There has been a tremendous amount of change in our country, just in the past three years, not to mention the years and decades before. It’s as if, the worst of the worst scenarios have accelerated, and many of us feel it in our bones that things are going to get worse in our country (America). I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, and it was a wonderful childhood.
But, as I look back, I can see how the gross inflation and economic problems of the 1970s affected my father, while he insulated us children from most of it. I remember times were leaner, much leaner. But, he always had a job, or found one, and kept us safe and warm. I remember that he went out and got chickens and built a coop (in a suburban neighborhood before HOAs were a thing), and tilled a large area for a garden in the backyard, and he told my mother that he grew up just fine on a pot of beans and cornbread, much to her chagrin. I just thought it was all fun and interesting. He’d become annoyed if we ran the heat in the house and opened a door or window, or opened the refrigerator door too long, or left the lights in the house on. He fixed the cars himself and anything that broke in the house. He could do it all. He was extremely frugal with himself, but generous with his family and others. To a fault. He was a Christian man and always tithed. I have very fond memories of my dad. Today, his selfless dedication to his family would be laughed at, by many people.
My mother was not nearly as selfless and I recall a lot of grumbling. But, to her credit, she could make a mean pot of beans and delicious cornbread slathered with real butter. She took those chickens and gave them away. We children tended the garden, and mother found recipes for how to use zucchini in everything. She wasn’t happy about leaner times, but she wasn’t raised in a poor home like my father was, so her perspective, right or wrong, was quite different. I think she thought money grew on trees. I don’t recall my mother ever lacking anything, while she may view those times differently. And my father, right or wrong, did everything he could to make sure she never did. Very old-fashioned of them. As a child, I was introverted and intuitive, so the dynamic between my mother and father, coupled with the conversations I heard, along with my later knowledge of that time, formed my view of how my family system functioned during those difficult years.
The reason I bring up those years is because economically it was a disastrous time. There were wars and a tremendous loss of life. Vietnam comes to mind, and finally “ended” in 1975. Inflation was at 6-8%, depending on where you look to find that information. Mortgage interest rates reached upward to 17%. There was political unrest. Many young people protested the government.
I’m just wondering if the time we are entering is any different than those times. Or is it going to be worse? I’m not going into a deep dive on the differences and similarities (such as the national debt, unfettered immigration, or which party controlled the government). I am just aware that those times were also very difficult and a lot of people were very unhappy with the government, struggled to pay their bills, buy groceries, fill their gas tanks, and keep their jobs.
In present times, I am very thankful that as a large family we have been able to shelter my little grandchildren from all of the absolute crap that is going on right now. The changes that were made in my family in recent years: Most of my grandchildren and their families moved out of very blue states into red states. The children were put in private Christian school or homeschooled. They are in good church fellowships. Those things have made a big difference in how the children perceive the world. There is no confusion in my grandchildren’s minds as to who they are, or how much they are loved. Their fathers are present and keep them safe, as do their mothers. My children and I, and their families, are all very close, so we work together to back one another up. It wasn’t always so good, but we worked through our differences.
One of the primary ways we back one another up is not by providing financial support to one another. Each of us, in our own right, are focused on solvency and self-sufficiency. All of us know, that should SHTF in one location, we can go to another family’s location. We share information and resources. We have a dream that one day we will build the “family compound”, but I don’t see that happening any time soon and I’m not so sure it’s a good idea. Each family group is strong in its own right.
So, how do current times and events affect all of us? Firstly, if one family loses their income due to layoffs or a natural or manmade disaster, another family will take them in if needed. We are sufficiently spread out over a few regions so that we will have options. For instance, if one family’s home is wiped out by a tornado, they will go to an unaffected family’s home.
We are a network of families all held together by the same faith in Jesus Christ along with good work ethics. We each have a home that can accommodate more family members, and I am thankful that each of us has been able to do that. Sometimes I wonder what in the world am I doing maintaining a large farmhouse? It’s for the purpose of a family retreat, if needed. So, as I organize and maintain it, I keep that in mind. As an example, a simple thing on the To Do list is to acquire another bunkbed set, used of course, to accommodate all of the small grandchildren into a single bedroom. That room can easily provide for 6 children comfortably even though it is a small room – more if needed.
I read JWR’s recent essay — an update on a possible Civil War Two. I have been thinking along the same lines. I expect this year to be rocky, but none of us has any idea how that is going to affect us personally. Other than, potential job losses within my family system, higher costs/inflation, and a general downgrade of our lifestyles. That is expected.
The same principles that have been our focus for years, continue to apply, perhaps now more than ever. The changes that I have personally made are to downsize, (or rightsize), the farm to better control costs, be well stocked up on the usual (“beans, bullets, and bandaids”), and continue to be as frugal as possible.
My concerns over unfettered immigration are heavier than they were before, so I upgraded my personal protection devices and have paid more attention to farm security. Right now, I am blasting the furnace because it’s very cold outside. My windows are drafty in need of new weather stripping. I am well aware that I may not have the option of using the furnace in the future. I have a large fireplace, a good supply of wood (I need more), and cast iron cookware should I need to “cook over a fire”. I have many methods of storing water and access to additional water. Basically, all the usual concerns are covered. And the long To Do list of fixing this or that remains, as I hack away at the list.
In regards to taking sides, if you will, during a full-on breakdown of society here in the States (possibly CW2), I see my role as a supportive one for my family and other like-minded Christian families I’ve come to know. This very rural farm, nestled in the hills and valleys, serves as a retreat. I can’t see how the countryside here could become a “front line” in a larger conflict, mostly because of the terrain. But I am well aware that during other world wars, governments confiscated farms and their means of production. I keep telling myself, “Over my dead body!”, and “I’ll take down as many with me as I can!”, and “Let them eat it all the way to the front porch!” But, that’s just bravado. I could never go up against sophisticated and brutal gangs or organized groups of invaders. Even with my entire family here, we couldn’t do it. This is why the relationships with fellow farmers and ranchers are so important. Our community will naturally come together because it is long ingrained in the psyche here, where I live. Not to paint a rosy picture, just acknowledging that rural southerners are mostly like-minded when it comes to mutual protection.
For instance, there was a black bear roaming the area recently. A couple of neighbors contacted me right away to ensure that I knew, that I had sufficient firepower if needed, and offered to come over if I called. I am familiar with bear behavior since I had lived in Idaho – black bears specifically, not grizzlies that can be much more dangerous. I would much rather deal with a four-legged creature than a two-legged trespasser. It was just a small gesture of mutual aid, but it meant a lot to me.
So… my tact for 2024 is to keep a very low profile, run a lean farm, continue preparing to hole up for a considerable length of time, continue developing relationships with my fellow farmers and ranchers, continue to develop my animal husbandry and gardening skills, and continue praying. That is, in fact, all that I can really do.