This one comes by request from a very good friend, but it will stand some explanation. Recently, I wrote a column piece for the paper discussing our garden. The point, more or less, was that we aren’t raising a garden for amusement. We are trying to raise food, and a lot of it, as much as we possibly can. It isn’t a hobby we enjoy on weekends, it’s a demanding commitment. It’s a skill we are trying to develop in a climate where growing gardens ain’t easy, and it is also part of a larger philosophy. The garden, the chickens, the horses, the hunting, all of this stuff we are doing are pieces in our larger quest: to reduce dependency on the declining empire.
Laugh at that notion if you want. Consider us quaint. Do not, however, mistake us for nutbag ideologues. This has nothing to do with black helicopters or some fatalistic religious stance. We reject both of those things. For us its something else entirely. A world view, and the result of observing the field, and thinking about how we want to live in it.
Maybe even ask yourself if you’ve looked at the world around you and ever thought this: “Shit just ain’t right.”
If you’ve ever done that, and the tsunami of Facebook memes and other diatribes that flood my pages each day suggests you have, then perhaps you will understand. Here on the Figure 8 Ranch, we don’t think all of those things are unrelated. The hourly montage of the bizarre and unsettling, which causes the “shit just ain’t right” reaction are, we believe, middle-stage symptoms of a collapsing empire. And on the historical timeline of empires, we are right on course for collapse.
We aren’t mourning that, either. Things Fall Apart. Empires collapse. As in all things, what matters is what we are doing about it today, as individuals and as a burgeoning tribe, to survive well and to carry forward certain principles and values even as Rome is sacked by Vandals. It’s a pay it forward mentality, certainly, but it is also much more than that. It’s an embrace of reality, an honest evaluation of where we are today as a culture, where we are in history, where we are likely headed, and a personal challenge to do something about it that has lasting value and propels good things forward into the future.
This is far too large an issue to cover here, but rest assured that my editor and friend, Jim Cornelius, and I, are hard at work on some new developments that you may enjoy. Look forward to that in the future, because I think what we are trying to do is important, has legs, and will be worth your time.
I’ve wandered off topic. I’ve been asked by a close friend to compile a list of things that the average person perhaps should have in their warbag. That’s an onerous task, because no two situations are the same, and the contents of your warbag must necessarily change according to the situation, but I’m going to chip in my .02 cents in the discussion—which is extraordinarily large and ponderous—for the sake of exercise.
This isn’t survivalist nonsense—most of which I find to be predicated on false assumptions, paranoia, psychiatric problems, or just plain stupidity—but I do think that we have an individual responsibility to be prepared for the “unknown and the unknowable,” even in daily life–especially in daily life–and that failure to make even the attempt to prepare, or to take the symptoms we see developing seriously, is dangerous, irresponsible, and intellectually lazy. As one of my professors, and fine poet, Bill Wilborn once pointed out, “not coping is still a way of coping.”
So here are ten critical things. It’s not all inclusive. But I think it’s a start, and I think it can be done on a budget.
- Food (as much as you can carry, or store, or both)
- The ability to make fresh water (lifestraws, tablets, Gucci filters, whatever it takes)
- Fire. Without fire you will die.
- Shelter. A woobie. A lightweight tarp—Tyvek makes a perfect waterproof, supremely lightweight and durable shelter. I elk hunted with a guy who made a snowsuit out of tyvek, in the wall tent, then set out into the woods for an overnighter. He woke up next morning in the middle of a herd…and brought back pictures to prove it. And he stayed warm in negative temperatures at altitude. The stuff just works.
- Modern weaponry. A rifle, a pistol, a decent knife. Spare parts, tools, and some basic gunsmithing abilities. This assumes ammunition to feed them. I’ll stay out of the caliber discussion because, frankly, it bores me to death.
- First aid kit. A modern first aid kit with clotting gauze and a tourniquet, scissors, a nasal airway and decompression needle. A larger kit should include anti-biotics and the ability to treat simple infections—or a headache, or a toothache. You get the idea.
- A compass
- Cordage of any kind
- Night vision. Do NOT cheap out on this one.
The most important thing on my beginning list here is the last one. None of the other stuff matters if you don’t have a plan, a map, or haven’t repeatedly tested and know how to use the gear. If you can’t treat a tension pneumothorax, having a decomp needle isn’t going to do you any good whatsoever. Having weapons is stupid if you don’t have any realistic and meaningful training in employing them. Having the latest fire starter with Les Stroud’s name on it is fabulous unless you’ve never tried using it in the rain, or snow, or wind—a lot. A compass will always take you where you need to go, but if you don’t know how to land navigate, or read a map, it’s useless.
This list could go on and on, but it’s a start, and I think fulfills my good friend’s request in spirit. He’s going to want more than that, and in the future I will dive deeper into Rullman’s list of fundamentals. But for now, think of the Boy Scouts’ motto: be prepared.
What’s crazy about that?