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Does Your Plan B Include a Second Place to Live If Plan A Doesn’t Work Out?

More on retreats
Friday, April 14, 2017, 6:18 PM

We all have a Plan A—continue living just like we’re living now.

Some of us have a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work out, and the reasons for a Plan B break out into three general categories:

  1. Preppers who foresee the potential for a breakdown in Plan A due to a systemic “perfect storm” of events that could overwhelm the status quo’s ability to supply healthcare, food and transportation fuels for the nation’s heavily urbanized populace.
     
  2. People who understand their employment is precarious and contingent, and they might have to move to another locale if they lose their job and can’t find another equivalent one quickly.
     
  3. Those who tire of the stresses of maintaining Plan A and who long for a less stressful, less complex, cheaper and more fulfilling way of living.

The Fragility and Vulnerability of Highly Optimized Supply Chains

Many people are unaware of the fragility of the supply chains that truck in food, fuel and all the other commodities of industrialized comfort to cities. As a general rule, there are only a few days of food and fuel in a typical city, and any disruption quickly empties existing stocks.  (Those interested in learning more might start with the book When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation.)

Most residents may not realize that the government’s emergency services are actually quite limited, and that a relatively small number of casualties/injured people (for example, a few thousand) in an urban area would overwhelm services designed to handle a relative handful of the millions of residents.  Authorities can call up the National Guard to maintain order, but the government isn’t set up to provide food and fuel to millions of people stranded by a natural disaster or a ”Black Swan” (unexpected disruption).

To reduce costs, supply chains and other essential systems have been stripped of redundancies—any break in the optimized flow has the potential to cripple the entire system. Since these highly optimized systems work so well most of the time, we don’t really understand the vulnerabilities that lurk just below the surface of “just in time” deliveries and other efficiencies.

This inherent fragility has long fueled interest in rural “bug-out” retreats, a topic I recently addressed in Having A 'Retreat' Property Comes With Real Challenges.

Where Do We Go When the Economy Falters?

For the past eight years, US politicians and Federal Reserve authorities have attempted to repeal the classic business cycle of growth, stagnation, recession and renewed growth.  It may appear they’ve succeeded, but the era’s slow growth has been sustained by unprecedented expansions of debt in the government, corporate and private sectors.

This extraordinary expansion of debt has been enabled by a decline in interest rates. Most observers with a sense of history view these extremes of debt expansion and near-zero interest rates as unsustainable and destabilizing:

(Source)

In other words, extending the expansion cycle by extreme policy measures cannot actually repeal the business cycle; rather, these policy extremes increase the likelihood that the eventual recession will be deeper and/or longer than it would have been absent the policy extremes.

Thus we can anticipate a recession of some sort, in which mal-investments and unpayable debts are liquidated and written off, and credit expansion (and the consumption that depends on it) slows or even reverses, as it did in the 2008-09 recession.

Employers must lay off employees when sales and profits fall, and as incomes fall, sales fall further, creating a feedback loop of mutually reinforcing declines in household income and spending.

When the music finally stops, many laid-off employees won’t be able to find a chair (i.e. another job).  Without a job, most people can’t afford to remain in high-cost urban centers for long.

When the 2000 recession gutted employment in the San Francisco Bay Area, 100,000 people moved away.

Recent immigrants to wealthy metro areas have the option of returning home to the village or town they’d left to seek work in the city.  Many immigrants from south of the border have invested their earnings in building new homes in their villages of origin. When the economy north of the Rio Grande falters, they can return to the home they built when their incomes were high.

In China, many of the urban workers laid off in slow periods return to their villages, where there is a source of food (farms) and a roof over their head (the family home).

Today’s “rootless Cosmopolitans” (urban dwelling Americans) typically lack a village they can return to in hard times. So a common Plan B is to seek an equivalent low-cost place to retreat to in recessions.

Where Do We Go When We Burn Out?

There’s a simple phrase that embodies the exhaustion and dissatisfaction we experience when we feel like we’re on a treadmill going nowhere that’s speeding up: Burn-out.

As Historian Fernand Braudel (and others) observed, cities have always had a higher cost of living than the countryside—and offered higher pay scales. Cities aggregate capital, talent and power, and while this dynamism serves to raise many out of poverty, it can also exacerbate wealth and income inequality.

The globalization of labor and capital combined with the aforementioned policy extremes has deepened the divide between “haves” and “have-nots” in many urban regions. Those who bought their homes in desirable metro areas for $150,000 are much wealthier now that these modest homes fetch $750,000 or more. Young people with conventional jobs will never be able to afford these home prices, and so the time-honored source of middle-class security—home ownership—is out of reach.

Many of those who dove in and bought a home are stretching to pay crushing mortgages, soaring taxes and higher costs for healthcare and childcare. They are burning out, and their Plan B is a permanent move to a less burdensome and more fulfilling life elsewhere.

Three Different Purposes, Three Different Durations of Residence

Although Plan B includes a wide spectrum of options, these three basic categories define three different purposes for having an alternative residence lined up, and these purposes define three different durations of Plan B occupancy.

While the serious prepper with a “bug-out” Plan B might be planning for the long haul, others will view their “bug-out” Plan B preparations as a temporary arrangement—a place to go in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, or localized social unrest.

Such a temporary home-away-from-home could be as simple as an RV parked in the parents’ driveway, a spare room in a relative’s house or more elaborately, a storage shed turned into a “tiny house.”

Those planning for the eventuality of a much lower income due to recession will have a much different Plan B, as they need dirt-cheap housing for an extended occupancy that might last from a few months to as long as a few years.

The recession Plan B must include planning for childcare/schooling, healthcare, employment/earning a living—all the day-to-day components of Plan A.

The recession Plan B also has to account for the possibility that the return to the Plan A lifestyle will no longer be an option due to health issues, the decline of the sector of employment, or permanent declines in household income.

The burn-out Plan B is intended to be permanent. Plan A is being replaced by a Plan B that must provide the essentials of home, work and community—what I call fully functional residence.

In Part 2: The Benefits & Challenges Of Maintaining A Retreat Property, we present our framework that clarifies the trade-offs, costs and benefits of owning and maintaining a Plan B "retreat" property. There is no "one size fits all" solution to a retreat property -- selecting and operating one needs to be custom tailored to your own individual requirements, resources, skills and risk assessment. Using our framework, we'll help you zero in on the factors that make the most sense given your personal situation.

Maintaining a functional separate retreat residence is a responsibility that comes with real costs and complexities. But if done right, it can yield great returns during both good times and bad.

Click here to read the report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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62 Comments

pat the rat's picture
pat the rat
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Posts: 95
plan B

It is all we can do to maintain plan A there is no plan b except a bug out box.

Rodster's picture
Rodster
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Many Won't Have An Option

When this whole Ponzi scheme comes crashing down it will go global. When Govt's start falling apart because the system fails you will see violence, chaos, destruction and desparation on a scale we could not imagine.

Those with food and money will be prime targets at the hands of the food zombies. If you have food and shelter you better have protection and lots of it and you better know how to use it because you'll need to.

People who are at the wrong end of a failing system will be highly pissed and will come look for anyone who's better off than they are. In the words of Gerald Celente: "When people have nothing else to lose and lose EVERYTHING....., they LOSE IT!

And we can expect just from past history that the unraveling of our Industrialized Ponzi scheme (Financial, banking and monetary) system can come apart QUICKLY.

Just ask Hank Paulson who admonished then President G.W. Bush to save the TBTF Banks. In his words he said if the Banks aren't bailed out the World eCONomy will come to a halt and we'll have tanks roaming US cities with Martial Law implemented.

As a teaser just watch the 1981 movie Rollover to get an idea how things might unravel and how ugly things could get. I'm one individual who hasn't ruled out a Mad Max scenario. World Govt's have systemically domesticated their populations. They have made us rely on the systems they have put in place for our basic existence. As the article says if the J.I.T. fails there's about three worth of food on store shelves. And our fat and happy politicians won't give a damn because they'll be out taking care of themselves and their families first. Think Hurricane Sandy with people dumpster diving within hours after the hurricane hit.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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Rodster?

You are spot on. Mad Max will rape and pillage rural America, the dumb twits who voted for trump.

nigel's picture
nigel
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I've been visiting here since

I've been visiting here since 07, and I used to think it would be a big crash as well, but now I think it's going to be a slow crash. Every year everyone has less. The basics are more expensive, so I make do with less. It's harder to find jobs, so i work less, and so on.

The GFC had money printing, the next crisis will be helicopter money, instead of the big crash we are all waiting for, we will have another 10 years of more of the same. Less value for money, things are more expensive. Maybe we have a small crash, another GFC where everyone loses 50% but things go back to business as usual after that. Maybe we have mass riots, or a small war, or a hurricane wipes out a city, but after that, we all pick up poorer and poorer.

My solution is the same, make my garden bigger, keep my distance from the grid, and help family and friends. I practice every week at the range, but if you want to be happy and healthy then don't live in fear and worry. Go build something or grow something or do something. The only way out of this mess short term or long term is to become the people we were years ago, the people who grew their own food and built their own houses, who worked together and with each other.

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Perimeter to Volume Ratio

One of the themes from comparative zoology is the surface area to volume ratio of an animal.  Heat is exchanged with the environment through surface area, but heat is generated in the metabolic activity of cells -- which is closely related to its mass or volume.   As animals get bigger, the surface area to volume ratio decreases, so physiologic strategies to manage heat flow must change.

I can envision that community size might be analogous. 

The inside of the community, the volume, will need to be big enough to contain many skills:  repair a chainsaw, fix plumbing, recognize diseases in chickens, deliver babies, harvest and thresh grain, care for a horse, have the muscle power to split several cords of firewood, etc. etc.  Bigger communities can have more skills.  However, on the downside, bigger communities, larger volumes, will also require more food, water and housing.  In a grid down setting, a lake or river, barns, farmable land, fire wood and enough stored food to get through the winter will limit the number of people the community can bring through to survival.

And the perimeter of the community will need to be defended.   A fence / ditch / boundary structure of some kind will need to be maintained and watched by sufficient dedicated lookouts.  Enough "shooters" will need to be on call to respond to breach or threat to that boundary. A perimeter that is partially protected by a natural barrier like a mountain pass or an island surrounded by water would offer tremendous advantage.

One of the (fictitious) stories I have heard many times is a rural farm / community that had enough people to work the farm but not enough to defend its borders.  The farm community had to take in refugees to get sufficient "shooters" available to defend its borders.  But they could NOT take in more people than they could feed and shelter.  (Stored food in the first year and to be grown the year after.)

So it sounds like a small town, surrounded by natural barriers, rich in water, good land and good neighbors would be best.  And, the numbers of people that can be included in the community, especially during a (possible) sudden transition phase, will be closely related to the amount of food and water stored there.

Non-preppers may have valuable skills that they can offer to a community.  However they will come without stored food and water (as they thought prepping was "stupid.")   The community will have to store enough to feed them through the first winter, and turn away would-be immigrants when resources are exceeded.

One last issue:  The apartment complex.  250 people living in a location without independent water, stored food, or any capacity to grow their own food.  What happens with them?

 

 

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
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Cliff dwellers had good natural border protection

If N remember correctly, the cliff dwellers in New Mexico lasted quite a long time. But the Aztecs were determined, and shortly before the time of Cortez conquered them and ate them in their "great feast".

So yes, it may help. But in the end, it seems the Aztecs win. Darn.

jgritter's picture
jgritter
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Mad Max

Mad Max is predicated on magically infinite supplies of gasoline and on disarmed Australians.  Collapse fast or slow, eventually almost everyone will be on foot.  It is said that there are 300 million firearms in the United States (enough to arm just about everyone older then age 5).  I don't know how many of those guns are in drawers somewhere and have never been fired but I suspect that it is quite a few.  Perhaps 1% of the American population has received professional firearm training, another 5% might be competent amateurs.  I think the issue may not be one of worrying about being attacked by an armed group as much as one of worrying about getting into an armed group.  After the dust settles there may only be two groups of people left, the homicidal and the dead.

The people in the hypothetical apartment complex will be dead within a week.  They might last a few more days if they conserve water in toilets and water heaters, but most won't.

This seems to be like the "was 9-11 a controlled demo?" conversations, you can either wrap your head around it, or you can't.

I feel bad about being such a doomer, but it's what I am.  

John G.

 

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Collapse now. Avoid the rush.

Form an armed group for community defense now.  Avoid the rush when the collapse comes.  And don't just plan for defense.  Offense will be required against the evil armed groups who will be roaming around and setting up ambushes on highways, streets and markets.

Afridev's picture
Afridev
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Any type of collapse/ gradual

Any type of collapse/ gradual step-down will lead to much less complexity and availability of resources/ energy. If we go back to '1890 - scenario', Sweden had in that period 4-5 million persons living in it (now around 10 million). But in 1890 we had centuries of relative stability and a population close to the land who knew how to work it and produce resources (and even then there were periods of famine).

An 'undershoot' to 1-2 million seems reasonable and aligned to the carrying capacity of land and society. That final outcome (9 -> 1-2 million persons) doesn't worry me too much, nor is the work that it will be to supply for the family. What worries me most is the process of getting to there (potential Mad Max with roaming gangs?) and the governance system that will 'rule over' the remaining persons. Some governance systems are more stable than others: warlord and feudal system (with serfdom systems) are more stable than democracy... Not the most pleasant systems to live in...

charleshughsmith's picture
charleshughsmith
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referencing the western Roman Empire

Like many others, I find value in modeling the decline and collapse of the western Roman Empire. (The Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium, continued on for another 1,000 years. Comparing the two is valuable.) I have read a dozen books (or so) on Rome's ascent and collapse, as well as as several on the Byzantine Empire and the early Middle Ages that followed Western Rome's demise.

There is little record of mass die-offs. That required the Plague (later in the Middle Ages).  Rome depopulated relatively quickly--roughly 80% of the populace moved away once the Bread and Circuses (free bread) ended when the Vandals conquered North Africa, Rome's breadbasket.

As Afridev notes, collapse is gradual, and tends to follow John Michael Greer's model of stair-steps down the complexity scale. The archeological and written record of the late Roman era suggests systems became less complex as the tax base that supported the Empire eroded, and people started dealing with the "Barbarian" (in quotes because they were mostly Roman soldiers and Generals) rulers of former Roman provinces.

The point here is systems and values continue on for hundreds of years even after central hierarchies go away. It doesn't take much food and energy to get by once 80% of the complexity goes away. Those analysts who predict a breakup of nation-states into smaller polities may be onto something. There was no Mad Max in the Roman collapse, even when a large percentage of Rome's populace was dependent on free bread. The free bread went away, they moved on and became peasants. 

Even "warlords" like Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan had orderly empires that were peaceful if you paid your annual tribute.

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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Evolving period of change

Rodster,

You wrote:

Those with food and money will be prime targets at the hands of the food zombies. If you have food and shelter you better have protection and lots of it and you better know how to use it because you'll need to.

Which got me to thinking. It seems to me that if you aren't prepared to be one of those people who are prepared, then by default you will have to become one of those food zombies who are raiding friends, neighbors or other targets of opportunity. Not a pleasant dichotomy.

Even the most prepared of us now could wind up wandering around, hat in hand asking for handouts, if the twists of fate go against them. The point being that any of us could wind up on the outside of a fence somewhere. It will take most communities a while to organize neighborhood watches but it will take roving people/families a while to organize into well led mobs too (inner city gangs could be an exception). In the mean time, it will be a lot of lone wolves looking for easy pickings. Not sure how many of them will be looking to encounter, never mind slaughter, other people who may or may not be armed. Likewise, initially at least, homeowners and communities will not be shooting every looter on sight. We picture nasty, tattooed frothing-at-the-mouth killers out of a movie but will be more likely to get soccer moms and starving kids. Over time, I expect interactions and social mores will evolve, especially if people give up on a near-term return to 'normal' civilization.

I am going to be relocating over the next few months so we'll be weathering a period of vulnerability with fingers crossed before rebuilding our resiliency and community again elsewhere. No matter which scenario(s) we envision, none will be stable. If there is a total breakdown, even a Mad Max scenario cannot persist for long. I have lived and worked in places outside of any effective law enforcement and communities do exist there and they are not unstable or without order. The problem is getting through the period of instability after a breakdown until a new order is established. Preparation is nothing more than trying to improve your odds of doing so.

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Bah humbug--Stair stepping down the complexity scale

I don't see how it can be possible to stair step down the complexity scale, at least with little steps.  I just can't imagine how that could happen. I wish that I could and would be very happy to have a happier vision of how this might unfold.   Right now though, it seem to me that we either have an entirely intact highly complex system, or we fall back to an ultra- primitive one.

1.  Population location related to food production location. 

One extreme example is the Los Angeles basin.  Over 10 million people live in an area without significant rainfall and without much local food production.  Their survival depends on having the trucks running (fuel, spare parts, road repaired) to bring food in from the some what distant agricultural areas in the central valley. 

Water is carried in via gravity fed canals, then pumped to elevated storage tanks.  Without an intact electrical grid to make the final delivery, each family might need to walk a few miles with a bucket and a little red wagon to a pool to fetch that days water.....

2.  Spare parts for my car

My car was assembled in the USA from parts made in multiple countries all of which are located in Asia. Each part is designed as a CAD file (some in India I suspect) and transmitted electronically to a manufacturing facility.  The finished part is shipped to a the USA for assembly.  I cannot keep my car running without international trade and communication networks.  I suppose that others with the same car model could get together and cooperatively cannibalize some vehicles to assemble a shared one that worked.  

Same with bicycles.  My Specialized brand bike was designed in Gilroy, CA, but all of its parts were made in China.

3.  So my car and bike no longer work.  I wish to stair step down the complexity scale to a horse drawn carriage.  But I have no horse, no barn and no field.  I live in a suburb.  I have no source of leather for the harnesses and straps as there are no slaughter houses or leather processing plants near me.  I don't have blacksmithing tools or shop or skills to manufacture parts for a cart.  So I am on foot, maybe with a wagon or wheelbarrow (until it breaks).  With a much more gradual (say 10 or 15 year) descent, we could start slaughtering cattle and processing leather closer to home.

4.  So me and 50,000 others in my town of 100,000 realize there is no possible way we can husband our horses or grow enough food in our suburban / town and decide to move out to the country.  Fortunately, we are surrounded by rich farmland.  We will go there.  Oops.  Somebody is already is living there.  And they don't seem to want to have several hundred of us city folk moving in with them on "their" farm.  We really think that they should share with us and "be fair" as we are not bad people and just want a place to live and work.  They shoot a shotgun over our heads and tell us to keep moving.....

I cannot envision how the first stair step down could be anything but an immense drop.

Please paint a different picture for me if you have one.

 

charleshughsmith's picture
charleshughsmith
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catabolic collapse

Here is JM Greer's discussion of his model of catabolic collapse:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2011/01/onset-of-catabolic-collap...

I am not predicting what will happen--of course a collapse could occur--but as of the near-term, the US has sufficient fossil fuels to grow and transport food and maintain public order. Back of the envelope, 4-5 MBD (or natty gas equivalent) is still a lot of energy--if used wisely.

Eliminate most air travel (ration it, and let people sell their ration cards on the open market), tightly ration private vehicle fuel, clamp down on the incredible, monumental waste of our society, and there would be plenty of food, lighting, basic public transport for 300+ M people.  

My estimate is we could cut 60% - 75% of our consumption and live quite well. This is based on my own life experience with very low consumption lifestyles that consume 25% to 50% of conventional measures of food-fossil-fuel calories, fuel, water, etc. 

We drive 2000-2500 miles annually - combined mileage of both our autos. 2000 gallons of water for two months, $130 a month for all food, incl. entertaining./sharing with others. I am sure many of you have similar experiences. When I lived in the "storage shed" I mentioned, consumption was much lower.

Will people choose a lower-consumption lifestyle? probably not. But they may not have a choice, and the government has a long history of imposing strict rationing. Why wouldn't they respond to scarcities as they have in the past?

Humans squander abundance. Scarcities /rationing modify behaviors quite rapidly. That's one scenario with some history behind it.

Grover's picture
Grover
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We're In A Crashcade

sand_puppy,

It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job. I's a depression when you lose your job.

- Harry S. Truman

I see the financial crisis of 2008 as one of the stair steps down the "crashcade." (I'm not sure if the dot com crash qualifies as a prior step or not.) Look at what has transpired since the great recession. Have average wages kept up with (real) inflation and tax increases? Have savers and retirees been thrown under the bus by FOMC ZIRP policies in order to save the banks? Has environmental degradation recovered much (if any?) Are your hopes and dreams for the future as lofty as they were 10 years ago? If not for debt load increases that papered over the recession, the economy would have fared much worse.

And yet, the system still limps along. For some, it is a depression while for most it is a seemingly endless recession. For others, it has been great business opportunity. Individual mileage varies. You can still get parts for your "domestic" car and bicycle.

But, what happens when the next stair step hits (another financial crisis, war, disease outbreak, etc.?)  Will we be able to respond with more debt to paper over that recession? My thoughts are that more people will be affected than last time. For them, it will be much more painful and the resulting outlook will be less cheerful. I don't think it will bring the economy to a standstill. I suspect that overall, we'll recover somewhat.

Given enough stair steps, we won't be able to recover. That last step will look like what you describe. We're not there yet.

Grover

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thc0655
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We are about to find out which it will be

Sudden collapse or gradual, grinding decline?  They reach basically the same end-point but in completely different ways because of the pace of change.  A gradual, grinding decline is easier to adjust to and therefore it's what we can hope for if we're not going to get some kind of cornucopian-miracle future.  A sudden collapse, of course, is very difficult or impossible to adjust to so people get desperate and many don't survive.  Like CHS, I think I'd adjust well enough to a gradual, grinding decline without a great deal of angst or suffering.  But like sand-puppy, I'm concerned about a sudden collapse and am making preparations for it because if it happens there will be little to no time to adjust to it.  

What we have going for us is that historically most societies decay rather than collapse.  Maybe ours will be another one that decays and we'll all adjust.  But there are those that collapse, especially if the time span for the collapse is opened up to include a period of say 3 years, instead of 3 days or 3 months as is envisioned by many who are concerned about a collapse of modern Western societies.  For instance, Poland started a collapse in 1939 that spanned 3-5 years.  Venezuela appears to be in the midst of a 3 year collapse today.  Weimar Germany took about 3 years to collapse in the early 1920's.  Rwanda had a collapse that could be dated 1990-1994, or shorter.

If Jim Rickards were participating in our discussion I think he'd point out that a collapse is more likely if you're working from a complexity theory mental model.  He'd say a gradual, grinding decline would be more likely if you're working from a linear model or equilibrium model.  He believes the complexity model is the right model for our financial system (and society in general), and in the complexity model there are sudden, dramatic collapses (and minor slides that can resemble stair-steps downward).  He uses the example of a snowy mountainside that is building up a dangerous amount of snow and is bound to collapse in an avalanche.  We often use the avalanche image here at PP too.  We also often use the term "fragile" to refer to our economy, just-in-time delivery system, etc. and fragile things often shatter and almost never gradually decay (because that's the nature of fragility).  Here's a brief overview:

http://cinemarasik.com/2011/12/avalanches-nuclear-reactors-financial-markets-a-complexity-theory-view-by-james-rickards/

Personally, I believe ours is the epitome of a complex or overly-complex society that is on the verge of collapse (allowing for a collapse that unfolds for up to 3 years or so).  The complexity model fits us in my mind.  I'd much prefer to gradually decline, and I hold out tiny specks of hope that some of the "tension" built up in our system can be gradually relieved by smaller steps down so that a sudden, monumental collapse doesn't have to happen.  That's what they try to do with snowy mountains threatening to avalanche: shoot some artillery shells into the snow hoping to cause small snow slides that release enough pressure to avoid a full-blown avalanche that takes out the village below.

Either way, I believe we are about to find out which it will be.

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor."

 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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It begs repeating

We should have our mare settled.

Were the Luddites correct? Derrick Jensen, wouldn't label his ideology after a fighter of industrialization, but practically that is what he is.

As well, should we welcome the 18th centur?, watching the slide will be painful!

do we take to heart the oft repeated axiom to "collapse now and avoid the rush"?

It seems most folk aware of their plight are trying to take their lifestyle with them into the next paradigm. It ain't happening

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Critical side effects of metabolic collapse

Afridev posted the following BBC piece in today's Daily Digest:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse

This paragraph particularly caught my attention:

Whether in the US, UK or elsewhere, the more dissatisfied and afraid people become, Homer-Dixon says, the more of a tendency they have to cling to their in-group identity – whether religious, racial or national. Denial, including of the emerging prospect of societal collapse itself, will be widespread, as will rejection of evidence-based fact. If people admit that problems exist at all, they will assign blame for those problems to everyone outside of their in-group, building up resentment. “You’re setting up the psychological and social prerequisites for mass violence,” Homer-Dixon says. When localised violence finally does break out, or another country or group decides to invade, collapse will be difficult to avoid.

When the author says the more afraid and dissatisfied people become the more they will cling to their in-group identity, I detect a tone of disapproval (this is the BBC after all).  On the other hand, we here talk about building up our social capital and resiliency in an appropriately sized community.  That sounds wise and positive to me, but I think both descriptions are describing the same thing.  So there might be a debate around the question: Which is it -- are we negatively clinging to our in-group identity or are we positively building social capital and resiliency?

The author then raises the issue of denial (that we are declining and risking collapse).  I would say that those in the US and the EU who are advocating for unlimited or massive immigration are in denial of "evidence-based facts" about limited resources, social conflict and our impending collapse.

The author has a strong optimistic side:

On the other hand, Western societies may not meet with a violent, dramatic end. In some cases, civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper. The British Empire has been on this path since 1918, Randers says, and other Western nations might go this route as well. As time passes, they will become increasingly inconsequential and, in response to the problems driving their slow fade-out, will also starkly depart from the values they hold dear today. “Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode,” Randers argues. “Democratic, liberal society will fail, while stronger governments like China will be the winners.” 

I can easily handle a British Empire kind of slow catabolic collapse (that "mare is settled").  I think I'd like a much simpler, more local kind of existence (as long as I have a little electricity from time to time, indoor plumbing, and hot/cold running water I can actually drink cool).  But there are several differences between the British Empire in 1918, and the US and the EU today that have me very concerned:

1. The speed of communication and travel makes a lot of things happen faster and faster (and orders of magnitude faster than the British world of 1918-1960).

2.  Environmental issues are much worse.

3.  Population pressures are much worse (the sheer numbers), and population concentrations in urban areas are much greater.

4.  Financial complexity is off-the-charts worse, and everyone in the world is using fiat currency (no gold-backed or commodity-backed money).  Gold-backed money seems to cause economies to move more slowly (up or down), whereas economies using fiat currencies can go super critical over a weekend (re: Treasury Secretary Paulson's warnings in 2008 about tanks on American streets if he and the banks didn't get their way, RIGHT NOW!).

Even if a gradual catabolic decline is a 90% certainty and a sudden collapse is only a 10% certainty, I'm still much more concerned about the sudden collapse (super high impact, low probability).  And I think a sudden collapse is much more than a 10% proposition.

 

TechGuy's picture
TechGuy
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Odds favor War over Collapse

In my opinion, War will happen before a collapse. As the economy continues to decline, Populations will select charismatic leaders that make promises to fix everything. They will blame outsiders, and political groups in order to drum up support for a centrallly (gov't) controlled economy. Sooner or later these adminstrations will go to war. We can already see the beginning in the US and Europe. 

Its also likely the the public will not have the option to choose less aggressive leaders, in the US presidential election both party candidates supported more war. When major problems mount, there are no willing sane people stepping up to run, because no sane person wants to plunge themselves into the swamp. The only candidates that will run are those that seek power for their own means or have an ego the size of Manhattan. Consider that during the Great Depression, Most of the world replaced thier gov't with nationalist that ended in WW2. I don't think this time will be different. 

The problem is that when the next World War happens, its very likely going to be extinction level event. Not only will Nuclear Weapons be used, but also biological weapons. After the war, all of the surface water (lakes, rivers, oceans) will be polluted to the point higher lifeforms can not survive. While the Nuclear bombs themselves will not cause extereme pollution,  it will be a combination of meltdowns at nuclear power plants (~440 world wide), Cities that burn for months unleashing billions of tons of pollution worldwide. Consider that after the bombs fall, there will be no firefighter, or infrastructure repair crews to address the aftermath. 

With the cities burning for months, nuclear power meltdowns that release around million tons of radioactive material, its likely that all of the land will become siginificantly contaminated. with long half-life/decay chain isotopes, as well as toxic compounds released from the burning cities. Crop plants will absorb these contaminates from the soil and from rainfall. Cancer rates for survivors will likely be high as they consume contaminated food & water.  I think the only way to grow uncontamineted food is in greenhouses or land that was shielded from contamination (ie using plastic sheeting), and have a deep well availble to access uncontamined water.

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Nuclear plan

move all animals from fields with surface water.

Put in barn for month.

thanks TechGuy

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nuclear power = resilience anathema

Ah my favorite - the nuclear power issue.  Even if not by war, I can't see how we are going to avoid a series of nuclear plant failures over time.  All plants require functioning power grids and functioning institutions to keep from melting down.  Eventually, one of the nations that currently has nuclear power is going to become a failed state.  Countries like Armenia, Pakistan, Romania all have nuclear power reactors.  North Korea has 30 according to Wikipedia!

 

 

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PaulJam wrote: Ah my favorite
PaulJam wrote:

Ah my favorite - the nuclear power issue.  Even if not by war, I can't see how we are going to avoid a series of nuclear plant failures over time.  All plants require functioning power grids and functioning institutions to keep from melting down.  Eventually, one of the nations that currently has nuclear power is going to become a failed state.  Countries like Armenia, Pakistan, Romania all have nuclear power reactors.  North Korea has 30 according to Wikipedia!

 

 

As I understand it the cooling rods need a constant supply of water running over them in order to prevent meltdown. Let's assume that everything bad happens. Put yourself in the role of the senior engineer at one of these nuclear power plants. Your family and friends all live in the adjacent town. Most if not all plants are built near rivers or lakes. Now your worst case scenario is that you have a half dozen reactors that will turn Chernobyl on you if you do nothing and your family dies. At some point you are going to try and convince the local mayor/governor/warlord that he can either get his people to dump the rods into the local river and live with minor pollution or he can do nothing and everyone dies. Perhaps they use convict labor, perhaps the engineer moves them himself.

There is a solution, it's just not a great one. Perhaps in your preps you should make sure you don't live down river from a nuclear plant.

If I was an engineer at a plant, I would switch the pumps to run from the power generated by the plant, it seems kind of obvious that the failure of a grid wouldn't impact the electric pumps of a plant that produced the power, at least not right away. I mean even if you have to slow the plant down you might be able to run it for some time before you dump the rods in a river.

 

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Catabolic Collapse

Thank you for the excellent reference to Greer's article, written 6 years ago.  His arguments are very persuasive  

The Onset of Catabolic Collapse

CHS's observation that "My estimate is we could cut 60% - 75% of our consumption and live quite well." is spot on.  I have already achieved that myself and found a better lifestyle on the other end, as I am sure many on this blogsite have done themselves.  In this optimistic context, I want to mention a couple things that are overlooked when lamenting the passing of an empire that has become corrupt and damaging to everyone that has contact with it.

A review of the catabolic collapse of "The" American empire could be clarified with overlay of two more concepts that affect the analysis and conclusions..
 One, the negative connotations of collapse of "The" American empire is necessarily subjective from a viewpoint of the Exceptional American and does not apply to many, and perhaps most people. Actually MOST of the humans on this planet have greatly increased lifestyle, improved standard of living and are more optimistic compared to their position in 1974, when the first step down of "The" American war empire took place.  I have discussed this with several Chinese who state that they are optimistic for their future and have vastly improved life in recent years.  "THE" American empire does not include everyone on this planet and perhaps not most of the people.  It is game over and catabolic collapse for Team America, but not necessarily for the other teams. It is not the end of the world or of human progress or happiness, just the end of "The" American empire, and perhaps of a minority (5%) of all people who have become too overconfident, too wonderful, too smug and perhaps just a little bit too exceptional over the years.

Two.  The real and important changes to human society are based on technology improvements and overshadow any notion of what happens to the precious American death and debt empire.  Changes to "The" American empire are merely a footnote to broader and more important evolution in civilization.  Importantly, all great/significant changes in human civilization arise from advances in technology, particularly in the use of energy and NOT from politicians or sociopaths and their organizations such as the present debt and death empire.
1. the technology of taming of fire energy 100,000 years ago allowed the greater extraction and use of more calories and other nutrients from the same food and allowed evolution of larger brains, which are energy intensive.  This tremendous change arose from the technology of using exogenous energy to denature food before our bodies digest, and thus unlocked a serious change in civilization.
2. technology of seed storage/farming allowed the control of human energy (calorie) sources as permanent settlements/agriculture which had profound affects on our language, habits etc (this has been extensively documented for the rice based civilizations of East Asia and I suppose for the maize civilization of the Americas, wheat civilization of Egypt etc. ) The technology of annual planning, long term community control of  soil and water unlocked much greater sources of human energy. 
3. harnessing of fire-steam energy allowed even larger energy sources to be used in the industrial revolution which provided more energy for yet more control over the environment.  This energy technology and its effects on humans was much more important than any sociopathic leader or group of learders or their political organizations of that age.
4. the oil age gave another major input and increase in energy, particularly for vehicles. Sociopaths acquired control of the nation that most benefited (the original oil nation) and that kept its currency alive by backing that currency with oil via discipline from a military.  SO, that nation's oil, or oil backed Empire is coming to an end.  Big deal, so what.  From an outside-of-the-corrupt empire viewpoint, the sustainable future looks pretty good, particularly if "The" empire's debt and death machine stops enslaving the rest of the planet to benefit the Exceptional People via its war machine that drops bombs and creates copious death and refugees as its main televised spectator sport.

Many advances in energy harnessing continue unabated. We are surrounded by an ocean of energy, be it solar, wind, geothermal etc.  We have all the technology we need to create our own sustainable, resilient communities.  Entire regions are moving in this direction.  In particular, the extremely cheap, abundant and increasingly growing EROI solar electric technology will make dramatic changes to our lifestyles, at least for those who embrace a future where a person has to create value.  Time is limited and it is not helpful to pine for a past, for an exceptional country that stole resources and created planet wide misery to support an inflated lifestyle. 
The concept of specific countries such as U.S., France, Germany Russia China etc. were a convenient invention and useful in an age where information was only found in concentrated points such as London, Paris, and the like, language differences caused borders, and valuation such as money was necessarily centralized in central banks, which attracted the majority of sociopaths for obvious reasons.  But those political entities are no longer needed.  The answer to all of the basic problems is the next step: development of sustainable communities that produce wealth at the local level and that produce excess for trade with other communities

No need to look back wistfully at "a better time and place."  The world is much better off after the debt and death empire collapses and the future is more exciting and prosperous for those who build wealth for their families and neighbors.

 

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Nigel Wrote: "t some point

Nigel Wrote:

"t some point you are going to try and convince the local mayor/governor/warlord that he can either get his people to dump the rods into the local river and live with minor pollution or he can do nothing and everyone dies. Perhaps they use convict labor, perhaps the engineer moves them himself."

That will not  work. First off when the Grid goes down there will be limited options to deal with the reactor core. At best the plant operators can shutdown the reactors by inserting the control rods, and flood the reactor with Boric acid will kill futher nuclear reactors (or at least drop it by 99%). The issue is that imediately after the reactor is shutdown it still generates about 200 MW(th) power and drops to about 10-20 MW(th) after about 10 days.This residue heat is produced by the spit isotopes as they decay and emit  radiation. Presuming the plant can operate on Diesel generators for about 3 days (presuming they function). Its still going to meltdown after the diesels run out of fuel. simply because of residue heat. 

The rods in the reactor cannot be removed out of the reactor for many weeks. The rods have to remain in the reactor and constantly cooled until the residue heat drops. To remove the rods a special crane and contaiment system so that the rods are keep submerged at all times. This equipment requires electricity and lots of it. So if the grid is down, and fuel for the diesels is impossible, there is no way to remove the rods.

Dumping them in a river would not prevent problems. The only option is to keep spent/used rod in contaminate that isolated them from the evironment.

The other issue is the 30+ years of spent rods that are in spent fuel pools. These pools also need constant cooling. Without cooling the water in the spent pools will eventually heat up boil away. Once the rods are exposed to air, they can will begin to react with steam and catch fire and decompose in the fire.

Nigel Wrote:

"If I was an engineer at a plant, I would switch the pumps to run from the power generated by the plant"

Its likely in a war, that the primary generators will be destroyed, either by EMP, or if the grid transformers or transmission lines are shorted. The other issue is that the generators need a minimum load to operate, other wise they are unstable (un able to maintain voltage or frequency). Over voltage or under frequency will cause the plant transformer to overheat and destroy itself. The bottom line is that Nuclear power plants are not designed to function without a functioning grid. 

 When the nukes are lauched, Plant operators will take there family and head for the hills as soon as they shutdown the reactor (presuming that a nearby nuke strike doesn't kill them first.. There is nothitng they can do, except flee. Its likely that power plants will be secondary targets.

 Technically the Grid & communications are the primary target, even before miltary target are hit. The first detection will likely be HEMP, High-Altitude EMP detenations that take out the grid and disabled non-hardened communication systems. This will probably occur with then 5 to 10 minutes via sub launched ICBMs since they can reach high Altitudes quicker than ground targets can be hit.

Perhaps if Power plants are given ample notice, that reactors can be shutdown days or weeks in advance, which would give them time to prepare the reactors. For instance the operators can flood the entire contaiment building, as well has get the residue heat down. That said, I am not sure how much they can do with spent fuel pools. Perhaps the can remove fresh rods (also stored in spent fuel pools, and disassemble them (unused rods can be handled safely). if they have empty dry fuel rod caskets that can probably pack them too. But the issue I see its unlikely that plants will be given much notice, and operators will be relucant to shut them down unless they are ordered because it means a revenue loss. If the US does got war with North Korea will have a idea how Nuclear power plants will address a future nuclear war. My guess is that they will remain power up.

Nigel Wrote:

"Perhaps in your preps you should make sure you don't live down river from a nuclear plant."

I am not sure that it will make much of difference over the long term. Yes, when plants begin to fail, distance will help. But over a longer period the meltdown reactors will continuously release radioactive isotopes into the evironment. Much of the contamination will end up in surface water and be transported just about everywhere.

In additional to contaimination from radioactive isotopes, The toxic pollution from burning cities will probably be nearly as bad. I think Bomb cities will catch fire and burn for months. When the World Trade Center collapse, Fires in the rubble burned for weeks even with firecrew pouring water into the fire.The burning towers released a toxic black smoke that caused health problems for many emergency responders. I can't imagine the volume of toxic smoke release with every major city is nuked and catches fire.

 

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Of course, ELEs don't mean extinction; they mean evolution

Just a comment: I am convinced that the permian extinction coincided with the Atlantic bursting open and the formation of the second moon which later collided with the main moon.

This was initiated by an asteroid hitting the African Karoo / Scotia plate at a shallow angle, and forcing a Ca/U berg collection in the mantle into a supercritical state. That was followed by the shockwaves forcing another collection under the Hudson Bay/ Carribean Plate, also into a supercritical state. The contamination was worse than anything you described, and threw off Pb-Pb dating around the Karoo.

Point being, things didn't go extinct. Rather, animals died young, so baby features were retained, while adult features became pointless. Thus, dinosaurs were able to evolve into birds; and other animals also evolved.

TechGuy's picture
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Robie Wrote: "move all

Robie Wrote:

"move all animals from fields with surface water. Put in barn for month."

I don't think that will work:

1. Barns are not air tight nor have a air filteration system to remove airborn fallout.

2. The Fallout for the first two weeks will emit high energy gamma radiation. You would need at least 12 inches or more of dirt, sand, concrete (mass) to provide shielding. Other wise the livestock will get a lethal dose.

3. You need to stock up on an awful lot of feed that is stored so it does not get contaminated. Its likely the soil will be contaminated, unless you protect your land or have extensive greenhouses. Consider that fields will become contaminated from fallout (both radioactive and chemically toxic from burning city fires). If you let Livestock graze on contaminated grass they will get sick and the meat/milk will become contaminated.

4. I think its probably going to take much longer than just a month. Cities will very likely burn for months and the nuclear power plants will probably be releasing contamination for decades. My best guess is that it will take a full year or more before air pollutions settles down to a semi-safe level (presuming you are located distant from a nuclear power plant and targeted city).

 

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Response to Sand_Puppy

This is just an initial reactive thought. That farmer with the shotgun won't be able to get parts for his tractors, let alone fuel. That predicament will be universal. One farm family with even a small 100 acre spread won't be able to work it without biologically based power. 'You work? Then come work here and if we are successful this year you can eat.' Obviously this is not a gradual descent. Those who can't do physical labor may take other skill sets and leverage them.

Medical, chemical and engineering skills could be adapted by those with a good risk taking attitude. Learning something like Permaculture would be very useful. Farmers today don't think far outside the fertilize-incecticize-weedicize-tractorcize paradigm. Being a successful share cropper would work well for many.

Yes, a lot would die, but many more would be needed to make whatever the new paradigm is workable. That's an initial run at possible scenarios.

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Response to Sand_Puppy

This is just an initial reactive thought. That farmer with the shotgun won't be able to get parts for his tractors, let alone fuel. That predicament will be universal. One farm family with even a small 100 acre spread won't be able to work it without biologically based power. 'You work? Then come work here and if we are successful this year you can eat.' Obviously this is not a gradual descent. Those who can't do physical labor may take other skill sets and leverage them.

Medical, chemical and engineering skills could be adapted by those with a good risk taking attitude. Learning something like Permaculture would be very useful. Farmers today don't think far outside the fertilize-incecticize-weedicize-tractorcize paradigm. Being a successful share cropper would work well for many.

Yes, a lot would die, but many more would be needed to make whatever the new paradigm is workable. That's an initial run at possible scenarios.

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Aggrivated

how many farmers, real "farmers" not folk on the cover of Progressive Farmer do you know? I know alot, most folk I know are Farmers and they are engineers,veterinarians,meteorologists,gamblers,physicians,( no coders, they think c# is the same as D flat) the list goes on. They are all good shots and most reload,cast,hunt,sneak,creap. suburbtopia doesnt stand a chance...now they are also generous, generally kind, and... get to know some,,,really know some.

it seems they are also the last folk standing in a civilization collapse. its a shame they are so few and often portrayed as oafish drolls.

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Robie

Touche! The point is well taken. I know a few and also a few more of the first generation off the farm. In this part of thr country most farmers that are still running their own places have at least 5,000 acres. The rest are company farms. On the good shot part of their qualification I agree. Most of them I know have at least an ag degree and also an MBA.

My argument rests on the fact that when we start stepping (or tumbling) down the collapse rabbit hole there will be a huge deficit of energy to run a 5K operation. It will require utilizing as many willing strong backs and minds as you can recruit. What do you do when there is no fuel or parts for the 500+ HP tractors? Four oxen/mules/draft horses per team. That's a lot of drivers. Thats a lot of acres suddenly devoted to feed and annual veggies.
I'm not saying the current farmers aren't brilliant, they are. They won't be doing their farms without lots of manpower help. It would be more helpful if a lot of that humanity came with some cranial as well as striated muscle. I don't think we really have a disagreement. I just think we will find ourselves in a feudal situation really quickly.

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There is no "Plan A"

I'm sorry, but if you aren't already living out your "Plan B," you aren't going to get there very easily nor quickly. Better hope for the "slow crash" scenario.

I've been on "Plan B" for ten years, and would still have trouble in a fast crash. The good news is that I only have to drive once a week, to deliver food to town, and to get supplies we don't grow. Almost all our farming is by hand. Although we do some rotovation now and then, we could get by without it. But that tractor is mighty handy for hauling stuff around, even if not working ground very much. We could put in some oil crops to get a very limited amount of very necessary tractor and pickup truck power.

Most of our amendments are from the site. We used eight cubic metres of goat and chicken manure last year to produce nearly 6,000 kg of food.

We currently use a fair bit of hydro and grain. We'd be hurting without either, but not fatally. The goats would give less milk, and the fowl would give fewer eggs. I've put them on "diets" before, to see how it might go. The well would be useless without hydro, but we have two streams with potable water that oozes out of the mountain behind us.

The hardest part to be without would be hay. We share-crop it with another farmer who has the equipment. At 61, I don't fancy doing enough hay to get 20 goats through the winter by hand. I've hand-mowed an acre before, stacking in shooks. It is a lot of work! We would count on younger help for the hay we need.

Despite global warming, hard winters will come up. Last year was one. Goats and geese can get through the winter if there is not extended snow, but we used a lot of hay last winter, and the geese killed a number of young apple trees we had been prepping for an orchard, and set our blueberries back two years, all because they couldn't graze with snow on the ground.

The good news is that we are only superficially attached to the economy. I personally made a whopping $2,200 last year, mostly squandered on camera gear. :-)

The farm itself (organized as a co-op) depends on rent to pay a mortgage. (We keep hoping to recruit more member-funders to pay down the mortgage, but it hasn't happened.) Unless the financial system survives enough to foreclose us, we could "work share" the rent in order to feed everyone living here. And who knows — if the local credit union survives, they may just accept food for payments!

I guess my long-winded point is that we have been working hard at this for ten years, and would still struggle in a collapse. I can't imagine how the poor folks living out their "Plan A" would do while they attempt to rapidly put together all that we've done over ten years.

So don't kid yourself. Do you believe this "collapse" stuff, or not? If you are a believer, make the cut to "Plan B" immediately.

And by the way, we could use your help!

Or, just sit around planning your bug-out bag. There's going to be a lot of skeletons one of these days, surrounded by emergency food wrappers, next to empty bug-out bags…

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Physical survival

Agreed, when looking at the depth of what needs to be covered it's pretty daunting.

Below one of the overviews (work in progress) that I use when discussing resilience with people (sorry about the poor quality, not allowed to upload larger files...). All field have to be covered if you want to survive (obviously the weight of the different elements depend on the specific context).

They all have to be covered in short-, medium-, and long-term to (physically) survive in the longer term.

 

 

It doesn't consider mental resilience (doesn't get much attention in the development sector).

It doesn't cover what is needed to produce/ address these needs (that's another overview).

The perspective is individual/ household level. Yet we cannot split resilience at this level from the resilience at community/ (inter)national level, governance issues and the underlying issues that create vulnerability (yet another overview).

All have to line up/ be understood and effectively be addressed to get through.

 

Plan B should be actively worked on...

 

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How does one start looking for a farmette?

I am sometimes surprised by finding out how many farmers are here at PP.  I would like some advice.

How would a suburban middle aged guy start looking for a small subsistence farm?

What factors do you zero in on when considering a property?

Location?  Water?  Soil?  Neighbors?

How much land is it reasonable for a single family to farm?   5 Acres?   10?

What if we are thinking a couple of horses, chickens and cows?

I would love to hear thoughts on this.

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Sand Puppy, you're in the Charlottesville area, aren't you?

My thought is that you should maintain your job where you are, but also get to know the neighbors and start supporting the farmette's local economy while times are still "good".

Therefore, I would look for a SMALL farmette within weekend distance, in an area where the fundamentals are still sound. Then get to hiring the poorest neighbors who are willing to help, for 170% of their normal wage, part time help only, odd jobs only.

I think for you, anything in the direction of buchanon county, as far as newcastle, might be pretty good. In Newcastle, get to know the old centenarian cafe proprietress, perhaps.

I wouldn't overdo the horses. I'd get READY to have a single horse, or even a cow, but leave that till it's needed.

I'd focus on getting the rest transferred from (initially) gas/electric to (later) wood and manual power, with a small augmentation of solar.

Let it be known that you are of good will, but extremely limited excess resources (say, fifty dollars a week, hundred every two weeks, can go to the locals FOR NOW, and that sporadic.)

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Relationships

"What factors do you zero in on when considering a property?"

Neighbours, neigbours, and neighbours. And availability of work-trade labour.

Don't fall for the temptation to "go it alone." That is an artifact of a high-energy civilization. Before fossil sunlight, nobody could even think of "going it alone." People who think isolation is important are going to die the first time they have an accident or get too sick for the daily work. If I don't milk my goats twice a day, they get mastitis, and that's a whole lot more work, especially without antibiotics.

If you're "middle-aged," and if you've had a desk job and limited exercise, you have a lot of "shaping up" ahead of you.

I would absolutely not go out and buy land if you've never farmed or gardened. Rather, volunteer to "WWOOF" on a functional farm. Learn on someone else's dime and time. You can pay a modest fee and sign up for lists of hosts throughout the world. (Wwoof.ca for Canada.) If you're tied to a "day job," you must spend your annual vacation on such an activity, and as many weekends as you can.

This has other advantages besides learning. If the excrement gets applied to the ventilator while you're learning (and you're a hard worker), you'll have a relationship that might become long-term. There are many WWOOFers that we'd welcome back in an emergency. (We even have a "sweat equity" plan, but no one's taken us up on it so far.)

Knowledge and relationships. Those two are "gotta haves." The rest can be fixed.

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Afridev wrote:one of the
Afridev wrote:

one of the overviews (work in progress) that I use when discussing resilience with people

Looks nice; is there any way to get a high-res copy?

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Good Graphic

Afridev,

I agree with Bytesmiths. That is a wonderful work in progress! I'm having a difficult time reading the individual bullets. Could you at least transcribe the text for each box? That would be very helpful for me.

sand_puppy,

Growing up, I had a family friend who told me that the best land in any given area was usually under a dairy. Successful dairies had to have good soils and water along with access to markets. It had to be good enough for them to want to invest in the infrastructure that was needed to ply their trade. (Modern dairies depend on trucking for everything.) Look for remnants like silage towers or old dairy barns. If those have been destroyed to facilitate "progress," look at historical photos to see where they were.

I agree with Bytesmiths that you can't go it alone. The threat of solitary confinement is about the only punishment that works for some prisoners. I certainly don't want to choose to live that way. A good community can supply many of the critical items that Afridev listed. Of course, there is a trade component as well. Communities work best when there are more givers than takers. Giving takes effort. If you don't add value to the community, you'll eventually be shunned.

Grover

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Afridev
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High-res copy

Not allowed to upload a larger file size (fiddled around for some time with .jpg, .tiff (think that one was refused) and .giff, but this was the best I could get up...)

I assume that the PM system is like e-mail and that I can attach a larger size file, will try to send it to you that way

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Afridev
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High-res copy 2

Tried to send it through PM and through e-mail, but didn't seem to accept it either.

Working around the system: try the link https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/8iASCPhs78

I assume that this works

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GiraffeOK
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Afridev, your overview belongs in What Should I Do

How about it? Adam / Chris?

Your link works, though.

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TechGuy
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Re: Farmette

Sand puppy Asked:

"How would a suburban middle aged guy start looking for a small subsistence farm?"

FWIW: I am not a farmer (yet), but I am in the process. I purchased 100 acre farm (mostly forestry) last year. Here is what I looked for in Property

1. Land in a moderate climate, Not too hot, not too cold, but gets ample rainfall, but mimimal snowfall. While going north that land may be cheaper, but the risks to crop losses are higher. (ie late or early frost can be a killer). If you plan to be food self-reliant, you want to avoid risks. While, the weather in the far south is better, you also are higher risks to infestations. Winter frosts will kill off a lot of bugs as well has shutting down plant dieseases/fungi.

2. Land that isn't on the side of a cliff. Terraced farming can be a PITA, especially if you need plan to use some farming equipment (small tractor for example). Some slope is acceptible, but it shouldn't be too steep, where you'll be concerned about safety, operating a  small tractor.

3. Land that isn't on a main road, but not on a dirt road. If your on a main road odds are that you have intruders, especially if they can spot your crops from the road. While Dirt\gravel roads aren't a show stopper they can be a pain. 

4. Land that isn't in a flood zone, or downstream of a damn or levy. 

5. Land that has a good wood lot. You likely need wood as a construction resource, and for fuel (heating/cooking). Deep woods can also make a good barrier to hide your farm from vagrants looking for resources. 

6. Land that has a well, and electrical power. You don't want to buy property that does have sufficent ground water available, for personal use as well as for irrigation if you need it in a drought. Ideally having power is a valuable resource while its available. A new well can cause $10K (depending on how deep it needs to be) and its always a gamble that the site choosen turns out to be a dud (low flow, brackish, or dry hole). if you have to decided between two properties, and the one with the well is more expensive. choose the lot with the well. If it has a well get the water tested.

7. Land that has retail stores available. You don't want to have to drive an hour or more just to pick up groceries or a replacement part at a hardware store. Ideally the spot should have some stores that you commonly use within 30-minute drive or less.

8. Land that is zoned for acraculture. Its very likely you have problems raising crops & livestock on property than is zone for residential.Make sure that you can also file for a Ag. Land use so our taxes will be very low. 

9. Make sure you do a perk test and get a septic permit before signing off.  There are times when the land won't perk and you won't be able to get a septic permit. You can put the request for the perk test in the purchase agrement, so that you can back out if it does perk. The Perk test is under $1K (Mine was about $600).

10. Option: check for internet access & phone access. While its available the internet is an invaluable tool. When you need look up replacement parts. When I looked for property the only electronic requirment was being able to get a reliable internet service. I don't care about TV or land phone lines.

11. Land that wasn't near by any military facility or nuclear power plant, and wasn't downwind of an potential primary/secondary targets in a nuclear war. Even if there is no nuclear war, during a collapse there are likely to be a few nuclear power plants.

Sand Puppy asked:

"How much land is it reasonable for a single family to farm? "

I would recommend 20 acres, but with at least 10 acre wood lot. FWIW: I was looking for about 50 to 60 acres but ended up going for 100 acres because I could find a a 50 acre lot that met my criterea. I am presuming that this farm will be for self-reliance and not becoming a farmer for income. If you plan to become a professional farmer you need more land, or become a tenant farmer (where you rent farm land from a land owner)  I suppose you can get by with less than 20 acres, but when you start looking a smaller lots its possible that you have more close by neighbors than you likely want to deal with during a collapse. In my opinion, it will be difficult to know how people will react in a crisis, Even the nicest person can turn into a monster when they become desperate. I don't think there is a single parent that would not consider killing someone for there resources if means survival for their children.

Generally people living on small lots aren't interested in being self-reliant. If you find a 5 to 10 acre lot and you see all your neigbors with gardens, fruit trees, chickens, etc, you probably do OK, but if the neighbors have boats and other recreational vehicles, manicured lawns, shiny new truck/SUV, its probably not the best place to set up a homestead.

Sand Puppy asked:

 "What if we are thinking a couple of horses, chickens and cows?"

I would avoid  larger animals. Horses and cattle require a lot of time and can be expensive to feed over the winter. If you want to be self-reliance for horse/cattle feed during the winter, you need to have a sizeble field to grow hay/corn and have the equipment to harvest it. Harvesting equipment can be a crusher $$$. I think even a small, used, beat-up  hay baler or corn harvester will run you $30K or more (althought I haven't researched pricing in detail). A small, used farm tractor will can cost under $10K, but you also need to purchase tooling for it (Cultivator, plow, seed/fertializer spreader, etc). Another risk is that you can be injured by a horse or cattle. Some times they get spooked and will attack, or they just stumble and end up injuring you by accident. My guess is you considering horses for draft animals. In my opinion a small tractor is the way to go. If you're worried about fuel, you can buy a 500-1000 gallon tank and probably store 5 to 10 years of fuel for the tractor. if your property has a wood lot, the tractor can run on producer gas using a gasifer (partially burns wood and creates producer gas which can run a tractor).

My recommendation is to stick with small livestock like chickens, turkeys, and rabbits for a source for eggs & meat. If you must have a source of Milk, Goats are probably the better option than cows. I believe you can also get miniture cows, but I don't know anything about them. The only issue is that you need to keep small animals  in pens to protect them from preditors (hawks, foxes, raccoons, possums, snakes, etc). 

I would also recommend you consider planting perennials (fuit trees, berry bushes, nut trees). Fruits and berries can usually be canned. Apples, peachs, Pears, Cherries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Grapes, blackberries, etc.

Last I would start looking this season,even if you don't/can't buy land this year. I took me a while (4 years to find property that met my criteria). First I started looking for areas that are suitable. I also looked at regional demographics (age group, number of people per square mile, income levels), taxes, availablity of retail stores. I made a list of area's I though would be work wihile and I drove to them all to see what it was like. Then I started looking for properties for the regions I though would work.I searched online and use online satillite maps (googe maps) to get a idea of property (was it on a steep slope, was it near a trailer park, was it on or next to a main road). I was able to reject about 80% of the properties I found online by looking at the satillite maps. When I had a about 10 properties that I thought  would work for me, I would take a trip to visit them. Unfortuanately I ended up rejecting them because of one reason or another. (on a narrow dirt road), had a wood bridge to cross, in a flood zone No power, I did this for about 4 years before finding a property. I am telling you this so you understand that finding the right property isn't easy and it probably take you a while.

One last issue: Perhaps you be-able to find property quicker than I did. I was lookig for property without a home or that had an old one, that I could tare down and replace. I think that its likely the cost of energy will soar and I didn't want end up something that costs a small fortune in energy costs in the future.

I am going with new home construction that will be energy efficient as well as low maintanance. I rather spend money on a new energy efficient, low maintainance home now that run into problems when energy prices are much higher and a devalved dollar.I option for a low maintaince home that uses modern durable materials. I really don't want to be replacing a roof, painting the exterior when I am 60+ years old. Sooner or later there will be crisis, and I don't want to spend time and effort on home maintenance we I can use that time for growing food, or other more essential tasks. 

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erikandrus
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haying equipment

Older haying equipment is generally actually fairly cheap.  $2000-3000 buys a pretty decent used square baler to use with a small (25-35hp) tractor, sometimes you can find one under $1000 that's useable.  Hay, along with wood, is a proto-solar panel and an incredible asset to the homesteader and there are many ways to harvest it.  A scythe and a pitchfork and a handcart or donkey cart will bring in more than you think, if it is a good scythe and you are fit.  Probably quite doable to harvest 2 or 3 acres of loose hay this way which would keep 2-3 horses or cows.  One moderately productive cow produces 2-3 gallons of rich milk per day, plenty to live on for a large family and plenty left over to trade.  

As for a "corn harvester" you really don't need such a thing to farm on a small scale.  Back in the day corn was dried in the field harvested by hand, shucked and stored in wood and wire cribs.  In short once you are farming in a pre-1970 manner there are a variety of very cost-effective technologies you can use, ranging from mechanized tools to pure hand tools.  The only thing you really can't do by hand is plow and harrow land.  Gotta have a draft animal or a tractor for that job.

Making a living farming in today's economy is damn hard.  But making enough food to live on is actually easy, if you have the time to do it.  I've been farming in my current spot for 12 years.

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pinecarr
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Constructing an energy efficient, low maintanance home

TechGuy Said:

I am going with new home construction that will be energy efficient as well as low maintanance. I rather spend money on a new energy efficient, low maintainance home now that run into problems when energy prices are much higher and a devalved dollar.I option for a low maintaince home that uses modern durable materials. I really don't want to be replacing a roof, painting the exterior when I am 60+ years old. Sooner or later there will be crisis, and I don't want to spend time and effort on home maintenance we I can use that time for growing food, or other more essential tasks.

TechGuy, I would love to hear your ideas on constructing an energy efficient, low maintenance home, if you have some to share.   I am living in a home that seems to have constant maintenance issues (not sure of that's just my house, or every house!) that suck up my time and $.  It is also larger and less energy efficient than what I'd like. Like you,  I've also thought that I'd like to correct that problem now, while still possible, so I can spend less time and $ on maintaining a house, as I get older, and use that time and money for more important things (like learning to grow food, etc.). I've searched for pre-existing homes on real estate sites, but I'm not seeing anything that strikes me as "energy efficient and low maintenance"!  And that makes me wonder if new construction is the better approach to achieving those goals.  Of course, cost is also an issue. Thanks in advance.

 

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erikandrus
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farmette
sand_puppy wrote:

I am sometimes surprised by finding out how many farmers are here at PP.  I would like some advice.

How would a suburban middle aged guy start looking for a small subsistence farm?

What factors do you zero in on when considering a property?

Location?  Water?  Soil?  Neighbors?

How much land is it reasonable for a single family to farm?   5 Acres?   10?

What if we are thinking a couple of horses, chickens and cows?

I would love to hear thoughts on this.

Bytesmith's reply here is very good.

"Neighbours, neigbours, and neighbours. And availability of work-trade labour.

...Knowledge and relationships. Those two are "gotta haves." The rest can be fixed." 
 
That's right on the money.
 
I would add that a town that has a history of thriving as a farming community before oil, or, better yet, before coal, would have the best chance of offering you the kind of future you are after.
 
How to begin?  I'd second that the Wwofer program is a great idea.  Another is to just get to know the farming community in your area / town of interest.  Go to farmers markets, have conversations, taste the foods growers produce, figure out what draws you in.  Commodity farmers generally never engage with the public in this way but small-scale growers usually do.  In fact, while I can't speak for all small-scale farmers, I'd say that most of us do what we do, at least in part, out of a desire to improve our communities and make the world a better place, and are usually eager to share our passion with others (if you catch us on a good day).
 
If you try to use your money to build a homestead fortress without experience the chances of misallocation of resources or poor decisionmaking is high for countless reasons.  There are really no shortcuts.  If you want to learn anything complex and worthwhile, including farming, you need to be open to learning and willing to pay your dues.  Those dues I believe are payable in money, time, and physical / emotional suffering or some cocktail of all three.  You may be able to adjust the mixture of the three ingredients to suit your situation, but you don't get out of paying your dues.
 
Presenting yourself in a generally open and friendly way, and offering to come help on a farm free of charge, or as a rank and file laborer, and actually following through on the offer could be the beginning of a relationship with a farmer that you would like to learn from.  Don't be too emphatic about it, just offer to help with whatever needs doing for a day, and be respectful of the farmers' time and professional status.  Even if you are given a pitchfork and left alone to fork manure for four hours, you are actually getting somewhere.
 
I wouldn't lead with this opener "I want to buy land right next to you and set up a similar farm."  In many cases farmers are somewhat jealous about their market share.  In fact even amongst established farmers in my town we usually try to avoid stepping on each others' toes when we can, but an outsider who comes in with a stated intention to start competing with local operations for sales would be poorly received and have to work harder to be received as a colleague.
 
I also wouldn't lead with this opener "I believe that industrial civ. is about to collapse and I want to build my farmette / homestead / rural fortress right now in order to not die when it happens."  Even if this is true in your case, this is not the conversation to necessarily have on your first date.  Get to know the cast of characters in your farming community a little at a time before baring your soul.  Many small farmers are more informed than you might think and will gladly engage you on the subject of Civilization in Crisis.  However many of us (myself included) quickly weary of abstract alarmist talk that saps our time and energy and draws us away from daily work that is both fulfilling and economically necessary.  The easiest path, I believe, is by participating in that ordinary daily work in whatever way suits you best, and in asking little for it, you may be given much.
 
 

 

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Plan C: another option

I meant to publish this here but sent it to another place.

So, here it is again.  Sorry.

Obviously after Plan A plan B is a necessity.  However, one may be TIED down to the land in either plan.

 
So, I created Plan C.  I recently purchased
a used good 30 foot Motor Home perfect for myself and my family.  This Plan C allows us great mobility, to wherever, whenever for either a new land situation or to just "get away" and "live on the road" as so many already do.
 
But gas and propane might present problems. Solar panels might help.  Thus, Plan D: buy horses and/or motorcycles, unless there are border guards at each state's boundaries.  Then just roam around on one state only.
 
I hear that for $10 a senior citizen or "honored elder" can get a pass to the extensive National Recreational Parks system.
 
Saludos,  Ken
 
Meanwhile, check out my Plan B.  7 minute drone video:
 
 
 
 
 
 
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mntnhousepermi
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Posts: 84
plan C
KennethPollinger wrote:

I meant to publish this here but sent it to another place.

So, here it is again.  Sorry.

Obviously after Plan A plan B is a necessity.  However, one may be TIED down to the land in either plan.

 
So, I created Plan C.  I recently purchased
a used good 30 foot Motor Home perfect for myself and my family.  This Plan C allows us great mobility, to wherever, whenever for either a new land situation or to just "get away" and "live on the road" as so many already do.
 
But gas and propane might present problems. Solar panels might help.  Thus, Plan D: buy horses and/or motorcycles, unless there are border guards at each state's boundaries.  Then just roam around on one state only.
 
I hear that for $10 a senior citizen or "honored elder" can get a pass to the extensive National Recreational Parks system.
 
Saludos,  Ken
 
Meanwhile, check out my Plan B.  7 minute drone video:
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

No, you cannot camp in National parks for $10/year as a senior. There is an inexpensive pass for Day Useage, only.

You cannot rely on roaming the county in your RV as many localities, including the one by me, are suffering greatly from the onslaught and have been making laws to curtail it. SO, no parking on the side of the road or in parking lots overnight, if at all. Etc.... There has been alot of illegal dumping of black water, grey water and trash from travellers.

Think about it, if campers contribute nothing to the community and in fact are a drain on the community, why would communities welcome them ? Do you feel that trash service, clean water, sewage should be provided to you for free ? Do you think that local taxpayers may want to park at the beach that they pay to maintain themselves once in a while ?

Sorry for the rant, but do be informed, there is a backlash and you shuld not expect to be welcome in other peoples back yard as an intinerant camper. And, as times get worse, I would expect this sentiment to increase and for RV travellers to become even more unwelcome. Now, if you are in a paid campgroud where they services are provided for you , that is great. But, in many areas, like around here, make that reservation about 6 months ahead of time...

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Bytesmiths
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Spinning your wheels
erikandrus wrote:

If you try to use your money to build a homestead fortress without experience the chances of misallocation of resources or poor decision making is high for countless reasons.  There are really no shortcuts.

Amid a lot of other good stuff, this really stood out for me.

I was an "armchair prepper" for years, planning, studying, buying stuff I thought I'd need, attending meetings with like-minded people (meaning, they were all also "armchair preppers"), etc.

Almost everything I assumed or planned for turned out to be wrong!

If you're going to plan, do it while hoeing potatoes. If you're going to read up on how to survive a crash, get an iPod and listen to talking books while milking. If you're going to buy stuff, just walk away until the feeling passes, unless you really need it for what you need to do in the next growing season. If you're going to attend meetings, make sure they are with people who are actually doing what you want to do, not people who want to do what you want to do.

Otherwise, you're just part of the problem, not part of the solution. :-)

And with that said, I've got to get out to the greenhouse before 7,000 baby plants die…

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Thank you all for your thoughts

Very good information on the "farmette" from lots of experienced people.

Thank you all.

--------------

I can see the curse of the intuitive introvert who prefers to ponder the future than actually pull the weeds and shovel the dirt.

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TechGuy
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Posts: 349
Energy efficient home design

Pinecarr asked:

"TechGuy, I would love to hear your ideas on constructing an energy efficient, low maintenance home, if you have some to share."

I determined that trying to retrofit an existing home would be terribly difficult. Standard homes leak a lot of air and also leak a lot of energy. To retrofit an existing home into a tight home would mean it would have to be gutted. The costs for demo and rebuild would probably cost more than just starting from scratch.

1. Home needs to be air tight so that it leaks very little air. In normal homes the air leaks through every crevice and opening. Think openings for water/electrical, joints between wall sheathing, and the roof (eaves and ridge vent). A tight home will have every joint & openning taped and or caulked. Instead of using standard roofing design (joists with plywood and vents) a tight home will use SIP panels (rigid foam sandwiched between two sheets of plywood). With SIP roof construction there is no need for internal roof venting. After a a home framing & exterior taped/cauled is completed a blower test is performed to find any remaining leaks. Theses are addressed before the interior work (ie drywall) is started.

2. 2x6 Wall advanced wall construction with external rigid foam insulation to get the Wall R rating near R-30. Huber now makes Insulated wall sheathing that integrates, rigid foam insulation with OSB that is water resistant and protected with a surface membrane. For wall cavity insulation I am going with Roxul, but it common to use spray foam. I am going with Roxul becuase it easy to remove if you need to do maintance on it and its hydrophobic. Soft/Opencell spray foam is like a sponge and will absorb/hold water (ie condensation/pipe leak). The rigid/closedcell spray foam is nearly impossible to remove if you need to do work (ie fix a pipe, electrical work, etc). Rigid spray foam also release very toxic fumes in a fire. Roxul is completely fire inert. I would advise against going with a passive house (double stud construction), since it turns out a lot of passive home are running into condensation problems causing mold and rot. When using 2x6 "Advanced wall construction" the studs are 24" on centers instead of the standard 16". this helps reduce thermal bridging and reduces material costs.

3. Energy efficient and low maintaince fireglass windows. Fireglass windows are maintaince free since they do not rot, decay, crack, like wood or vinyl windows do. Marvin windows provide the best fireglass windows for you buck. 

4, Hydronic radiating heating. basically a set of PEX tubing run in your floors. The PEX tubing is either installed under the subfloor, or on top of the subfloor using a gypcrete pour (providing thermal mass) or using thermal/warmboard (plywood laminated with aluminium foil to spread the heat better). The advantage is that Radiant hydronic system can provide heat more efficient than standard baseboard heating. Standard baseboard heating requires high water temperatures (about 160F) and uses thermal air convection to distribute heat. Another advantage of Radiate heating is that it couples well with solar thermal panels, since hydronic radiate heat can work as low as 80F. Since Radiant heating is in your floors there are no radiators that get in the way (collecting dust, blocked by furniture, geting bumped into, etc).

5. Using a fiber cement  (hardie board) for outside cladding. A fiber cement cladding provide a 20 year no-maintanence guarentee. (No paint since the pigment is mixed in with the cement). Does not warp/ crack like wood and vinyl does. Behind the outside cladding there should be a rainscreen using furring strips so that if any water gets behind the exterior cladding that air can get behind it and dry it out. At the top and bottom are vents with bugscreens to prevent bugs from getting under the cladding. Brick and stuco are other options, but have disadvantages. If there is a water problem (a leak somwhere) its going to be a PITA to repair. With Hardie board you can just remove the planks to get access where you need to. 

6. Using a Energy recovery Ventillator (ERV). In a tight home you need to provide a mechanical way to circulate air to remove stale air from your home. and ERV has a efficient heat exchanger that either warms the incoming air (or cool in summer) using the air that is being exhausted from inside your home.

7. Using Composite trim board for exterior trim that can prone to weathering (Wood trim paint will peel, crack when exposured to excessive water or sun). Composite Trim can cost significantly more than standard exterior wood trim. Perhaps use it in the difficult spots (ie near the roof line) that are a PITA to paint, replace.

8. Metal roof instead of shingles. A metal roof will usually last 50 years and a shingle roof typically last about 20 years. Odds are that the metal roof will outlast you. The metal roof is attached to the roof using furring strips so there is an air gap underneath. The air gap is used with a ridge vent to help remove heat via convection as well as remove any moisture.

9. Thermal gaped headers for doorways/windows. For wall openining a header is placed above so handle the forces applied above the openning. Typicall a pair of 2x6 or 2x8 boards are used to for the header. This creates a large thermal bridge. To reduce thermal bridging in headers, a piece of rigid foam is place in between (creating a sandwich). This also can apply to vertical support beams. Typically when several 2x6 2x4s are ganged together they are fastened togethet to form a solid square or rectanglar beam. Instead the internal stud should be rotated to create a I-beam or channel so that insulation can be packed to reduce thermal bridging.

10. Applying spray moisture barrier  and external insulation to the foiundation walls. For the Foundation walls: apply a spray membrane to keep water and mosture out. Concrete is partially water permible. Rigid foam boards can be attached to the external side to reduce thermal bridging. For the floor, a layer of gravel should be used under the moisture barrier (plastic sheeting). Gravel does not wick water like sand and soil does. On top of moisture barrier a layer of rigid foam is used as a thermal barrier. The floor concrete is poured on top of the ridge foam. Also consider installing a drainage system around your fondation. I plan to add a drywell to incase the drainage pipe become clogged. I can lower a submerible pump to the drywell if needed.

11. Using mini-splits for cooling. This type of system can be more costly to install depending on the size and layout of your home, but the advantage is that you only have to cool the rooms you are using where as a force air system has to be sized to cool the entire home. I dislike forced air because they tend to accumulate dust, mold, rodent and insect droppings. With mini-splits you run refrigent lines to the extenal compressor instead of air ducting. Personally I am not a big fan of AC cooling but will install it for guests and family. You can use Mini-splits for both heating & cooling (via heat pump) but I am concerned about the long term stability of the grid. I don't want to be reliant on grid power for heating, especially since I am relocating to a semi-rural area.

Obviously you don't have to use all of the above method. Probably the most important is building a tight house with a low leakage and walls that are well insulated. 

Here are some ideas I am also using to be self-reliant:

1. External Wood boiler for secondary heating source. I don't want install a wood boiler inside of my house because I don't want to deal with bringing in wood and removing ash, as well as eliminating the risk of a fire caused by the wood boiler.  I will also be using the external boiler for a workshop (so the boiler will handle at least two buildings). I probably will also add a greenhouse and and tie it into the woodboiler loop. (I'll need to do further reseach and experimentation on this option).

2. Using Propane for Domestic Hot water and alternative heating source for heating. I will also be using propane for cooking in case the power is out. I prefer not to have to fire up the wood boiler everytime I need hot water. Propane will provide three options: Domestic hot water (when the wood boiler isn't running). Hydronic radiating heating (When wood boiler isn't running) and cooking. I suspect my daily use of propane would be low and propane can be stored indefinantly.

3. Solar thermal as another alternative heat source for heating and DHW. That said Hydronic solar heating isn't a turnkey system. It only works when the sun is shinning. In the summer you have to worry about sagnation (when the panels produce excessive heat that you have no means to deal with it). I likely will need to build a custom solar shade system to avoid the staganation problem since I wasn't able to find a commerical option that I thought would work for my needs (maybe better options are available now or in the future). You also need to install a buffer tank to smooth out the thermal panel output (ie too low when clouds passby or too much when the output is greater than demand). I think a solar thermal system is going to require a lot of fiddling/tuning to work well. For now my primary focus will be on Propane/wood boiler and then tinker with solar thermal as a side project. I'll put in the plumbing lines for solar thermal during construction. so its ready if I choose to move forward. 

 

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mntnhousepermi
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Posts: 84
in my plan A

My regular house was a compromise, as I had to stay in this area at the time( child custody realy ties ones hands). It is 2 1/2 acres, in a neighborhood, relatively close to urban areas that have alot of people. SO, certainly not very secure in case of a sudden, long term scenario. But, also out of the city for short term riots, etc... it would be very safe. For most realistic scenarios, it will be great

Anyway, I do small scale homesteading and can say that even an elder like myself can provide all my food needed, by hand, with little trouble. And, I mean ALL food, not just fruits and veggies. Just need a shovel and a garden fork. Wheelbarrow is handy for stall cleaning. Old sheets make good burden cloth to carry trimming to animals. A family could be fed here with others pitching in to help.

Canning equipment is good to have. A rocket stove gets hot enough to boil water to cook and to run a steam canner, easy. Do not know if it can handle a pressure canner though.

I have shoulder and neck issues, so the appliance I most want to have around for as long as possible is the clothes washer. But, if I had to, I could agitate and rub by stepping into a tub and wash it that way.

The other "needed" things to have are for heat and water in this location. So wood stove to heat space, to heat hot water, to cook food. If the house is small enough, and tight enough, gathered wood may do. But, right now, I use about 1 cord a year, and that needs saws and axes. With a well at 250ft, good luck hand pumping enough for a garden. Roof rainwater catchment in a serious way would be best for this location. Then, let it gravity feed to garden and can carry to house if needed. So, then also, no power is needed to pump.

Yes, when you live in a place and are doing it, then you see more of what you do need, and dont need.

Transportation when out of town means that if there was ever a long term SHTF, and you were past security issues, you may need people power to get somewhere and back, and here that means a 6 mile walk with 2400ft of elevation change. SO, you may want decent shoes and pack to trade that goat milk cheese for a new shovel head..... It is not a bad walk at all, especially thru the woods and off the roads, I have done it, it is pretty. There and back with shopping down in a day.

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 19 2016
Posts: 84
plan B

Plan B is for when something happens.

So, my house is plan B for alot of my family, and I prepare by having places to sleep, both my living room couches are futons, and I have extra bedding and pillow, let alone the camping equipment. I have extra bed space for about 10, not counting sleeping bags and the camper. I have a few extra jackets, could use more. And, I have extra food. This would be called into play for an immediate neighborhood problem, ie., a tree falls on a neighbors house, to something happening to family, like they lose a job, their house burns down, their area becomes unsafe from riots, etc....

Plan B for me is the same going the other way, I could land at a family members house if mine burns down, they raise taxed enough to make me homeless, I get hurt, or some other disaster.

If it is an evacuation type disaster ( i have been evacuated twice), I would load animals into the back of the truck, hook up the small camper, and if time, add things into the camper. I would then be on someones property, or the fair grounds, that they open up for a local disaster, or if things look long term, I drive to my family members house. SO my house is their plab b, and theirs is my plan B.

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