Monday, February 27, 2017

LND: The Barn.


   People tend to overdo it with their barns.  After all, the barn is kind of the centerpiece of any sort of working farm or ranch.  If your operation involves interaction with the public, like a boarding stables or training facility, it makes sense to have an impressive structure...

   For strictly practical purposes, it's a bit of overkill.  People think that their critters are as uncomfortable in chilly weather as we are.  But, unless you live way up north where the temperature slips well below zero and the wind chills even worse, most farm animals can tolerate the cold pretty well.  (Except for sick, geriatric, or newborn specimens.)

   In this part of Dixie, the more common problem is that Winter isn't cold enough.  25F and snowing wouldn't bother any of the livestock.  35F and raining is murder...  And Summer heat is inevitably brutal.  So all animals really need is a roof to keep off the freezing rain or provide some shade.  The walls need not be solid, as free-flowing air is usually tolerable in Winter and absolutely essential in Summer.  The best design may be little more than a row of covered corrals.

   First thing to decide is where to put your barn. (See the Layout section.)  It needs to be on high, solid ground.  Animals will turn anything else into a muddy mess that'll suck your boots off.   You also need to keep possible future expansion in-mind when selecting a site.

   The proper first step to construction is to get a bulldozer and render your building area perfectly level...  What you'll more likely do is find the flattest area available, then do the best you can to scrape down bumps and fill in holes with such tools and equipment as you have on hand.

    If you have a perfectly flat foundation, you'll want to build professional style, keeping everything as close to true level as you can.  This will look neat and tidy.

   If you try building true level over an irregular foundation, you may find that you wind-up with low ceilings and head-bumping doorways in some places.  It may be better to follow the lay of the land, making each vertical post the correct height relative to the floor.  This could create a slight roller-coaster effect to your barn roof, but your head clearance will be more consistent.  And looking a little shabby may not be a bad thing.  (See Security section.)

   A simple row of stalls is usually a good starter barn.  It can be built quickly and economically, then easily upgraded and expanded as the need arises.  12' x 12' stalls are big enough for all but the largest of draft horses, and can be subdivided for smaller animals.  8'6" height at the front and 7' at the back provides adequate head room and draining pitch.  You don't want to go too high, or rain will blow under even in mild storms.  Doors always need to be at the front (high end) of the stall both for head clearance and to avoid the knee-deep muck from animals walking through the runoff-softened ground behind the barn.

Side view of stall row.

   It takes five posts to build your first stall, then three more for each additional stall in the row.  I've seen utility poles and railroad ties used to good effect.  4" x 4" lumber will do.  I used treated 4" x 6" here.  Depending on the post length available and nature of the ground you're building upon, it might be a good idea to set the posts in concrete...  But I'd suggest waiting until you get some, maybe all, of your horizontal boards into place before doing so.  Very difficult to re-position a post after the concrete sets-up!

   While sinking your posts, you will be determining the width of your stall doors.  I went with 6'.  Narrow barn doors can get you into a wreck with bigger critters.

   Your walls are basically just stout plank fences.  I suggest 12' x 2" x 6" boards. (Rough cut is sturdier, if you can get it.)  Spaced a board-width apart.  Five planks will give you 5' in wall height, which is usually sufficient.  If not, you can always add more planks to add height later.  You can also fill-in the gaps between the planks with more boards should you need a solid wall for some reason.

Two stalls.  Front view.

   An extra plank of 12' x 2" x 6" board at the top of the posts, inside on the front, outside on the rear, will serve as the beams to support the roof.  Six 16' x 2" x 4" boards will be placed on-edge, equally spaced across the beams to act as rafters for each stall.  (One rafter flush with the each end of the beam, the others on 28.4" centers starting from the center of the end rafter.)  I like to secure these with simple, steel hurricane tie straps fastened with wood screws, as it's easier to avoid knocking the rafters off their marks that way, and toe-nailing always seems a little sketchy to me.  Have the front of the rafters overhang the beam by exactly two feet. Irregular overhang will mess with you when putting up the battens.

Hurricane tie.

   You may note that, where stalls meet, you wind-up with two rafters side-by-side.  This will make it easier to nail the ends of the battens.  It also keeps the roof framing modular, making the addition of future stalls to the row simpler.

   Six 12' x 1" x 4" boards nailed flat-down across the rafters, equally spaced, will suffice for battens.  (One flush with the front ends of the the rafters, another flush with the back, the rest on 37.6" centers.)

Posts & beams, then rafters, then battens.

   Now comes the "tin"...  Actually galvanized steel panels.  I prefer corrugated (continuous ripple pattern) over 5V (flat with a ridge in the middle and two at each edge) because of its versatility.  More options for nail placement and overlap.



   The wide-spaced rafters and battens don't make for a structure you should be walking around on.  But they do make it possible to work from an A-frame ladder, popping up through the framework to nail the tin to the battens.

   Start at a corner of the barn and put a panel into place on the low end of the roof.  (Remember, lower panels must go on first, so that the panels uphill won't drain UNDER them!)  Position it so that the tin overhangs the frame evenly by a few of inches at the edges of the barn. 

   Nailing roofing tin is a little challenging.  You have to figure out where the batten is. (X-ray vision would be a boon!)  And you have to drive the nail into the metal at the peak of a ripple, not down in the valley.  Water is going to be flowing down there when it rains.  You need your nails punching through on the 'high ground' where they won't make leaks.  You may want to hold the nail in-place with pliers, because you kinda' have to hit hard to get the point through the tin.  Roofing nails for this application usually have rubber or lead washers to act as gaskets.  You want to drive the nail just until there is solid pressure on the washer, NOT far enough to crush the tin flat into the batten.

   The next panel goes just above the first one, with at least a few inches of overlap.  (The more the better.)  Depending on the length of your corrugated panels, it may take either two or three to get to the front of the barn.  Once they're secure, start over from the low end, overlapping the first panels by a ripple or two.  If you find yourself with a partial panel-width of frame to cover as you approach the finish of the job, you can increase the overlap to 'use up' the extra.

   If you somehow got a bit out of square anywhere along the line, and the tin doesn't want to go on perfectly straight, don't sweat it too much.  Just try to keep your sawtooth effect consistent.  Pretend you did it on purpose!

   What I have detailed here is the economical roofing I've seen serving well on countless barns in the South and Mid-Atlantic, and what has worked on our barn for twenty years and counting.  You can, of course, upgrade if you feel your circumstances warrant it.  Heavier lumber, more rafters and battens closer-together.  Plywood rather than battens.  Shingles instead of corrugated.  So long as it's you doing all that ladder work and not me!

   Back on the ground, be sure to hing your stall doors so that they can swing 180 degrees and latch open, flat against the wall.  Running (or being slammed) into an open door edgewise is hard on your bones.

   Ideally, stall floors should be reinforced concrete with heavy rubber mats.  But that can get expensive, so most folks go with the natural ground with any holes that develop packed with pit gravel.  This usually works acceptably well for horses, goats, etc. if you do regular upkeep and the weather isn't godawful.  Cows, however, will turn any unpaved stall or corral into a septic swamp.  They're gifted that way.

   One great thing about barns is that you don't have to go too big at the start.  With foresight, you can begin with a modest structure and expand it later.  The obvious way to do so with a simple barn is to add more stalls onto either end.

   Another way to expand is to build a second mirror-image stall row parallel to the first, creating an aisle between them.  You can take this up a notch by extending the roofs of the stall rows until they meet at a peak over the aisle, giving you a nice, covered area that comes in handy for all sorts of things and eliminated rain blowing into the fronts of the stalls.

   Lofts are a common addition to barns.  Traditionally used for hay storage.

   Lofts are good for reducing hay loss to weather, rot, and rodents.  But I've become rather uncomfortable with storing tons of highly flammable material in the same building with valuable animals, tack, tools, and equipment.  I think it's better to store the hay away from the main barn.  But a loft can be useful for other things, including living quarters.

   The loft-over-aisle design became popular in the 20th century, with the transition to baled hay.  It's relatively easy to construct and, I think, aesthetically pleasing.  But it does tend to leave you with a relatively low ceiling over the aisle, and does not easily lend itself to discreet access from a floor-level tack room as the other loft styles do. 

   The lofts-over-stalls design gives you a very high roof over the aisle, and can provide trap-door access directly into the stalls below.  Particularly handy if one of those stalls has been remade into a feed or tack room.

   The loft-over-all design created the maximum loft space.  This was very popular in the old days when hay was stored loose.  If your place already has an old barn of this style, use a bit of caution with the loft floor...  It may not have been built to withstand concentrated loads like a full loft of baled hay.

   A few closing notes on the subject of the barn...

   If you install electric lighting, make sure that it is impervious to the animals or out of their reach.  It's really safer to have portable lights that you can take out with you rather than permanent fixtures in the stalls.  I like to have all the power come through one heavy extension cord to an external outlet on the house so that I can completely disconnect the barn when unattended, and easily plug into an alternate source when the need arises.

   Many farm animals are easily capable of breaking down stalls.  Strategically placed hotwire is trashy-looking, but usually discourages barn wrecking. 

   Some barns use steel tube corral panels instead of board walls.  We're experimenting with this as well.  So far, our draft-cross fillies are beating the panels up pretty good.  Something tougher may be in order.

   Install good latches and hinges.  Then back them up with safety chains.  Some animals can channel Houdini!



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LND: Glossary.


BAU:  Business As Usual.  The perception that things are normal and there is no imminent crisis.  People are going to work every day.  Utilities are running.  FRNs still spend.  Still stuff on the shelves at Mega Lo Mart.  Beer supply unimpeded.

BOB:  Bug-Out Bag.  A handy container packed with emergency supplies and tools kept ready in case one needs to evacuate with little warning.

BOV:  Bug Out Vehicle / Vessel.  A conveyance kept loaded with emergency supplies, tools, and fuel for immediate evacuation.  BOV strategy may be based on getting away from a trouble zone rapidly despite traffic, long distance, and blocked highways (motorcycle, 4x4) or the vehicle itself serving as a shelter (RV, houseboat).

Cornucopia:  The modern petro-industrial world in which unlimited supply is considered the norm.  Scarcity is perceived as only a temporary result of sudden increase of demand or market manipulation.  Named for the equally mythical Horn of Plenty.

cornucopian:   One who dwells in the firm belief that the cornucopian era will last forever.  Anything having to do with Cornucopia.

doomer:  One who recognizes that Cornucopia cannot long endure.  This does not necessarily mean they see the extinction of humanity or life on Earth as a fast-approaching inevitability.

doomstead:  A rural farmstead equipped to remain viable even as cornucopian infrastructure fails.

doomster:  A doom-hipster who cheers for the demise of Cornucopia, especially capitalism, usually while remaining fully dependent upon cornucopian resources and using a corporation-logo electronic device to post criticism of practical doomsteaders on forums via a network created by the Military-Industrial Complex.

fedghetto:  An urban center.  Especially one that is highly dependent on support from the central government.  Not officially a prison.  But their dependence leaves inhabitants no choice but to tolerate considerable loss of liberty in the name of order and security.

FRN:  Federal Reserve Note.  The debt-based financial instruments rather deceptively called "dollars" and used, by fiat, as United States legal tender. 

green:  An object or practice which is supposed to be beneficial (or at least less harmful) to the environment.  In Big Picture terms, many things touted as green are not.  Solar panels seem green because they produce electricity without burning fuel or producing exhaust, but the amount of consumption and pollution involved in constructing and installing the panels may be greater than what the utility company would have done to provide the same amount of power for many years.  Tuning-up and driving an old compact car may be far greener than manufacturing a new hybrid.

JIT:  Just In Time.  A now-popular approach to the import, manufacture, and distribution of goods.  Things go from their source to the retailer just in time to replace what has been sold.  This minimizes the expense of warehousing and maintaining large inventory, but leaves little buffer should there be disruptions in the supply chain.  This is particularly troubling when it comes to essentials such as food and fuel, which modern Americans often keep in very little household supply.

LATOC:  Life After The Oil Crash.  A website and very popular online community dealing with the effects of the decline in easily available, inexpensive, light crude on Cornucopia, and strategies to cope with same.  After a half decade, the forum wound-up overrun with doomsters and various strains of nonsense, so the owner of the site decided to abruptly pull the plug and move on to other things in 2010.  Members of the old community still remain active on various forums and groups dealing with the ongoing collapse and prepping today.

moonbat:  A person who spouts Leftist dogma without regard to reason or reality. 

MRE:  Meal, Ready to Eat.  Prepackaged military field rations designed for durable, lightweight, long-term storage without refrigeration, and consumption with little or no preparation.  Similar products are also produced for civilian markets.

MZB:  Mutant Zombie Bikers.  Tongue-in-cheek term for groups of people who may pose a threat after SHTF.

prepper:  One who actively acquires the knowledge, tools, supplies, and resources they think will aid them in the event of future emergencies and lapses in infrastructure.  Not always a doomer.

SHTF:  The semi-solid waste initiates violent contact with the proverbial high-speed rotary device.  A catastrophic event that substantially disrupts BAU.  It is a quirk of many doomers to expect such an event to provide a clear delineation between Cornucopia and TEOTWAWKI, despite the historical tendency of civilizations to undergo less abrupt collapses.

survivalist:  Someone who is both doomer and prepper.  Term tends to imply a more hardcore, militant attitude.

TEOTWAWKI:  The End Of The World As We Know It.  Note the "as we know it" qualifier.  The term does not necessarily refer to the end of the world on the whole, just a discontinuity between the world we know now (Cornucopia) and what comes afterward.


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Monday, February 13, 2017

LND: The House.

   There are many things I will miss when the Cornucopian paradigm collapses.  Little Tin God bureaucrats will not be among them.  Even out in the boonies, there is no shortage of professional busybodies who insist that every single thing you have, build, raise, or do needs to be licensed, inspected, regulated, permitted, and monitored.

   Usually, these pests can be ignored.  They can't deny permission if you never ask for it.  So long as your activities don't harm your neighbors, nobody cares about permits out in the country...

   Unless you're building a house.  Then they've got it set-up to where a whole bunch of inspections, permits, etc. are all interdependent on one-another, and you'll have State, County, and/or Municipal code-enforcers crawling over your property like fleas on a hound.

   When we started this place, we thought grid electrical and telecom service were still worth the effort, even though that meant we were going to have to do the house all legal-like.  The fastest approach was to set-up a site and bring in a manufactured home.  That way, we could play-along with the code requirements until the power was on, then put up a gate up by the road and do our thing without constant statist meddling.

   If we had it to do over again, the gate would have gone up first, we'd have built from the ground-up, off-grid from the start, bureaucrats be damned.

The Doomstead House.

   Bigger is better! Tiny little micro-cabins are a trendy concept among Doomers.  Seems like they would be efficient and 'green'.   But trust me, you don't want to live in a phone booth long-term.  You don't have to heat and cool the whole of a large house.  Close off 'extra' rooms for walk-in pantry, general storage and stockpiling.  You will need more space than you think.

   If you have to start with something small due to preexisting structure or budget constraints, plan on future expansion.  I remember my great-great aunt's farmhouse, and the way it was obviously built in segments as the need arose over the decades.  A lot of old homesteads were that way.

   Floor plans are just a suggestion. We chose a place with what was supposed to be a big Living Room.  But you won't find a home entertainment center, couch, or Barcalounger in our Office/Workshop we have instead.

   Wall-to-wall carpeting has no place on a doomstead! Or any farm.  Or...  Well...  Anyplace, really.  Thanks to our old friend Gravity, everything ultimately winds-up spilled, dropped, dripped, leaked, bled, and tracked onto the floor.  Including flea eggs, which can lead to a really stubborn infestation if there's someplace for them to take 'hold.  What imbecile thought this would be a good place to glue-down an absorbent material?  Sure, you can vacuum and even steam clean carpets.  But on a farm with animals, mud (term used euphemistically), grease, etc. getting everywhere, all the time, you'll never stay ahead of it.

   Hardwood (real or faux), tile, or other flooring that can be swept, mopped, and disinfected are the way to go.  If you can't stand walking on a hard floor, get some slippers or flip-flops.  If that's not good enough, use area rugs.  At least you can take 'em out for beating and airing.

   You need ALL the windows. Air conditioning is awesome, but gobbles up a lot of expensive electricity.  Especially if you're trying to run it off-grid.  Lots of big windows can make houses tolerable even in the Dixie Summer.

   Preferably windows with inner and storm window glass, with blinds and heavy curtains.  And good screens!  Some builders like to omit screens, especially on the front windows, because it looks a little 'cleaner' from the street that way, and a lot of people never open windows in the age of Climate Control.  With the ability to strategically open windows to get air flow-through, close blinds to reflect heating sunlight, close windows and curtains to hold-in heat, you'll have a lot of ways to efficiently maintain comfort inside.

   High ceilings are cool. Literally.  Having greater air volume in the house will keep it from being so stifling in the hot seasons.  Also allows for a ceiling fan to keep air circulating.

   The kitchen is a big deal! Generations that have grown up 'popping something in the microwave', replenishing prepackaged supermarket food supplies on a weekly basis, swinging-by McDonald's or ordering pizza for half their meals may not remember, but the kitchen used to be the heart of the household.  And it regains that status on the doomstead.

   You'll not only be cooking meals from scratch, but also processing raw ingredients.  You may need meat grinder and grain mill.  If you are buying a modern-design home, you'll need to add a big working table in the middle, as the puny amount of counter-top preparation space considered adequate these days absolutely is not.  Dairy processing alone will take up a huge amount of real estate.

   You'll want a big refrigerator and a chest freezer...  Probably more than one of the latter.  It's good to have the know-how  and equipment to do old school food preservation, like jerking/drying, pickling, canning, salt-curing, and smoking.  But the deep freeze really beats them all.  Modern refrigeration is one of the oft-overlooked reasons for the increase in lifespan for the average American over the past century.  It is one bit of Cornucopian technology that is worth holding onto as along as possible.

   Speaking of tech, don't discount Space Age appliances like the microwave and induction cooktops.  They are handy, and often the more energy-efficient way to get stuff hottened-up!

   Fire suppression becomes far more important on a doomstead. In the Cornucopian world, we're told to get out of a burning home, call 911, and remember that things can be replaced, especially since you probably have insurance.  But that won't be the case after a serious collapse.  Invest in multiple fire extinguishers and place them strategically through the house.  Then get some of the little, disposable aerosol can extinguishers for good measure.


- - -


LND: Layout.

   I've lived on about a dozen farms, and worked on hundreds of others.  This experience has taught me that overall layout is one of the most important, yet overlooked features of a working farm or ranch.

   People tend to go with what they know.  Given fifty acres, folks who didn't grow up on farms will tend to stick a typical half-acre, suburban home right on the road frontage, then fling a fence around the rest of the property.  After that, it's usually catch-as-catch-can.  Stick a barn out there somewhere.  Paddock here.  Corral over there.  Round pen off yonder.

   And it's a mess.  Always inefficient, often dangerous.  Having to drive through pastures on the way in and out from the house. (Risking livestock escape every time you go through the gate.)  Having to go through multiple occupied enclosures to retrieve an animal from another.  Thigh-deep muck around the barn from critters hanging around there.  Inability to do a head-count because half your 'pasture' is forest.  Trucks getting stuck, or stuff getting run-over because there was no decent place to turn-around.  Lack of security and privacy.

   Being an Old Horseman, my layout preferences are a bit on the equestrian side.  Shown here not as a template, but to demonstrate how a bit of forethought pays-off.

   Notice that the working part of the doomstead is well back off the road, surrounded by woods, out of sight and mind as far as passers-by and even neighbors are concerned.  (If you can see anything but trees or an old gate on a beat-up rocky road, you're already trespassing.)  Trees around the perimeter of the enclosures provide shade for our animals without making it hard to locate them.

   The five adjacent paddocks can be used as five one acre paddocks, one five acre paddock, or any configuration in-between.  The gates separating them are easily removable so they don't create any hazard to the stock when left open.  None of the gates are in the corners, where the 'pressure' from animals is often greatest and gates are more likely to be forced.

   The main pasture opens into a smaller holding paddock.  It's much easier to lure or drive hard to catch animals into the holding paddock than it is to get control of them in a huge enclosure.  (This is the one place where there's a corner gate, so that such animals can be 'funneled' into the holding paddock.)  The holding paddock can also act sort of like an airlock, so that you can get animals, vehicles into and out of the main pasture without the critters therein escaping into the barnyard.

   The barnyard itself is the primary 'airlock'.  All the enclosures have gates directly into the barnyard.  You never have to go through one paddock to get to another.  Animals pushing through a gate are still contained in the barnyard.  (Still amazes me how common it is for places to be set-up so that one unlatched gate or slipped halter lets animals make a break straight out to the highway!)  Yet the barnyard is normally free of loose livestock, so that the area around the buildings doesn't stay churned-up by hooves, the solar panels don't get wrecked, etc.

   There's room to turn-around trucks and tractors in the barnyard, as well as at the 'front' gate.  Every enclosure has a 20' wide gate for vehicle access.  Just because you don't see why you'd want to get a big truck in there right now doesn't mean the need won't arise in the future.

   The well house is in the middle of the barnyard, so that you can reach the barn and most troughs with the minimum amount of hose drag.  (More on that in the Water section.)

   Any layout will need to allow for later adaptation.  For instance, our holding paddock was reinforced for double-duty as the the nursery paddock for mares with new foals.  Paddock #5 was re-fenced as the dedicated bull pen.

   Of course, you may not be starting out with raw land.  (And having some of the fencing and building already there can be a nice head start.)  But try to think ahead as you add to the place, so that each modification will contribute to a functional overall layout as you go.



- - -


LND: Location.

   What you really need for a good doomstead is several thousand acres in southern Eden with a discreet air strip for your private jet and a sheltered harbor for your yacht.  But, if you find yourself a bit closer to the 'cardboard box under the highway overpass' end of the economic spectrum, you might have to compromise just a little.

   There are several things to consider when looking for a doomstead location.


   If you're lucky enough to have some rural property available to you, perhaps Grandpa's dilapidated old farm or the like, go for it!  Even if it's not the ideal location, it may be better than letting years slip past you while you wait for a better chance.


   Doomsteading can be challenging enough without making yourself a friendless stranger in an alien climate.  The frozen North is no place for a cracker.  A Yankee might find it just a little unsettling to live where the old log by the creek may try to take a bite out of you, and the mosquitoes have been known to carry off cattle for a snack later.

   There's usually some advantage to staying where family and old friends are nearby.  Especially if they are like-minded.  Isolation is an occupational hazard for doomsteaders.

-Urban Proximity.

   You might think that the farther away from towns and cities, the better.  But cities have their resources.  We don't know how long some semblance of BAU will hold-together.  While it does, it's handy to have goods, services, and utilities nearby.   Also might be important to the whole 'making a living' thing.

   Obviously you don't want to doomstead in the shadow of a major metropolis where the urban unrest can quickly spill out onto you, or you could be engulfed by suburban development.  So it's a judgement call.

   Our place is over an hour drive from a good-sized city, in an unincorporated farming area roughly equidistant from a few small towns.  Subtract automobiles from the scene, and that city may as well be on the other side of the continent, and the towns are a day-trip by horse and buggy.  Seems like a good balance.

-Natural Resources.

  Not all land is created equal.  There's probably a way to successfully doomstead on forty acres of desert sand, but I'd sure hate to have to figure it out myself.   Already standing forested land can provide you with firewood and game straight-away.  A good aquifer is a must, and surface water is a big plus.  Lowland sections are often great pasture soil, but you'll want plenty of high ground for the house and barn.  Creek, pond, or lake access for fishing may be great.  But you have to be careful these days due to development pollution and industrial agriculture run-off contaminating the water and the creatures therein.


   I knew an old horsetrader down on the islands who built his place on a corner lot and lover to brag about how much road frontage he had.  Never seemed like a benefit to me, although I suppose maybe it's good for property value.

   Our main lot was one of three cut from an older holding.  When the division was done, we were glad to wind-up with all of 60' of road frontage.  The minimum amount to avoid difficulty with the county when it comes to home permits and such.  The last thing we wanted was for our place to be visible from the road.

   Of course, we're not doing anything wrong in doomsteading.  But we don't want to advertise our activities or entice thieves, looters, or trespassers.  Nor do we want to be an open book for Little Tin Gods who want to demand permits, fees, and inspections for every little thing we build, critter we keep, or action we take.



- - -


LND: On Doomsteading.

   Doomsteading is developing and running a relatively self-sufficient farm intended to remain operational even after the breakdown of modern infrastructure.  This is one approach to coping with the converging crises that threaten to end the Cornucopian Era.  There are many others which may be preferable for other people and situations.  Staying in a major metropolis will likely give some folks access to infrastructure long after it has failed in the countryside.  Being ready to Bug Out allows more flexibility than being tied to one location.  But doomsteading has its own advantages, and suits us best.

   In my youth, I worked horse and cattle farms on the coastal islands, where hurricanes were a thing.  It's not like living in an apartment where you can stuff your cat into a carrier and head inland when the 'authorities' call an evacuation.  Herds of valuable animals depended on me to stick it out and hold things together for them despite weather, utility failure, and being cut-off by flooded and blocked roads.  So hunkering-down rather than bugging-out is second nature.

   As prepping strategies go, doomsteading is betting big.  Putting far more at stake than just a Bug Out Bag, Bug Out Vehicle, or basement bunker remodel.  But the potential payoff is huge.

   Even if some semblance of BAU manages to hold-out for years to come, the grounded doomsteading lifestyle, focused on real accomplishment, has its rewards in the here and now.


- - -


LND: Nonsense...

   Over my many years interacting with various Doomer communities, I've seen a lot of nonsense that just keeps popping-up again and again.  Let's start off by addressing some of the most frequent categories of the stuff so that I can reference them as we progress with the more practical portions of this tome...

-Hate-Filled Doomster Nonsense.  (Doom-Hipsters.)

   Counter-intuitive as it may seem, prepping and doomsteading are essentially optimistic pursuits.  We may call ourselves "Doomers", but it's the Cornucopian paradigm that we see as doomed, not ourselves or the world.  We intend to survive and come through the discontinuity in as good a shape as possible.

   But some people just want to watch the world burn.  There's always a faction of malcontents who insist that any prepping is a waste of effort, since global extinction is inevitable and impending.  These Doomsters hate hope, humanity, Christianity, Western Civilization (especially America), and themselves.  They tend to have a zealot-level religious devotion to Anthropogenic Global Warming (aka Climate Change when it's cold out), which allows them to declare the situation hopeless and lay the blame for the rapidly-approaching End of All Life ON Earth on evil, greedy, Capitalist Western men.

   Basically trolls.  If these Doomsters believed what they claim, they'd be out partying with wild abandon to make the most of the little time we have left.  Or they'd take a long jump on a short rope and get it over with.  They certainly wouldn't be using a corporate-logo smartphone over a global network established by the Western military industrial complex to post thousands of messages to forums that are fundamentally about doing what they say is pointless.

-Too Clever By Half Nonsense.

   Sort of an offshoot of the Hate-Filled Doomster Nonsense which operates with the conviction that everything ever espoused by Western Civilization must be considered automatically wrong, and promptly discarded, even if it worked well for centuries before the rise of the Cornucopian era.

   When considering ways to weather the collapse of modern infrastructure, I tend to turn first to how the generations just before the rise of said infrastructure coped without it.  They were, after all, the culmination of millennia of human survival without an electrical grid, automobiles, etc.

   Of course, technological reversion isn't a large-scale solution.  We can't support 21st Century population levels with 19th Century tech.  But, on the individual doomstead level, it's a good place to start.

   Going old-school isn't always the best avenue even on the small scale.  Some of our grandparents' approaches were dependent on 19th Century infrastructure and resources that were bulldozed by the 20th Century.  In other cases, modern tech is superior to what they had, and can be maintained without continued 21st infrastructure support.

   Some people are so hellbent to get away from anything in the Western tradition that they'll glom onto any newfangled, theoretical, or imported alternative to the Tried And True.

   Keeping an open mind to innovation is fine.  But it's no good to keep reinventing the wheel SQUARE.

-Wishful Thinking Shortcut Nonsense.

   Recently saw an ad for prepackaged doomsteads in boxes.  Supposed to be everything you needed to set-up a self-sufficient doomstead on a small plot of land, capable of feeding your whole community, delivered in a shipping container.

   Shameless hogwash, of course.  But nothing new.  As long as I've been paying attention, there have been stories and writings about setting-up super-productive micro-doomsteads that can be up and running in no time with little effort.  Gardening techniques that produce bushels of food from a tiny back yard (or less).  Doubters of these miracles will inevitably be told of how someone's grandma fed her neighborhood through the Depression from her little garden.  (I'll get to that in the Flora section.)

   The truth is that doomsteading takes resources, tools, skills, time to get up to speed, and a lot of work.

-Moonbat Nonsense.

   In their cannabis-fueled reveries, the hippies of old often embraced vegetarianism, pacifism/hoplophobia, ideals of perfect "oneness with Nature", and various other warm-and-fuzzy notions.  Some actually tried to put these into practice on Back To the Land communes, and quickly modified their views to something more in-line with reality.  Others held onto their delusional ideas and passed them down to the current generation.

   These conceits will not long hold without the support of Cornucopian infrastructure.

-Absolute Nonsense.

   You run across the nonsense of absolutes a lot on Doomer forums.  Especially when it comes to Self-Sufficiency.  Since one cannot be absolutely self-sufficient, some claim that any attempt to stand-alone doomstead is futile.

   Self-Sufficiency is an inherently relative concept.  There are people who can walk alone into the wilderness in their skivvies and survive without contact with other people or civilization for years.  Others would be buzzard bait in mere hours.  Doomsteading is about moving toward the more independent end of the spectrum.  It doesn't mean that you won't interact with the rest of the world... Whatever is left of it at any given time.

-"Saving Up" Procrastination Nonsense.

   There is some wisdom in saving up to buy quality.  Some truth to "You get what you pay for."   But that also goes for "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Waiting until you can afford the fancy, top-of-the-line whatever can just be an excuse to procrastinate and do nothing.

   Sure, an expensive, state-of-the-art fire suppression system may be better a cheap extinguisher.  But, when your house is ablaze, actually owning the latter will be far better than having a plan to eventually install the former.

-Cheating Nonsense.

   I think it was Eustace Conway who said that someone accused him of 'cheating' by using chainsaws on his Turtle Island Nature Preserve...  He said he didn't know he was playing a game.

   We use a lot of 19th Century technology because it is tried and true in a non-Cornucopian world.  But we aren't Luddites or historical reenactors.  We're working towards being able to continue a decent standard of living in the face of Cornucopian infrastructure collapse, using whatever resources are currently available to get there.  Some solutions are actually modern tech.  And we'll certainly put the electrical grid, Internet, and petroleum to good use as long as they remain available and affordable.  We just won't be ruined when they're not.



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LND: Introduction...

   I grew up in the rural South without a lot of money.  Spent a good bit of my life on farms and in the woods, away from the modern world.  Cultivated a more root-level perspective on the necessities of living than a lot of folks these days seem to have.  Found a career in what most people would consider an archaic, Lost Art.  Developed a weird inclination to make and repair things rather than just buying and replacing them.

   Lived in the shadow of the Cold War, when many believed a nuclear WWIII was just a matter of 'when', not 'if'.  Experienced the Energy Crisis and subsequent recessions.  Sundry hurricanes and the odd blizzard.   Even managed to survive Disco.

   As the 20th Century waned, we didn't really expect Y2k to bring TEOTWAWKI.  But it did cause us to reflect on just how the crazy-complex house of cards that is Cornucopian civilization could collapse if hit by the right breeze.  As we were finally building our own little ranch at the time, we kept the potential loss of outside infrastructure support in-mind.  We were doomsteading.

   Eventually Y2k came and went without serious incident.  A week later the prepping paid-off though, as we were clobbered with a severe winter storm, taking down the power grid and blocking roads, which was only a slight inconvenience to us.

   Twenty months later came 9-11, then friends and kin who'd always though our doomsteading was a bit crazy... Well... Didn't anymore.

   Amid the chaos, wars and rumors of wars, massive infrastructure failures, assorted catastrophes, we discovered LATOC, Matt Savinar's information clearing house on the Internet that explained the prime movers of the collapse, and chronicled its 'progress'.  I became a moderator on the very popular discussion forum, and remained with it until endless server problems (sabotage?) and the general madness of it all drove Matt to pull the plug.

   Over the years, we saw a lot of 'discussion' on LATOC and other venues among Doomers, Preppers, and Posers.  After two decades on the actual doomstead, we've got a decent grasp on what works well, not so well, or is just nonsense.  This book will detail the former, and reduce the latter to comic relief.  We do need just a little nonsense to keep survival in the face of widespread collapse from getting depressingly grim, after all.

-LATOC's Old Horseman.



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   The very concept of doomsteading involves coping with the absence of civil authority and trained professionals.

   I'm going to detail what has worked for us.  Many of the things covered in this book may not be up to code or in accordance with statutes in some jurisdictions.  Others may be inherently dangerous for some people in certain situations.  Use some common sense, and don't get in over your head.  Proceed at your own risk.  (Don't at your own peril.)

   Natural Selection is still a thing.

   And, as Granny used to say: "If you break your fool neck, don't come runnin' to me!"


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