Self reliance, without a doubt, is the means to a bountiful life. I write this as more than just a motivated former Marine.  I’ve run a survival school since 1989 and I consider myself an eager student of the subject (translated: I don’t mind how you choose to feel, I don’t have any money, and I willingly subject myself to black flies, mosquitoes, and self proclaimed “experts” who will tell you all they know without ever leaving the comfort of their living room chair).  I do this because it makes me feel like the wealthiest man on earth.   That brings me to the point of this article.  I’m looking across the landscape and seeing a whole lot of people preparing for something.  Their skill sets are impressive and many of them overlap.  There are old school Red Scare types prepping with bunkers, caches, shelters, and firepower.  There are back-to-the-landers with permaculture and the homesteading arts. There’s the New World Order types, the overpopulation groups, the folks with specific dates, etc.  Heck, for the folks who can’t find the one ideal group to call home, there are zombies.

Well, with all of you folks choosing sides, joining up with co-ops, spec-ops, psy-ops, and the pyramids with the psy-clops, I figured I should choose a side too.  Now, whomever I joined up with would have to be powerful.  I’m a sore loser when it comes to living, at least when it concerns my family and me. So I needed some entity more powerful than zombies and the entire Red Army combined.  I needed something that could provide food, security, and stability for me and the future of my folk; some entity that was tactically sound, reliable, and proven during the long haul.  I didn’t want to be tied up with unnecessary logistics and unreliable communications.  After running through the short list and going over all the candidates, in the end, I chose the Earth.

For one, she’s bigger than the all the other groups…combined!  She’s been sorting through species like folks go through cheap ballpoint pens.  In a real “man versus wild” scenario, history demonstrates pretty conclusively who the winner is…every time.  Now you folks of a conservative nature, don’t go tuning me out just yet (Teddy Roosevelt is still one of my favorite Presidents).  You can’t expect to “Live off the Land” if you don’t have enough meat to feed your family.    Besides, where do you go to “get away from it all”?  The city?  Really?  Even if it came to cannibalism, do you think that the meat there is safe to eat?  Toxins accumulate in the apex species of any environment.  Think about it.  Besides, even if you were able to stick to wild game, have you seen the size of the deer in New Jersey?  They’re the size of Greyhounds (the dogs, not the buses).

So what do I mean?

Well, my grandfather was a farmer.  In WWII he threw potatoes at the German torpedo bombers.  He was a merchant marine on one of the supply ships to Europe (the kind they referred to as “Kaisers Coffin’s).  He was a hard speaking, levelheaded man who taught me the importance of good soil and a sharp aim.  He shared that it’s okay to kill a groundhog to protect your blackberries as long as you eat it (the groundhog . . . and the blackberries).  He raised nine kids, and an assortment of fruits, vegetables, and livestock, and stayed married to the same wife his entire life.  He also taught me the lessons his parents learned during the depression about calorie investment versus calorie expenditure, and the importance of keeping a productive landscape.  We hunted deer because we planted and took care of the plants, shrubs, and trees that the deer ate.  We always had fresh eggs, a source for meat, milk, and veggies.  It was hard work that benefited his kids and their children.  Heck, I suppose it’s benefiting my kids now, as I see them enjoying their lives amid a landscape of people too busy worrying about a mythical future to do something in the present to change it.  I’m not talking about pretending to kill zombies or starting a small garden.  Those things are nice and all.

I’m just talking about getting back in touch with what worked. Self reliance. Assume for a minute that your great-grandparents were really good at living a healthy and productive life without things like electricity.  Imagine it takes more problem solving to get your food and heat sources every day, and that a healthier diet and more active lifestyle make you sharper and more robust (individually and as a species) than the diet and activity level in today’s world.  Now couple that with a wild sense of stewarding the landscape.  Lets get totally crazy and assume that there was this scientifically founded and religiously supported idea that the landscape’s health is directly related to the health and prosperity of your tribe, or “nation”.  One last thing, and pardon me if this will make your brain explode at the absurdity of it all, but let’s add the idea that we have today’s technologies, and that these technologies allow us to increase individual backyard productivity to allow for year round backyard food production in the contiguous United States.

Hmmmmm . . . with these wacky elements as part of the package, do you see where preparing for some futuristic event could get you into some really cool projects that will increase your survivability, and decrease your dependency?  Beyond that, it will build a community of folks who support each other with complimentary skill sets, gardening, foraging, livestock, and hunting diversity.  There will be an increase in bartering potential, and an increase in security. Before you know it, we will increase the quality of our lives, building something that used to be called “neighborhoods”, where folks talk to each other, share news, get in arguments, watch each others kids and yell for them all to get home when the street light came on.  We would begin to build a real community of folks who plant with an eye toward what their neighbor might be planting so there would be good garden trades in the fall.  We’d plant apples for pies and for the turkey and venison that come after them.

This self reliance stuff isn’t that old.  Granted, the folks that still do it are few, and many don’t want to share what they know with strangers, but it hasn’t been forgotten.  I’m siding with the Earth because the landscape is a direct reflection of my own health.  The way this land is worked depends on whether I view it as a “resource” or an “investment”.  More, it shows folks how near-sighted or far-sighted I’ve been; how selfishly or selflessly I’ve spent my days.

So, I can fire a rifle a bit, still learning how to pickle, and make soap, even getting a forge up and running.  All that’s good.  I’m learning and teaching wild edible plants, how to make bows with stone tools, listening to bird alarms and tracking indicator species to be a better hunter. More than that though, I’m having fun.  Lets face it, we have this big looming event that’s coming (or not) and we get into all of this excitement about skills, and plants, and gardens and guns because in the end, it’s fun.  Imagine if it were as simple as that.  You work hard at something you enjoy doing to ensure the health and survival of your kind, and as a result you’re rewarded with a deep sense of satisfaction and fun, and a sense of competence.  It doesn’t take a survival expert to give you the importance of that vehicle. You already have it.  It’s parked in your brain right next to the self-doubt and distraction cars.  Which on do you plan on piloting when it comes to surviving the coming apocalypse?  Maybe your apocalypse is already here. Either way, I’m having fun.  Let me know how your self reliance fun turns out.  Oh yeah, and watch out for those zombies.DSCN1950