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Be Like Mike. Just Do It.

December 3, 2018

I saw a comment, on my personal Facebook page, responding to one of my posts, about how the friend in question hoped to be “living like you do as soon as possible, probably in a couple of years.”

I’m not gonna lie, we have a pretty awesome life. I don’t have an electric bill, because I built our solar power system myself, from components. We don’t have a house payment, because we built our house by hand, as we went. I have a land payment, but we pay so much extra on it, that the 15 year note will be completely paid off in 6 years total. We don’t have much of a grocery bill, because we raise and/or hunt so much of our own food.

I get to shoot—and teach—weekly, because we have a core group of guys who show up every weekend for training. We have a core group of 10 or so families that socialize together, party together, babysit each others’ kids, etc (Yes, we even identify, communally, as a “clan.”).

So, yeah, life is pretty damned good, even as we watch the social structures we’re accustomed to collapse around us.

Here’s the catch though…It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen all at once. We’re still in the process of becoming communally self-reliant, for lack of a better term.

How then, does someone like my friend—maybe someone like you—start today, instead of waiting until the stars align properly?

Start small. Bake a loaf of bread from scratch (I have an amazing German brown bread recipe that I’ll post one of these days). It takes me twenty minutes of work, spread over several hours (to let the dough rise), to bake two big, round loaves of the bread. Even with two young kids that love to eat it (and my predilection for eating quarter loaf chunks ripped off the still steaming loaf…), two loaves of this bread will last us two or three days. It’s not hard. It’s not expensive (it’s probably pricier than buying loaves of “bread” in the grocery store, but it’s also go a fuckton more health benefits, and it lets you learn how to use all that stored wheat you have in your preps!

One of the common refrains in the preparedness community is the importance of having stored wheat berries, and a good Country Living grain mill. While I’m sure that a Country Living Grain Mill really is a splendid piece of equipment, it’s also ridiculously expensive. So, what if you can’t afford several hundred dollars for a grain mill that you may never use?

The answer is two-fold:

1) Don’t be like too many preppers, and stockpile a bunch of shit that you never use. Use your wheat grinder to grind grain to make your own bread.

2) Think about who uses their grain grinder, EVERY SINGLE DAY…I’ll give you a hint…it’s not 99% of “preppers” or even “homesteaders.” You know who uses her grain grinder EVERY SINGLE DAY? The little ol’ abuela, making corn tortillas to feed her family. You know where she buys…bought…her grain grinder? At the Hispanic grocery down the street (ours was a Salvadoran grocery, and it cost $70 for the grinder), probably for less than $100.

Build a small rabbit hutch in your backyard or on your apartment balcony, and buy a breeding pair of rabbits, and start breeding them occasionally. A pair of rabbits (and really, a trio of one buck and two does is better) will provide a LOT of meat, for stews, ground meat, and even roasts and fried, for a small family, and you’ll probably quickly have extra to gift, trade, or sell. Best part of rabbits, aside from edible meat and useful fur (we don’t actually use the hides yet) is multi-faceted:

1) they’re super quiet, so even if your HOA doesn’t allow them, you can probably sneak them in “guerrilla gardening” style.

2) their shit makes the perfect fertilizer for a small garden of raised beds (or buckets, if you’re still in an apartment).

3) they’re relatively inexpensive to feed, even if you decide to buy feed at the feed store, but it’s even better, because you can feed lawn clippings, garden scraps, and even vegetable table scraps. We buy a 50# bag of rabbit feed and it will last us for months, and months, and months, even with two breeding trios, because we feed lawn clippings (admittedly, our “lawn” isn’t a monoculture grass lawn, but has lots of forbs and other weeds as well, by design. When I have a bare spot, instead of throwing down grass seed, I throw down a clover-based “deer feed plot” mix), and garden scraps that don’t go to the chickens or pigs.

4) Rabbits are possibly the simplest, easiest livestock animal to keep, raise, and breed. Fucking schoolkids keep rabbits for pets! Don’t let it scare the shit out of you. Just Do It!

If you are concerned about EMP or other power outages—and you should be—look into building (not buying) a “solar generator.”

Our farm runs on solar, with a small 5KW gas generator for running power tools that draw too much for the inverter. We run a large, flat screen television, DVD player, a couple of laptops, a Ninja Blender, a chest freezer, and charge cell phones, as well as other stuff. I’ve never done an actual energy audit, like all the websites and books on solar tell you to. I just built the system I could afford. We located our PV panels on Craigslist, ordered an inexpensive DC-to-AC inverter that was recommended by a local solar expert, and bought the batteries he recommended, at Sam’s Club.

Here’s the thing: there are a couple of local companies that do solar installs. One does only grid-tie installs, the other does only stand-alone systems. Both are reasonably affordable, but by doing it myself—and I’m about as far from an engineer as you can be—I learned how to troubleshoot and fix it, in the process.

A couple months ago, we had a zinger of a storm. Several tornadoes in the area, and our farm got hit with 100+ MPH straight-line winds. All of the neighbors, both on our mountain and around our mountain, lost power for several days, while the power company focused on the urban areas first, and worked outward from there. Mine went out for exactly 45 seconds, because when it blinked, I realized the line from the battery bank to the inverter must have been overcharged by a nearby lightning strike, and the inverter shut off to protect itself. I walked over, flipped the switch, and the lights and freezer came back on.

New PV solar panels run about $1/watt online. If you look on Craigslist, you can buy them for closer to $0.50/watt, or less. So, a 210W panel (which we used when we were building our house. It ran a television, DVD player, and lots of lights, as well as keeping laptops and cellphones charged), can be got for right at $100.

A good deep cycle battery at Sam’s Club—the WalMart ones work okay, but don’t last as long—is a 105 amp hour battery, and runs about $180. For a small-scale system like a generator, that you’re not relying on constantly, a simple PWM charge controller will probably be adequate, but you can still get into a small 20-30 amp MPPT charge controller for under $100 (and the MPPT will both help your batteries charge more efficiently, as well as save them from overcharge damage better). An inexpensive car-based inverter, like you stick in your truck, is about $50 at WalMart, in the Automotive section (we used a 1000W one in our temporary housing while building the house).

So now, we’re looking at right around $400. Call it $450 when you factor in incidentals like wire, connections, and some scrap lumber to build a frame for the generator. That’s significantly less than my gas generator cost me, and the solar generator offers several advantages:

1) It’s quiet. Even in a grid-down scenario, with some blackout curtains, you’ll actually be able to use electric lights, without letting the neighbors know that you’re the only house with juice.

2) It’s free, after the initial investment, at least for several years. I’ve gotten two years of daily deep discharge (occasionally well below the recommended 50% depth-of-discharge limit) out of the cheapest WalMart deep-cycle Marine/RV batteries, and we’ve gotten several years out of better quality batteries. In a pinch, while they’re far from ideal, you could salvage used car batteries and get months of use out of them before they completely shit the bed. You don’t have to pay for gas, or store surplus gasoline, hoping and praying it doesn’t gum up or turn into water-logged shit. Solar panels—and batteries—will last fundamentally forever, if they’re not being overused and abused.

3) You’re learning to build, use, and maintain a solar PV system. Upsizing is simple, once you understand the basic techniques.

4) A gas or diesel or propane generator is a BIG investment, and it pretty much has to be paid for at one time. The solar generator can be bought in parts, and put together when you finally have all the parts.

While there are thousands of books out there, and millions of websites, describing the science and theory of solar PV power, it’s really not that complicated. Don’t overthink it. Don’t let it scare the shit out of you. Just Do It.

Worried about security, and feel like you need to shoot more, and have good quality training drills to shoot? Concerned that none of your friends/prepper buddies are going to be worth much help in a gunfight? Worried that some of them are a little too hefty to shoot-move-communicate effectively in a fight? Do what I did?

Just start shooting, once a week. Invite one of your friends that IS enthusiastic, and one of your friends that is less enthusiastic. Use some of the drills outlined in my books, or available from my annual drill subscription, and teach them how to improve a little bit. Every single improvement they see and recognize will result in them becoming more enthusiastic, and they will work to convince others to participate. Start incorporating some physical challenges that are difficult, but achievable, into the shooting drills. Make sure you can perform the drill to standard, and beyond, so they see that there is room for improvement, even if they “pass” the drill.

When we started our farm, I started a Saturday Morning Shooting Club. We started with two dudes, besides me. A couple years later, we have seven regulars, and a handful of occasionals. So, I’ve got basically a light infantry squad of trained rifleman, who can shoot significantly better than the average US Army infantryman (and several that can outshoot the average Marine Corps grunt), with further tactical knowledge, and all of whom have undertaken PT programs and diets to get into better shape, as a direct result of their experiences at the range. So I now have a core cadre to train up others, when the need arises. I can hand them a print-out of the Rifle or Pistol POI, straight out of The Reluctant Partisan books, and they can go to work. It’s called “force multiplier,” or “train-the-trainer.” It’s sort of what SF does…

It doesn’t require attendance at JFKSWC either. It just requires understanding the how and why of shooting, and being able to demonstrate the techniques. I’ve already given you the POI to follow. It’s damned near brainless at that point… Don’t let it intimidate you. This method—activity—works a lot better at building a trusted group of like-minded folks, than sitting around at your local “prepper meeting” every week, talking about shit. Just Do It.

Seriously…

If you’re really concerned about the events you see unfolding around you, quit talking, and start doing. As I tell my kids, “less talkee-talkee. More do-ee, do-ee.”

Be like Mike. Just Do It.

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10 Comments
  1. James Irwin permalink

    Ok. Thanks . I store wheat berries. How about your recipe. I store, grind , cook pancakes, cookies, scones , muffins. Bread is harder. Working out 6 days a week, shoot 2x year. Read constantly. My wife raises roses. We live in Central California .

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. KJE permalink

    Good straight talk and actions that can be implemented.

    Death is winning. Do something.

    • KJE permalink

      Also.

      Looking forward to the bread recipe. I have a pair of neighbors to speak to in mind.

  3. Ken permalink

    That is good sound advice. I had not thought of a solar generator before.

  4. jim permalink

    I have one of the fancy-shmancy grain mills… and I use it. Way better than eating that “enriched” store-bought pre-bagged flour. Yes it’s work to grind it (I just consider it to be “PT”!)
    Had rabbits for many years. Vet told us rabbits need very little kibble (1/4c day, maybe) and as much timothy hay as they care to eat. Wife kept them as pets and they lived many many years (one was 14) when it died – I didn’t try to eat that, I bet he’d have been stringy and tough).
    Doin’ what I can in the socialist wasteland of Washingtonistan.
    Thanks for the updates.

  5. Norman permalink

    I am looking forward to the bread recipe and to your next post.

  6. Roseman permalink

    Bought our land for cash in 1976. Put up a modest house and moved in in 1978. No mortgage.
    So I guess we have been preppers since then. Wife was able to be a stay at home mom who raise the kids according to our values.
    Have a small woodlot for fuel security and take a deer there periodically. Have a good size garden.

    We avoid the retail machine as much as possible as my wife shops at thrift stores and consignment shops. She picked up 2 pair of almost new work jeans last week for me at $1.50 ea.

    We do not raise animals for food but I buy eggs, chickens and turkeys from one neighbor and beef from another. We buy no meat at the grocery store for ourselves.. We do buy cheap meat occasionally for the mastiffs.

  7. Glad to see you blogging again!
    And honestly, of all your articles, this may, IMHO, be one of the most important.
    Here’s why (again, IMHO..): all the gun shit is very sexy. It’s easy to buy guns, ammo and train with them because it’s cool, fun, etc. And I DO believe it’s very important for personal security. However, being independent is of far greater value because it’s an investment that’ll pay dividends every-single-day, whereas folks are probably not getting into gunfights on a daily basis. Again, I DO think guns/ammo/training are very important and personally have that slice covered, but from what I’ve seen on the internet and in real life, far too many folks put all their eggs in that one basket and ignore the other components of a broader safety posture (food, shelter, energy and health).
    I look forward to future posts where you bring your loyal followers further down the path of true independence.

  8. Diz permalink

    I’ll second that emotion. Gun stuff is important, no doubt, but so is eating. Look forward to more self-sufficient living shit.

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