moved from a somewhat larger small town (pop. 30,000) in upstate New York to a smaller small town (pop. 2,500) 15 miles east in order to establish a little homestead with gardens, fruit trees, and chickens. I found this three-acre property literally on the edge of town, a five-minute walk to the center of Main Street.

If you’ve been following this column on urban design the past year, you know I’ve said we’re entering an era of stark economic contraction that will change the terms of daily life in America, and one feature of it is that the action will shift from the big cities and sprawling suburbs back to America’s small towns. The COVID-19 virus has accelerated this trend, actually drawing a sharp dividing line between “then” and “now” that historians will recognize—but that many contemporary observers are missing.

My little town was badly beaten down when I got here in 2011 and actually sank a bit lower over the years since. The last Main Street shops that sold anything not previously owned shut down. The two last suppertime restaurants folded. The tiny local newspaper ceased publication, and the DOT put a concrete barrier across the tracks of the little railroad spur line, which hadn’t run trains, anyway, since the 1980s. The several factories on the river that runs through town—a tributary of the mighty Hudson—had all shuttered in the 1970s, and only one even still stands in the form of ruins, the rest demolished, wiped off the map and out of memory. In the century and a half previous, they’d gone through iterations of making textiles—first linen, which was grown here, then cotton, which was not—and then paper products (finally, and not without irony, toilet tissue).

What’s left in the town is a phantom armature of everyday life tuned to a bygone era with all its economic and social functionality removed, like a fine old piano with all its string cut. The bones are still there in the form of buildings, but the activities, relationships, and institutions are gone. The commerce is gone, the jobs are gone, the social and economic roles have no players, the places for fraternizing and public entertainment gone, the churches nearly empty. There’s a post-1980 shopping strip on the highway leaving the west end of town. That’s where the supermarket is (it replaced a 1960s IGA closer to the center, which replaced the various greengrocers, butchers, and dry goods establishments of yore on Main Street). There’s a chain pharmacy, a Tractor Supply, a pizza shop and a Chinese take-out place out there, too. The Kmart closed in 2017 and two years later a Big Lots (overstocked merch) took its place.

The local school system may be the town’s largest employer these days; it’s also the town’s leading levier of taxes. Some people drive long distances to work in other towns, even as far as the state capital, Albany, where jobs with good pay, real medical benefits, and fat pensions still exist—though you can’t claim they produce anything of value. Quite a few people scrambled for years with marginal small home-based businesses (making art, massage, home bakeries, etc.), but the virus creamed a lot of them. It’s hard these days to find a plumber or a carpenter. A few dozen farmers hang on. There is a lively drug underground here, which some can make a living at—if they can stay off their own product—but it’s not what you’d call a plus for the common good. Federal cash supports of one sort or other account for many of the rest who live here: social security, disability, SNAP cards, plain old family welfare payments, and COVID-19 checks (for now), adding up to a quasi-zombie economy.

In short, what appears to be a town now bears no resemblance to the rich set of social and economic relationships and modes of production that existed here a hundred years ago, a local network of complex interdependencies based on local capital and local resources—with robust connections (the railroad! The Hudson River and Champlain Canal!) to other towns that operated similarly, and even linkage to some distant big city markets. The question I’m building up to is: How do we get back to anything that resembles that kind of high-functioning society?

The answer is trauma, a set of circumstances that will disrupt all the easy and dishonest work-arounds which have determined the low state of our current arrangements. You can be sure this is coming; it’s already in motion: collapsing oil production due to the insupportable costs of the shale “miracle,” the end of industrial growth as we’ve known it, the limits of borrowing from the future to pay today’s bills (i.e., debt that will never be paid back), widespread household bankruptcy and unemployment, and the consequent social disorder all that will entail.

That reality will compel us to reorganize American life, starting with how we inhabit the landscape, and you can bet that three things will drive it: the necessity to produce food locally, the need to organize the activities that support food production locally, and the need—as when starting anything—to begin at a small and manageable scale. It will happen emergently, which is to say without any committee of experts, savants, or commissars directing it, because the need will be self-evident.

For now, the broad public remains bamboozled, distracted by the terrors of COVID-19, the uproars of race-and-gender tension, the dazzle of Federal Reserve hocus-pocus, the anxiety over climate change, and, of course, the worsening struggle of so many ordinary citizens to just keep paying the bills. When you’re in a ditch, you don’t call the President of the United States. You need a handful of friends and neighbors with a come-along.

That’s how it’s going to work to bring our small towns back to life. When the chain stores choke on their broken supply chains, some attentive persons will see an advantage in figuring out how to get and sell necessities by rebuilding local networks of supply and retail. Farming will be rescued from its artificially induced senility when the trucks stop delivering pallets of frozen pizza and Captain Crunch as dependably as they used to. And then the need for many other businesses that support farming and value-added production will find willing, earnest go-getters. The river still runs through town and it runs year-round, powerfully enough to make some things, if there was a reason to, and a will, and a way. And after a while, you’ll have a fully functioning town again, built on social and economic roles that give people a reason to think that life is worth living. Wait for it.

September Meeting Cancelled but GMRS Operational

There will be no September meeting.

Thanks to the generous financial support of the people, the GMRS repeater is operational. It covers from Benton City to Selah. By mid-month, our correspondence chair hopes to have it linked with the UVA repeater in Selah.  Frequency info: 462.575MHz, PL 69.3, Offset: +5.00MHz. GMRS Ch. 16. Repeater is referred to as “Dry Grass.”

A GMRS license can be obtained from the FCC for $35 and lasts for 10 years before it needs to be renewed. The license covers the entire immediate family which is defined as licensee, spouse of licensee, children, grandchildren, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws of the licensee. The following link has steps for obtaining a GMRS license. https://quality2wayradios.com/store/gmrs-fcc-license

Out Front: The Importance of Community Building

Here is Mike Shelby/Sam Culper of Forward Observer and Grey Zone Activity taking briefly about the importance of community building. At the beginning of this clip, he’s finishing up talking about the chances of upheaval around the 2024 elections. He answers the question about community/mutual assistance groups around the two minute mark.

Blood Drive, Prosser and West Richland

Benton REA will co-host two blood drives in July. If you would like to donate, make your appointment online: https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/drive-results?zipSponsor=BREA.

Wednesday, July 27

West Richland Police Department Community Room

7920 W. Van Giesen, West Richland

11 a.m to 4 p.m.

Thursday, July 28

Princess Theater Green Room

1226 Meade Ave., Prosser

11 a.m to 4 p.m.

In June, the Red Cross collected about 12% fewer blood donations than needed to keep the blood supply stable. That’s one of the largest blood donation shortfalls in a single month in recent years. Donors of all blood types – especially types O negative and B negative – are needed.

TACDA: Neighborhood Preparedness Webinar, Thurs. June 9th

TACDA is holding a webinar on Thursday, June 9th, 2022 at 5:00 pm Pacific (6pm MDT) on the topic Are We Ready? Neighborhood Preparedness. There are 45 minutes for the presentation and then fifteen minutes for questions.

Topic: Are We Ready?

Presenter: Sharon Packer

Sharon Packer has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in physics, and a master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering. She has served on the TACDA board of directors for over 20 years in several different capacities. Sharon is an expert in civil defense and in NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) shelter design.

Date: June 9, 2022 6pm (Utah time)

Link: Click HERE to join the meeting. (Everyone invited to this meeting. No subscription required!)

Sharon will give us an overview of Neighbor helping Neighbor with the basics of emergency preparedness:

  • Nuclear threat
  • Food storage
  • Evacuation
  • First Aid
  • Power outages
  • Emergency Communications
  • Water storage
  • Sanitation
  • Neighborhood Watch
  • Alternative Energy

Live Zoom presentation will be on Thursday June 9th, and the recording will be available to watch by the following Monday.

Link for Recorded Zoom Presentation: Coming

Neighborhood Preparedness Plan: Click HERE

TACDA: Preparing Your Neighborhood for Emergencies

The following video is a recording of a webinar presented by The American Civil Defense Association earlier this year on Preparing Your Neighborhood for Emergencies. It goes over getting your neighbors on board, planning for possible emergencies, HELP and OK signs, training, and how the neighborhood responds. As it is a recording of a webinar, there are questions and answers throughout the presentation.

Virtual Town Hall with Reps Klicker, Rude and Sen. Dozier – March 22

From the office of Rep. Mark Klicker:

Dear Friends and Neighbors

I hope you are doing well. The 2022 legislative session was a 60-day sprint, but a lot happened before we concluded on March 10. If you would like a recap on everything that occurred, including the good and bad legislation that was passed, this is the perfect opportunity.

I will be joining my seatmates, Rep. Skyler Rude and Sen. Perry Dozier, for a virtual town hall meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22.

This one-hour event held over Zoom will be a great opportunity to learn more about new legislation and how it will affect you going forward. It’s also the perfect time for you to share your ideas and concerns and ask us any questions you have.

We represent you in the legislative process and love hearing from our constituents. Your input is extremely valuable as we work to improve the lives of all those in Washington.

So, please join us on Tuesday evening, March 22, from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. and share what’s on your mind.

You can register for the event by clicking here. We hope to hear from you.

Thank you for your continued support. I appreciate your trust in me and allowing me to serve you. It’s an honor.

In service,

Sincerely,

Mark Klicker

State Representative Mark Klicker
16th Legislative District
representativemarkklicker.com
410 John L. O’Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
mark.klicker@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000

American Partisan: Building Mutual Assistance Groups

Crusoe at American Partisan has several articles about building mutual assistance groups (MAGs) which may be worth your time to read. Crusoe mentions this, but know that the examples of standards and equipment which he mentions are what his specific group decided. Your MAG may have different goals which will dictate more or less stringent standards or entirely different standards and/or equipment.

Mutual Assistance…So You Want to Build a MAG

Excerpt:

I believe it is important to build a mutual assistance group (MAG) based upon sound principles and shared values.  Using history as a guide, it was bands of people who gathered that ensured survival.  Quite frankly, hiding in a bunker by yourself is one of the quickest ways to get rolled up, all your stuff taken, and ultimately killed.  Humans are tribal by nature and require community to function optimally.  We were not made to exist within a digital world, and it is human-to-human interaction that brings out the best in us.   I commonly say, “practice analog leadership in a digital world.” For a great (and fun) book to read that illustrates the need for community defense check out Warwolf by Hermann Lons.

Building a MAG takes a lot of work, but in the end will be worth every minute you spend building it.  Whether you are creating a new one or trying to gain purpose with your existing group there are key steps to take.  For the purpose of this article, I will talk about the initial steps of building a charter and why this is important.

A charter is nothing more than the guidelines on how your group is structured and expectations of each member.  It really is not rocket science; it just takes a lot of thinking to get it right.  If building a new group, I would recommend you start with only a couple founding members that share your values and basic expectations.  When trying to do anything with numbers greater than that it quickly devolves into ‘group think’ and bickering over minor details.  Remember…this is your group, and the end results will be influenced by these first steps.  The ultimate goal is to build professionalism which spurs deliberate actions.  Professionalism is also how you will recruit worthwhile members as they will see you are not a bunch of old fat men who only shoot guns and talk about the impending apocalypse.  Instead, they will see you as squared away and thinking about the bigger picture.

When starting to write your charter I recommend you buy a big white board and brainstorm your purpose.  If you have read any of my other articles you will know I am a proponent of defining requirements before doing anything. Ask the questions: Why are we building this MAG?  What is our overall purpose?  What does the end result look like? and What do we value?  From this mental exercise the next steps are to build mission and vision statements.  This is important because it will define what it is you are trying to accomplish.

Mutual Assistance Groups: Defining Values

Mutual Assistant Groups: Decision Making

Mutual Assistance Groups: Vetting New Members

Mutual Assistance Groups: Standards

Mutual Assistance Groups: Removing the Dead Wood

Mutual Assistance Groups: Team Building

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Joyous Easter

Birch Gold Group: How to Protect Your Local Economy From the Great Reset

Brandon Smith, writing at Birch Gold Group, talks about How to Protect Your Local Economy From the Great Reset

Over the years, I have written extensively about the concept of economic “decentralization” and localization, but I think these ideas are difficult for some people to visualize without proper motivation. By that I mean, it’s not enough that the current centralized model is destructive and corrupt; it has to start breaking down or show its true totalitarian colors before anyone will do anything to protect themselves.

Sadly, the majority of people tend to take action only when they have hit rock bottom.

In recent months the pandemic lockdown situation has provided a sufficient wake up call to many conservatives and moderates. We have seen the financial effects of pandemic restrictions in blue states, with hundreds of thousands of small businesses closing, tax revenues imploding and millions of people relocating to red states just to escape the oppressive environment.

Luckily, conservative regions have been smart enough to prevent self destruction by staying mostly open. In fact, red states have been vastly outperforming blue states in terms of economic recovery exactly because they refuse to submit to medical tyranny.

I outlined this dynamic in detail recently in my article Blue State Economies Will Soon Crumble – But Will They Take Red States With Them?

The data is undeniable: the states and cities that enforce lockdown mandates are dying, the states that ignore mandates are surviving. However, with a Biden presidency there is a high probability that the federal government will now seek to force compliance from all states. In other words, lockdowns will become a national issue rather than a state issue.

For now, Biden is pretending as if reopening is right around the corner, but as I have noted in the past, the Reset agenda will never allow this. A reopening, if it happens at all, will be short and lockdowns will return. We are already seeing a new narrative being introduced to the public involving “COVID mutations”, which are supposedly “more deadly” than the original COVID-19 outbreak. So, there is a brand new and useful threat and the establishment will exploit it as a rationale for more lockdowns and restrictions.

Beyond the pandemic mandates, there are also numerous Reset agenda policies that will be implemented under the Biden administration, including insane Green New Deal, related executive orders and legislation claiming to reduce carbon emissions. What they will really do is annihilate resource production. Millions of jobs will be lost and entire industries will be erased unless conservatives act to stop Biden in his tracks.

This means doing far more than stalling through political maneuvers. We are going to have to use concrete strategies to retake control of resource management within the states. Pointless globalist carbon policies composed by entities like the UN have no place in American economic planning. A message needs to be sent that they will never be accepted here.

Time is running out to prepare. Lockdowns will return within a few months and this time they will be federally enforced. Conservatives must be ready to defy these orders if they have any hope of saving their local economies. This is going to take individual efforts to stock necessities and secure their finances, but ultimately wider organization is going to be needed to weather the storm.

Conservatives must establish coalitions of counties and states, and certain economic measures will have to be applied to insulate from damage. The federal government and Biden will attempt to punish red states for refusing to submit, and we need to be ready for that eventuality.

Here are some ways that conservative communities can stop the Reset agenda…

Localization

On a smaller scale, conservatives can accomplish a lot by simply changing their buying habits. If you do 80% of your retail spending with big box stores and online outlets like Amazon and only 20% at local small businesses, then try to switch that ratio. Spend 80% at local businesses and 20% at corporate outlets. Yes, small businesses tend to cost a little extra, but who do you really want your money going to? Do you want your money filling the pockets of international corporate moguls that are working to destroy your freedoms and undermine your economy? Or, do you want your cash to circulate locally?

Individuals can also start their own business from home focusing on production of necessities or necessary skill sets. They can establish a small business co-op and encourage the community to buy locally. Often, people just don’t know how many services are available from small businesses in their area, so they automatically go to big box providers. Small businesses must work together to change the dynamic.

This strategy also extends to local farms. Consumers and grocery stores need to buy more of their produce from farms in the area and less from chains which ship in produce from other countries. There are millions of acres of farmland in the U.S. that do not grow food at all because these farms are paid by the federal government not to. Encouraging local food production is paramount to remaining free from centralized control.

Organized refusal to comply

The problem with conservatives is that we tend to be so independent that we avoid organization. This is a problem because it leads to self-isolation. During the pandemic lockdowns in blue states, some conservative-owned businesses refused to comply, but they were left mostly to fend for themselves with no aid from the wider community. If more businesses were to ally with each other and protested in tandem, dozens or hundreds of defiant businesses working together would be a lot harder to shut down than just a few.

By extension, it’s not enough for conservatives to merely argue against the lockdowns and demand businesses stay open, we need to also defend those businesses that take action. We need to support them with our dollars and stand in the way of anyone trying to close them down. They are taking a big risk for us, so we need to be willing to take risks for them.

Imagine if Biden tried to assert a national lockdown order and more than half the businesses in the country ignored him? What if patrons refused to allow federal agencies to intimidate those businesses? The lockdowns would be nullified, and Biden would have little recourse.

Establish barter networks

In the event that the U.S. economy breaks down completely, we must create contingencies to prevent total trade disruption. Without trade, populations become desperate because no one has the ability to provide every necessity all the time. People have to be able to barter goods and services in an open market.

Barter networks are a base fundamental, the universal go-to solution during economic collapse. Every society in modern history has used barter markets to stay afloat during financial crisis and to bypass government economic controls. We must be willing to do the same.

Conservatives must start organizing barter networks within their communities now. It does not matter if you are trading with a couple of people or hundreds; the process needs to start somewhere.

Why is this so important? Because there is a very good chance that the federal government will try to fiscally punish any state or county that opposes lockdown measures and Reset policies. This means that the government will first seek to cut off federal funding to red states. In the midst of economic crisis, many regions have become reliant on federal stimulus as a crutch, and this dependency makes them vulnerable to control.

To truly rebel against the Reset, local economies need to be free from federal oversight or consequences. With barter networks in place along with possible local scrip and alternative currencies, the public will be less fearful of economic retaliation.

Take back management of local resources

We have already seen attempts by Biden to disrupt production of carbon based energy resources like oil and coal. Frankly, the time is long past due for states and counties to take back control of federal lands. The government has been stifling American production for decades and this has hurt rural communities in particular.

In my area, the EPA has essentially destroyed the timber harvesting industry through unfair regulations. This has led to federal mismanagement of forests to the point that fire hazard has become a major issue. All the young men in the county used work as lumberjacks to support their families; now they have to leave, or work as wildland firefighters. It’s completely backwards. And this is happening while U.S. lumber prices are skyrocketing.

Conservative counties and states need to take back land and resource management and allow reasonable production to return. Biden should have no say in whether or not oil wells in North Dakota stay operational, or coal mines in West Virginia stay open, or trees Montana are selectively harvested. As long as the bulk of wealth from the resource production stays within the state where the resources were harvested, I see no downside to this kind of response.

If the federal government tries to retaliate by cutting off federal funds, it won’t matter because the states will be producing jobs and wealth for themselves independently.

Immunity from cancel culture

In our current political environment, it is becoming a fact of life that the hard left can and will try to harm people that oppose their ideology. Big tech companies and government are helping them to do this. Now more than ever, conservatives that wish to remain free to voice their views and share facts that are contrary to the leftist narrative must seek protection from cancellation. But how do we do this?

For one, we can work for ourselves. Being self employed means never having to worry about being fired because of your political opinions. Or, conservatives need to work for conservatives. This means conservative companies need to focus on hiring conservative employees, and if the leftist mob tries to attack an individual, those companies can easily ignore them. Of course, this also means that conservative consumers need to start making a list of conservative companies that have proven themselves to be immune to leftist pressure. We need to support these companies.

Conservatives should also look into the possibility of campaigns to build more platform alternatives to Big Tech and social media. We need more web service providers that are owned by people who respect free speech rights. We may even need our own internet.

All of these things are possible, but it takes organization and effort. Conservative communities can become safe havens for civil liberties, but this means we cannot be isolated from each other anymore. We have to be connected by more than our principles, we must also be connected through actions.

Happy New Year – 2021

 

I weave a silence on my lips,

I weave a silence into my mind,

I weave a silence within my heart.

I close my ears to distractions,

I close my eyes to attentions,

I close my heart to temptations.

Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm,

Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.

Let all the tumult within me cease,

Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.

 

Have a blessed new year.

Organic Prepper: How Preppers Can Still Find Community in the Middle of a Pandemic

Joanna Miller at The Organic Prepper talks about How Preppers Can Still Find Community in the Middle of a Pandemic

The need for supportive communities in SHTF situations is something we talk about often. People know they need a support network because, let’s face it, in a long-term survival situation almost none of us can do it alone. However, one of the biggest tragedies to come from the Covid rules has been how hard it is to meet people and establish any kind of community these days. And many of us have learned things about our circle of people that aren’t overly positive during this stressful time.

Your own opinions about Covid aside, many states are greatly restricting opportunities for socialization. Some never really opened back up after the previous lockdown.

In my state, Colorado, public gatherings are severely curtailed. I still attend church, but we are no longer allowed to socialize afterward. At the kids’ activities, parents are discouraged from sitting near each other and chit-chatting, which was a major social outlet for a lot of parents (myself included) for a long time. You might strike up a conversation with someone friendly, or you might get someone who flips out over not social distancing properly.

This atmosphere of distrust is worse than any virus.

You have your friends, and then there are your “lockdown” friends

We have come together in ways I never would have expected. I don’t know what will work for everyone, but I can give an example of how a series of inconveniences gave rise to my own little group of people getting together to process chickens.

I have had a little side-gig producing a couple hundred chickens every year for meat. They are pastured birds raised on certified organic corn- and soy-free feed. I’ve learned a lot over the years, getting and training livestock guardian dogs after predator attacks, and so on. The only hitch has been getting the birds processed every year. My luck has been almost comically bad. I’ve seen a number of processors close.

I eventually met a couple, I’ll call them Andrew and Andrea, about nearby that had their own processing equipment who taught me how to process birds. I’d bring my birds over, we’d process together, and it was a social outlet as well as getting a chore done.

Then their house burned down in 2018, literally a day after we’d processed my birds.

They are still in the process of rebuilding, but in 2019 and 2020 Andrea brought her processing equipment to my house and we processed the birds ourselves. When we were at her house, Andrew would help, or sometimes they’d have friends hanging out that wanted to learn how to process. Processing 70 or 80 birds is a lot of work, and many hands make it go a lot faster.

It takes a community to process chickens

I wasn’t sure where we’d get the extra hands at my house, but sometimes problems solve themselves. My boys are in Scouts, and knowing that I have a hobby farm, one of the other parents asked if I had any big jobs her son, I’ll call him Josiah, could help with. He wanted a new computer game, and she told him he could pay for it himself. I asked how Josiah felt about processing chickens. She laughed and said she’d find out how badly he wanted that computer game.

It turns out Josiah really wanted it! I had him plus my own three children, plus Andrea helping me out. The work was exhausting but we got it all done, and it was done well. I gave Josiah $20 and a couple of chickens.

The next time around, I had another friend interested in homesteading skills come over and help, along with my three kids. Well, Josiah heard my kids talking about it and was disappointed that I hadn’t asked him to help again! He’d already gotten the computer game, but he said my chickens were the most delicious he’d ever eaten. Also, he just thought it was cool to be able to process animals. He bragged about it so much to the other boys in Scouts that some of them have started asking if they can help me next time.

Sometimes you can find community with people who aren’t necessarily preppers but who share an interest in self-reliance.

However, I’m not 100% sure there will be a next time

This year multiple groups of people parked at the perimeter of my property began honking and screaming that they wanted chickens. This went on for a couple of months in the early summer. In July, someone drove through my fence, pulling out a full 330-foot roll of fencing as well as half a dozen steel T-posts. I’m not sure that was related to the people harassing me, but it was terrifying and a ton of work to fix.

Then in August, in three separate events, fifty-five of my birds were stolen. I have guard dogs, but they do not bite people. They are wonderful at barking and scaring off all the foxes, coyotes, and eagles in my area, but I can’t have dogs that bite people. In the first incident, my birds were pastured a few hundred feet away from my house, but only twenty-five feet or so from my property line. My property is enclosed with 4-foot fencing but these people climbed it.

When I saw one morning that 40 of my birds were missing, with none of the gore that comes with animal attacks, I moved them to an enclosure closer to my house and put barbed wire on top of the fence. They came back and took 10 more anyway. I put my remaining birds in the insulated brooder close to my house; it’s in a well-lit area. However, our summer was incredibly hot and I left the small door of the brooder open for ventilation. The fenced-in run was closed but the door to the inner part was propped open.

In the morning, I saw that someone had pulled up part of the fencing and snagged five more of my birds. These people only stopped when I put motion-detecting cameras all over the brooder. So I can still raise some chickens, but I’m not sure how to raise true pastured poultry without putting my birds at risk. And frankly I cannot keep taking these financial hits.

The ordeal was so nerve-wracking. My children and I didn’t sleep normally for weeks. To have your property violated that many times is terrifying. I had been so satisfied during the shut downs and grocery shortages about raising so much of my own food, but it doesn’t matter how much you produce if you can’t keep other people from stealing it.

In times of instability, a new skill learned can create stability for some

The truth is, there will always be bad actors in any given group of people. There will always be individuals looking for a chance to steal, hurt others, and just in general cause trouble.  It’s human nature and we can’t get away from it. When we had stable rules, stable jobs, and the kids all had stable school schedules it was easier to notice people looking for trouble. That stability is gone, and I don’t know if it will come back.

However, the eagerness of my own children, as well as their friends, to have real-life skills makes me want to try and figure something out. Kids these days are so glued to screens most of the time for school; many of them are itching to get out and do something tangible. Learning how to turn animals into dinner is a total change, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it would have been for me to get help processing birds this time around.

While there are hidden (or not-so-hidden) troublemakers out there at any point in time, there are always people willing to help, too. If you are new to homesteading or the country lifestyle, five years ago trying to meet like-minded people online might have been a good idea. I’m hesitant to recommend that now. I’m pretty sure the people that caused so much damage to me found me through social media. I have friends that also have sustainable agriculture little side-hustles that they advertise online; one, in particular, has been repeatedly targeted by animal-rights activists.

Maybe it’s time to figure out a new way to find community

If you have the skills to make money with farm products, then taking the risk of potentially exposing yourself to troublemakers is something you need to weigh against the value of advertising. It’s a business decision that’ll be different for everyone.

However, if you are new to the country/homesteading scene and just want to make friends, I personally would have a hard time recommending looking for people online. There have been plenty of other articles written about not advertising your prepper status, and I wholeheartedly agree.

As the holidays approach, hopefully many of us will be calling and checking in friends and relatives. Whether it’s some homesteading project or a specific survival scenario for which you’re trying to prepare, get a feel for how interested other people are in participating. I have my one good farm friend, Andrea. The rest of my various helpers over the years have been a mixture of friends from church, Scouts, neighbors, and relatives. A lot of them live in the suburbs. You might be pleasantly surprised to find who is receptive to preparing with you.

I have lived in the same area for the better part of a decade, so my pool of friends and acquaintances is fairly wide. If you have just moved to the country, or are not so established in your community, it may be different and will probably take longer. However, the principles are still the same. Pursue your interests; be a good neighbor; if you have solid family relationships, sustain those; and things will eventually fall into place. But it is never too soon to reach out and start building your network of like-minded folks…

Happy Thanksgiving!

God of all blessings,
source of all life,
giver of all grace:

We thank you for the gift of life:
for the breath
that sustains life,
for the food of this earth
that nurtures life,
for the love of family and friends
without which there would be no life.

We thank you for the mystery of creation:
for the beauty
that the eye can see,
for the joy
that the ear may hear,
for the unknown
that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,
for the expanse of space
that draws us beyond the definitions of our selves.

We thank you for setting us in communities:
for families
who nurture our becoming,
for friends
who love us by choice,
for companions at work,
who share our burdens and daily tasks,
for strangers
who welcome us into their midst,
for people from other lands
who call us to grow in understanding,
for children
who lighten our moments with delight,
for the unborn,
who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for this day:
for life
and one more day to love,
for opportunity
and one more day to work for justice and peace,
for neighbors
and one more person to love
and by whom be loved,
for your grace
and one more experience of your presence,
for your promise:
to be with us,
to be our God,
and to give salvation.

For these, and all blessings,
we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,
through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Homeland Security Today: Community Preparedness Starts with Your Family

Don’t forget that it is still National Preparedness Month. From Homeland Security Today, Community Preparedness Starts with Your Family.

Disaster preparedness can be the difference between life and death. Running a Facebook Community group for anyone who knows what disaster preparedness means can be the key to keeping your community informed – and alive – when a disaster strikes.

The first thing I tell my community is regardless what disaster strikes, have a plan and make sure your entire family knows that plan. Within that plan, everyone should know where to meet, and have an out-of-state contact so when someone is missing everyone knows to call that contact to check in.

Try out some disaster drills. Take the family on a picnic and go down some roads that could be possible evacuation routes. Some roads have gates and you want to know before disaster strikes which roads may be blocked off, and this is a good time to get the kids involved. Make this trip a picnic at a spot the entire family can enjoy while at the same time learning where to go at a higher elevation should the need arise.

In my community there are five dams, so finding that safe evacuation route is important. We also have two volcanoes, landslide threats, flooding, and potential for an intense seismic event with the Cascadia Subduction Zone here in the Pacific Northwest – so again, to me, having that plan is important.

What I also encourage is having that briefcase ready to grab that has all the important documents. Many people don’t remember the insurance paperwork, titles to vehicles, VA paperwork if you are a veteran or Social Security documentation if you are in SSI or SSD. I have a briefcase with all this information I can just grab and go. I also encourage taking pictures of high-value items on a memory card you can access in any computer for when claims need to be filed, or in the event if a theft.

Finally, that go-bag: Do you stay in the house or do you head for the hills? We have power outages here in my community during winter storms that can last up to a week or longer and if the Army taught me one thing it is always to have a Plan A, B, C, and D and if those plans don’t work, you have backups for backups. When storms hit, we settle in. Power goes out, we had for a trailer that still has heat. We have a barbecue grill we can cook on, water stored in containers for drinking and cooking, and we make it a fun event. Many folks forget that on a well there is no power to the pump, so you will be out of water and this hinders your sanitation as well.

When it comes to the evacuation, we make it a point of always maintaining at a minimum a half a tank of gas in the vehicle as you never know when you may have to go farther to get to your destination when an event happens. I also suggest maintaining at least a week’s supply of food and water for your family as most disasters will take longer than three days for rescue to get to your community. I have a 72-hour pack I take with me everywhere, reminiscent of both my Army and my search-and-rescue days, and it carries enough for myself and one other for up to three days but longer if necessary.

First aid is another area many forget, but as a former combat medic my kit is above and beyond and stays in my truck. I do not carry more than what my civilian skill legally will allow. In the Army I stuck IVs, chest tubes, and whatever else needed to be done to keep a soldier alive, things I cannot do now without getting in legal trouble, so I do not carry those supplies. I do encourage anyone to at least learn basic first aid and CPR and learn how to take basic vital signs. You can pick up a basic blood pressure cuff and stethoscope in many medical supply stores and learn how to use them. Breathing, blood loss, and shock are the three main killers but knowing CPR, how to stop bleeding, and shock signs and symptoms and treatment are fundamental to learn and will benefit your family and community.

Lastly, Washington state has a program called Map Your Neighborhood. It is a great program for any community and helps in meeting your neighbors, knowing their skills, and identifying the elderly and disabled as the first ones you need to check on. You can find more information on this program on the internet and see about applying this to your community.

In the end, it is your family and your community who will be there to help you through a crisis event, and knowing what the threats are in your state and community will help you in staying prepared and knowing how to respond, which is a mitigation to the threat. Stay safe out there and keep your communities safe.