Why I Completely Changed My Family’s Long-Term Survival Plan

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By Daisy Luther

For the past five years, I’ve lived the prepper’s dream. I’ve lived on secluded acreage out in the boondocks, with a gate at the driveway to deter those who just wander past. I moved from the Canadian boondocks to the American boondocks (in foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California) and lived the life that all the prepping books recommend.

I grew food, raised livestock, and had hardly any neighbors, and definitely none close enough to be up in my business. I learned more about self-reliance during those years than I ever realized I didn’t know.

I scrimped and saved to be able to move ever-further out into the woods. I loved finally being able to have a small farm. But, then, I came face to face with two people who had lived through the kind of epic, long term SHTF event that we all prepare for and they both told me, based on their personal experiences, I was doing it all wrong.

Here’s the reason I changed my long-term survival plan.

When  I first began working with Lisa Bedford, the Survival Mom, on our live webinar classroom Preppers University, my job was to teach people the things that I had spent years learning. But I never expected our guest instructors to have such a profound impact on my own long-term survival plan.

The first seed of doubt was planted by FerFAL (Fernando Aguirre), the author of The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse,  who taught a class sharing his experiences during the collapse of Argentina. He commented that the people who lived more remotely were nearly always victims of horrific crimes. Their little homestead nirvanas were pillaged by criminals. The women were raped. The men were slaughtered. As ideal as their situations sounded, by nature of their very solitude, made them the perfect target for those without morals.

According to Fernando’s experience, unless you have a small army with you, round the clock sentries, and unlimited ammo, living in the country might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

As a single mom with a teenage daughter, that gave me pause. I knew that we didn’t have the firepower or the tactical skills to fight off hordes intent on pillaging our farm. And I also knew that we were so isolated that no one would be around to help if we needed it.

I began thinking about all of the fictional apocalyptic stories. People quickly formed communities because there is safety in numbers. Think about the prison and Alexandria in The Walking Dead. Think about the town of Jericho. Think about the novels of A. American or the books Alas, Babylon and One Second After. In a truly dire scenario, I’m talking about grid-down, all-out collapse, your community becomes the people who live within walking distance of you. And if no one lives within walking distance, well, then, you are truly on your own.

But the final decision was made when I got a chance to talk to Selco.

Like I said, I began to doubt the wisdom of my plan after Fernando’s class, but then came Selco’s class. Selco runs SHTFSchool, where he teaches about his survival experiences living in occupied Bosnia. He survived several years living the life that we all plan for but none of us are truly ready for.

He talked about the crime, the desperation, and the outright brutality.

He talked about how families and groups of friends lived together in one home for safety. It was the only way to survive.

During the Q&A session, I told him about our own situation. That I was a single mom with a teenaged daughter. That we lived 40 minutes from the nearest town with any place with a Wal-Mart or bigger grocery stores and that our nearest neighbors were half a mile away. That we raised out own food, had off-grid water, and a big gate.

And Selco told me, respectfully, that we would not survive in a situation that was like his.

He reiterated that extended families and groups of friends had to band together for survival. He explained how small communities arose inside the walls of their city and how neighbors had each other’s backs.

This was real life, not just some imagined scenario in which we all feel invincible. Here’s a link to one of our webinars with Selco so you can hear for yourself what it was like.

And maybe my plan wasn’t so great after all.

When my daughter graduated early from high school and our former state threw up a bunch of roadblocks when she wanted to go to vocational school, we decided to expand our search. Then, she got accepted into a prestigious private vocational school in a smaller urban area across the country, and I knew the time had come to head back to neighborhood living.

There is nothing more enlightening than talking to people who have been there, done that.


No amount of theory that I could write could ever compare with the real-life experiences of these two men. And being able to ask them these questions was absolutely invaluable.

I didn’t start running these classes expecting to be the student, but it turns out, I was. I learned something that could save the life of my child and myself. I learned that I was making us both horribly vulnerable should the situation in our country go horribly wrong.

While living in town has its own set of variables and concerns, creating a community in your own neighborhood can be a much more realistic way to survive.

Shameless plug.

To me, the best part of the Prepping Intensives is the fact that you can ask questions like the one I asked Selco and Fernando. This class completely changed my own preparedness plan, and I wasn’t even supposed to be a student. It showed me the flaws in my logic. It gave me an opportunity to reroute our preparedness path.

Even if you feel like your preparedness plan is completely nailed down, you may be missing something essential, like I was. There is nothing like a live conversation to put things in perspective for you, and students get a Q&A session with every single speaker.

This time around, here is just a part of our line-up:

  • Brandon Smith talks about barter economy
  • Tim Young talks about moving to the country to become more self-reliant
  • Tammy Trayer talks about off-grid living
  • Merriweather talks about foraging 
  • Dr. Arthur T. Bradley talks about EMP survival
  • Selco talks about survival in war-torn Bosnia
  • FerFal (Fernando Aguirre) talks about surviving the collapse of Argentina
  • Toby Cowern, an Arctic survival expert, talks about surviving with nothing more than the clothes on your back
  • Cherie Norton, an NRA instructor, talks about situational awareness and personal safety
  • Jim Cobb talks about hardening the security of your home
  • A. American talks about surviving long-term scenarios
  • Cat Ellis talks about herbalism and medical preparedness
  • Lisa Egan, a personal trainer, talks about the importance of fitness as a prep
  • Patrice Lewis talks about rural life

And that’s just a sample of our speakers and topics.

Maybe you’ll discover that your plan has some holes in it, too. Better to find out now than when it’s too late to do anything about it.

Go here to learn about the Prepping Intensive and the Advanced Prepping Intensive.

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Thanks for explaining so well your reasons for your move. I will admit it was bothering me since we almost feel like a big extended family after the prepping courses. It’s nice to know that we can always learn MORE.

  • We live in a ‘rural’ community, in a village that will soon attain city status. We live in a neighborhood, but our village is surrounded by farmland. But the ‘big city’ is quickly encroaching. This community reminds me much of how I grew up, that’s why we chose to live here. We have always wanted to get further out, though. Your honest explanation makes me rethink that. But we are still too close to a major city that keeps eating up the smaller townships/villages for my comfort. I thought this was our happy medium, but we are still reconsidering that. Good luck to you and yours. I am glad you made the journey safely.

  • This is such a great article. I want to run your mind one step further. I think we can stem the tide of these terrible disasters by preparing our communities prior to collapse. By creating a cohesive community today we wont have to start from scratch when things go wrong. Through simple ideas like community gardening, communication groups and community watch I think we can start building stronger communities without scaring off our neighbors.

    This is the best post I have read on prepping in months. It takes bravery to admit to change and commit to change.

  • I have a two different relatives who live in the country in two different states, each about 40 to 60 minutes’ drive from the nearest city, and they both say that it’s common now for bands of criminals from the city to pile into cars and drive the 40 to 60 minutes out to the country and cruise up and down the country lanes looking for vulnerable-looking homes to break into and rob. It’s happening right now, never mind waiting for a societal collapse.

    • Maggie: agree, burglaries seem to happen more in outlying remote areas I hear, when people are gone. In city high density housing, they are more careful breaking into a house and usually know what’s in there worth stealing , but way less likely be seen in a remote area where houses are far apart and no cars near. Guns, cash and jewelry top items, in and out in several minutes. The type of crime in towns/cities are usually businesses being robbed/held up, or muggings in parking lots near stores. I feel much safer in town or med. size city now and agree with Daisy’s info. I shop and run errands early and then home done running for the day.

  • It ain’t all cake & wine! No matter whether you stay by yourself or affiliate with a group. Yes, we’re vulnerable to bands of thieves and murders whilst living alone in the woods. But when you affiliate to form a community, you now must deal with politics. Sometimes, that can be worse! If you wish to check this out right now, simply locate the nearest group of homeless folks living over near the railroad tracks. Try moving in with them and you will quickly be visited by a couple of good old boys who will read you the rules and (probably) shake you down for any stray cash. You will be told about the King who rules this roost, and told in no uncertain terms that he is to receive from you – on a monthly basis – “X” dollars in cash or equivalent goods”, in return for protecting you according to the roost rules. These good old boys will want to go through your knapsack and suitcase and will take some stuff “for their trouble”. Extra (their definition) blankets, clothing and shoes belong to the roost. Ditto any food that you are carrying. The roost may be able to provide you with a beatup tent and will inform you about sanitation (use the creek; don’t pee near other peoples’ tent, etc. etc.
    The point that I am making is clear; dealing with community politics may be worse than dealing with the occasional band of robbers. Better think of buying more ammunition and hunkering down.

  • This is a good article. However, I think the problem is not rural versus suburban but lone wolf versus organization. No matter where you live, it is better to be part of an organized group than to be a lone wolf. The example you mention, Security, absolutely requires an organized group for 24×7 defense.

    In addition to activities, an organized group of preppers can share the cost of equipment that will help the entire group survive more severe crises like national grid going down or financial collapse. Without the prepper group, most families will only survive smaller crises that impact locally or regionally (multiple states). The instructors mentioned situations where they were not prepared so neighbors organized themselves into prepper groups after the crisis began.

    If you do live in a rural area, be part of a group and become a bug-out location for the group. Of course, being a member of a group adds a whole new level of social dynamics but if you do this ahead of the crisis you get to choose the group and can prepare as a group. I suggest the group be legally organized as a non-profit for the tax and grant advantages.

  • We’re on acreage just outside of town…..our large family of 6 kids and 6 grandkids all live within 10 miles of us and they’ll ALL head this way when the time comes. Having 7 adult males in the group is a very comforting thought….most have their conceal carry permit. I spent 5 years trying to make this little farm as self sufficient as possible, “just in case.” Our family will become that community in a heartbeat—shoot, we’re such a close bunch already that people can’t get over how tight we are. LOL

  • Funny thing. When we moved out here to our little bit of acreage 30+ years ago, we really were in the “sticks”.
    Unfortunately, *civilization* has since moved out to meet us.
    We even have a Super Walmart only a few miles down the highway now.
    We’re still somewhat secluded, but it’s not the same.

    Still toying with the idea of picking up stakes.

  • Remember the old Twilight Zone episode, The Shelter? Your community comrades are only comrades until they want something from you…..

    • There is no right answer. You roll the dice and take your chances. Both have their pros and cons. You will still need luck to survive and you can’t stock pile that.

  • Hey guys I’m in Florida and to get to my BOO. I use my 38′ Sailboat that is completely off grid ready to travel anywhere in the world, or US, for that matter. You have to think out the box now. The World is smaller now.
    The want you secluded alone with family and friends the here come the drones, thieves, and FEMA. I rather head to a safe cove in America, North, south… and hide it out. Only paid $20,000 do a 30 yr old boat. That can take me to freedom where ever it may be.

  • Good piece Daisy, and definitely something to give a lot of thought to, unless someone has a location so far out of the way that nobody can find it i think they may be screwed. Wise of you to move, we live rural, but is rural developed, so we have lots of neighbors, lots of large landowners as well as small ones clustered here and there, im pretty sure that if things go awry the bulk of the local folks will join ranks and will eradicate the bad actors, its one of the benefits of the isolation that comes with living on an island. While we do have many people who feel the government will be their savior, there are more who get the reality, they may not be “preppers” per say, but they definitely know whats up.
    Am glad you had that moment of enlightenment,
    Stay safe!

  • Your reasoning had me second guessing my decision to live in the sticks as with my son in law working out of town 3 weeks out of four, there is just my daughter, her two special needs boys and me. We live between a very small agricultural town and a small to medium sized city, about 45 minutes each way in good conditions. There are only 2 roads in and out, the back road we live on and a highway across the river. There is a 2 car ferry which runs about 8 months of the year. In the event of an economic collapse it might or might not be running.
    When you drive off the ferry you can turn onto a paved road or drive up a steep twisting dirt road for a couple of miles to our place. Exiting the city on either road, there are numerous farms and homesteads. On the back road after the farms there is a stretch of several miles of woods before you come to our dirt road.
    Coming from the small town there are farms along the highway. The back road is 30 miles of dirt road before you come to the first of about 25 homesteads. We see the occasional logging truck and there are a few hunters during deer season but otherwise that dirt road is strictly local traffic.
    After thinking about it carefully, I still feel secure out here.

  • I’ve consider options. Since I’m a history nerd, I’ve studied how different cultures did after disasters; what the pioneers did, as well as nomadic living; I’ve also studied gangs, mobsters, and the criminal part of life. i decided we (my family and me) couldn’t run away from people nor the politics which come with living in a community life.
    Better to build self-reliance in self and others while learning how to integrate and cross train skills so the community can survive.
    From the time I first read IN COLD BLOOD, I knew survival couldn’t rest on living in the sticks. Even mountain men crossed paths with each other and traded. They also attending rendezvous . Other cultures do the same.

    If you are interested, check this out: http://www.utne.com/politics/megacities-ze0z1209zwar?pageid=4#PageContent4

  • Daisy Thank you so much for this content. I’m a venezuelan mom of a 1 year old baby. And we are living a war here ????.You can’t go outside to buy food or supplies or medication because each activity is a high risk and more with a baby. So I stay home as much as I can. There are a lot people outside trying to live normaly, trying to go to work and buy foods and continue there lives. But when you are working or whatever thing your doing you dont know is you will be able to come back home safe… people continues to work to get whatever miserable pay to buy some food. Everything is so expensive. Perhaps the beans and rice are affordable but still not cheap and is so hard to find food. options are limited because of the price… you can only buy one item or two of pasta, rice, like I say the less expensive food , and you have to wait in long long lines at your own risk because there are a lot of fights in this store. imagine tones of people wanting to buy the same product. this have being worst since perhaps about 5 years now… because of scarcity. Malls and big stores are basicly alone because there are places where “colectivos” use to attack, with bombs and there is a group of about 40 men in motorcicles that have been creating chaos in the whole city, every day the take the city they have plenty of arms and the just go through the city shooting building houses, stealing stores, people on the streets, batteries of cars, everything the want… this situation is far worst that we ever imagine. they kill people every day and they are pay mercenaries from the goverment because no one does nothing. the goverment people is also killing inocents. kids… teenagers, the youth. we are panicking. We bough a land 3 years ago. I got pregnant and we decided to wait. the land is a safe zone but is 5 hours from here. is a very small town 11. 000 people. I live ib a city with about 3 million people. at least for now the town are peaceful but there isnt electricity and the isnt an asfalt road so this doesnt sound lovely for thief that are now looking for biggest fish to cash. according to our neighbours the town is in calm nothing has happen. We need to go as soon as possible. I am scared because what you say is also true. But in the city there are no options at least not now. . what do you thnk we should do? I realize appreciate what you recommend. I’m sorry for my bad english I’m trying to write this while playing with my baby.

  • Venezuelan houses are already bunkers. This has being like this ever since I can remember. Perhaps 20 years… Every regular house is made like bunkers. Pure concrete from the botton to the walls to everything. Every house has also 2 to 3 security doors really big and heavy ones and on top of that we have fences and electric fences on top Of BIG GATES. And trust me is not enough to be safe. The army has damaged gates and has entry to different houses looking for students, or rebelds… and also innocents people has died because they were sadly in the middle of this events. I don’t doubt that country land might have problems too. But so far cities are pure anarky and maddness. There are several groups creating chaos… the army, the mercenaries, the thiefs, and the rebels that want to kill chavismo and politics and whatever on their way. A few days they put a bomb into a propane gas distribution cargo and it blew away and this have being affecting every single thing, they steal cargo transporting food or gas and even fuel… so there is no much to do now. Communities in the city are not organize since they really need to find food and basic resources so each indivual is waiting in long lines to buy a bread or a medicine or whatever they need… and people doesnt want to organize they dont see this could go like this for years… I assume that we got used to live in some sort of chaos and violence. But the true is most people is praying and just wishing this will pass soon. that this will pass as the moment a new presindent arrive. And what if it doesnt? Let’s be clear that we have so many resources, and Canadá and USA are pulling all of the gold and all minerals now so no country really matters what we are suffering as long as they can get they way. We really feel hopeless.

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