I have written before about “prepping” in the UK or Western European context. Those articles can be found using the search box on this blog.
In essence, I made a distinction between the kind of “prepping” or survivalism appropriate (arguably) in North America, and that appropriate in Western Europe and particularly the UK.
I also distinguished between pure survivalism on an individual and/or small group basis, and the kind of community “prepping” that might keep culture and civilization alive, forming a germinal ethnostate that might later blossom into something that might replace the lost world (the one in which we live at present).
Today, I want to address the steps that individuals can take to be more prepared for what might be coming. I mean realistic measures, not involving disappearing into the Scottish Highlands with a Swiss Army knife and a box of Swan Vestas.
To deal with the least likely scenario first, my blog posts about the formation of social-national communities (also available via the search box on here) covered the sort of situation where an individual or family have the means to buy a country estate, a farm, or a detached house with land or at least a large garden area.
An acre or two of land is enough to feed one person, possibly several people, depending on diet. A rule of thumb might be 1.5 acres per person. So a family of four might need 6 acres, well within the amount of land often found attached to houses in the country (as distinct from “country houses” stricto sensu).
The more one moves away from a purely vegetable, fruit and nut diet, the more land is necessary. A single tomato plant (a single seed may cost from 1p to 40p) can produce 30 pounds weight over a season; in exceptional conditions, 80 pounds weight.
At present in the UK, one can keep up to 20 chickens without notifying officialdom (DEFRA). 20 chickens will produce about 15 eggs per day, so if about 6 are required, you should only need about 8 chickens.
Anyone in the fortunate position of starting off with such property can improve its survival possibilities by, firstly, making it independent of the electricity grid. Solar panels for electricity, and (assuming roof space is available) the other kind of solar panels for production of hot water: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_panel; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_water_heating.
Such panels do not last forever. After 20 years they lose efficiency. Still, well worth having, and it may be possible to store some against a future collapse of society.
Ground heat exchange can heat a house for free once installed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_heat_pump.
There are more traditional improvements to houses that can help save heat: insulation is one; roof, between attic and main floors, within walls. Another is double-glazing. In the UK, this is usually within a module, the panes not far apart. In other countries, such as Russia and Kazakhstan (where I once lived for a year), the panes are built in, and can be six inches or even a foot apart. They can usually be opened (in older buildings), and some people grow pot plants in the space. In some buildings in central and northern Russia, there is even triple-glazing. Ventilation is via a small window in the corner of each large window, that small window being called a fortochka.
Electricity can also be generated from small-scale hydropower, depending on whether a river or stream is nearby; it need not be expensive or complicated: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pico_hydro. Small and very small readymade systems can be installed for a few thousand or even a few hundred pounds;
It may be worth having a generator which works off petrol or diesel, for short-term emergency use only. Expensive (at cheapest, several hundred pounds, usually more, in the low thousands). This usually requires construction of a fuel holding tank, which is also expensive, and potentially hazardous. Still, a generator may be worth having, despite its noisiness, with the idea of using it for a hour or two per day, perhaps in the evening, or purely for emergency power.
Not much electricity can be produced by human effort, though there are bicycle generators which produce enough power for a light bulb and or small devices such as radios etc while the pedalling continues. A relay of two or three connected to a charging battery could therefore produce perhaps two or three hours of small-use electricity for an hour of pedalling.
Small-scale wind turbines can produce enough for basic purposes, as an addition to the mix.
Traditional heating still has its uses: open fires or, more efficient, woodburning stoves.
Cheap coal is mostly to be banned soon in the UK (for domestic use), but a remote country house is unlikely to be checked out, and in conditions of societal collapse there would be no men with clipboards anyway. It is probably possible to buy a stockpile of, say, 100 tons of wet coal, fairly cheaply now if you know people. The approved kind of smokeless coal costs far more, about £300 per ton.
There are useful items that can be charged by human effort (wind-ups): radios, lamps etc.
There are table and other lamps that are powered by batteries that are recharged via solar power.
The country house owner may wish to install useful small-scale equipment for use in times of collapse: cider presses, threshing machines, nut-oil presses etc. It costs less than you think. Hundreds rather than thousands, usually. Also, the sort of equipment that can produce home-made beer or cider. I tried making beer once or twice when I had the lease of a large country house in Cornwall many years ago. My efforts were, putting it kindly, crowned with only modest success. Practice makes perfect, or as the Russians say, “repetition is the mother of learning” (it rhymes in Russian).
The next thing for the country house or farm owner to do will be to increase horticultural growing capacity. Greenhouses, a large orangerie or, more modestly, polytunnels: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangery; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polytunnel
Whatever the scale of residence of the prepper, there can be improvements made.
Water purification is also key, in case the mains supply is cut off. Many but not all country residencies have a private supply. When I lived in Cornwall, the country house had its own abundant supply from a spring. When I moved to a more modest place, a 6-bed farmhouse on the Devon side of the Tamar, that also had its own supply. I read somewhere that somewhere between 5% and 10% of the UK population have access to private water supply. Surprisingly high, if accurate.
Something that almost everyone can do is to lay in extra longlife food. In his interesting memoirs, Drink and Ink, once-famous writer Dennis Wheatley [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Wheatley] describes how, in his late 1930s newspaper column, he advised his readers (in 1938 or 1939) to stock up on dried and tinned food. He did so himself, and later wrote that when rationing was mandated (1941), he and his family got through the war far better as a result.
Tinned food is good (in the sense of edible) for far longer than the 2-5 years “Best Before” date. Some dried foods, eg white rice, are OK (if kept very dry) for 20 years.
There is no need for immediate bulk buying. A few tins or bags of rice extra whenever shopping should do it.
People should lay in a supply of seeds, and of course a range of equipment relating to horticulture, as well as small but always useful items such as nutcrackers, kitchen equipment, matches, lighters, tealights and candles.
The same goes for first aid stuff: bandages, band aids (in England, “plasters”), and so on. Painkillers and other proprietary medicines (they become less effective over time, but better half a pint than none…). All useful; we saw in 2020 what happens when, suddenly, loo paper, kitchen roll, pasta, flour, antiseptic products etc become unavailable.
The above should at least be a basis for further research for people interested in mitigating the effects of a possible societal meltdown.
[addendum: https://thepreparednessexperience.com/prepping/; I suppose that I should make it clear that I am not paid to have that link on my blog, but just thought it useful]
Tweets seen today
Ha ha. Made me laugh… I recall when I was a trustee of an educational charity some 30 years ago. The unofficial supporters were mostly women, very nice but very willing to talk endlessly. There is a skill to handling such situations.
You can see the likely result, as has happened before in France and elsewhere (eg when David Duke was cheated out of his Senate win in Louisiana many years ago): the supposedly “far right” or nationalist candidate gets into the final two, only for the self-describing “Left” to abandon all principle and endorse the System finance-capitalist candidate, who then “wins the election”. Rigged.
“Will be released at age 36″… I have always opposed capital punishment as such, but it probably will be necessary at some stage to restore order by putting up against a wall a few thousand of this sort. The wider question, though, is how to build a better society, an advanced society. You cannot do that when huge numbers of socio-ethnic degenerates exist.