What Happens When You Get Old, by R.F.D.

I have been blessed with good health and a clear mind these many years. I also have been blessed with inherited traits, or maybe they were learned, which have allowed me to pursue interesting (for me) activities outside my job during my working career. These activities have mainly revolved around becoming self-sufficient, physically capable, working with my hands, and clear thinking. Another trait that may be good or bad is, I tend to be quite obsessive when, I,m picking up a new skill.

I was fortunate in being born late in the Great Depression and having parents who were brought up on the farm. My father was a Michigan Conservation Officer and an avid sportsman. When I was young, a Conservation Officer did not make much money, so hunting and fishing were part of our life. We also had to make many things ourselves because we couldn’t afford to purchase them. Don’t get me wrong here, in the small Northern Michigan town we lived in, most people were in the same boat financially as we were.

Some of skills that I picked up while still living with my parents:

  • Firearm safety skills.
  • Small and large game hunting skills.
  • Fishing skills.
  • Wild game butchering skills, you caught it or shot it, you cleaned it.
  • Foraging for food. (primarily low bush blueberries, blackberries, and morel mushrooms).
  • Cooking skills, everyone in my family learned how to cook at an early age.
  • Camping skills, both locally on the river and in Canada.
  • Was active in High School sports, football, basketball, and track. Some baseball outside of school.
  • I was also a meat cutter during the 4 years of High School, yea, I know, but back then if you were 15 years old, you could work behind the meat counter, use a boning knife, meat cleaver, meat saw, slicer etc., if you were lucky enough to get the job.
  • Being Bull-Headed or stubborn is also a plus, I guess.

What do you do when you get old and hope to survive a few more years in reasonable comfort and security? What are the things that you have done or have acquired that will help in that desire? What things does one really need when you are getting there?

I will try to discuss those things I feel I need to complete the journey, especially in today’s environment.

Secure shelter

Ideally, it would be nice to live out of the city, in a rural area not too far from services. Major roads like Interstates and US highways should be at 3 to 5 plus miles from you home so that the hoards escaping the cities don’t have easy access to your location. I don’t feel you should be isolated from others, so a few close-by neighbors would be helpful.

It would be nice if your shelter were small, 800 to 1,200 square feet with outbuildings. I live in the North, so a small building that can be heated with wood or coal in the event electricity and gas utilities become unavailable would be nice. It would be important to have enough storage to keep a generous supply of wood and coal.

Water is must-have resource, so a well or some other water source is a must. The question is how to get the water if utilities are out and how do you make the water safe to drink?

Available Food

Food is another worry that could be a problem for most people. Having enough long-term might be impossible but there is no reason not to have a well-supplied larder or pantry. If you happen to be someone that only shops “just in time” for the upcoming meal or week then it is probably time to start planning for food supplies which would last for a couple of weeks or months.

You probably don’t need a few years supply of food, but being able to survive for a few weeks or longer would be great.

Over the years I have raised pigs and chickens, geese, grown gardens, and processed the lot. I still make smoked sausage and jerky, but only in small quantities. The ability to prepare your own food from scratch is probably a good skill to acquire when getting older.

Medical Supplies

This is an area that far too few of us put much work into. Besides those medications that are prescribed for us, a few band-aids, and some bacterial ointment, what do we normally have for first aid?

If you haven’t thought about this, maybe now is the time.

What really is important?

In the twilight years, a clear mind and good health are really important. If you are lucky and have inherited the longevity gene, you still will find yourself losing motor skills, strength, and memory. Don’t think that you are going to live forever and you don’t need to plan your supplies based on that assumption.

A good partner in life is a major plus. Trying to keep both of you in tip-top shape can be a tough job. As one of you or both starts to deteriorate, it can be trying. It certainly brings home the closing of the final chapter.

So what have I learned or acquired over the years that may help me live the rest of my life in reasonable comfort?

Please do not take this is as bragging, it is just where I find myself today.

Secure Shelter

We have lived in a lightly populated Township (3,000 souls) in Central New England for the last twenty-some years and have lived in the general area for the last 58 years. A plus for me, is that the township is over 50% conservative politically, according to the 2016 and 2020 election results. Another desirable feature of the town, is that at least 30 percent of the land area is Wildlife Management Areas, with plenty of game including Turkey and Deer. A meandering river flows through the middle of the township and parts of two Great ponds lay within the township also. All areas are open to hunting and fishing. I do take advantage of that.

Another unique feature of the area, I believe, is there are at least seven Sportsman/Gun Clubs within 15 miles of where we live, which again is a desirable plus for me. It seems each of the different townships has a Sportsman club. These are clubs that have been in operation for many years and in many cases serve as a social club for the common folk of the town. Most of the clubs have outdoor pistol and up to 100-yard rifle ranges. One of the clubs, I belong to, has a 300-yard range. Becoming a member of one is inexpensive and most days, when I go to shoot at the couple I belong to, I’m the only one there.

We live in a small 1,100 square foot two-level cottage on one of the great ponds. The cottage sits back over 200 feet from the road and really can’t be seen. The cottage is heated with fuel oil and supplemented with a small Godin coal stove. We have a deep well that has a 110 Volt submersible pump that operates nicely, even on generator power. I have a battery-operated water pump that could be used if we lost power forever. I also could bring up water from the pond and purify it with a Sawyer water filter, I have. The Sawyer water filter is suppose to filter out viruses.

In our area we do have periodic power outages. Most are caused by wind and snowstorms. Because the roads are lined with many dead Oak Trees, killed by gypsy moths, limbs and trees come down. An early November caused us to lose power three times this year. Each outage was only a little over an hour, but the outside temperature was quite cold, so we needed heat in a hurry.

I have a couple of generators to use as backup power. One which can power most of the cottage is a propane-powered one hooked up to a transfer switch and I have needed to use it many times over the last 10 years. Once for 5 days, when an early October snowstorm wiped us out.

The second generator is a portable generator that I use to power the large outbuilding. I keep it in a tool shed out by the large outbuilding. It is a nice size and really quite.

The lot we live on is only 1/3 acre (50 feet x 300 feet) and is located in a large White Pine grove. The pines are 80 to 90 feet tall and just allow dappled sunlight down on the lot. So the lot is not suitable for growing anything to eat, so that is a little problematic.

The cottage overlooks the great pond and is only about 30 feet back from the water. The pond is one of the better fishing ponds in the State. It has a nice boat launch on the North end of the pond and during the initial covid19 virus lock down the pond was full of fishermen in all types of boats. I can envision if things really do get rough, the pond and surrounding area will be full of fishermen/hunter/gatherers and squatters.

The pond has reasonably clean water and runs as deep as 80 feet in some spots. It is stocked with trout, and has native northern pike, pickerel, bass, etc in it. Most ponds and lakes in the Northeast have some mercury problems based on being downwind of the large electric power plants in the Midwest. There have been warnings in the past about eating fish from the ponds more than a couple of days a week. I guess we could live with that and supplement our food with fish.

Our side of the pond is only developed one lot deep, with forest across the road. Another feature is that we are within one-quarter of a mile of a large Wildlife Management area. The bad news is, squatters could easily start setting up on this land if they have no place else to go.

Also, on the property is a propane-heated 600 square outbuilding that is used for storage and workspace. I work on firearms for myself and do quite bit of reloading. I have a nice area for reloading with a well-stocked supply of primers, casing, projectiles, and powders. Most of the calibers I reload are the common, 9mm, .45 ACP, .223, .300 Blackout, and .308. I also have a couple of Lee-Enfield rifles, for which I load .303 British.

Food Supplies

This can be a difficult topic, as how much food is enough food and how much do I have to share with my neighbors?

We have a combination of long term food supplies, that probably approach one year and a very hefty larder/pantry of normal supplies that would last 6 to 12 months. That is if we were cut off and could not go out for more supplies. I don’t expect this to happen.

One of my stops during grocery shopping is to look for pork butts or any other meat product on sale. I squeeze it in the already full freezer for future processing.

I do like to process different meats into finished products like smoked sausages, beef and venison jerky, and when I’m lucky, pressure can any deer/venison I come by. Come St. Paddies day, there are usually sales on corned beef and I have been known to pressure can it for future use. I suppose if push comes to shove I could start knocking off some of the squirrel population and pressure canning them.

All in all, I do not think food is my biggest problem at this time.

Security

This can be a worrisome area, as I can’t stand alone, especially at my age. I have developed some alliances with neighbors and if things get worse, would need to pursue this further.

Firearms and ammunition are not a problem for me because I have been obsessive about this area for a long time.

I have over the years refurbished and built many different rifles and handguns. Most times more than one of the same thing. As a result of all these builds, I have firearms to share and enough spare parts to fix them all.

As we all know both common-caliber firearms and ammo are in short supply. If you see something buy it.

I will also say at this point in time, many 80% kits and parts for long guns and handguns are still very available. Buy them now! This window of opportunity is going to close, especially if we have a new Administration coming to town

Before I started reloading I tried to come up with enough ammo for each firearm I owned. Different people have different requirements for what is enough, but I feel I will be able to keep shooting at whatever the target, for a long time.

Reloading became a fetish with me over the last few years, causing me to make certain I had all the dies and presses I needed. Also, I went out of my way to make certain I had enough projectiles, primers, casings, and powder to replenish all my ammo supplies. Again, as all these supplies have been sold — or are being sold out — when you see something you need, then buy it.

As far as perimeter security, I have only installed remote cameras with alarms set on some. We will see how this works. Also, I have a .45 ACP handgun, handy on the dresser, so I can get to my AMD65 AK. You can’t be too careful.

First Aid and Medical Supplies

I have, at best, toyed with this area. I would periodically buy a small first aid kit for the truck or car and have lots of band-aids for the cabin. Really not a lot more.

I had taken a wilderness first aid class and a CPR class in the last ten years, but these skills fade very fast.

In January of 2020, after hearing about Covid19, I stocked up on face masks, over the counter meds. I beat the panic by a month or more, but I did not look into a good family first aid kit.

So recently, I bit the bullet, and purchased a First Aid Kit, Family Size from DoomAndBloom.net. I now need to refresh and build new skills for using this kit. We will see.

I guess that is all I can come up with now.

The New Environment

I believe we are entering a whole new chapter in the United States. I am not just saying this because I am a little advanced in age, but after seeing what went on in the 2020 election, things are going to get dicey whichever way it goes. The battle lines have been drawn and most have chosen sides.

Stock up with whatever you can and act like a turtle, by keeping your head in your shell.

Watch out for the coming Balkanization of the United States. Size up your neighbors. And heaven help those of us, who are conservative and live on either of the coasts.

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