Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thoughts on a "BOL"

Lately I've been thinking more and more seriously about finding a little piece of heaven to call my own and building a little getaway. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time then you'll know that I'm not in the "get ready to bug out while you can" camp. I can, however, imagine some scenarios where getting out of dodge wouldn't be such a bad idea. I keep a bug out bag packed and ready to go, a lot of my preps are stored in such a way that I can grab them and go and I know several different routes out of town that are both on and off the beaten path. The main problem right now is that I have nowhere to go. I'd end up in a national park somewhere fighting the masses to find a place to pitch a tent until things blew over or I could figure out how to make things work on a more long term basis. Needless to say I consider bugging out to be a last resort plan that I must implement in a life or death situation. If I do have to bug out then the world really has gone to hell and my chances aren't very good no matter what I decide to do.

The more that I think about it the more I realize that it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. This is where compromise comes into play. Some people want to find the perfect place, far away from concentrations of people that's not easy to get to if you don't know that it's there where they could potentially be completely self sufficient. There aren't a whole lot of places like that. There are even fewer people who are capable of pulling it off for very long. There are a few important things to consider when looking for the perfect bug out location for you. It needs to be relatively close to home. You need to have a source of clean, accessible water nearby. The capacity to grow food and raise livestock are both important things to consider. It also needs to be fairly secure unless you plan on hauling everything that you will need to live up with you during the 13th hour. Another thing to consider are rules and regulations, permits, etc. You also need to be able to get to know your neighbors.

With gas prices where they're at it would be extremely difficult to go too far from home and expect to be able to visit very often. The "150 miles from any major city" rule plays hell for us city slickers who can barely get out of town for the occasional overnight camping trip. In most areas, finding a few acres not too far from the city for a reasonable price isn't too difficult. You just have to make sure that it's not so far away that you'll never have time to go out there while being far enough away that if the golden horde ever does rear it's ugly head (if things are bad enough that YOU'RE bugging out how many other people will have the same idea) that you won't have to worry about more than the occasional group of refugees passing by. Make sure that your retreat is far enough away that you feel like you're getting away but close enough that you can get there on a regular basis.

Water is obviously important. You don't necessarily need indoor plumbing or a fresh mountain spring that you can drink from without fear but you'll need some type of nearby water source. If you have a reliable source of water that flows nearby then a good Berkley filter with a few extra ceramic elements will serve you well until you can build a more permanent gravity fed filtering system. You might also consider drilling a well with a hand pump. It will only increase the value of your land and it will make life a lot easier for you. If there isn't some other reliable water source in the vicinity then you need to find out how much it will cost you to get a well drilled before you commit to any land purchases. A little google fu will also turn up a few ways to drill/dig your own well.

If something so terrible happens that I feel the need to bug out then I'll be doing it with no intention of ever returning. What I leave behind will be gone for good. Whatever food and gear I can take with me will be all that I have. If I had a place then I could store things ahead of time but even then I could only store so much food. Whether you keep your BOL stocked or not you had better have a plan for some type of food production. When you're shopping for a piece of land make sure that you can find a decent sized plot that would be sufficient for gardening. If you can test the soil then do it (a kit costs around $10). Otherwise you could end up spending a lot of money adding amendments until it's suitable to grow food. If you're not at your BOL on a regular basis then raising livestock isn't feasible. If it's close enough to home that you can make it out there regularly and you choose the right breeds then maybe you can make it work. The other option is, of course, hunting and trapping. I don't know anyone that's particularly good at either. I can put them down when I see them but tracking them is another story. If game gets scarce due to everyone hunting it in desperation then I'll probably be eating a lot of beans and rice if I don't have some livestock. I suppose that I could always resort to eating rats (thanks Rangerman).

Security is obviously important. The first line of defense is being out of sight. If people can't even see your little retreat then they won't bother it. Unfortunately, if someone notices you coming or going and they have less than noble intentions then they'll probably end up finding it. The ones that you have to worry about won't be looking for it when they know you're around. As secure as you make your retreat it's not going to discourage someone that REALLY WANTS to get in and who has a rough idea of your schedule. Burying caches is a great way to make sure that people don't find your important stuff. I've also seen some other cool ideas for retreat security like setting up motion lights so that if someone trips them off a light comes on inside. That's a great way to ward off the occasional nosy kid but there are still the aholes that you have to worry about that just want to break stuff or grab anything that they consider remotely valuable. If you're a little tech savy then setting up a security system with cheapo cameras that are just good enough to catch the hoodlums on tape and record the incidents to an off site source (like your laptop at home) wouldn't be that difficult. You're better off finding out who they are when things aren't so bad so that you can report them to the proper authorities and possibly get something done about it, anyway. Security will obviously be much more important when you actually have to use your retreat. That's been written about so much on other sites that I'm not going to bother with it unless people want me to, though.

Getting to know your neighbors is no less important at your BOL as it is at home. If it turns out that your neighbors are jackasses then you might want to consider selling out and looking in another area. One cool thing about cheap land that's not too far from town is that it tends to be populated by middle class people that are looking for the same thing that you are (peace and quiet on the weekends) or people who work in the city and don't mind the commute. Get to know the off grid hippy down the road and you might just have a better security system than anything else that you can come up with on your own. If the guy on the plot next to you lives in the city, too, then maybe he'll be willing to check on your retreat on the weekends when you can't make it and vice versa.

In some areas of my state you can practically do anything that you want without asking for permission. You want a well? Go ahead and drill. You want to build a house? If it collapses on you then it's your own damn fault. This is the type of philosophy that I love. If you can find a retreat with regulations that follow along this line of thinking then you have done well. Just remember that, in this case, it's YOUR responsibility to make sure that your home is safe to live in, your water is safe to drink and you're not breaking any of the rules that might actually be in place.

The most important thing to consider when looking at buying and building a retreat, in my opinion, is whether or not you'll actually use it. I plan on buying a big enough piece of land that I'll be able to build a few decently sized structures with room to spare for a good sized garden and possibly some livestock. Any close friends and relatives that actually help me build it will have an open invitation whether they just want to go kick their feet up for the weekend or the world is ending and their homes are no longer safe. It will be well stocked and having fresh water won't be a major worry. It'll be close enough that I can go spend a weekend anytime I want or even just spend the night there during the week if I get the inclination. If I have to walk there from home then I'll be able to get there in a few days of leisurely hiking rather than a week or two of hard marching.

2 comments:

Staying Alive said...

You have had an epipheny. You will make it! Congratulations and best of luck. You are smart.

Michael

theotherryan said...

Good ideas, It is kind of a catch .22, finding something close enough to get to but far enough away to make a difference and be affordable.

The idea of raising animals at a site where you don't live in intriguing but definitely an uphill battle. The only ideas I can come up with are goats or cows in a fenced pasture big enough for them to graze all of their food (impossible in lots of places in the winter) and naturally occurring water that is reliable. Even then goats would be vulnerable to predators. What about having chickens at home and just tying their cages to the back of the car Oregon Trail style if you need to GOOD.

For cheap structures consider older mobile homes. They can often be had for a bit of cash (or not) and towing them away. If you are handy at fixing electrical and plumbing you could get one back up to snuff with few problems. Also consider having your GOOD plan include a travel trailer being towed there. That takes care of meth maggots breaking into your place. For supplies you could cache some stuff there. I am interested in how this idea develops. Please post if/ as it does.