Last Updated on March 17, 2016
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My wife and I had never thought about living in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, except when we’d watched movies about it. We’d never thought about owning firearms, even though we had 5 children to protect, because we didn’t view guns as necessary in our suburban life. Then things started to change in the world. 9-11 happened. It seemed like violence was on the rise within our own country. Home invasions were on the rise as reported in the news. Then two things happened in 2008 – the market crashed in September and Barack Obama was elected, and it suddenly seemed as if the freedoms we had always enjoyed were slipping away. We then decided it was time we start preparing for unexpected events that might cause us to see ourselves in one of those end of the world movies. We never realized how we would also be faced with starting over after disaster.
We started by reading about what it meant to be prepared. We watched videos and TV shows about prepping and living off the grid. We learned about survival and defense. And we realized that we needed to start taking action ASAP. We purchased our first firearm, a Glock G17 9MM. We took classes on handling firearms and we practiced. We enrolled our three youngest teenage daughters in NRA Firearm Safety classes. We acquired a couple of hunting rifles, bought a Mossberg 500 shotgun, and a gun safe and began buying more than the safe would hold.
We also purchased a foreclosed log cabin home on 40 acres with equal parts of fields, woods and wetlands in a very rural area in Central Minnesota about 90 miles from our home. That’s when things kicked into high gear. We purchased and stored supplies of all kinds. We accumulated food for storage and firewood for heat. We planted a large garden. We raised chickens and rabbits for food, and I shot and butchered my first deer. We developed great relationships with like-minded neighbors. We had created a perfect, prepared, survival retreat.
Starting Over After Disaster
Just a few days over a year after buying the cabin, we were driving up when my neighbor called frantically saying “Where are you?! Your place is on fire!” One of my daughters was living there full-time, but happened to be away at a horse show. By the time we all got there, the entire place was ablaze – the house, the garage, the bunk house, and the indoor pool that we had planned to get up and running one day. Being in a rural area in the midst of the coldest part of winter, the local volunteer fire department couldn’t keep up or stop it. They made seven 3-mile trips to town to fill the water truck. In a little over an hour, our plans and dreams had turned to ashes.
Everything was gone. Our family pets, our guns, our stored food, our library of books on survival, prepping and homesteading, our tools and equipment, our supplies, our rabbits & chickens, our RV, convertible and utility vehicles, our buildings, our retreat . . . . worst of all was that it was woefully under-insured. It was determined by the fire chief to have started from an electrical short in the unused bunk house. This was something we never anticipated or planned for. For me, my faith helped me deal with the loss, but it was not so easy for my family. However, we all committed to start over. As the basement foundation was still intact, it would be possible to rebuild, and we still had our home in the suburbs. We moved two small travel trailers onto the property to live in while rebuilding. We rebuilt the 35 x 35 garage on the same slab, and resumed raising rabbits and chickens on the weekends.
Lightening sometimes does strike twice
Eight months later while I was driving home with my youngest back from our retreat, I got a call from my wife “The house is on fire. Click.” I arrived home to see fire engines and hoses and neighbors and lights, and I felt weak until I saw my wife and our family safe on the lawn across the street. Our house had been saved but the attached garage and everything inside it was burned, although the master bedroom above it was damaged from fire, smoke and water. Again, it was started from an electrical malfunction in the ballast of the old fluorescent light over my workbench. We spent the next 13 months moving between a rental house, an apartment, and our trailer until our home was restored. Thankfully, we were well insured this time.
Five months ago, we found another property about a mile from our original retreat. It is an old farm on 40 acres. In many ways it is better than our first retreat as it has a barn, a great chicken coop, a woodworking shop, several usable outbuildings (one of which I hope to turn into my gunsmith shop), a deep well with great quality water, 3 fenced pastures, a horse training arena, two ponds, three hunting stands. It is also adequately insured. A plus is that it has a mobile home pad with all the hookups. I’ve already bagged my second deer, and we’ve got around 100 chickens, ducks and turkeys. Unfortunately, it’s also on a well-traveled 2 lane state highway, and the house sits fairly close to the road. We plan to take advantage of that “negative” by turning the arena into a market garden, and setting up a vegetable stand for extra income.
We have again started rebuilding our prepping supplies, food storage, firearms, equipment, tools and resources. I now am very aware that any electrical defects or questionable or aging wiring or fixtures need to be addressed immediately. We know what we can now live without if we have to. We know that we should not put all our eggs in one basket, unless it’s from the chickens – splitting our supplies between our suburban home and our country retreat gives us a better sense of prepping for in-place and bug out situations. We learned that we can always start over from right where we are, no matter the past or current circumstances. Who needs TEOTWAWKI movies when we’ve lived through it? Through all our challenges, we have held onto our purpose and our hope. Our family is closer as we have worked together to restore our interrupted prepping/homesteading life, and my wife and I can again begin planning for retirement.