SAM’S RETIREMENT PLAN

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    Bidadisndat
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    Hi there preppers!

    This is the beginning of a story that I began some time ago, but put aside when I began the CAPTAIN DAVE series.
    It basically centres around my personal ideas on prepping, self-sufficiency and survival in Australia in the event of sudden retirement or economic collapse,
    (which in my case amounts to the same thing, given my present circumstances, lol.), and was meant to be instructional.
    I haven’t done much with the story so far, but I’m posting this part to see if anybody thinks it might be worth continuing.
    Having done a Permaculture Design Course myself, (and yesterday enrolled in an updated one), started an Aquaponics System with grow towers, grow beds and wicking beds, and am now establishing a small fodder growing system that will also be able to produce mushrooms, the story will revolve a lot around those topics.
    I also have chickens, ducks, geese and quail and hope to get a couple of Boer goats and Irish Dexter cows when I finally do retire. (Hopefully not by being forced to.)
    Anyway, have a read and let me know if you think it’s worth continuing.

    SAM’S RETIREMENT PLAN

    Sam Snead sighed and leaning back in the comfortable leather chair at his desk reached out to the mouse of his desk-top computer and moved the cursor across the screen to hover over a link to yet another preppers website. He enjoyed reading the fictional stories of how people reacted and what they did to survive any number of scenarios ranging from world-wide wars involving nuclear, biological and chemical attacks, massive natural events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, or the havoc caused by NEO’s, EMP’s and solar flares.

    Even Zombies weren’t ruled out, though for the life of him he couldn’t imagine the “Living Dead” being much of a problem, unless you included the number of people attached to I-pods and such-like, and they were really more of a problem to themselves than others. Unfortunately he hadn’t yet found too many stories that centred on the one disaster that he felt could befall him: Sudden unemployment, brought about by either forced retirement due to his advanced age, or being made redundant by a change in policy of the company that he worked for.

    He was ill-prepared for that event at the moment, being hampered by a large mortgage, a somewhat spend-thrift wife, and three children in their late teens who were going to university and were still living at home. Not that he minded the kids living at home of course, because he loved them dearly, and he’d be happy if they stayed until they were in a position to take care of themselves properly. He was not in a position to help them much financially, not that he wanted to do that though as he believed they should learn to stand on their own two feet as soon as possible, but he had at least developed in them the same preppers’ mindset that he had adopted.

    The world had changed a lot since he was a young lad, and although his own children weren’t numbered among them, it seemed that too many people these days were inclined to feel entitled to be looked after by others or by the government than have to look after themselves. It was a big problem, however despite that it was staring everyone in the face no-one wanted to face up to the fact that the whole country was living well beyond its means. An economic collapse, apart from being inevitable as far as he could see, would have repercussions beyond belief to all those Mr and Mrs Averages and their families who believed everything that was spoon-fed to them by Main Stream Media.

    Of course it was difficult for these people to understand what could possibly go wrong as they were constantly, and some much wiser would say deliberately being distracted by so-called “Reality” shows that had nothing to do with life in the real world, soapies, and any number of mind-numbing sit-coms and cartoons that were constantly being aired on television. Even the daily news slots failed to present anything of real substance and often what was presented, particularly events that would really disturb people if the truth got out was either heavily biased in opinion or glossed over. Or more often than not, just ignored completely.

    No, it was much better for the government and big business to keep the populace in the dark. But of course not so dark that they couldn’t see all the baubles, bangles and bright and shiny beads that were dangled in front of them in order to keep the economy ticking over. And as TV advertising constantly reminded them they just had to have those things to make life worth living, didn’t they? And of course it was also necessary to keep up with their friends, neighbours and co-workers who already had those things, wasn’t it?

    Like spending your way out of debt was going to make things a whole lot better? He believed that people with that outlook were idiots, but the idiots outnumbered him and the few like him to a degree that made any change in their attitudes highly unlikely to be influenced by anything other than a total collapse of society. And then everyone would be in trouble, wouldn’t they?

    He gave another sigh. Well, for the sake of his family, and for a reasonably comfortable retirement a bit further down the track, he would have to do something more towards being prepared for unemployment than having a small vegetable garden, five chickens and a well stocked pantry. Not that he could have much more than he already had on the very small suburban lot where the family lived.

    Deciding against reading yet another survival story he pushed the computer’s mouse and keyboard to one side and replaced them with a note pad and pencil with which to outline his plan. He felt he had most of the knowledge required to put in place one that had been forming in his mind over the past couple of years, and hoped that what knowledge he didn’t have now could be gleaned from the internet.

    And he would also ask his friend Clive Harrison for advice, as the man was a fountain of knowledge when it came to helping people set themselves up to become self sufficient. Clive, after having completed a Permaculture Design Course had set himself up as an advisor in that field, however he was as much if not more interested in self sufficiency as he was in permaculture. In fact talking to him first might be the fastest and easiest way to get things moving, however after checking his watch he found it was a bit too late in the evening to telephone him so he went back to his note pad and began writing.

    His plan revolved around the need to become fully self-sufficient, or at least reasonably so, and he had already spent a lot of time thinking about the best way in which this could be achieved. His personal definition of the term did not mean that he was going to chain himself to a large block of farmland and work it 24/7 in order to survive, however it would entail the purchase of some land at least. An acre would suffice, though only just; two to three acres would be better; and in his current situation he felt five acres would be best.

    Having a much larger property might appeal to many of those considering a self-sufficient lifestyle, but at his age there were a few negatives to consider: First, land of significant acreage inevitably means significant funds needed to purchase it, unless it was in a remote location which in turn can bring about its own problems, such as access to medical services if required: He and his wife weren’t getting any younger, so that was something that had to be taken into careful consideration. Second, having over five acres meant that you weren’t able to draw a full pension. Admittedly the pension was a only pittance on which one could barely afford the basic necessities of life let alone live comfortably, but unless you were a self-funded retiree it had to be taken into account. For years now, in fact probably as soon as compulsory superannuation was introduced, the politicians had been spending much of it on supposedly important things that retirees would never need, he thought, but what else is new? No; when the time comes, we are going to have to look after ourselves.

    Across the top of the pad he had written “Self Sufficiency”, and under this he began to make a list of what he considered to be the main elements of the plan he had in mind, and at the same time making notes of things that needed to be considered.

    1. Land: 3 to five acres. Close to a town that had a base hospital but far enough away from it to keep the cost down. Say about a 15 to 20 minute drive. It should have an average slope of no more than 10-12°, and have a Northerly aspect to take advantage of the sun. Good fertile soil would be a bonus, but apart from making the land more expensive, that would not be overly important at this stage, and more marginal land could be considered.

    2. Water: Ideally, the land should have access to a good water supply. Preferably not connected to a municipal reticulation system, so it needed to have either a permanent running stream through it, or be located in an area with a reasonable annual rainfall. Bores, even if they produced a decent quantity and quality of water were not a good environmental option as they lowered water tables, which over a period of time had far reaching negative consequences, as was now being experienced in many parts of the United States. In any case, his plan called for the installation of water tanks, so he would forgo the use and added expense of installing a bore.

    3. Sewerage: Once again, not connected to a municipal system. To many people a septic system would be the obvious alternative that came to mind, which would be OK if one wasn’t concerned about contaminating any ground water below. Unfortunately, while extensive research has shown that that is exactly what does happen with septic systems, most people are unaware of the fact. The alternative that he had in mind was a biological system that enabled both grey and black effluent to be treated to a point where reed beds could be used as a tertiary method of cleaning the water component for recycling through orchards and vegetable gardens. And while the method can produce water that is fit to drink there are psychological and cultural taboos that prevent most people in Australia from accepting this fact. Unless they originally came from Switzerland or a few other countries that have perfected such techniques and do find them to be acceptable.

    4. Buildings: Apart from a residential dwelling – OK, a house then – a shed large enough to house a workshop plus a tractor and its implements would be needed. His wife had suggested that perhaps a machinery shed in which to keep the tractor, along with their small caravan and a trailer for his car – which by the way he should swap for a small truck – and a separate workshop would be better. He agreed, but as he wrote the ideas on the list told her that he’d have to check around for prices first because though they might look cheap, sheds were actually fairly expensive. At least, they were expensive for him. And it wasn’t as if he only needed one or two sheds: For his plan he would need several more, so under the heading of Buildings he made a sub list of them:

    A). Workshop: Large enough for both a wood and a metal-working bench, a drill press, perhaps a small lathe, and storage space for the many tools that he already possessed.

    B). Machinery Shed: For a small garden tractor and its implements, and a trailer, preferably a galvanised 8′ X 5′ with two axles and a cage, and the little caravan that they occasionally used for holidays.

    He had always wanted to have a gambrel roofed barn and was going to use “for the storage of feed” as an excuse for building one, but on reflection there was no real reason that he couldn’t use that type of structure for the garden shed. In fact, that was a more practical thing to do, so he ruled out Garden Shed and replaced it with Barn.

    C). Garden Shed (Barn): For all of his gardening tools, including the brush-cutter, line trimmer, chainsaw, a ride-on mower with its own trailer, wheelbarrows, a chipper/mulcher and a tiller.

    D). Aquaponics Shed: For a 2000 litre fish tank and a couple of smaller tanks for fingerlings, quarantine use, and a sump. Solar panels on the roof would also be needed to provide power for the pumps and aerators.

    E). Greenhouse: It would need to be quite large as it would house four 5′ X 12′ Grow-Beds and four Wicking Beds of the same size, plus ten Grow-Towers fitted with GroPockets®. This was actually part of a complete Aquaponics System and it would have to be easily expanded, to double the size if the need arose.

    F). Poultry Sheds: A chicken coop with a large run that could hold a small orchard, a quail house and pen, and a small shed each for ducks and geese.

    So far, he estimated, what he had written down, plus space for a simple house could be shoe-horned into a one acre block, so a two acre block would allow much more freedom. Three acres would provide plenty of free-range space for the amount of poultry he was thinking of keeping, and with five acres he could probably have a house cow too, though he knew he wasn’t going to be up to milking it every day.

    And that’s where his personal take on Self-Sufficiency kicked in: He felt that if he could provide his family with fish from the Aquaponics system, eggs and meat from the poultry, and grow a surplus of vegetables to trade or sell, he would in effect be reasonably Self-Sufficient, and the government pension might be enough to provide a packet of Tim Tams now and then.

    There was something he’d forgotten, perhaps several things, but while it escaped him at the moment he knew it would come back to him later, and as that would most likely be at two o’clock in the morning he’d better put his pad and pen on the bed-side table before he turned in for the night. But for now, Midsommer Murders was scheduled to be broadcast soon so he made himself and his wife a cup of tea, placed a couple of slices of fruit cake on a plate that he carried on a tray to the lounge room, then settled down in front of the television. And fell asleep.

    * * * * *

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