Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Archived article- Leasing as a retreat option?

Archived article from our main site-

Leasing as a retreat option? copyright 2006 Robert Henry

The single biggest expense for the survivalist is usually buying land and building the infrastructure needed for a survival retreat.

As if it wasn't expensive enough to begin with, increasing land costs in most areas of the country are making a retreat harder to attain for most individuals and small groups.

I've never advocated a group purchase of land. Having regularly consulted with dozens of groups and hundreds of individuals around the country in the last ten years I can say that I've found only one example of that working. That group is the exception rather than the rule. The reason it worked for them was that they were already a long established group- although not a survival group- and already had a true sense of community built up. By "long established" I mean in excess of 30 years.

On the negative side of the group purchase of land are the stories of people who have lost there investment when the group went south. Two long time friends, both survivalists at the time, purchased a modest amount of land together in the midwest. Several years later one of the two decided he was no longer "into" preparedness and wanted to use the land for other purposes. The remaining survivalist of the two now has to deal with the fact that his bug out location has been compromised due to the other fellow inviting many friends there for hunting and outdoor activities.

Most numerous of the examples of retreats that worked are those of individual survivalists. These are your classic single family retreats as talked about by Mel Tappan almost 30 years ago.

Some of these have become de facto group retreats. Usually this involves the land owner "inviting" others from the group to pre-position supplies and perhaps establish some sort of housing at the land. The landowner remains the sole owner of the property so this negates any squabbles about land usage. If a group member decides to leave the group he simply comes and gets any supplies he has pre-positioned. This negates the problems relating to dividing up the land if the relationship fails.

The all too thrown about notion of "we will buy 40 acres and then you'll get 10, I'll get 10 and Joe and Jack will each get 10" is unfeasible in my opinion also. For the same reasons mentioned above. Consider also that each 10 acre parcel would have to develop it's own infrastructure- a well for each parcel, septics for each parcel, building for each parcel. This method is no different than going it alone only that you assume that there are 3 other families to help you when the chips are down.

To that I would argue that unless the dwellings are within VISIBLE and viewable (i.e, no trees or hills in the way) rifle distance of each other, defense will be dangerous at best. An attack on Joe's parcel would theoretically draw help from the other three parcels. If they are out of viewing distance and rifle distance this means each family has to send some of there defenders to help Joe out. My first question would be that if the chips were down, would they. My second comment would be that if they did, it would leave there parcels undefended. Are these guys well trained enough to coordinate such a defense? What's to stop friendly fire accidents during the defense? What if the attack is just a feint? What if it's a ruse to ambush the others coming to Joe's aid? A very real possibility.

OK you say, then we will each build near where the corners of the land meets. That will help solve the defensibility issue for sure. But what happens when Joe Bob decides he's not "into" this anymore and looks at his investment of land as a hunting camp? Next thing you know you got drunk Bubba's wandering around your place every weekend during hunting season.

What about for those of us without the big dollars to make the investment in land? First let me preface the following ideas with the fact that you do not need 100 acres of land. Unless you have a large group (50+) you should not need more than perhaps 40 acres. That's assuming the land is good, defense is possible, enough of a woodlot, water sources, etc. etc.

Let's say you realize the need for a bugout location for your family or your group but cannot come with the money necessary.

I'm going to throw an idea out at you, to my knowledge this has not been discussed before in survival circles but it might bear investigating.

Leasing land for a bug out location.

I know, sounds kookey as all get out. But let's think about this.

It's common in rural areas for people to lease land for hunting. This is usually timberland where someone is raising a 20 or 30 year crop of trees for sale to lumber mills. The extra income from the hunting lease will usually pay the property taxes on the land. Most hunting clubs will normally "police" the land also, helping to keep out trespassers thus helping the property owner.

You would have to seek a long term lease of at least 5-10 years. To make this really work out your going to need to lock the land in for at least 5 years or more. There is going to be some improvements to the land you will absolutely have to make in order to make it worthwhile for a survival retreat.

The question has likely came up by now- what happens if TSHTF and the owner comes and tells you to leave? Well, if you have a legal lease and have kept up with your payments, legally he has no right to. Now will that stop him from trying? Of course not. Here is where judicious picking of land and checking out the landowner will come in handy. An elderly couple, small family that does not live on the land your leasing, or an absentee owner would be ideal. I would assume that if you keep good relations with the landowner this would not be a problem as you would be within your legal rights. A group could in theory offer "protection" in this case if the landowner lived nearby. No I don't mean "protection" as in Mafia terms. Consider also that an absentee owner would probably have no idea that you've essentially "moved" to the land if TSHTF.

Land leases and the laws pertaining to will vary from state to state. Read up on real estate laws in your particular state. Might be worthwhile to have an attorney draw up your land lease agreement. At the minimum the lease agreement should include the time period, the amount per year, an agreement to allow certain betterments to the land- putting in garden areas, fruit trees, stocking a pond perhaps, etc, as well as not granting any other leases for any other reasons. Make sure it allows year round access.

Where I live, about $7.00 an acre per year seems to be a fair rate for land leases for hunting.

Improvements you will have to make to the land-

Gate off any roads or trails coming in to the land. Post no trespassing signs. For OPSEC purposes get a sign shop to make up signs for your "hunting club." Post these at the entrances and near any structures you put up. Under the guise of a hunting club, ocassional shooting will not raise any eyebrows.

Small RV's, travel trailers and even portable buildings are commonly seen in areas leased by hunting clubs. A 20' sealand container on site could solve some of the logistics storage problems. If your unsure of doing that, find a local "self storage" center within quick driving distance and pre-position your supplies there. Bury the minimum amount of supplies you can at the site itself. Leave nothing in any dwellings that would point to the true purpose of the land. Ammo, water filters, camoflage clothing would be fine, gas masks, razor wire and survey meters would set off red flags.

Water could be handled a couple of ways. Since you leased land that had a water source you could always filter your water. Katadyn Drip filters or Berkfields could be used for filtering ground water. Ideally the land would have a well on it of some sort that you could power via a generator. If not, talk with local well drillers to find out average depth to water in that area. It may be possible to drive your own well and put a hand pump on it.

You can develop the soil for gardens and make them look like "food plots" that hunters commonly use for bringing in deer. The same mixes of wheat, alfalfa, etc. that are used in these "deer mixes" make good cover crops to enrich the soil with.

I don't see why this plan would not work out for a small group of motivated people. The expense would be minor compared to purchasing land and developing the infrastructure for a real retreat. Is this plan lacking? Of course, but it's probably the next best thing to owning your own retreat. And it definitely puts a survival retreat in reach of any serious survivalist.

Least of all, it would also provide a place for a group to train and practice outdoor skills that would be semi-secure.

Let me know what you think of this idea. My email address is

Hope this helps.

Archived article- Living in Yesterday

Survival Report Volume 55



"Living in yesterday" by Robert Henry copyright 2006

There's been much to do about the CBS series "Jericho" regarding a Kansas city after a limited nuclear attack on the U.S.

Here it is the 4th episode which is supposed to be depicting something like the 4th day after the attack and none of the townspeople seemed to have realized that the world has changed.

This phenomona is what I call "living in yesterday" and will likely be the cause of death of thousands of people in a major disaster such as that depicted in the show.

True survivors are going to be the ones that immediately realize that the world has changed and change themselves accordingly.

What does this mean? Could mean simple things like remembering to always carry a weapon with you. Could mean something like avoiding contact with others outside those living in your home for a few weeks in the case of a smallpox outbreak. Could mean not venturing out until nightfall.

A wide scale TSHTF type disaster dictates an immediate change in "the rules" we tend to follow in life.

During times of peace, most people generally assume that:
* No one is looking to harm them
* They are generally safe in most places and especially at home
* Others will obey the law because they are fearful of the consequences
* We should always strive to help others
* There environment will be conducive to there safety

Look at the above list again. If something major happens every one of these assumptions on the above list could get you killed.

The truth of the matter is that people will harm you if they need something you have. Women will be mistreated. Bad things will happen to children. I don't like writing that any more that you like reading it, but we have to realize that there are two legged animals out there and be ready for them.

The truth of the matter is you would do good to assume that you are not safe in most places after TSHTF, including your home. Unfortunately, there may never be a chance to "let your guard down" again after something happens, especially for those who are not part of a group of survivalists.

The truth of the matter is that no one will likely be obeying the law after TSHTF. Why? Because there will not be any consequences, other than your conscience and dealing with the Almighty in the end. Since most sheeple don't worry about the latter two, expect them to not obey the law.

The truth of the matter is that helping others may jepordize you after TSHTF. We have discussed post TSHTF charity on here before. I'm prepared to give some charity, but under my terms. This means if it in no way compromises my security.

The truth of the matter is that the environment will not be conducive to our safety. Dangers will abound ranging from rabid dogs to cholera, typhoid and dysentary.

Friday, December 5, 2008

300 miles for a load of crap!

As survivalist we sometimes find ourselves doing odd things.

Here a few weeks back as gas started getting "cheap" again I decided to make a few runs to buy bulk manure for the gardens. I ferried about 8 yards total in 4 trips, each one being around 300 miles round trip!

Yep, I drove 300 miles for a load of crap...... :)

Raking some around recently in one of the garden plots I pondered the idea of driving that far for crap.

Like so many things we do as survivalist, this "load of crap" (pun intended) won't give me any "quick fixes" or immediately solve any problems in the garden areas. It's simply one small part of a larger plan. Will those garden areas go mad crazy next spring on account of that manure? Sure I'll probably see some results next spring of my recent efforts, but overall it will take a while to see serious results.

This is an important part of preparing, understanding that some things you do will not give you IMMEDIATE results but will surely be helpful in the long haul.

Learning soap making is fun but after a while you probably will stop making soap now and realize it's easier to buy a pile of Ivory bars at $3. for 16 of them. However over the long term, that skill set of being able to make your own soap, may very well be the difference between being able to fully clean a small cut or dealing with a serious infection.

You can see this played out in so many things we do- or SHOULD do- as survivalists.

Running a couple of times a week now will probably not knock off those extra 20 lbs. immediately, but over time it will. More importantly, your body will begin to be more efficient, operate on less fuel, use it better and dispose of it better. Your metabolism will get better, your heart and lungs will gain strength. Later, should you have to BO on foot or evade pursuers, your heart and lungs will be up to the task and you will be more likely to survive.

Keep in mind their are few "quick fixes" in preparedness. Mostly we are doing things now that will benefit us LATER.

And don't forget to take your shoes off before you go in the house ;)


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Archive article- Barter for Survival

  • Archived article from
First written in the early 90's, published in American Survival Guide magazine November of 1996.

  • Preface-

Irrational Exurberance?

Buy gold and silver buy gold and silver buy gold and silver.......

It kinda gets old doesn't it?

To me there is nothing worse than people who are not squared away with there personal preps describing how they are going to sink another couple hundred dollars into precious metals.

Why? You can't eat them? I'm pretty sure you can't shoot them? You can't start a fire with them? And you can't make love to them, so why have piles of them around?

"As an investment." OK let's look at that one. Gold and silver have made virtually no significant moves in the last 20 years with the exception of the last year. I recently worked this out for silver and it came out to about a 5% per year return if you purchased in 1986 and held till now. Mind you that's not a bad ROI but it's not great either.

"So I will have something to barter with after the collapse." Here is the mainstay excuse/reason whatever you want to call it that the big metal pushers use for survivalists.

If you have a copy of the November 1996 American Survival Guide you'll see some guy named Robert Henry wrote an article in there relating to barter items and he specifically talked against using gold, silver, ammunition, booze and cigarettes during the period immediately after the collapse up to the time when everyone hopes that some sort of normalcy returns. That fellow was a little rough around the edges (still is) but made some good points. Here is what he wrote in the article (ASG has been defunct for 5 years now so I'm sure they won't mind me reprinting my own article) You'll notice that I was a lot less cynical at the time, I blame this on my youth, I was 23 at the time they published this article.

Barter for Survival copyright 1996 Robert Henry

It never fails, you never have all or exactly what you need or want. Survival situations will be no different. From the beginning of time, man has traded man for things he needs or wants. In this article we will look at bartering from a different approach as well as some possible items to barter with.

With the ever approaching collapse of the dollar and the subsequent chaos that may ensue, barter items take a high priority along with your other preparations.

First things first. You need to acquire the "basics" for your own survival prior to putting back barter goods. This would include at least a year's supply of food (preferably 5+ years), a water purification device, a stocked medical kit and the knowledge to use it, communications gear and the firearms necessary to protect yourself amongst other things. Most importantly, and most overlooked is good training in skills necessary for survival.

Different people have different opinions and ideas. My ideas and opinions on certain things are much different from the average survivalist. I consider myself a realist. When many people plan for disasters they like to think of the best possible situations and unconsciously the mind plans around those conditions. It it best to always think of the worst possible situations and plan around them.

Gold and silver are often considered two of the best barter items. If we examine this idea closely is has several flaws. Many "experts" state that you should buy pre-1965 junk silver for use in bartering. Junk silver is considered quarters, dimes and (EDITED TO READ- "SOME") nickels minted before 1965 when silver was taken out of these coins. The problem with this is in recognition. While it is true that some people will realize that these coins have some silver, most people won't. Just imagine that you have suffered with a toothache for several years after the crash and you finally find a dentist. You approach him and ask him to pull your tooth offering him 10 pre-65 coins. "What the hell is this? You expect me to pull your teeth for 50 cents?" Try to convince him they have value.

The fact is that pre-65 coins are not recognized as valuable by the majority of the public. And what about practical value? Can you eat them? Start fires with them? Maybe you could melt them down and have some use for them. Gold and silver can be useful as a hedge against inflation and a possible investment. In those regards they are useful.

Gold and silver are threatening. I say this because of their very nature. Today in "civilized" times people kill each other for money. Gold and silver are a form of money. Think about how many people have been killed over gold throughout history. Have people gotten less violent or more violent? People kill each other just for kicks today, what will they do for your gold? Word will get around quickly if you trade in gold and silver. Greed breeds very quickly.

Another common idea in bartering is to trade ammunition. Think about this for a while, think deeply. Do you really want to give strangers ammunition? The first trade with a stranger might go well. The second trade he could shoot you with your own ammo. If you trust the person you are trading with it might not be a bad deal.

Yet another idea for a barter item is liquor. Not a bad idea except for a few things. To a degree liquor is a threatening item same as gold. It's just one of those things that some people will do anything for. What better way to escape reality than getting plastered? Booze will be in demand after the collapse. Let's say for example though that you have two cases of Vodka stored up. Uncle Joe who is now staying with you just can't cope with the fact that everything went to hell in a handbasket. Uncle Joe becomes drunkard Joe real quick. Survival situations are serious business. Do you want to risk having some drunk getting a hold of your AR15 and shooting at your neighbors? Booze is not a bad idea for a barter item IF it can be controlled. If I were to put some back I would not let anyone know about it.

Barter items-
So then what can we trade with? It's simple just think of all the necessities you would need in a long term survival situation. Open your mind and look around at the things you use everyday and think "Would there be an easy way for me to make this or substitute something for it?" If both answers are no, you have a possible barter item.

When you buy items to put into your survival storage buy a little extra of everything you need. It is usually just a couple of extra bucks.

Before we look at some suggestions for barter items we need to have a little lesson in psycology. A man named Maslow came up with a theory called the "hierarchy of motives." Basically it's a triangle with a number of human needs on it. Food and shelter fall into the bottom tier under physiological needs. The second level includes safety. The third and fourth tiers of the pyramid include love and self-esteem respectively. The theory is that you can't reach the higher tiers of the pyramid without first sustaining the lower levels. For example; you cannot get self-esteem if you don't have anything to eat or drink.

Knowing this little bit about psychology we can come up with some ideas. First it is a good assumption that most people in a survival situation will be trying to fulfill the first two levels of the pyramid, physiological needs and safety. These being food, water, shelter and a means of protecting themselves. Gold and silver do not provide any of these. Sure you could trade a Kruggerand for a chicken or even shelter IF someone was willing to trade. But shouldn't you have those things already? What about if your trading with people who are on the bottom two tiers of the pyramid? These people will not have a need for gold? They will have a need for other things. Let's look at a few.

Food is a hard, fast commodity. Everyone needs it and no one can get along without it. We can start by putting back some extra food. Put back staples such as rice, beans and wheat. Always trade your oldest stock of these first. Next, think about all the things that cooks need. This would include spices and seasonings, cooking oil, shortening, flavorings, baking soda, yeast, baking powder, salt, sugar, honey, among others. Spices have been traded for centuries and were one of the reasons for the discovery of America. With these you can trade with people like you who have stored food. A family who has been eating rice and beans continuously for six months would probably trade anything for another type of food or at least something to spice up the food they have. Dried fruits, canned nuts, chocolate chips, MRE desserts, granola bars and other items that would "spice up" regular food, even chewing gum, would all make good barter items.

You can also home grow your food barter items. Eggs, vegetables, fruits, rabbits and chickens are also possible. Plan on growing foods no one in your area grows to trade with. For example, about 15 miles from where I live is the potato capital of Florida. What if you went out there and tried to trade potatoes you have grown for something you need? You'd probably be laughed at. On the other hand if you arrived out there with sugar cane or wheat you would be in a powerful position to trade. If you are in an area where the majority of people already raise their own animals you can stock vet medicines. Put back wide-spectrum antibiotics such as Combiotic as well as syringes. People with animals will need medicines to keep them healthy. Veterinarian medicines can also be used on people. Talk about a dual purpose bartering item!

Animals themselves could also be traded. Again it should be noted that you should not trade the best of your stock. Keep these are breeders and treat them well. Rabbits are extremely prolific and would be great trade items. Same with chickens. Dogs will be worth there weight in gold. Remember the second tier of the pyramid- security. Those who have something will want dogs for security aspects. Isn't it funny that you would have to give away puppies of "mutts" today but in the future people might be willing to trade great items for them. Editor's note- American Survival guide edited part of this section where I discussed that your dogs could be a food source also, in a worst case situation. As the editor of ASG put it- "We can't have PETA protesting out front of our office." The point remains the same, dogs are also "dual use."

You should be noticing something in my recommendations. All of these items can be useful to you as well. Food you can eat, dogs can help protect you, etc.

Common items that are inexpensive now may very well be invaluable in the future. Look for goods that would be hard to make without the modern mass production manufacturing process. How could clothes be repaired without sewing needles? Ever try to make mosquito screen? How about motor oil? Examine common items you would need for long term survival and ask yourself a question. With a few simple hand tools could I make this item? Then ask yourself if there is a substitute for that item. Start thinking!

Food gathering materials would include snarewire, fishing line, hooks, split shot, floats, extra seeds, traps and basic hand tools for gardening. Use your head, don't buy 10 shovels, but 6 shovels and 4 extra handles. Insect sprays might be extremely helpful in controlling pests that spread diseases. Mason jars, extra lids and preservatives might also be useful for bartering. Shop around and get the best deals possible. During spring and early summer many Big lots discount stores sell vegetable seed packets for around $.10 cents each. No these are not non-hybrids but they will more than do for bartering. Be sure to try to get a discount if you buy items in quantity. I saved 1 cent per seed packet when I bought 726 packets.

Other items to consider: matches, batteries, pencils, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, bleach (for water purification and disinfection), nails, screws, shoes or boots, socks, underwear and other types of clothing, aspirin, cord, mosquito screen, needles, thread, buttons and motor oil. All of these can be had for a couple of bucks and will trade for many tmes more in the future.

If you have a useful skill that can be a great bartering asset as well. Medical skills are the first to come to mind. Doctors, PA's, nurses and others medically trained will be in high demand. Other skills that may be useful include: dentists, herbalists and homeopaths, veterinarians, engineers and others with construction know how, mechanics, blacksmiths, gunsmithgs, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers! You will almost always be able to barter your skills for things you need.

The articles listed are mere recommendations and the opinions expresed in this article may not fall in with your specific beliefs. The article serves to offer a different- and lower cost- approach to the classic ideas of survival bartering. Sooner or later after the crash and economy of some sorts will begin to take shape. It wouldn't hurt to have some items put back to barter that would also be useful to you. Having a skill that will be a necessity after the crash will also be handy.


Editor's notes- 10 years have passed since I wrote this article but little has changed in my thinking regarding barter.

Little has also changed on my thinking regarding gold and silver for survival bartering. "Well chickens aren't that portable, you can't carry a pocketful of chickens to barter with." Granted. The assumption every one makes it that "sometime after the collapse some sort of normalcy will come back" and that people will start using gold and silver as a currency. Perhaps, but what's to say people will suddenly stop bartering? Is there truly enough gold and silver in PRIVATE HANDS to fund this "new currency?" Remember, we tend to think in OUR OWN PERSPECTIVE, i.e, as survivalists. Sheeple have no gold or silver stored. How many survivalists are there? How many other people storing gold and silver are out there? Honestly, there is more chance of paper dollars being used as a currency years after the collapse then gold and silver because there is more of it out there, the only thing is lacks is true value! More than likely, some form of barter will continue until some new form of currency (probably not dollars, gold or silver) will take hold.

The best idea i've heard of for use of gold and silver is for paying your property taxes during a long economic slide/ala "slow depression" type scenario.


I realize my view on gold and silver isn't popular and it has caused a lot of flak towards me from the "material" oriented survivalists. I honestly don't care to be popular, just to try to help you survive. As always, we welcome opposing opinions on these subjects.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Archived Article- City versus Country

Archived article from

As previously stated we are going to use this venue to archive old blog posts from the main site listed above. RH

City versus Country- copyright April 2007 Robert Henry

For years it was commonly accepted that a survivor living in the country had a much better chance of making it than his citybound counterpart. A lot has changed in the way of demographics, social climate and independence in the last 20 years that may have changed some of this thinking.

For the most part, gone are the days of the notion that all country people are good. Per capita the crime rates are probably fairly similar to what they are in the city. The big plus simply being that less people around= less chances for major problems. The lack of decent employment, lesser living conditions and drug use can be directly linked to this increase. Overall, the general downturn of moral values in this country is to blame.

The country was once looked upon where boys would develop into men via hard farm work. Not much hand labor is done on farms any more, especially on the larger farms. Much of the country attributes adherent to the "old school" of moral values has went the way of the dinosaur. Even here in the "Bible belt" this is true.

The lack of character, selfishness and poor moral value once thought mainly to reside with easy living city folk is now broadcast via satellite TV into most every rural house in the country. Yes, TV plays a major part in it.

When we left Florida 8 years old we left behind any TV service. When I think of the time I wasted over the years mindlessly flipping channels looking for something to drain my brain, honestly, I feel ashamed. And you should too. So often you find people with there TV sets on constantly, even when no one is watching. WTH is the point in that? Is it that we have become so morally bankcrupt and alone that we must at least "sense" that others are near us even when they are not?

I love to see people on the message boards whining and moaning that they don't have enough money to prep. Ask those same types what happened on TV last night and they will have plenty of answers for you then. There family will starve one day but at least they can be "programmed" now.

Years ago I had a friend that was absolutely mesmerized by the TV. I was actually quite funny to watch him when it was on- for all practical purposes he was no longer even in the room.

A lot of would be survivalists think that they are going to get some type of firsthand information on when to bug out from the TV and therefore justify watching it for that reason. Fox news or some other channel "may" offer some breaking news to an event before it's censored but the real question is will you ACT on it? What if the information is there but cannot be "verified?" Are you willing to put your plans into affect then? If not, you might be waiting too late, especially if you are one of those that must bug out in a disaster.

OK back to city and country....

So basically what I'm saying is that for the most part, you are not going to find the Sheriff Taylor and Aunt Bee type morals in the country anymore.

A short ride through a rural area will also show you that not everyone that resides in the country is self sufficient or has the land necessary for such. In most cases, neither will the skills for that type of living be found in the country any more also.

So why then bother with getting out of the cities?

Population density

In my view, it's a simple question of numbers. In the country you may have 100 people living within a 5 mile radius, 90% of which are not able to go 2 weeks without outside assistance.

In the city, you may have 100,000 living within a 5 mile radius, 99% of which are not able to go 2 weeks without assistance.

What do you suppose those 100,000 folks are going to do? Sit quietly and die? Ain't gonna happen.

You hear this non-sense bantied around sometimes about subdivisions (we've covered some of why this won't work before), how some survivalists have these grand plans of "organizing" there subdivisions and blocking roads in and surviving a disaster that way. MIGHT WORK for the short term disaster, I.e, Hurricane. Will NOT work for the long term. You cannot be the only well fed person in a community of two or three hundred and expect it to go unnoticed.

So if not the city, and the country isn't what it's cracked up to be, then what?

I think the best option long term (again, no "2 week" prep BS here) is going to be living in the country but being by yourself, i.e, not a part of a small town. Yes this goes against what Tappan and others wrote 30 years ago. However a LOT has changed with small cities in the last 30 years. However, your also going to have to bring some friends with you (i.e, survivalists) or invite them there, you won't be able to do it all on your own.

You are absolutely going to have to have a minimal amount of land in order to produce enough food to live long term. You cannot raise enough food to live on in an apartment or even in a backyard in suburbia. Sorry, ain't gonna happen, I don't care what Square foot gardening books you've read or how pretty your raised beds are. Remember when your growing food for survival, you have to grow enough to eat fresh now AND enough to get you through to the next harvest (next year). Did I mention you'll have to save enough seed for next year also? Did I mention you won't be making a trip to the nursery for seedlings, or the feed store for new stock? Did I mention your going to have to grow grains for yourself and your livestock also?

Everyone has there "pet" scenarios and situations that they feel will cause TSHTF. I try not to concentrate on the scenario but rather how it will affect me and those around me. One thing that will likely happen as a result of most scenarios is a famine. It follows war like a shadow (so does epidemics). Most every scenario we envision includes a disruption of shipping and trucking- a possible trigger for food shortages. Various NBC scenarios will bring about famine situations. An invasion or takeover by hostile forces (foreign or domestic) would see a small scale famine (never forget, FOOD IS POWER).

So I've put a lot into having the resources both in land, equipment, supplies and most importantly experience to be able to raise our own food over and above the necessary level of food in storage. It's a learning curve to be sure, but luckily we are mid way through our curve.

What about less than a total collapse?

I still cannot see why a city location would fare better than a well prepared country location. Only in situations involving a serious scarcity of fuel would this be a problem. Only a problem if work had to be obtained a great distance away.

This is one of the main reasons keeping many survivalists from moving to the country now- work and money concerns.

5 years ago, when the housing bubble wasn't leaking air... I advocated that folks in high priced areas who had lived there for a while (and therefore had adequate equity built up) who had seen some of the dramatic appreciation (can you still call it that now?) in there homes should sell out and move to the country. A chipboard McMansion bought for $90,000. in the late 90's that could be sold for $250,000. in 03 or 04 could have set the seller up very nicely in the country. The seller could have cleared out the debt he had (the $90K sans any equity) and could have put $160K in his pocket to buy a house and land in the country. In essence entirely reversing his course in life. Going from paying out $800.00 or more a month in mortgage to being debt free AND owning a modest home.

In addition, this lack of mortgage would give the seller the ability to WORK FOR LESS MONEY in the country. There would not be the "need" to make the extra money offered for a similiar city job due to the fact that $800.00 or more (with higher property taxes and insurance) would NOT be needed for the family budget. This in turn would increase the TRUE "quality of life" for the person. Unfortunately when most people talk about "quality of life" it means having more junk, better junk, a house much bigger than is actually needed, etc. By "true quality of life" I mean being able to spend time with your family, a house that's truly a home for the family, etc.

I know quite a few that were not scared and did this. Most of the worldly city bound wanna-be's chickened out, not willing to give up there psuedo-lives in the city. I'd be willing to bet quite a few of them are regretting it and more than a few will be as we hit hard economic times very soon. (Editor's note- this was written in early 2007)

"So if we live by ourselves in the country, will that work?"

Probably not.

Why? Numbers. I've shown before here on the blog and in the "long long ago" on the shortwave radio show how it takes teamwork to survive. The single family approach probably won't work for a number of reasons-

1. Unless it's a family the size Jacob had (12 sons) there will likely not be enough manpower to mount an effective guard duty. I would say at a bare minimum it takes 4 people to maintain a 24 hour guard duty for 1 position. Also, those 4 people aren't going to be able to do much else besides guard duty. This leaves the women folk (that might not be used as guards) to handle the majority of the day to day work at the retreat- gardening, animal husbandry, preserving food, cooking food, washing clothes, taking care of the children, teaching children, etc. We will have an upcoming article soon relating to this.

2. The single family will usually lack the essential mix of skills necessary for long term survival. My family could build, fix or maintain just about any structure, dwelling or piece of equipment you could imagine. However none of them outside of myself know squat about anything medical. None of them know anything about growing food or preserving it. If you attempt to go the single family route, you MUST know the weaknesses in your family structure, both in skillsets and on the personal level.

3. Nine times out of ten there is really only one family member "into" preparedness. The rest for all practical purposes are baggage. Consider this carefully when you get into a group situation. Some people by there very nature are lazy, others are troublemakers, quite a few excel at both . Don't kid yourself, if you are inviting family members that are not prepared and they make no efforts to be that way now, you must prepare for them! No two ways about it, they will be a burden to your supplies, plan accordingly. This goes doubly for the "friends" that have told you the dreaded "I know where I'm coming when I get hungry" non-sense. Unless you can honestly and truthfully say that you could do them harm (which has serious consequences both here and later), you will need to stock food for them also. The whole idea of "butter knife" weapons to hand out to people you barely know (neighbors, acquantances, etc.) is ridiculous. Better to stock food for them than expecting them to be your unpaid and unfed mercenary. Sometimes it helps to take the rose colored survival fantasy glasses off and consider realistically the scenarios you plan for.

Back to an earlier blog post where I stated that after much thought and consideration I came to the conclusion long ago that you absolutely had to be a part of a functioning, established (not thrown together at the last minute, "kabobble" group) group to make it long term.

I realize this is a lot for people to swallow. A lot of people now a days aren't willing to take drastic steps on there own. Few and far between are the truly independent types of yester year. However if you truly want to survive, your going to have to learn to be a leader, to be the one that steps up to the plate and gets things done.

After all, isn't that what being a survivor is all about?

Hope this helps

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Archived article- Retreat defense against vehicles

Archived article from my main site-

Retreat Defense against Vehicles copyright 2005 Robert Henry

Watching movies like "Mad Max" and "Warlords of the 21st Century" years ago got me to thinking how you would protect your retreat against attacks using vehicles.

A "hardened" vehicle getting into your retreat area would be a difficult thing to overcome with weapons accessible to civilians. Therefore, stopping access before the vehicle could get into the general retreat area ought to be the main concern.

If you have good size timber all around your retreat and a way to block your gate, you probably won't need this information. Large rocks can also be used as vehicular barriers, but could easily be used as cover for attackers as well.

If you have an open area outside your retreat perimeter, you'll need to install some type of obstacle to hold off vehicles. I've never been a fan of using material that would block your view of the area or that would give someone else cover, such as big boulders.

Looking around at a state park back in the early 90's, I noticed short lengths of telephone poles sunk in the ground at trail heads. I figured this was to stop someone from driving a truck down the trail.

Referencing some military manuals on fortifications, anti-tank defense, etc. I notice that one of the blocking materials mentioned was timbers.

I figured I could use cut pieces of telephone poles, sunk 4 feet in the ground and 2 1/2 to 3 feet out of the ground. I did some more research and put a few in the ground.

Not content with just "researching" an important subject, I tested them. I had no APC to use (my Bradley was in the shop that week) so I opted to use a 1984 Chevy truck, not an S10 mind you, but a big Chevy truck.

I used two "test" poles. One was part of an actual telephone pole 12-13" in size and the other was a "corner post" pole as sold by Farm/Feed stores for fencing, probably only 6-8" in size.

I warmed up the Chevy and went full bore on till I hit the telephone pole piece. Thankfully this old model Chevy did not have an airbag. The seatbelt hurt enough as it was. I was able to get up to 35MPH when I hit it. The truck came to a complete stop and the pole appeared completely undamaged. The truck however wasn't...

Not content with this, I tried using a backhoe and running both test poles with the bucket down, blade edge towards the pole. Again the telephone pole piece held. The "corner post" was cut off with the blade edge of the bucket. I did not get a chance to test the "corner post" with the truck, I can only assume it would not have passed the test.

Placed every six feet at least 10 feet in front of your fencing, these poles should protect you against vehicles ramming your fence.

The environazi's have mandated the removal of most of the older creosote treated telephone poles from many areas. Your local power or phone company should have a good supply of used poles they have pulled out of the ground. Often times a 30' used creosote pole will run $20.00 or less. Sometimes they are free for the taking.

You could even make a decorative wood fence out of these poles. A little better to look at every day than "dragon's teeth" type emplacements huh?

I would advise you to put these in now and not wait till TSHTF. However, there should be a ready inventory of utility poles available after TSHTF. Once you realize the emergency is going to be permanent (and your power has been off for an extended period of time), one of the best things you could do if you have a house or retreat that is somewhat secluded or hidden, would be to start cutting down the power poles leading to you. If I was a looter or scavenger, I'd be looking for power poles to figure where backwoods homes are located at.

Putting poles in the ground is definitely a little more realistic way to stop vehicles than putting dozens of wrecked cars around your perimeter, or digging a moat. Both of which would provide cover and concealment for intruders as well.

One thing I do not advise is to start dropping trees as roadblocks. On YOUR property it's one thing. Do it on a "public" road and expect outcry from any locals in the area. It works mainly as a delaying tactic anyways.

Another thing we do not want to do is to give some advantage when we are trying to keep people out. You always hear people talk about planting blackberry vines on your fencing to keep out people. 1. That ain't much of a barrier. Anyone who walks around in the woods regularly is used to getting stuck in brambles, having their hands cut on them, etc. 2. It also cuts down on what YOU can observe. A thick bramble bush provides some concealment. Intruders could conceal themselves on the other side of a thickly grown blackberry fence and you might not see them.

I prefer to have the area of the outter perimeter wire kept completely clear for no less than 10' inside the wire and 20' outside the wire. More where possible.

Does this mean that it will be easier to see IN as well? Of course. But I'm assuming you are smart enough to conceal your fighting positions and keep your exposed outside movement to a minimum during the day. Animals can be tended at night. You can even garden at night during full and nearly full moon phases. You don't want to expose yourself more than you have to during the day.

Much more to come on Retreat Defense. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Archived article- Get Serious

Many of my regular readers at

have asked me to archive some of the older articles. To that end, we will be using this site to archive older articles from the site.

Here is an "oldie but a goodie" from March 18, 2006

Get Serious- copyright 2006 Robert Henry

The following is an info-rant.

Years ago, I sat down with a notebook during a rainy weekend and started looking at the realities of most of the survival situations we may face in the future. Furthermore I wrote down preps for each scenario and looked at the logical outcomes of each scenario.

Running through pretty much the whole gamut, I noticed the same things popping up in possible preps for each one. In 99% of the situations I looked at two things kept popping up as the two best preps someone could make to better there chances of surviving each scenario.

Those two preps were- getting out of the cities and establishing a working survival retreat in the country, and being a member of a functioning survival group.

No single two preps go further to keep your family safe during a major disaster.

So why keep kidding yourself? Half way measures will not keep you alive. You are not going to be able to stay in the suburbs just outside of "Meltdown Metropolis" or "Hell Beach" and make it.

"My neighbors and I will ban together and defend our subdivision."

1. You don't REALLY know your neighbors that well. 99% of them are sheeple (if you live in suburbia. How well equipped are your neighbors? Two guys on in a subdivision armed with 12 guages are only going to be able to hold out for a small amount of time.
2. Your neighbors have no or very little preps. Holdout for a week during a hurricane, maybe. Hold out for MONTHS ON END during a full scale disaster, totally unlikely. Word will get around that you have preps and guess what, it's either open up a soup kitchen and feed your whole neighborhood or dissolve the whole idea of working together. NO ONE will want to defend your area if they know you have food and are not sharing it with them. Quite the contrary, expect to get whacked out for it. 90% of the time, your neighbors are not the good friends you think they are. Pull you out of a ditch, help you build a barn, maybe. Sit back and watch their children starve while they KNOW you have food and aren't sharing it with them? Never. No one would.
3. Expect and plan to be both the quartermaster and soup kitchen for the whole neighborhood. If you expect the situation to last six months, you had better plan to have six months food for everyone in your neighborhood, cause THEY WILL NOT. Better have extra weapons, ammunition and field gear for those who you think will help you "defend" your subdivision cause THEY WILL NOT.
4. How will you make it long term in your "subdivision?" Do you have areas adequate to grow food? Is the area defensible? Water supply?
5. Who's going to be in charge? Of course you THINK you will cause after all, your the man with the plan and the assualt rifle in hand. More likely than not it won't be the case. Expect to hear more than a few "why the he!! should we listen to you?" replies. Every soccer Mom and her daughter will have a better idea and a better way.

Now, let's look at what's LIKELY to happen with this little plan.

First, everyone will go along with your idea. Most will think the gubmint will be there to save them in really short order. About half of your neighbors don't like guns, so expect to hear about that. You will in no circumstances be able to trust them to do anything, repeat anything security related. If the situation does turn out to be relatively short term (a few months) or if FEMA comes in to relocate your neighborhood, these people will be the first to turn you in for having weapons also.

Don't kid yourself and think you will be the only family on the block that's well fed and no one will notice. That everyone will gladly sit in the dark while you run your air conditioning via your generator. Are they going to say "well honey, we should have not squandered our money and we should have made preps like this fellow did, oh well, let us go home and eat the seats out of our Escalade before we starve to death." No. If they have any type of weapon they will kill you for what you have. If they do not, they will stir up the entire neighborhood. You'll wake up to the sound of your windows being broke in and 50 people demanding you feed them. Don't kid yourself, it WILL happen.

You cannot be the one prepared person amongst hordes of system dependent people, it just will not work.

So, your plans absolutely HAVE to include either:
A. Bugging out to a pre-arranged safe area well away from large population centers before the disaster hits or
B. Moving there NOW and developing your retreat ahead of time. *BEST CHOICE*

You must immediately move to get away from the areas where the general population is massed in 99% of the possible scenarios.

All of the best thinking minds in the survivalism movement realized this and most acted upon it- Mel Tappan, Kurt Saxon, Bruce Clayton, etc. It's the logical conclusion.

Events of the last year (Katrina) show that you will NOT fare well near any population centers during a long term disaster. You might not even fare well during a short term disaster!

Serious preparations to bugout as the time nears or moving out of these areas now is the only solution to this problem. Don't kid yourself, or you'll die in your McMansion in the suburbs.

Rule #1 of survivalism- EVERYTHING can be replaced, life cannot. Preserve life at all costs.

On to the second part of my info rant-

A functioning survival group was the second part of my findings.

"No man is an island." I think we all figure this out in life. The Bible is full of wisdom regarding the value of good friends and people you can depend on. In a survival situation, even a short term situation like a hurricane, having others you can truly depend on is essential.

Having a group isn't easy. Is it work? Of course it is. You'll have personality issues, you'll have varying views on what's essential and what's luxuries, bottom line you are going to have some problems. I won't lie to you, it's not a cakewalk. Your gonna get discouraged. What is the alternative?

Sitting alone, for the umpteenth time at night, hearing gunfire in the distance. Having no way to check it out, do any recon or set an ambush cause you can't leave your retreat undefended. You take yet another Stacker and gulp down another Dr. Pepper in hopes of staying awake through the night. Your wife can watch in the morning while you catch a couple hours of sleep. You wonder how you are going to find the time to string up your razor wire, trim trees in your fields of fire, listen for intell on your radios and checkout the area, let alone how your going to be able to keep tending your animals and growing a garden. You'll be eating a lot of rice and beans for a long while, you won't have time to tend your garden, check your traps, etc. Let's just hope neither one of you get sick also. No single family, even if it's Mr. and Mrs. John J. Rambo has a good chance of defending a farm for a long period of time during ongoing social chaos, period.

"But I gotta dog and he's good."

Dogs are great, we have several, but I would never consider them GUARDS. Early warning? Possibly. Have them sitting next to you helping guard? No. No matter how much you love your dogs, if you plan to use them during a survival situation you have to start looking at them as being expendable. You want them a little further up from you, perhaps in an enclosed run. That way when they bark at something, they are not giving your immediate position away. Keep in mind that it's a catch 22 with their barking. There barking alerts you to a possible intruder but also covers some sound of the intruder getting in. This is why you never count dogs as good as human guards. Dogs also cannot react to intruders as human guards can.

Skill sets also need to be considered. No one individual usually posseses enough of the necessary skills. An individual may be an excellent shot at 600 meters but may be unable to grow a good tomato. Another may be an excellent medic but lack the necessary skills to shoot well.

Gathering people from different walks of life with different experiences often produces good ideas during brainstorming sessions. "Out of the box" problem solving comes about easier and quicker.

Have a working group also allows you to pool resources where possible. Very rarely will this work out with large purchases such as property, and I highly recommend people NOT to get into this type of situation no matter how well you know the others. But this can work out with small purchases of team equipment such as medical items, communications gear, etc. As my Mother used to always say when our family would all pitch in to get work done- "many hands make light work."

So if you truly want to survive in the long term, I think it's paramount that you get the notion into your noggin that you have to get away from the cities and that you have to be part of a functioning group. Anything less than this greatly diminishes your chances for long term survival. Call me a pessimist or whatever you will, the truth remains the truth.

Are you going to act on the truth or keep trying to kid yourself? RH