Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reply: Homesteads, security and devaluation.

Don Williams said...

1) I would note that Mel Tappan agreed with Ferfal. Mel argued strongly against having an isolated
homestead in the countryside -- and argued for being in a small town --in an agricultural area but large enough to have a diversified economy. (Including a hospital).
The concern, as Ferfal noted earlier , is whether those small towns (5000+ people) will dry up and blow away if the national economy collapses.

2) The model is Kinda like the fortified hill towns of the Middle Ages -- or the Greek city states that arose circa 500 BC.

One where people slept behind high stone walls at night with guards on watch --then went outside the city walls in the daytime to work on surrounding farms --with horsemen on patrol scouting the surrounding countryside to give early warning of any invaders.

3) The early pioneers of Kentucky also built forts to which the farmers could retreat from Indian raids -- and kept up mounted scouts to patrol and give warning.

4) As Mel Tappan and Ferfal both noted, a single sniper can take out an isolated farmer at any time.
then kill his wife and children. A bandit gang is even worse.

An advantage that farmers can have over such gangs is that farmers can grow hay to sustain horses -- and horsemen can run down and ambush bandits that are on foot.

This was what once defined an aristocrat.

April 15, 2010 8:10 AM

Blogger WATYF said...

Ferfal... are you saying that there's no practical purpose whatsoever (as far as survival goes) to owning a remote parcel of land?

Could it not be used for food (hunting/fishing/farming)? Could it not be used for temporary refuge if crime gets too bad in the area you're in? Is the only choice really to just stay near a high-population/high-crime area and rely on security forces to protect you? Doesn't that make your every move (going to the grocery store, visiting a friend, etc) extremely dangerous?

I know you have experience with this, but I'm just having trouble wrapping my brain around how this works exactly. The US is pretty spread out. The urban areas are packed, but in the rural areas, population density can be extremely sparse. And crime is much higher (per capita) in urban areas than it is in rural areas. So that means that in urban areas, 6% of the populace might be inclined to commit violent crime, while in rural areas, only 1% might be inclined to do the same. So, not only am I less likely to be around people (in general), but even with the people I am likely to be around, it is less likely that those people will be willing to commit a violent crime against me.

And with the much higher percentage of home-owners in rural areas of the US being armed, how could a very small percentage of a very small population (i.e. those inclined to commit violent crimes in rural areas) be an overwhelming force?

I understand that crime rates will rise (both in urban and rural areas) if an economic collapse happens, but even then, it's still a law of averages. I would be much more likely to be attacked in an urban area than I would in a rural area. And any precautions that can be taken in an urban area (i.e. always carry a gun/knife/spare money/meds/etc) could also be taken in a rural area, thus still keeping your chances better in the rural areas.

April 15, 2010 8:13 AM

The typical misconception of living like the Ingalls family but with AR15s while the world goes hell all around you? Yes. Absolutely.
I assure you it does not work when crime goes off the charts. I’ll put my first born in that bet as well.

Its just impossible,, it’s a nice idea that works perfect in fiction, not in reality. Rhodesian white farmers, isolated homes and retreats throughout history have been whipped out when crime gets out of control and are in fact the reason why cities started in the first place.

You avoid crime typically found it cities of course, you do NOT avoid getting killed when crime gets out of control, and there’s no distance in the modern world that avoids that. You got there with a car? So will others.
Now, what we know that does work are gates communities, a solid perimeter, and serious professional security. Private neighborhoods as they call them here.
Even better and something that is becoming more and more popular here among those that can afford it are “quintas” neighborhoods. These are similar to walled communities but with small farms instead.

Half an acre, one or two maybe, not much , but several of them together, with a secured perimeters and security. That gives you enough land to have a certain independence. You can have a nice garden, of course not serious plantation but a good sized orchard and some small animals. In some cases they have community buildings for horses. You have your own, but you share the facility/security.
This could work also for cows, sheep ,etc.
In a worse case scenario, this would be a possible solution. Until things go completely to hell and you just have to leave the country, that is.



EN said...

The Quintas concept is something that has worked OK in Afghanistan for centuries. However, it's obviously not the path to a growing and successful society, just a good stop gap to gain security (and survive) when it all goes sideways.

Anonymous said...

The dream has always to leave the problem behind rather than solve it. A,if not the, major crime problem in the US is drug use. Do you believe the rural drug users are any less dangerous than the urban drug user? The "Quintas neighborhoods" are a good, if limited, answer to some problems but they have taken over a decade to come into existance.How long does your current plan permit you to stay live and well. Are your re-supply plans realistic or a dream. Got a veterinerian in your group, have you stocked animal medicines?

Don Williams said...

The example Mel Tappan gave in his late 1970s book was a young couple in rural Oregon being murdered by some stray motorcyclists. Our motorcycle gangs are highly mobile and can go anywhere.

Most people do not appreciate how vulnerable areas are to infiltrators who move separately and then coalesce at a predetermined rally point.

A steep unpopulated hillside, powerline right of way, stream with thickets, etc can give ingress. And how many of those broad, open lawns will be mowed after a collapse?

If you are in a rural valley, a bandit can be on a hillside ridge several miles away, can take a sighting with a lensatic compass on the column of smoke from your fireplace in early morning, move 300 yards to the left, take another sighting, and have your position triangulated on a topo map to within a 100 yards. And you have no clue that they are there.

Bones said...

Great post and for once I agree with Don! ;)

The bottom line is you can't do it all yourself - it takes an entire community. I like to cite the Amish communities - they're off the grid and basically self sufficient. These folks would barely notice if the rest of society collapsed. And in a tight-knit community you have the safely of numbers.

Resident Author said...


The idea that security comes from numbers (in certain portions) is based on the idea that those people are somewhat ideologically compatible.

Some here in America (few like to admit it) see certain kinds of crime as social and economic justice (i.e. criminals are merely taking what selfish people have denied them). This can include sexual assualt and murder in some cases.

Are the people in these close communities of like mindsets/values? Do they ever discuss "if X happens, I do A, then B, then C?"

WATYF said...

Ferfal... you are correct that cities came about (according to many theories) primarily as a means of protection. The problem with that comparison is that those early cities were built for protection from OUTSIDE invaders. The issue we have in modern times with an economic crisis is that the "enemy" is WITHIN the city, making you even closer in proximity to your enemy and more likely to encounter them. If marauders were attacking the US from the outside in, then I would absolutely want to be in an urban area, but in our current scenario, the criminals would *start* in the city and would actually have to leave the city in order to get out to the rural areas so they could find more victims.

As Don pointed out, this isn't necessarily about living like a nomad herding sheep on the hillsides. I'm talking more specifically about owning land near a smaller, rural town. You still have people nearby... a community that you can be a part of... shared resources (and defenses)... etc... but you would also have much less chance of walking by someone on the street who will try to kill you.

Just_In_Case_The_SHTF said...

Remote areas of the country are not immune from organized criminal gangs, driven by the lucrative economics of illegal drugs:

Race To Harvest Illegal Cash Crop

There is also a cat and mouse game going on in rural America between law enforcement and makers of illegal drugs:

With Cars as Meth Labs, Evidence Litters Roads

Presumably, these kinds of activities will increase after the SHTF, since a lot of people will be out of work and have time on their hands, while law enforcement will be stretched to the limit.

If you have something the drug makers need (food, medicine, weapons, sanctuary, whatever), they have the firepower and economic incentive to take it from you by force if necessary.

Their customers, the drug users in the country and cities, also have the incentive to steal from you (or worse) if you have property they can sell to get the money they need for their next fix.

Paraguay Insider said...

A few points to consider:

Where is your "Idaho farm" situated and how about infrastructure?

a) Water supply,
Own well? With pump power by electricity? If you dont have power you dont have water. BAD!

b) How is the road to your house?
Is it a mud and dirt road? Good luck after some heavy rain...also the ambulance or police will take longer to reach you...if they do at all.

c) Currently the world is in good standing. On a countdown but still well. Todays reality in south america is that white people who buy houses "in the jungle" to experience "nature" will get robbed. They come with 5-6 people, all armed.

Often they steal money and the homeowners guns + amno.

And folks this is not theoretical concept - i KNOW people who experienced this. No fiction. After beeing robbed 3 times in 6 months by the same gang they gave up.

4) What happens if you wounded, bitten by a snake/spider/dog whatever, have a car break down, and and and...the idaho retreat is fucked to hell and back again in so many scenarios...DO NOT DO IT.

5000-10 000 people villages are about perfect imho. I live in a 7000 village myself. works well so far.

Don Williams said...

1) I should clarify also that when I was discussing fortified hill towns, I was thinking of a security pattern. I don't think the USA would ever collapse enough that such would become common, much less that people would mostly be working as farmers.

2) Societies do not collapse --they change. Usually slowly.

3) Mel Tappan was writing during the Cold War --when there was a possibility that a major nuclear war could escalate to the point that most major US cities were destroyed and large sections of the Midwest were rendered uninhabitable for months by high levels of radiation. There are far fewer nuclear bombs today and the likelihood of such war is more remote. So I can't see many events -- other than a major asteroid strike --that could disrupt our way of life all that much.

4) I also think people don't appreciate to extent to which the US Government has the power to intervene and control change -- not necessarily for the benefit of the common citizen. See

5) If disasters occur, the government gets more authoritarian, not less.

FerFAL said...

"Don Williams said:
5) If disasters occur, the government gets more authoritarian, not less."

I agree with you 110%. Another common flaw in some fiction novels like Patriots.
Matt Brackens novels being much more realistic in terms of a government going big brother on steriods when SHTF.


Anonymous said...

"but in our current scenario, the criminals would *start* in the city and would actually have to leave the city in order to get out to the rural areas so they could find more victims."

See Don's point 2 above. It's not going to be "ready, set, SHTF!" and the looting race is on, start at the radio shack down the block... It'll be a slow but steady increase in criminal events punctuated by the occasional horror story about a very organized or very ruthless band.

Anonymous said...

Instead of putting the money in a rural hideout or supposed 'sanctuary', when crime and society get out of hand.

It would instead be far wiser to buy a house and plot of land in a good 2nd or 3rd world country in South America for instance, and move there.

That's Ferfals advice. It seems to me alot of people are just asking for trouble for no good reason, apart from just being stubborn. It's not patriotic, it's stupid.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the late 60's in rural Michigan USA on a subsistence homestead, just about one notch above Amish, and we had plenty of food and fun, while working our butts off, of course, but even then we didn't grow & process ALL of our groceries, we still had to go to town to buy some things, also my father worked in a nearby major city, about 20 miles away, sometimes working at two different companies, night shift one place & day shift at another, AND did sideline jobs, electrical wiring, pouring cement for cellars and driveways, etc. I cannot imagine trying to do the same, with a smaller family, in the midst of a "crime wave" or societal breakdown, with the economy on the decline. I think that night vision or some sort of thermal or infra-red vision system, would help against banditos, but cost & sustainability would be a factor. What about traps and alarms, like cans on a trip wire, too simple?

Don Williams said...

Re Anon at 9:37: "I think that night vision or some sort of thermal or infra-red vision system, would help against banditos, but cost & sustainability would be a factor. What about traps and alarms, like cans on a trip wire, too simple?"
I don't think any single household can hold out against bandits that can strike at any time. How can you farm if a sniper can place the crosshairs on your back at any time?

Any defense can be compromised at night -- barbed wire can be cut, walls can be tunneled under,etc. How can you shoot down a human wave attack if you can't see it?
Look at the experience of the US Army in Vietnam with patrol bases -- and they could call up flying gunships on the radio for help.

And night vision can be compromised. Why do you think the US Army went to those strange new combat uniforms (ACUs)? Because they needed to camoflage themselves among the sofas in a department store?

Even with a fortified town it would be vitally important to NOT give up the initiative and let yourself be pinned down by a siege. Look at history.

In Mad Max world It would be important to have highly mobile units (e.g., horsemen) patrolling the surrounding area daily in order to detect any large hostile group approaching. So that you could cut up that group before it ever got close to the town where your children are sleeping. With ambushes, IEDs, night time raids on enemy's camp,etc.

Such Mad Max world is highly unlikely to occur -- I cite it only as an extreme case because if you can deal with the extreme case you can deal with lesser ones.

On the other hand, knowledge of which way the wind blows at night and of how to make improvised mustard gas might not be bad insurance. If only to make you realize that your own defenses may have some holes.

Just_In_Case_The_SHTF said...

> What about traps and alarms, like
> cans on a trip wire, too simple?

One of the best investments you can make for country living is a dog that lives outside all the time. If you hear it barking at 2 AM, it's worth getting out of bed and finding out why it's barking.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time imagining the poor lazy welfare dependent criminal class from ever putting forth the effort to leave the illusion of security that a city provides to them (even as they aren't getting that security) and head out (as a hoard or singularly) into the country to rob and pillage, especially in the Winter, or even a long Summer drive in the country, it would be too hot, cold, boring, barren, hostile and just TOO HARD for many of them. They've been conditioned well by the system, they might just sit and wait to be provided to, and by the time they've figured out ain't nobody going to provide for them they'll be too weak to get far or do much. At least in the U.S. anyway.

Of course there would be hardened exceptions, but judging from the size of the crowds at the sports stadiums after Katrina in N.O. and in Houston, it seems there will be many who simply sit and wait.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that if a person currently lives in the country that they should move to the city?
I own my home outright and have lived in the country for over 10 years. I have friends and neighbors that I can count on.
It would be very expensive for me to move to the city. Almost opposite of the rural retreat. If I must and for good reasons ,then I will leave but I would consider it foolish to turn my life upside down on a "what if" senario.

Some Guy said...

I don't think anyone is being told to change anything about their existence at this point, but rather to think clearly.

If you live in the country and enjoy it, and don't have any issues, good on you!

The thing here is that FerFAL is point out that city and suburban folk have been sold this idea that, to survive the mutant biker zombie apocalypse that is "coming," they have to move to the tweeds and invest untold fortunes in it. That's fantasy, that's not workable, and that's that.

Anonymous said...

Anon said, "I'm having a hard time imagining the poor lazy welfare dependent criminal class from ever putting forth the effort to leave the illusion of security that a city provides to them."

That is a really good point. I live in one of the fattest cities in the USA. No way they'd get out to country on foot. But there are a ton of country folk not prepared. They used to garden, can, hunt, etc. Now many drive an hour to the nearest Walmart twice a month. It just takes one unprepared country 'friend' to bring you down too. No where on planet earth is safe. It boils down to... who do you want to fight and where.

Anonymous said...

Good thread. Read the free internet novel, The Day the Dollar Died. This is about an implimented Countinuity of Govermment plan after the dollar crashes. I believe they will revalue the currency much like was done in Argentina, perhaps one new dollar for 3 old dollars. The new $100 bill schedualed for release in Feb. 2011 could be apart of that. The question is whether or not debt will be revalued in concert or remain unchanged and unaffordable. Ferfal, what happen in Argentina?

In California there is said to be 250,000 gang members as well armed as the military, and a significant number gang members in cities though out the states in cities with popluations of 100,000 and more.