Back in the 70’s, I considered “Living off the Grid”. Although, back then we called it “Getting Back to Nature”. It was a popular movement inspired by the wish to be independent, to be able to live off the land as our pioneer ancestors did and to create things with our own hands.



It was a time of communes and hippies and “spiritual retreats”. We quoted Thoreau, subscribed to the Whole Earth Catalogue, and Euel Gibbons was our hero. We took up pottery and basket-making, planted gardens and sewed our own clothes. People considered themselves “homesteaders” on planet Earth. It was a lifestyle choice that people embraced and shared with joy.

People BELIEVED the lyrics to the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song “Woodstock”

“Got to get back to the land, set my soul free. We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.”


My sister actually did this (to a certain degree). She lived in a one room log cabin on the Salmon River in Idaho, catching her breakfast in a net outside her door in the morning and frying it up on a wood-burning stove. The simplicity made a kind of sense and I thought it was terribly romantic at the time. [Granted, I wasn’t too thrilled about hauling water and the long trip to the outhouse.]


My point is this: That way of life wasn’t chosen in reaction to a prophecy of impending doom. People were in love with life and nature and just wanted to get back to the old ways. They sought “harmony” and peace.


Now, however, we have “Preppers.”   They too are independent souls, but they are motivated by a very different reason – FEAR!  These people are “Survivalists” each preparing for their own version of a future disaster. And, that future definitely isn’t about sharing what you have with others!

 Doomsday Preppers TV series

Some are worried about an economic collapse, while others are worried about natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, and others fear a pandemic. These are all real possibilities, but not things I lie in bed at night worrying about. Nor should you.

Other scenarios are a little more far-fetched:


Cyber Attacks – Where a deliberate exploitation of computer systems by terrorists shuts down the economy. Or, if you are super-paranoid, it’s when computers finally take over the world!

EMP or Electro Magnetic Pulse – Where a high intensity burst of electromagnetic energy explodes above the earth’s surface destroying the world’s electrical and technological infrastructure; sending our society back to the 19th century. Someone has been reading too much science fiction.

NEO or Near Earth Object – Where a comet hits the earth, like in those made-for-TV movies.

Nuclear War – Would you really even WANT to survive this? The aftermath would be so horrible.

Zombies – Okay, now we’re just being silly, aren’t we?


They have their own slang that perfectly portrays their pessimistic point of view.

TEOTWAWKI = The End Of The World As We Know It

SHTF =   *Stuff Hits The Fan

BOB = Bug Out Bag

BOL = Bug Out Location

GOOD = Get Out Of Dodge

PAWS – Post Apocalyptic World Scenario

MRE = Meals Ready to Eat

WROL = Without Rule Of Law

YOYO = You’re On Your Own

C-Day = Collapse Day

While I strongly disagree with their gloomy forecast for the world’s future, I do think that many of the things they advocate are good. Most people really have lost the ability to take care of themselves, even for a few days. We have become overly dependent upon mass production and technology.

offgrid5In case of a natural disaster, everyone should have some emergency food backup (and a way to cook it), water and some warm blankets. People should have medical supplies and know some basic first aid skills, be able to start a fire, and how to shoot a gun.

Oh, you are against guns? Me too, but what good would it do to store food for your family if you weren’t prepared to protect them and save your supplies from thieves? None. You have to be realistic about what will happen when people are scared and their children are hungry.


If the worst should happen, you will be better able to deal with it if you have a few skills that will keep you independent. You can learn a lot of them over the internet. Start brushing up! Here are a few good websites:


You can even watch some TV shows that will show you how others do it. Here are a few links:

Alaska The Last Frontier

Life Below Zero

Pioneer Quest

Outback House

Frontier House

Naked and Afraid

Alaskan Bush People

Dual Survival

Dude, You’re Screwed

I hope you aren’t scared of the future. And, I hope you aren’t so busy planning for disaster that you forget to enjoy what you have here now. Life is brief. It is meant to be celebrated. You can have fun while actively learning some of those basic “homesteading” skills that our ancestors used. It doesn’t have to be approached like cramming for a dreaded test.


Plant a garden, learn to can or dehydrate your produce, make soup, bake bread, raise chickens, sew, knit, make your own soap and candles, go fishing, and learn to shoot a gun. Build a fire pit and learn how to cook a few simple meals using it, string a clothesline, and make a rain barrel. Turn off the electronics and play some board games with your children. Read.

These books can be found at Chesapeake Public Libraries:

Better off: Flipping the Switch on Technology  by Eric Brende

The Joy of Keeping Chickens  by Jennifer Megyesi

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things  by William McDonough

Apocalypse Chow  by Jon Robertson

The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life  by Ben Sherwood

Homework: Handbuilt Shelter  by Lloyd Kahn

Ready Made: How to Make (amost) Everything  by Shoshana Berger

The Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook  by Joe Piven

Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life  by Susan Waggoner

Living Cheap  by Carrol Wolverton


Born to read, forced to work.

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