Achieving True Independence: Part I

My Dad was a great man, and he was a WWII veteran. He could easily have been either one without being the other but he was both. He gave me a piece of advice I have tried to adhere to my entire life. That is, “a real man takes full responsibility for everything in his life.” This has always been a guiding principle in my life.

Here is a little tip for future reference. You can tell who great men and women are and you don’t have to wait 50 years after they are dead to know they were great. When people go to a person, different people from various walks of life, to get that person’s input or wisdom about a particular problem or situation, they unconsciously recognize that person as a great or wise person. It is that easy.

Now, you, the readers, are on the frontlines and the third world nation that you are “missionaries” to is, these united states of America (no, it is not an error of capitalization, read the writings of your Founding Fathers.) You now have a mission and that is to try and teach as many people as you can, family, friends, associates, even enemies, what is about to befall our nation and our society at large. Your mission is to survive and make sure as many people as can survive as well.

A personal note about my background:

I voluntarily enlisted at the end of the Vietnam War and was trained as an interrogator. I was drafted by the National Security Agency into a unit called the Special Operations Group, 4th Detachment. We operated in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam. We routinely monitored the enemy almost as much as our own personnel. I helped evacuate personnel from Saigon during the last days of the war, assisted in withdrawing C.I.A mercenaries from Burma, Laos and Cambodia and was a forward observer in the last battle of the Vietnam War in May of 1975. We were supposed to rescue POW’s/MIA’s in 1976, but congress decided there were none, so our unit was reassigned. I was retrained in the Arabic language and worked in the Middle East for the next four years, before some of you were born.

My unit conducted false flag operations in Libya, Egypt, Chad, and Sudan. We “assisted” in the overthrow of Idi Amin Dada in Uganda. We helped relocate the Shah of Iran (Reza Pahlevi) and his beautiful wife, Shahrani (Princess) Farah Diba. and their children. We also watched while the CIA installed the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran. Later we also watched while the CIA and none other than Maj. Oliver North (later Lt. Colonel) trained and financed Osama bin Laden, and established Al Qaeda to be our eyes and ears in Afghanistan. After eight years of service to my country I left the military. I became a farmer and engineer and was asked to re-enter military service numerous times over the next almost 30 years. Instead, I chose to train agricultural missionaries, work as an engineer and farmer. I have never regretted that decision.

I am no authority and can only comment about what I have seen and experienced. I have been ordered to train Palestinians on how to use Russian radar and weapons systems (my specialty), conduct false flag operations against Egypt and Libya (July/August of 1977), armed Chad rebels and equipped Chad Freedom Fighters (it was the same group of people). So, I have a little experience with the darker side of our government. I hope this answers your questions about my experience. That’s it.

Now, role up your sleeves and let’s get to work. We are on the brink of the Second Great Depression (and it should scare you or at least concern you) and so, in order to survive, you need to know First; how to grow your food(Part I), Second; how to store your food(Part II), Third; how to locate your refuge(Part III), Fourth; how to build your refuge(Part IV), Fifth; what to stock in your refuge(Part V), Sixth; how to defend your refuge and should you defend your refuge at all?(Part VI) and Seventh; how and when to bug out(Part VII).

Part I

Growing your food.

((I planted fifty pounds of potatoes in late February(2011) and you can see my harvest, over 300 pounds in the midst of the worst drought in Texas history (113 years of record keeping).

The next picture is just our first day of canning, within 24 hours of harvest. Bet you can’t beat that for freshness))

One night’s production.

 True independence is to be able to do this for yourself and your family without government interference. If the Food Safety Bill passes I will then be called a terrorist, but then as a Vietnam vet I am considered a terrorist threat anyway. Every one of you had better learn to grow, harvest and preserve their own food or they will be imprisoned at the FEMA camps when they try to buy it. And that is a fact. ((Freedom is never free.))

The year, 2011, will go down in the history books the worst drought in Texas history. Even though it was we still produced some beautiful vegetables. Just like there are three secrets to real estate, (location, location, location) there are three secrets to gardening/farming; organic matter, organic matter and organic matter. The more organic matter you can add to the soil in the form of tree trimmings, grass clipping, composted manure, mushroom fertilizer (compost), leaves, pine straw, vegetable trimmings from the kitchen, anything organic, the better your soil will be. The first year will be a wash as far as results. The second year you will begin to see a noticeable difference in the health and vigor of the plants but it is the third year that will amaze you. Suddenly, your soil’s texture will change, the tilth and flocculation will be greatly improved, earthworms will begin showing up when you turn the ground, it will feel cool on hot days and warm in the fall and early spring, feel moist in the hottest summer and dry during the worst of rainy seasons.

Use a grass catcher attachment on your lawnmower(s) to use the grass clippings in the garden. If you have livestock, besides dogs and cats (never use dog or cat manure in or near a garden) compost the manure and spread it the following year in the spring. (Tip: tree trimming crews that cut up and chip tree limbs from power lines are always looking for a place to dump their trimmings. I have several companies that have my address in their database (often the foreman’s memory and that can be guaranteed with a liberal application of Budweiser or similar brew) and dumped exactly where you need it.

I am often asked what fertilizers I use. I use beer, household ammonia (plain not lemon scented), cheap colas from, i.e. Dollar General, Family Dollar, WalMart and if the soil is too acidic, agricultural lime (Epsom salts work okay but don‘t use too much), and if it is too alkaline, apple cider vinegar or any vinegar plus lots of pine needles or oak leaves.

The beer adds yeast and complex sugars to the soil for other bacteria and yeast, primarily yeasts. The ammonia adds nitrogen for the bacteria in the soil. The colas add sugar, and phosphorus once again to feed the yeasts and encourage root growth (phosphoric acid) and Epsom salts adds magnesium sulfate which can lower the ph of a high ph soil but also supplies needed magnesium to help calcium availability during the hot part of the summer. Always do or have a soil sample done by your county extension agent, land grant university or master gardener so you can be assured of where you are to start with. (Tip: if you see a bait stand that sells red worms or night crawlers, buy them and pour then into you garden to assist in the breakdown of the soil.)

What do you plant? Whatever you eat. Because of the different climates, soils, personal tastes there is no way I can advise you on the best crops or varieties. Use your county extension agent. I am quite sure that not all of them are Agenda 21 agents, blood sucking zombies or the neighborhood tattletale and can give you beginning information on how to garden. The County Extension Service and ATTRA have some very good bulletins and recommendations on what to plant in your particular are.

WARNING: If you plan on growing a garden from year to year you MUST, and I repeat, MUST use open pollinated seeds. Hybridized seeds will not reproduce true to their variety if you save seeds from them. The seeds must be labeled as OP (open pollinated) not heirloom. Believe it or not there are some varieties of seeds that qualify as heirloom (old) that are not open pollinated. Be very careful.

Where can you find these magic seeds? I purchase several hundred dollars in seeds every year and the bulk of that is through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( ). I have done business with the Willhite Seed Company ( ) for over 40 years. Many of their seeds are still open pollinated and of the highest quality.

It would be impossible to cover each topic in depth and it would almost be impossible to touch upon all the necessary topics in the time that we have left to prepare. I am trying to give you enough information so you can research these topics and decide for yourself what is the best plan for you and your loved ones.

For those of you that are vegetarians, you will have an immediate advantage over non-vegans. Your digestive system will be used to a diet heavy on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. For you non-vegetarians, be prepared to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fresh or dehydrated, nuts and whole grains. If you have storable food now, on hand, by all means begin incorporating it into your diet. Children can be finicky eaters and rarely eat something they are not familiar with. So instead of enduring the stress of bugging out and beginning a new life in an unfamiliar environment, get yourselves and your children used to cooking and eating your storable foods. This simple act with have huge rewards.

For meat production, I see three choices. First, you can raise the livestock of your choice, two; you can hunt for whatever game you can find or three; you can combine the two and raise some of your animals for meat and breeding and supplement your diet with wild game and/or fish. I chose the latter and combined raising livestock and hunting.

When you hunt for food, it is best to remember to hunt away from your refuge for two important reasons. First, if you shoot near your refuge people will be able to locate it easily. Two, hunt for food away from your homestead in good times so that the game will still be available nearby in lean times.

What you ultimately eat is up to you and your family. I can give some tips on what I eat. I like chicken and fish. Occasionally we eat beef, and lamb. We eat quite a bit of venison, duck and goose.

Do I raise hogs? No, I trap them. Most states in the lower 48 states have feral hog populations. These hogs do considerable property damage each year. If you would like to try your hand at trapping hogs it is usually an easy thing to get permission from a local property owner/farmer to trap hogs on their property. Ask them for the most common places that hogs congregate and do damage. Look at some of the photos below and you will get an idea just how simple it is to build a trap. Whatever type trap you build it should be strongly built. A three hundred pound wild hog is all muscle and is mean. One mistake and you may be the main course and not the hog.

If you look at the trap below you can tell that it was made on site with surplus materials, primarily T-posts and leftover 6” x 6” concrete reinforcing wire. As simple as it was to make it trapped almost 50 hogs most of which were sold for $0.50 to $0.60 per pound to a local buyer. This is then resold to the EU nations as “Wild Boar” which is considered a delicacy in Europe.

This type of trap is easy to construct and can easily catch 15-20 pigs a night.

The following picture will give you some idea just how large some of the hogs can get. Yes, the old fat guy in the picture is yours truly. This boar weighed 335 pounds and is considered to be “fair” sized. If you will look closely you will see my buddy Wolf licking his lips. (Yes, even hogs this large can be very good when Bar B Q’ ed slowly over coals for 12 to 14 hours and basted regularly.)

Look closely at my buddy “Wolf” licking his lips.

Just so that you will know, you will catch deer in these traps as well as hogs. Below is an example of a small box trap that can be used for hogs, deer, or bear. In a survival situation all are edible. You will need to check on the legality of trapping in your area. If society falls, all bets are off.

Simple box trap that can be built in one day.

Now you have adequate food. How do you preserve it?

Part II

Preserving the Harvest

By preserving the harvest I do not mean that you need to rush out and purchase a tiller or hire a local farmer to plow your well manicured lawn under and start planting turnips. Your harvest may consist of a really good deal on carrots at a local produce stand or farmer’s market. Or, as is the case with my family, it may be the result of harvesting wild (Cutthroat) grapes growing along a country road. It might be making jelly from wild dewberries, blueberries, blackberries, muscadines, asparagus or even poke salad. And, once you become more confident in your abilities you can graduate to preserving venison, wild hog, other game and even fish.

Preserving the harvest for us is not something done once a year to supplement our food supply. It is something we do every month of the year to build our basic food supply and we go to the local grocery store to supplement our needs, i.e. coffee, sugar, flour and spices. We use between 1,000 and 2,000 Mason jars a year.

Primarily we use pressure canning to put up our staples. We produce pickles of various kinds using mostly acidity, i.e. vinegar, and preserves using sugar, i.e. jams, jellies and chutneys.

I know what you are thinking, “Pressure canning is dangerous.” My response is that in almost 50 years of canning I have been burned more times by hot coffee than I have pressure canning. Pressure canning is safe, when done properly, just like operating a vehicle, and it can be a source of pride and enjoyment. When you point to a few hundred jars of freshly “canned” foods and say, “we did that”, you will know what I mean.


The first rule of preserving your harvest is; cleanliness. No matter which method of preserving you use you should make sure that everything you use in the preserving operation is clean and sterile. Clean all utensils just before you begin you processing. Even clean utensils sitting in a drawer can accumulate bacteria and bacteria is our enemy. Place all clean utensils in a boiling water bath prior to using to kill remaining bacteria.

All your Mason jars, funnels, spoons, etc. should be washed in hot, soapy water and then rinsed in a mild Clorox (unscented sodium hypochlorite bleach) solution as a precaution. Add bleach to the water until the water feels slippery on an item or about ¼ cup to five gallons of water. If you spend the time and money to purchase plants and/or seeds, plant them, cultivate them, pick them and then can them, the last thing you want to have happen is lose all that time and money invested because of spoilage. Think clean.


The second rule of preserving is; freshness. Use your home grown, store bought or wild harvested produce as quickly as possible to preserve, not only freshness, but also as many vitamins, amino acids and enzymes as possible. The faster you convert you prize strawberries, blueberries, apples or plums into wonderful jams, jellies and chutneys the better tasting and longer lasting these items will be. Use the freshest produce possible. If it doesn’t look inviting before you preserve it, it won’t look inviting after you preserve it.


The third and final rule is; take your time. Don’t try to hurry or take shortcuts. Follow all the steps outlined in the recipes.

Recipes? What recipes? Good question and I refer you to the Bible of the home canner Ball Blue Book which has been around since 1909. It is absolutely indispensable. I have actively canned produce for almost 50 years and use the Blue Book each and every time. Going by memory is no substitute for safety. You can access the Ball website at and find numerous tips, recipes and ideas. You can purchase a printed copy of the Blue Book online or pick one up at Walmart and other discount retailers or call the Ball Corporation at 1-800-240-3340.

Another great source of information about home canning is your county/parish agricultural extension agent. The USDA is the department of the U.S. government responsible for assuring safety in agriculture and they place at your disposal numerous pamphlets and information sheets so that you can can food safely. Also, try your local Land Grant university. They, by law, perform the same function in each state. Use only the USDA approved canning schedules which are expressed in pounds pressure per minutes per volume, i.e. 10 p.s.i. for 40 minutes for pints. I normally add a ten percent fudge factor and make this into 11 pounds per square inch for 44 minutes for pints. It is overkill but I am still eating corn from 2010 and it is as good as the day I put it up.

The most common question I am asked about canning is “what do you can?” Go to your grocery store and look at all the preserved foods in jars and cans and I have at one time or another put them in jars and processed them in a pressure canner.

The second most common question I am asked is, “what type of canner should I buy?” That is like asking what kind of car you should buy. Here is my answer, “buy the best equipment that you can afford on your budget and make sure that it has a good reputation. This is applicable for any tool, automobile or major appliance you may purchase.

Here is a safety tip that is often overlooked. When you remove the lid of a pressure canner, always, always raise the side of the lid that is in the opposite direction of your face. A face full of hot steam can hurt. Please remember this. I forgot only once!

The Big 3

Model 921 with care will easily last 50 years.

Here are my recommendations and they are based upon my preferences. Number one in the canner industry, in my opinion, is the All American canner( My favorite is the Model 915 but I am hoping to purchase a Model 930. It is a quality piece of equipment that will easily outlive you and be of service to your children and grandchildren. I have two and hope to purchase another soon. It has the advantage of not needing a rubber gasket to form the airtight seal between the lid and the bottom.

Presto 23 quart Pressure Canner will outlive you and your children.

Number two in the canner industry, once again, my opinion, is Presto ( You would call me a liar if I told you how many of these that I have but let me explain that they are of various sizes and ages. I have two given to me by my grandmother that she used in a canning kitchen during the First Great Depression in America in the 1930’s. They will probably be serving me and my family in the coming Second Great Depression which is soon to strike our great country.

I have total confidence in the Presto name and quality. Their website is very helpful with recipes and canning schedules plus tips, tricks and also manuals for every model of Presto canner there is.

The number three name is Mirro( and like Presto, you would not believe how many of these I have. Some of these were given to me as wedding gifts 40 years ago. I still use them today with complete confidence.

There are several “new” brands available and I have very little experience with them so I cannot offer much advise. But, let me say this, if you are going to use a pressure canner to cook with, buy a new stainless steel model not an older aluminum design. A pressure cooker can cut your cooking time for most items by 75%. Less cooking time, smaller utility bill. It’s that simple. The problem is that since the early 20th century Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to the use of aluminum cookware. You can use an aluminum canner with confidence but if the food is in physical contact with the appliance use stainless steel. This is not my opinion it is medical fact.

Second hand supplies

If you are a beginner at canning I personally recommend that you use only “new” equipment and supplies. Many of the older generation canners have complex safety valves and they should be replaced before use. Most manufacturers make these safety replacements available on their websites for nominal fees.

Purchasing used canning jars, which is what I do on a large scale, takes a trained eye to spot small cracks and chips on the sealing surface of the jar. I rarely pay more than fifty cents per jar and then only after I have inspected each and every jar. It is possible to use jars with small chips on the sealing surface for jams and jellies, where canning under pressure is not necessary. But to avoid confusion start with new jars and a new canner. Jars will usually last you many seasons. I am still using some I bought new in 1976 and I occasionally use one of the cobalt blue ones my grandmothers gave me.

When you have a couple of seasons behind you, knowing how to evaluate jars and even canners will be much easier for you and probably even desirable if you put up more than 100 jars a year.

My dad taught me to always buy the best tools you can afford and that if you take care of your tools they will take care of you. This is very applicable to canning. Buy the best you can afford and take good care of you canner, jars and accessories and they will feed you and your family for many years to come.

I hope you become as hopelessly addicted to providing your family with the freshest food possible as I am. When you grow food without chemicals, no herbicides, no pesticides and use only organic fertilizers you can feed your family with confidence. Good luck and stay prepared.

Now you have the basics to begin planning the growing and preservation of your food. What follows next is excepted from my article “Are You Going to be a Refugee or Evacuee?”

Part III

Locating Your Refuge

Chances are, that if you are reading this article you are fully aware of what is about to happen to America because of its out of control debt, crony capitalism, corrupt officials and the Federal Reserve. Chances are that you have a pretty good idea of what you think is going to happen as a result. We are in the midst of the Second Great Depression. Remember, it is a recession when your neighbor loses his job but it is a depression when you lose your job. Knowing this, you must, and I mean absolutely must, plan your escape route and destination NOW!!

Some of you live in large metropolitan areas or suburbs. Let me ask you a question. Do you feel safe walking the streets of your city at night? Not just your neighborhood but all the streets of your city at night? No? Then you will not be able to stay there once the “bread and circuses” come to an end. What are bread and circuses? Welfare payments, SSI, Social Security, veterans benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps and plethora of other government benefits to keep the populace under control. I often wait until after midnight to walk for exercise in order to escape the heat of the day of summer in my area. Who do I see? More people doing the same. I have walked the city streets of large towns and small cities for exercise at night and some of them are very nice. Others are nothing short of war zones. If you live in the latter rather than the former you must relocate in times of complete financial collapse.

Where? How? When? Let’s address the last first. When, is now. You can wait no longer. You need to have a “refuge” for you and your family and/or friends to relocate to in tough economic times. I live in a small town in southeast Texas (pop. 750). As I said I can walk the streets at night with little fear other than tripping over a bad spot in the road. But, my refuge is 17 miles from any town (pop. 250) in western New Mexico at 7,500’ altitude. The when is now. You must make preparations now.

That brings us to how? This is a multifaceted concept. Let’s take one at a time. How do I buy a piece of property in X county in the state of X with my limited budget? There are several methods. To cover them all would take an entire article by itself. Here are two tried and true methods. Locate an area where you want to settle, travel there and talk to real estate people and buy an appropriate piece of property. I have done this several times in the desert southwestern states.

The best method is so easy it is almost criminal. Decide where you want to live and either travel there, which I suggest most hardily, or call/write the tax assessors, tax collectors or other officials in that area you choose and bid on property taken for taxes.

Why are properties taken for taxes? The number one reason is that the owners have passed away without heirs or the heirs were not interested in the property for one reason or another and failed to inquire at the local tax office if taxes were due. The county/parish, municipality or other governmental unit sells the property, usually for the taxes owed.

Here is a personal example. I once purchased a 50’ by 100’ city lot for $10.00. I looked up the former owner on the internet and asked them for a quit claim deed and paid him $10.00 for shipping and the total bill: $20.00. Will I ever live there? No, but if everything goes back to “normal” I may build a rental home there. It really is that easy. I know of people who have purchased entire city blocks of abandoned property for as little as $50.00 per lot. Some states, such as Nebraska and Minnesota have reinstituted homesteading programs where land is either free or nearly free. To good to be true? No. There are restrictions and you must go to the states’ websites to find out what they are.

And before you ask, there is no federal government property available for homesteading. Do not fall for the tricks in the back of magazines or periodicals that declare to the contrary.

This brings us to the most difficult part, where? Where should be as much a personal choice as it is a practical one. As most of you know, once you cross the Mississippi River the population density begins to drop dramatically until you reach the California border. In a survival situation, the fewer the people the better. Are there good places in the east? Yes, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, areas of Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, upstate New York and others. It is your duty and responsibility to research this based upon your prejudices, likes and dislikes. For me, I choose the R.M.E. (Rocky Mountain Empire) states. Why? Because I like the solitude and the views.

This sounds silly I know, but I built, yes I personally build all my own houses saving tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process, around the trees in my area rather than cutting them down. This provides habitat for the wildlife and beautiful views. Bears routinely walk around my house on the porch. Hummingbirds are so tame that I hold out my hand and let them feed from the feeders while perched on my fingers. Mule deer and elk often stop underneath my home in New Mexico (built on stilts) and shade underneath the house during the hot part of the day.

How did I find this luxury paradise? I read an obscure paper after having purchased two very low cost 40 acre tracts in Arizona. My curiosity piqued, I traveled to New Mexico and found the piece of property I had always dreamed of. I paid the princely sum of $2,000/acre for my dream. I built my own road and my own house. ((Hey, if I can do all this at the age of 50 (then) and older so can you.)) The best part of it was that I sold the two tracts in Arizona for more than I paid for them two months earlier.

Here is a simple fact of life. Land in the western states is hard to come by. When you do, buy it, if it meets your criteria. In Arizona the governments, local, state, federal and tribal, own 85% of all land in the state. That leaves 15% for everyone else. Even in that 15% there are some real bargains. You just have to look and do your own research

I know what you are thinking, the desert southwest? You’ll die of thirst. There is just cactus there. My response, you watch too much TV. My well is 141’ deep, cold and sweet. There are numerous wells around between 95’ and 400’. The deeper wells have water but it is almost undrinkable. Find a reputable water well driller. Ask around the area you plan to settle and find the people who are satisfied with their wells and the drillers. This should be part of you early reconnaissance.

Here are some basic considerations when scouting for a refuge or retreat.

1. Water rights: This is very important in the western states where water rights has evolved differently than in most eastern states because of the early mining and prospecting. Without access to water you are a prisoner, not a survivor.

2. Access: If you are like some folks that I know you may want your only access to be by horseback. I have known some ladies that the only way you could get to their property was on foot or on horseback. They loved it that way. You must decide what type of access you want. I prefer one way in. This way you force everyone into coming down the same road. Conversely, I have several ways out.

3. Grid electricity: This is not the biggie that it used to be. I do not want an electric meter on my house. Inexpensive solar panels can be had at many places including Harbor Freight. You can even make your own solar panels for a fraction of the cost.( But if you want more than just solar panels check out Real Goods . Big John Shaeffer and his staff live off the grid and are dedicated to off the grid living. I recommend you purchase the Solar Living Sourcebook. Also I recommend you visit and get their catalog. Also, check out . All three of these folks have been in the business for years, their catalogs are resource books of helpful information and they can’t be beat for helpfulness. There are other companies out there but I have done business with these folks for years.

4. Neighbors: No matter how far away from your closest neighbors are you will want to consider whether or not they can be trusted, can keep a confidence or are Bonny and Clyde hiding out from the feds. Several years ago a young man moved into the valley at the base of my mountain. One day 6 black Suburbans loaded with federal agents roared into the valley. It seems that the young man was growing marijuana and selling it in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For weeks afterward feds were crawling all over the place looking for his stashes of money. Finally, they left. This is not something you want to have happen in your area. Make a few inquiries at the sheriff’s office about your neighbors before they become your neighbors. All you have to do is say something like, “I am thinking about move into the XYZ Valley and wondered what the people are like up there?” They will tell you. Also, get to know the local law enforcement. Most of them are good people. I have had long conversations with many of them, shared jokes and coffee and yes, even a donut or two. I have even had them warn me when someone new in town was asking about me. Luckily, it was an old friend. I have even been asked to train deputies on the recognition and identification of bombs.

5. Prejudices: You have heard me mention many times “based on your prejudices“. I’m not talking about skin color or religious beliefs. I am talking about the un-quantifiable set of beliefs and preferences, known only to you, that you will use to locate your retreat. What is perfect for me may be a nightmare for you. What I have given you is basic information. A small cabin in the woods, in the mountains of New Mexico may be a life sentence in maximum security for you. One old friend likes the wide open spaces and his retreat is in the middle of nowhere and flat as a board. But, he wants to be able to see people coming from a long way off. I prefer hidden RF cameras and use them in my security.

The next section I call “Use the Force” and it is heretofore unpublished and is about building your retreat.

Part IV

Building Your Refuge

You CAN build a retreat like this.

I’m sure that some, if not all, of you are familiar with Star Wars. In Episode IV we are introduced to Luke, Leia, Hans, Obi Wan and the Force. That nebulous power that resides in all of us so that we can do what others might think to be impossible.

In Episode V we are introduced to the Master Jedi Yoda. It is obvious that Luke is disappointed by Yoda’s appearance. He is not a tall and muscular warrior but more like a thousand year old Papa Smurf. Yoda teaches Luke to pick up rocks with his mind and stack them into small piles and even levitates R2D2. Remember, when Yoda tells Luke to raise his spaceship out of the swamp? Luke says it is too big. Yoda quickly admonishes Luke that there is no difference between making a small pile of rocks and raising a large spacecraft out of the swamp. Luke responds “Alright, I’ll try.” Yoda responds, “Try not! Do! Or do not! There is no try!”

In my mind this is one of the greatest lines in the entire Star Wars saga. So let me begin by saying, what follows is the strategy I have used for many years. It is proven. It works. Now it is up to you to not try but rather “Do! Or do not!”

Earlier in this article I gave you my strategy for finding and buying land. Many of you expressed concern about grass liens, unpaid taxes, Agenda 21 agents, and on and on and on. If you are afraid, of what you might learn, or what you might accomplish, please stay in the city or the suburbs. Don’t move to the country and ruin someone else’s quality of life by whining. I have built homes, with my own two hands in four different states and have never had to worry about grass liens (it is called hay in the country and can grow quite tall), Agenda 21 agents (it is called trespassing and you can shoot trespassers) or any of the other “worries” that were sent to me in emails.

Alright, I know what you’re going to say, “it is easy for you to build a house you’re six feet three inches tall, weigh 250 pounds and you have worked with your hands all your life.” True! But I have seen women, who were career waitresses, anywhere from four feet eleven inches tall to almost six feet tall, weighing less than 100 pounds soaking wet, build their own homes and some had to pack the wood and tools in on horseback. I have met and talked to women from Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and other states that made up their mind that no one could stop them and they did it. Did you catch that? They made up their mind that they were going to DO! (Gals, there is something about the female mind that once it is made up, heaven and earth aren’t going to change it. Call me a sexist if you like but I will put my money on a p*ssed off woman, against a man, anytime.) By far, one of the most extraordinary examples of a small woman taking on a huge task is the story of Dorothy Ainsworth, which was documented in Backwoods Home Magazine.

So, if you have made up your mind that you are going to DO and not try, I will lay out an easy strategy for you to follow so you too, can DO.

Obviously, like I discussed in the other articles you have to decide where you are going to build your refuge. Next, have the courage to place a bid, if in an auction or make an offer, if you are negotiating with an owner. Who knows, they may say yes. Now that you have your dream location, here are some things you will want to consider.

If you haven’t built so much as a birdhouse and don’t know where to start, it sounds too simple but go to the local community college and see if they offer a carpentry course at night. They don’t? Then talk to some local builders, carpenters, brick masons and/or electricians.

Want to know how I became an electrician? I knew a master electrician that had a pretty blonde-headed daughter and offered to help him with his after-hours jobs as an apprentice. After four years I became a journeyman electrician and married his daughter. (Tip: If you are already married I don’t recommend this particular strategy. It might have disastrous results.)

But in all seriousness you can locate craftsmen that would be tickled to have someone help them with their off-hours projects. And, they will be proud of you for doing it. Many times I heard, with a great deal of pride I might add, “How’s that college boy working out?” and the answer was “he’ll do.” When a master craftsman says “he’ll do” then that is a tremendous vote of confidence.

Alright, you’ve seen a nail and you’ve seen a hammer and you even have hit one with the other, so you feel that you have enough know-how. Purchase a book entitled Housebuilding: A Do-it-yourself Guide by R.J. DeCristoforo. It can be found on the Internet (try first) or (which also sales excellent quality power tools). Try calling Grizzly (1-800-523-4777) because their website can’t keep up with the turnover in their book department.

Now, an important consideration is, how big a house should I build? In the mountains most people refer to their houses as cabins. Generally, that means between 300 and 1000 square feet (s.f.). (I’ve known people with 10,000 s.f. mansions call their house a cabin. Mostly this happens in Colorado.) One of my cabins is 1048 square feet. This is plenty big enough for six people and all their plunder. We are currently building a cabin that is 832 square feet and will begin another one that is 320 square feet. Each one is in a different location, for a different purpose. My rule of thumb is the simpler the better. My (second) wife and I can handle 320 S.F. better than some people because we like the outdoors. Most of our time indoors is either cooking, eating and/or sleeping. We also do these things out of doors as well. For the less timid you can even have your bathtub outdoors.(I guess it’s a guy thing.)

Draw your floor plan. If you are married, get your mate involved in the layout. You will be surprised what ideas he or she might have. The added benefit is that they may become more receptive to the idea if they are involved. Hopefully your mate will work side by side with you like mine does. No matter how difficult the task is, she is right there helping. She is only five feet one inch tall but I have never seen her back down from any challenge. When it came time to set in place a 4” x 12” x 32 feet long strong-back she was there pushing and pulling with me.

Another rule of thumb, that may help a little, is allow 150-160 s.f. per person and that includes children. So, a family of four can live well in a 600 s.f. home. Impossible? No! You must change your suburban mindset and learn to be creative with you solutions, i.e. storage problems and closet space. Learn to make do with less and learn to use an item for more than one purpose.

You now have your land, you have decided that you and your mate and 1.5 kids can live in a cabin of 600 square feet. You now need two things; tools and building materials.

Remember what I said earlier; buy the best tools you can afford at the time and take care of them and they will in turn take care of you. I have tools from every major manufacturer you can name and probably some you can’t. Many of these were purchased new, but, before I was born. I buy a lot of tools at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales and I have even found some in the trash. Never, ever walk past a broken hand tool, not electric, marked Craftsman. This tool is guaranteed against breakage. Bring it back to Sears or K-mart and get a new one. It is that easy. I purchased a five-gallon bucket full of broken tools at an estate sale for two dollars and every tool was a Craftsman. I ended up with several hundred dollars in new tools. Keep your eyes open for bargains!

Now, believe it or not, I have a lot of tools from Harbor Freight. If it is a power tool I always purchase the two-year additional warranty, usually for $10.00. If it breaks, bring it back, no questions asked. I have Harbor Freight tools that are 10 years old and older and still going strong. Take care of them. (Tip: I find 20% off coupons in magazines and newspapers for Harbor Freight all the time and schedule a purchase around these coupons.)

Alright, whether by hook or by crook, you now have your tools. You now know what a cripple or jack stud is and what its relation is to a header. You need building materials.How and where do you get them? Lowe’s? Home Depot? Nope, I get most of my building materials for free, yes, for free. I have even been paid to haul them off. Now that is really nice. The picture below is just one business in our little town that has a wood problem and will gladly let you haul it off for free.

Free wood to build your retreat.

Here are some techniques that work. First; find a busy company that receives much of their equipment in wooden pallets, like the one in the photo above Look for businesses that import machine tools, 4-wheelers or tractors. I have salvaged pallets built of 2” x 6”s nine feet long and used them to build a 192 square foot guest cabin, my 832 s.f. “kitchen”, a 320 s.f. guest house and a chicken house, all using scrap lumber from pallets. I even pulled and straightened the nails, during the winter months when it was too cold or nasty to work outside, to save on the price of nails.

Second; locate a construction site near you and look for large piles of wood lying around. I have on many occasions talked to the contractors about hauling the wood off. One contractor paid me $100.00/week to clean up the jobsite on the weekend so it would look nice for Monday mornings. In 6 months time I had enough material to build another cabin.

Third; I have placed ads in local papers for houses to be torn down. I do this for the materials and state as much in my ad. If you do it for money many areas want you to be a licensed contractor. This way, you are just considered a hobbyist or homeowner. This technique has added benefits. First; you learn how master craftsmen from the old days did things and built a superior home with just hand tools. Second; you can salvage important items from a house such as; porcelain doorknobs, windows, ornate doors and molding, cast iron claw-foot bathtubs, cast iron sinks, bricks from fireplaces and chimneys and even salvage copper wire. (Tip: You may not be able to re-use the wire but you can sell it for the copper which, as of this writing, is almost four bucks per pound.)

I had one retired gentleman stop and watch me everyday while I tore down a house. After three weeks, when I had finished, he came up to me shaking his head and shook my hand. “I never would have believed you could tear down a house with just a hammer,” he said to me. Then I asked, “Why not? That is what they put it together with.” he laughed, “you’re right, I never thought about it like that?” We are still friends to this day.

Is it worth it? I get asked this almost every day and my only answer is yes, a thousand times, yes. Stop and consider the economics of building your own home. Imagine taking time in the evenings for one or two years and building your own home. In that period of time you are now free of a house note. You no longer work for a bankster, sorry, banker. Now, save some of those house payments you would have made so you can add solar panels and batteries and you no longer work for the electric company. Save your house note and electric bill payments for a few months and have your water well drilled and you now have your own utilities. Sounds simple. No, it is really hard work and you are tough enough to do it. You may not be tough in the beginning but you will be by the end. You toughen up a little each day.

Or, if you are determined to build your own home and you and your mate both work, take a leave of absence for a few months and build your home full time. If you make $60,000.00/year and if your home is appraised at $125,000.00 after it is completed, you have made twice your yearly income in savings. Now calculate a 30 year mortgage worth of payments and you will find that you will have saved $300,000.00 or more by taking a leave of absence.

Now here is the good part. You don’t owe a $1-2,000.00/mo.(or more) mortgage. Do you really like commuting into the city to work at something you hate for someone who is getting richer every day you work for them? My answer, and I can only speak for myself, was a resounding NO! I restructured my life, changed my priorities and learned to enjoy a much slower lifestyle. I like going up to the local tractor dealership and drinking coffee with “the guys”. I like knowing almost everyone in town and being invited to look at their gardens, sample a fresh pie or a new recipe, drink more coffee, sample a piece of homemade deer sausage and hear about their kids and/or grandkids. I know this lifestyle isn’t for everyone and a lot of folks like having the security of a regular paycheck. But in these uncertain times is that paycheck going to stay “regular”?

If you have done as I have outlined above, even if your paychecks stop coming, you have nothing to lose and nothing to fear. If you have wisely invested your money, especially in physical gold and silver, you really have nothing to fear at all. You can’t lose your house to foreclosure. The city can’t turn your water off. The electric company will not send you a disconnect notice. How much is True Independence worth? It is priceless.

I do not promise you that this is the easy life because there is hard work to do everyday. Nor do I promise you that every day is a picnic. But, if you decide to follow my lead and DO as I have done, then I will promise you one thing. When you look into the mirror you will feel better about the person looking back at you.

What I am describing is not a simple move, not uptown, downtown or cross-town. What I am talking about is a paradigm shift. It is a total change in your mindset. I know what I am talking about is probably foreign to some of you and may even sound scary. However, we are on the very brink of the greatest economic catastrophe that has ever happened in recorded history. The more self sufficient you become the greater your chances of survival.

In times past young doctors were sworn to the Hippocratic Oath. One of the prime tenets of this oath is first; do thy patient no harm. If you take my advice and make this move, would the consequences of such a move do you harm? No! You would be beholden to no man. Your food would be pesticide free, your water would be free of lead, fluoride and 300 other contaminants added to municipal drinking water by federal law. You would feel healthier and the spice of live would return. I cannot see this as doing harm.

Many people want to know how I started my journey. I lived in an RV trailer and built my first house. I lived in a tent and build another. My oldest son and his wife lived in a very large hole in the ground, covered with logs and sod and built their cabin between snowstorms during the winter. If you work 8 or more hours a day you can build a 320 s.f. cabin in two weeks or less. Then use that cabin to live in to build the next one, if you ever desire another one. Or, do as a lot of people have done and add a room as your needs increase or your family grows. I have helped many friends and neighbors increase the size of their homes as the need arose.

Here is another idea for the timid. For about $5,000.00 almost anywhere in the U.S. you can purchase and 8’ x 40’ surplus shipping container. Use the shipping container as your cabin and then build on either side of it. Or, as my wife wants to do, buy two containers and space them 12 feet apart and build a roof over both of them and the middle becomes a large dining, living and family room. There are endless combinations. You can probably think of more than I have over the years. I am just trying to fan the flames of your imagination.

My father never told me that I couldn’t do something because I was too **fill in the blank*** . He always told me that if I really wanted to accomplish something all I had to do was believe I could do it. And that is my advice to you. If you really want to be the master of your own fate, to not have to suffer the ravages of banksterism (yes, I made that up) and spend all your life paying the bank instead of yourself then at least think about and discuss with your mate the possibilities that this paradigm shift could bring. Remember, we are facing unusual times in the very near future. These unusual times require unusual measures.

Good luck. Try not. DO!

Recommended reading list:

Poor Richard’s Economic Survival Manual by Albert W. Munzert, Ph. D., 1982**

Cut Your Spending in Half by The Editors of Rodale Press, 1994

Living Well on Practically Nothing by Edward H. Romney, 1992

** Highly recommended

27 thoughts on “Achieving True Independence: Part I

  1. Pingback: STEPS TO PREPARE | Codgerville (Home of the Country Codger)

  2. This is one of the best articles i’ve ever read! my hats off to you. recently i’ve been thinking of doing something similar but always felt i could’nt. that has changed. Will be putting a plan together shortly.


  3. “Your mission is to survive and make sure as many people as can survive as well.”

    I will consider it my duty to make sure I feed as many people as possible. No, I won’t be feeding them steak and champagne but I’ll at least attempt to keep them alive. I will also keep them working. It may cost them a days work to get that cup of rice, beans, corn or wheat but they’ll get it. As a believer in the Salvation of Jesus Christ I can do nothing else.

  4. Wow. You are an answer to a prayer! I purchased 29 acres in a remote area that backs up to a State Forest that has four spring fed creeks about a year ago. My husband has been a reluctant partcipant in the process and puts up with my “craziness” about the coming collapse. I know he knows I am right, but can’t quite admit it because he would then have to change his idea of “Normal” and realize that everything we have worked for is truely going down the crapper (homes,savings..etc). I have been debating about structures for almost a year in fear of making a huge mistake and trying to get it right. You have convinced me to DO! with the larger mistake being doing nothing at this critical time in history. I have prepared in every other way, with the refuge the last detail . Today I am going to make it happen, and I have you to thank. God Bless!

  5. Codgerville,Netranger; Thank you for your offer of help,information and kind words! I too would love to have you both as neighbors…it would be quite the “hood”, would it not? But I believe that I am where I am supposed to be and plan to bloom where I’m planted. I searched for three years to find my land. In fact, Netranger, If your property is close to the Tennessee border I may have looked at it! If it is the same beautiful plot of heaven you are a Blessed man! Every peice of land I looked at just didn’t feel right
    (I know…Women!). When I pulled up to the gate on my land waiting for my realtor I literally wept…I knew that this is was were the Good Lord wanted me. I think that we are all going to be part of the solution to restore and renew this great Republic. I pray that you both stay safe and loved….and thank you again for your help! DOing!

    • Well, isn’t that amazing! You pulled up and had that wave of emotion wash over you. Happens to me every time God points and I go. When I get to where He intended, well, I have similar reactions. (…men aren’t supposed to cry, so, to protect my supposedly fragile ego, I’ll just say I get “emotional”.)

      I’m a couple hundred miles north of you. Tennessee is beautiful!

      I’ve kind of always made prepping a lifestyle. Maybe “prepping lite”. Lately its been getting a bit heavier.

      Good luck. God Bless!

  6. Codgerville & NetRanger,

    Thank you so much for the information that you have given us here.
    I will keep y’all abreast of prototype accomplishments. I’m working on a product that can be quickly erected ad made a permanent residence.

    NetRanger, are you the same poster/prepper at ?

    Thanks again, Y’all Beware!

  7. Pingback: Strategies For Survival: Are You Going To Be A Refugee Or Evacuee? | Codgerville (Home of the Country Codger)

  8. I’ve read some similar blog’s before, but I have to say this one was special in many ways !!! It sounds like you Dad was a good man and set you on a great path with his example . Sounds like you started out like Luke, like most of us and turned into Yoda……Bravo and thank you for the important advice

    • Thank Rob,
      I feel 900 years old sometimes, especially when I get up in the morning. I have almost as much hair as Yoda but i do not think I am in that realm but your compliment is appreciated.

  9. Thanks for the great piece of work and for sharing your wisdom with us. Last week, my wife and I, made the decision to put our lake house on the market and make the move to our BOL #2. It consists of a 1100 sq ft home, guest house and garage/barn along with a spring on the property. The creek coming off the springs that dot our area flows 50 feet from the house so I would hope to be able to power a small electric generator from that if need be. The garden will have to be made from scratch there, but I intend on creating that this year so we have the ability to use it in upcoming years. I have sensed the quickening for many years and the urgency to go there and become self sufficient has greatly increased. I have always trusted my gut instinct. God bless you and all in our Country

  10. Thanks for your wisdom & inspiration! I too have felt the urgent need to prep for the last several years, but never thought about a place of refuge until late 2011. I’m struggling with finances, the idea of moving/job moving from SC to NC. Tough decisions. Have been a surban-ite all my life, but do not feel safe walking the neighborhood I’ve lived in for the past 21 years. I realize the time has come to put on my big girl panties & DO. If my daughter is accepted @ a college in ID, maybe I will look for land there. If she stays in SC, then maybe I need to stay here. Can anyone recommend places? What about SC vs NC? Again, I truly appreciate all the info contained here. It went straight to my heart.

    • Jennifer,

      Most states have good rural areas to relocate to. I think RangerRick has a sweet spot in one of the Carolinas. I of all people know there is no hiding from the system. What we want to accomplish is to locate with like minded people and create a physical buffer between us the bad guys. You want to make it as difficult for the thugs, be they brigands or government agents, to get to you as possible. The less attractive it is to get to you the more likely it is that will go somewhere else much easier. All western states have good areas to take refuge in. Yes, there are good sites in Cal. but the restrictions in the state are already draconian. They will simply get worse. Jennifer, you might ask Jim Rawles to help you locate in Idaho. Also, Jim has a book about strategic relocation. If I am not mistaken so does Stan Deyo or maybe his wife, can’t remember which. I know Joel Skousen has a book on it as well. I don’t know if this helps or not. There are some places not far from me in NM that are far sale. It just depends on what you want? Where will you need to work? Where will your daughter go to college? Where will she go after college (and will this affect you?)? How much you want to pay? Do you want to move in or will you be prepared to build? Make up a wish list and number the priorities and then bounce then off of your family and also pray about it. This is a huge decision and prayer, discussion with family and heart felt meditation should be a large part of that decision.

      This probably doesn’t help much. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

      • So many things to consider! I really appreciate the info. How easy is it to run a camper off of solar? Just remembered my elderly father has one in storage that he’s not tried to sell, and he’s unable to live in it anymore (he did for a couple of years, and a motor home for several years prior to the camper). Maybe if I bought land and moved the camper on it, could live there while home is built. Have also seriously, and I do mean seriously, considered buying a Yurt. Even called Pacific Yurts last week. Maybe I’m going whacko! While I’m grateful for the preps I do have, I’m constantly thinking of things I still need. Just learned how to can meat! Want to take a Master Gardening class @ the Tech college, and learn about livestock & how to tend. Maybe even do bee keeping, altho I’m not sure I have the nerves for that.
        Trying to get as much info together so when all the college letters finish coming in, we can make the best possible decision.
        It’s downright scary thinking about walking away from a steady job/income.
        You are a blessing to me & my family. Thanks for sharing your skills.

    • Senior Chief,

      Thanks for stopping by and I will read your aticle as soon as I can. We are in the midst of canning greens, ie. kale, mustards, collards, turnips, and when I can sit back and relax i will read it. Thanks again and thanks for wearing the uniform and taking the oath. God bless you and yours.

      • SOrry Chief I forgot to answer your request. YES, you may use anything on my site you wish. Thanks again. Liked the article on PTSD. It hits home.

  11. Pingback: 2013: Will You Survive the Obama-nation of Desolation? | Codgerville (Home of the Country Codger)

    • Hello Susannah,
      I want people in America to see that they have been sold a FALSE DREAM. The American dream was never about going into debt, becoming a slave to the lender, it was about being INDEPENDENT and FREE. Today, young couples are bogged down in debt and are so busy running on the wheel in the hamster cage they have no opportunity to enjoy life or each other. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  12. Just a note to let you know that I have not dropped off the face of the earth, but DOING! and guess what? I DID! Reference my December 2011 Comment on this article…and by God (literally) I now have a cabin! The Good Lord put the most wonderful group of people in my path, from a gentleman who mills cypress, to an angel of a builder, a Creek Indian, who has been building cabins for 40 years! A leap of Faith? Oh for sure…no plans, blueprints..nothing! My dear friend (how many can say THAT about a builder?) asked “what do you want?”….and he just finished exactly what I asked for and more! It is bigger than what you mention above, but I am planning on housing extended family (they just don’t know it yet!!) Now working on improving our two acre garden and planting the rest of the orchard and my neighbor is helping to put in the last remaining section of fence on the “back forty” (I wish! More like 20!) before we can add livestock, but hopefully by spring we will have it finished. I can’t tell you how much better I feel and what a feeling of freedom I have just knowing I can live as God intended…with reliance on Him and the good sense he gave me! Thank you for your wisdom and advice, but mostly for the boot to the behind lecture! Life IS Good! May you continue to be loved and Blessed!

    • Hello Penny,
      It is so good to hear from you and that you are DOING! Keep it up! It sounds as though things are going well for you and yours. I hope and pray that you and yours will be well and safe in 2013.

  13. Hey would you mind letting me know which web host you’re working with? I’ve
    loaded your blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say this blog
    loads a lot quicker then most. Can you recommend a good web hosting provider at a fair price?
    Cheers, I appreciate it!

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