Bugging out in the city

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Saffron's picture
Saffron
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Posts: 250
Bugging out in the city

Maybe this is indicative of a level of acceptance or just frustration that my days begin and end with wishing I had something I don't, but I'd like to start a thread about preparing in the city. Most people here seem to be already set up on a homestead or preparing one on the side while they continue to live in town. Cities are seen as the place you don't want to be, the place starving hordes will be fleeing from after first ransacking eachother's homes for one last can of soup. But is it possible reality could be a little different? That in the midst of difficulty those willing to do the work could actually survive, if not thrive? If nothing else, the sheer numbers that currently reside in cities mean there would be enough manpower to make changes once it is accepted that changes need to be made. 

So, I'd like to take a look at what it may look like for those of us who have not yet managed to move before things start unravelling. Besides food storage, stashed pms and a generator, what are some realistic things we might consider building now while we have the time. Here are some things I've done:

- garden: after renting a couple plots at a local community garden for many years, we dug up our own front yard last spring and planted a garden. Since the dirt is practically granite, our success has been sporadic, but with continued mulching we hope to have a better year

- local meat: I get raw milk from a local cattleman, can purchase beef from him and he's currently raising lambs for us, has done pigs in the past

- local chickens: a friend with 1/2 acre is raising egg hens as well as meat ones. I will be helping him "process" the meat chickens in the next couple of weeks (gulp)

- local eggs: started a chicken coop on a local canyon preserve which used to be a working ranch. The coop itself was built as an Eagle scout project but was empty. The ranger agreed to let a small group of us start a chicken co-op - four families take turns feeding, caring for and cleaning out the coop in return for the eggs (we purchase the eggs to pay for the feed.) The same park has a few raised beds that people can garden in and a goat shed (my son's Eagle project) will soon have 2 kids (males, since they were donated but it's a start.)

- local honey: I started keeping bees last year - something I've always been curious about. Not sure this is the most sustainable thing I can do as this will be the most expensive honey I've ever had and if the little *&%** get into my suit one more time I'm drowning the lot of them (can you tell they got me this weekend? ... my own fault, I was in a hurry and careless.) 

Other ideas i've had:

- learn to work on bikes, including modifying them to carry loads - this is one I'm hoping my teens will become interested in 

- learn to hunt - this one's for dh, and he's willing ... just has to find the time in between everything else

- debating whether it is worth the $$ to rent a storage unit just to store bugout things .... seems like a waste, but we actually have very limited space

I've got more but right now a 7yo is vying for my attention and I'm losing my train of thought. Looking forward to your input.

compinthegroove's picture
compinthegroove
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Re: Bugging out in the city

You've got some great ideas.  I think you may end up VERY popular with that beehive you have.  Honey is great, but pollination is priceless. I wouldn't give up on that just yet.

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Re: Bugging out in the city
Saffron wrote:

Maybe this is indicative of a level of acceptance or just frustration that my days begin and end with wishing I had something I don't, but I'd like to start a thread about preparing in the city.

Hey Saffron -- excellent post/thread idea.

In the absence of the option to be outside of "city" then IMO the only option is to prepare in place.  Sounds like you're well on your way.  Sorry about the bees.  No doubt that will get easier as time goes by. 

My only suggestion for an additional area of prep would be to try and find like-minded folks who live as near as possible and combine your efforts.  You mention you're cooperatively raising chickens etc. but I don't know if they live anywhere near you (or are as far along the "Stages of Awareness" as you are -- they might just be doing chickens as a lark as opposed to preparing for future challenges to the food supply chain.

Just my $0.02.  Luck!

Viva -- Sager

V's picture
V
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Posts: 849
Re: Bugging out in the city

I have no really constructive ideas to add to what you are already doing. All I can say is we have two good examples to learn from in this country,

New Orleans ( Katrina) and Detroit. A close look at both should give a good idea of what to expect.

V

Saffron's picture
Saffron
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Posts: 250
Re: Bugging out in the city
SagerXX wrote:

My only suggestion for an additional area of prep would be to try and find like-minded folks who live as near as possible and combine your efforts.  You mention you're cooperatively raising chickens etc. but I don't know if they live anywhere near you (or are as far along the "Stages of Awareness" as you are -- they might just be doing chickens as a lark as opposed to preparing for future challenges to the food supply chain.

Hi Sager, this particular friend has in fact watched the Crash Course and is actively preparing. He is also in walking/biking distance. I have a few friends and family I talk with, but nobody else that is preparing to the degree we are (they don't do much beyond storing some food.) I have in the past talked with some about creating some sort of community of homes on a plot of acreage, much like you talk about in your Community thread. However the majority of the people that I casually broach the subject with have a hard time giving up the blue pill. I think that is one of the consequences of living in the city - even if things are tough for you, there are so many people around you still going to work and driving SUVs and planning vacations that it's hard to believe we are tanking. 

I'm considering starting a book discussion centered around Survival + (haven't read it yet, but so many people here say it's a must read.) Maybe that will help build our community.

compinthgroove, you are right ... pollination is a big reason I wanted to get into beekeeping - I had read that though colony collapse is widespread, it's mainly with commercial growers and not small-time hobbyists. Thinking that in some small way I might be helping the environment keeps me going when my son says "gee mom, seeing as how you're allergic to bee stings (I swell up a lot) maybe you should give up beekeeping." (teen boys .. ya gotta love 'em.)

V, your examples are the reason why *in addition to* preparing in place, I keep searching for that perfect place in the woods. But, as has been mentioned here before and I believe Michael Ruppert touches on it too ... if you don't already have a location, you might not have time to build community with the locals. I'm torn between being an outsider in an idyllic place vs being surrounded by people I know in a place that's less so.

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Romans12.2
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Posts: 227
Re: Bugging out in the city

We struggled with the idea of being outsiders too....but being in a small town only 40 miles from Detroit is very scary.  We are planning on staying in our 4 acre home with all our preps until there is rioting in the city.

Plan B is loading up our 18ft trailer and rv and high-tailing it to a run down farmhouse on 40 acres about 4 hrs North, where we know no one.    This is also scary .

But being around a panic driven desperate people who world is crumbling sounds alot scarier than trying to make friends with some small town locals.  If there is time, we will visit our property this summer and try to meet some people and maybe even share our reason for buying it! 

IMO anyone in or near a city needs a good plan B....read Patriots by James Wesley Rawles, it's even better than survival+ and will forever change the way you think about prepping...

 

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Posts: 2219
Re: Bugging out in the city
Saffron wrote:

compinthgroove, you are right ... pollination is a big reason I wanted to get into beekeeping - I had read that though colony collapse is widespread, it's mainly with commercial growers and not small-time hobbyists.

I have a friend (one of the peeps who helped organize the CM New Paltz event) who keeps bees, and last I heard, his hive was fine too.

GiraffeOK's picture
GiraffeOK
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 14 2009
Posts: 36
Re: Bugging out in the city

Sharon Astyk is offering an online course called "Adapting in Place", beginning May 27. She addresses "the whole project of how do you make your life work with a lot less energy, a lot fewer resources and in possibly difficult situations, and helps people begin to develop a strategy."... "this is about making your life work gracefully, happily and well with less money and less energy – but in the actual place where you really live, and with the actual people you really have in your life."

Link: http://sharonastyk.com/2010/05/14/adapting-in-place-and-memorial-day-weekend/.

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Posts: 846
Re: Bugging out in the city

Hi Saffron

I can appreciate your dilemna. The problem in the city obviously is a lack of space: not enough area around you to provide defensible space and not enough area to stockpile your preparation cache.

The best preparations involve redundancy. For example, you have both, your friend with the 1/2 acre and the former Scout camp to provide eggs. Redundancy.

While you have sources of meat, it appears that none are under your direct control. As a solution I would suggest that you consider rabbits. I have sheep, goats, chickens and rabbits.  IMHO rabbits are the best source of meat in a crisis situation.  First, any  meat "on the hoof" eliminates the storage problem with food stockpiles, namely food preservation like refrigeration or hermetic sealing issues. Large animals once slaughtered now re-introduce the storage problem: what to do with the leftover cow, pig, lamb, goat etc. Refrigeration is the only option. One rabbit, on the other hand, can feed a family one dinner with no leftovers so therefore no refrigeration/storage. If the grid goes down this can mean all the difference in the world. Second is the reproduction rate. Your meat source must be renewable so the reproduction rate is important. A beef can give you one calf per year, and it takes another six months  to raise to eatin' size. Smaller animals like sheep can give you two birthings per year and likely will give you twins at least once, so that's much better. But rabbits will easily produce four litters per year with 8 babies average. That's thirty two 'meals-on-wheels' per year per doe.  And they are ready for the dinner table at three months old. Rabbits are second only to chickens in protein conversion ratio. Chickens can convert 2 lbs. of protein into one pound of meat. Rabbits are at about 3 1/2 lbs. protein to yield one lb. meat. The next closest are sheep and goats at around six lb. to yield one lb. This means less critter food storage per pound of meat yield. But most important for a city dweller is the limited space requirements to keep rabbits. They do fine in a 6 sq. ft. cage. You could fit two does and a buck  (18 sq. ft.) on any city lot and no one would ever know they were there. It would take that much space again to store a significant stockpile of rabbit pellets (food) . No other animal could be as easily raised in the city except maybe chickens. But chicken reproduction requires that you incubate eggs or provide enough space so that your hens 'go broody'; they can't/ won't in a cage. And chickens make noise whereas rabbits are completely silent. Rabbits are also easier to slaughter and butcher. And the manure is great for your garden.

As for your front yard gardens, that's a great idea. More and more people are replacing lawns with vegetable gardens. Although your ground maybe rock hard, consider that if you can't easily dig into it then how are your young plant roots gonna get into it. If you absolutely can't break it up, then overlay it with a deep (12") bed of a rich soil/compost blend. Consider stockpiling seeds. They could make great barter commodities. Or better yet develop the skill to grow heirloom vegetables and harvest the seed. That way you have unlimited seeds to grow and barter with.

What have you done for water provisions? It seems that space for storage is an issue. You might look into a Berkey filter. One could drink gutter water after it's been through a Berkey and the filter fits on a kitchen counter. Also look into rain catchment ideas.

Hunting doesn't seem practical. It's not reliable, and in the city game is non-existent which means dh would have to travel into a hostile environment to hunt and he would be competing against every other hungry hunter for increasingly diminishing game. Also, any survival prep skills should be practiced beforehand as there is a learning curve for all things.

I hope some of this was helpful, but I think the best suggestion was from Sager: find like-minded people. They will probably be your best resource come crunch time.

Good luck.

 

 

VeganDB12's picture
VeganDB12
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Posts: 731
Re: Bugging out in the city

For those of us in/near a city who do not need meat sources, sprouting is a fine alternative to gardening in the dirt if you like and can digest them.

Takes almost no space and very space efficient with respect to stockpiling a ton of seeds, but definitely get vacuum packed since they go buggy quite easily if not.

Of course it is much nicer to have veggies out of the ground.

Thank you for this thread, I think it is a good idea.

 

Saffron's picture
Saffron
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Joined: Aug 29 2009
Posts: 250
Re: Bugging out in the city
earthwise wrote:

While you have sources of meat, it appears that none are under your direct control. As a solution I would suggest that you consider rabbits. I have sheep, goats, chickens and rabbits.  IMHO rabbits are the best source of meat in a crisis situation.  

thanks for all the detailed info. Ironically I was on a bike ride with my youngest the other day and saw a rabbit hutch sitting out in someone's front yard and wondered if they were trying to get rid of it.  

earthwise wrote:

What have you done for water provisions? It seems that space for storage is an issue. You might look into a Berkey filter. One could drink gutter water after it's been through a Berkey and the filter fits on a kitchen counter. Also look into rain catchment ideas.

I've been looking at the Zero, but this one sounds better. Some of the models are not available in California, though. I wonder why.

earthwise wrote:

Hunting doesn't seem practical. It's not reliable, and in the city game is non-existent which means dh would have to travel into a hostile environment to hunt and he would be competing against every other hungry hunter for increasingly diminishing game. Also, any survival prep skills should be practiced beforehand as there is a learning curve for all things.

I hope some of this was helpful, but I think the best suggestion was from Sager: find like-minded people. They will probably be your best resource come crunch time.

good points on the hunting but even if it doesn't help us all that much here, I think it would be a great skill to have. When I think of what I can offer my children to get through the coming years, skills tops the list. Just knowing you have a skill opens options and (I think) decreases stress, even if you never use the skill. We just finished a Wilderness First Aid class ... I hope I *never* have to use it, and I certainly don't feel confident that I could handle anything thrown at me, but it does make me feel a little more capable of digging in that first aid kit and figuring something out.

As for like-minded people ... agreed ... and since you are local, I hope we meet soon :-) 

 

 

Saffron's picture
Saffron
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 29 2009
Posts: 250
Re: Bugging out in the city
VeganD wrote:

For those of us in/near a city who do not need meat sources, sprouting is a fine alternative to gardening in the dirt if you like and can digest them.

Takes almost no space and very space efficient with respect to stockpiling a ton of seeds, but definitely get vacuum packed since they go buggy quite easily if not.

I got some with our last seed order! It is on my to-do list for the summer. I've been keeping them in the fridge, since it's not a huge amount. 

Do you use them other than in sandwiches and salads? That was also on my to-do list ... find out how to get them in my family.

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