I posted this on my family's (mostly dormant) blog and asked Adrianne if you all would think I was crazy based on what I wrote. She suggested you would, but also mentioned that you might find the post interesting...
I just finished reading the book Mini Farming, Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham. I've enjoyed the book. It's an introduction to a lot of the things involved in growing your own food. It's pretty light on the details needed to actually do a lot of the stuff he discusses, but I think he's done a sufficient job of helping me know whether or not I'll pursue certain activities, and he's provided a (limited) bibliography at the end of his book for further reading. I've already read one of the books in his bibliography and I own another (it's next on my list after the one I'm reading right now).
For those of you who haven't heard, I've been living my life for the past few years with two fairly opposed views of the future. The first is the one that most of you know--I'll save and invest for retirement so that I will be relatively wealthy by the time I'm done working. Because of that view, I've maximized my Roth IRA contributions every year since I've had a job until this past year when we stopped to save money for the house. The other view is that I don't really believe the country will survive the next twenty years without some major (and likely painful) changes--probably including some sort of restructuring of our economy and government. I've envisioned things ranging from a minor disruption of services to catastrophic upheavals possibly including the entire collapse of the government and society. Something recently brought these two contradictory views of the future into my mind at the same time and I wondered why I was investing so much of my resources into a system that I have little confidence will exist when I need it.
That question worked on me for a while and I decided that I ought to put a portion of that money into something that would actually be valuable to me if the country fell into anarchy. Just to help you think about what that means, imagine that the population ceased conforming to the law (for whatever reason). There would quickly be no food or fuel and money would be worthless and traveling would be dangerous. So, what would be of value at that point?
As I've thought about it, the first and obvious thing is food. I have been feeling for a couple of years now that my family needs to get at least a year's worth of food storage. We've been working on it an we will continue. But, I'm not convinced that everything will be resolved and back to normal within a year. It seemed like the next most important thing to own would be productive land that would enable me to produce my own food. Unfortunately, with my current employment, this is not a realistic option for me. Sure, I could buy some land, but I couldn't improve it and make it productive because I won't be near it for more than 3 years.
My mom and dad suggested that I ought to buy tools that I'd need in the situation I'm envisioning. I think that's a great idea, and I have begun a list of tools that I will acquire over the next while. However, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the first thing I need is the skills that would be required to live on our own.
So, with that in mind, I have purchased a number of books (from which I am generating my list of tools), and I will read them and put into practice what I can of what they describe. This book on mini farming was a good introduction. I also have books on composting, trapping, butchering live stock and game, preserving meats, and a couple other generic books on homesteading/traditional skills. I'm currently reading a book on fruit trees to help me out with the trees I planted.
I hope I'm just being crazy and that this will all be a waste of my time (at least I think it's fun and interesting for now), but it certainly seems like something worth doing to prepare. If nothing else, some of these skills will reduce our expenses. The gardening skills will certainly help with the grocery budget.
Once I get done with these books, I'll look into skills and equipment needed for "going off the grid". While I'm preparing to (temporarily) live a life without electricity, I'd like to be able to provide my own and not depend on a power company. Right now my plan is that when we retire from the air force, I will buy some land and have a passive house built on it. A passive house is one that is very well insulated and energy efficient in general. It requires little to no heating or cooling to stay at reasonable temperatures all year round. I'll install some power producing equipment (wind turbine and solar panels), a well, and a septic tank. I'll have a big garden, some fruit and nut trees, and some animals, and I'll hope I've wasted my time and money doing all of this, but I'll be prepared in case I haven't.
Now, as most of you know, I like to get obsessed with things, so it could just be that I'm suddenly obsessed with this idea. What worries me a little is that other people whom I respect have told me they've been feeling the same things for a while. For example, I mentioned this to my former bishop and he said his brother-in-law, a real-estate agent, has been watching for land for them for the very same reason.
Any way, that's what I've been thinking about recently. I'll report on the other books I read and I'll share my list of tools if any of you are interested, once I get it done...or at least further along.
It's okay if you think I'm nuts.