Our survivalism story, in a nutshell
Hi! I’m Sheila.
For the last several years, our family, my husband Dan, our son Jesse and I, have been living what some may call the “survivalist” lifestyle. Actually, we live off-grid (so far off the grid that there is no landline and no cell phone service available), self-sufficient life. We’re not here to get away from the world for a few days while chaos happens and calms down. We don’t think that’s what will happen, anyway. We’re here because we have chosen to separate ourselves from the rat race, the system, and not be swept away in the tide of what we see as society running amok. This is not a temporary lifestyle for us. It’s a wonderfully peaceful, sometimes difficult and always rewarding life. Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen, “out there”, this is how we choose to live.
We were basically city folk all our lives, but over the past 20-plus years, we formulated, clarified and then realized our vision to make the transformation to our current lifestyle. We understand the fear and panic many are now feeling when contemplating making a lifestyle change within a short time because they are observing events around them that require such a drastic move.
Once we moved to our current location in New Mexico, we chose to lease parts of our land to form a small community of like-minded, people (I would rather call it, “like-spirited”) to help each other make it through what we believe is coming down the pike soon. In that search for the right people (who we eventually did find) we met many types of self-proclaimed, “survivalists,” most of whom were in reality, “survival tourists.” Our son coined this phrase to describe those who only wanted to investigate survivalism just deeply enough to find reasons they couldn’t/shouldn’t do it. (“Phew, I almost had to wash my dishes by hand!”).
We met people who spent lots of money on land, shelter and storage foods, only to forget to prepare the most important thing, their minds! It’s going to take so much more than a gross of toilet paper to save your rear. You’re going to have to put on your, “big girl pants,” and deal with things like going out in the cold to get firewood, learning to make pancakes using only flour you’ve ground, an egg and water, and wearing the same clothes for years without falling apart, neither the clothes nor you!
The things you might think are important now will seem silly once you’re more concerned with chores that simply keep you alive through a cold winter. We met people who didn’t think they could live without their 62” plasma screen TV. We’ve been watching the same 1200 piece library of DVDs on our laptop for our evening’s entertainment for several years. We know the scripts backward and forwards, but it takes our minds off the day’s work when we need it.
Before we were able to have our well drilled, we were depending on a local water delivery service, 2500 gallons at a time, not a 5-gallon visit from the “Culligan Man”, who one day decided that he didn’t want to make the rough trip to our ranch any longer. We had to make our last 500 gallons last throughout a brutally cold winter, washing dishes with 2 gallons a day, washing our hair about once every 2 weeks. But you discover that you make it through.It's amazing to see just what we are capable of living through, and of accomplishing, when we depend only on ourselves. Click To Tweet
Myths about survivalism
If you’re considering living the survivalist lifestyle, you should know the truth about these myths!
1. It’s just like camping.
It’s nothing like camping. When you go camping if you can’t take a shower for a couple of days. No problem, you’ll take one when you get home. This will be your home, and you’ll have to figure out how to keep your body (and clothing) clean all year long, in the cold, snow or wind.
On a camping trip, you can live without anything for a couple of days, even weeks, and you can always jump back in the car and go to the nearest grocery store to pick up what you need. What if there were no grocery store available? How will you feel when your daily habits are interrupted, not just for a few days trip, but for the foreseeable future?
2. You can buy enough food and supplies for forever.
No, someday what you have will run out. You’ll have to learn to grow and/or gather new food supplies and to learn to use what you have, even if that means pancakes without baking powder. Someday you will have to wipe your butt with a washable rag instead of disposable toilet paper. Someday there could be no gas to get to the store and the store won’t have anything on the shelves anyway.
3. Your neighbors will gather around and help each other.
Think about your neighbors who haven’t got a clue, or can’t bear the thought of their comfy suburban lives changing when the reality of where society is going hits them, “upside the head”. What if your neighbors can’t get their daily supply of cigarettes, beer, Prozac, soda pop, etc., etc., etc.? Are they going to be the kind of people you can depend on? For how long?
4. If I buy enough gadgets (mini washing machine, generator, solar tracker) I’ll be OK.
If you truly believe that society is in for a big shakeup, you’ll realize that this is not a time to spend money unnecessarily, but to put every penny you can into what is practical. Gadgets are going to break down and then you will have to learn to live without them anyway. Why not learn now?
5. I can get to my survival location when TSHTF.
This is the most flawed and perhaps the most popular plan, thinking that when all hell breaks loose, you will know far enough in advance to travel the hundreds of miles to your survival location. When the door slams shut, the highways will be blocked, the urban and suburban streets will be blocked and patrolled and no one will be going anywhere! Even if your survival location is only a few miles away, you probably won’t be able to get there. If you truly understand the need for being “survival-minded”, why not begin living the self-sufficient lifestyle NOW? Learn what it really means to live off-the-grid NOW, not when there is chaos all around you. You may find that it’s a much better lifestyle than the one you are living now.
6. I can convince my “significant other” that this is the right move.
No, you can’t, and you shouldn’t. All you can do is give them information and allow them to do with it what they do. People either get this or they don’t. It’s not for everyone. This goes for all family members. I’m not saying go or don’t go without them. That’s an individual, circumstantial decision and action. If all members of your family are not on the same page, you’ll have to determine what to do. Staying where you are maybe your choice. Just do it as an informed decision.
7. I don’t need to prepare a place. I’ll just grab my Bug-Out-Bag and find a cave somewhere.
How many others do you think to have that same plan? Especially those who live near caves, already know where they are and already expect to be occupying them? And can your bug out bag hold what you really need for an extended period of time?
8. My kids will be bored.
Your kids will be learning so many new ways of living, so many daily activities and chores, connecting with nature in so many new ways, they won’t have time to be bored. Allow them the freedom to discover things like what bugs are in the grass around your home, what plants grow, what wildlife is still abundant on this beautiful land. If your attitude is one of wonder and not worry, so will theirs be? Help them look at this as an adventure, not a burden.
A final comment to anyone who does not yet understand why it might be time to make a move from your comfy, familiar, suburban lifestyle, you’re not watching the news. Or maybe you are only watching mainstream news, who tell you, “everything is as it should be.” It’s not. Sources of news on the internet are reporting events that, somehow, never make it to the nightly news or newspapers.
Friedrich Nietzsche was right. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” It’s amazing to see just what we are capable of living through, of accomplishing when we depend only on ourselves. When there is no safety net, sometimes you just learn to fly.
Guest post by Sheila, who lives the survivalist lifestyle in New Mexico with her husband and son.
You might want to check out these Skills of the Month to help you along your survivalism journey!
- DIY Candles and Lanterns
- Get your HAM radio license
- Homemade bread baking
- Off Grid Living
- Switch from store bought products to homemade