When life is uncertain and the economy is frightening, secure wealth is the same as it was for our great-grandparents – food, fuel, and the promise of a future.
How do you hold onto wealth during a recession or depression?
Economists are starting to talk a lot about the possibility of a recession or even a depression if the oil crash continues.
Can we trust national currencies?
What can we do to increase our personal security?
The first step is to rethink what we mean as wealth. Once we do that, the answer is the same as it was for our grandparents – fuel, food and a promise of a future.
Long before we moved to the hills, I wrote about my belief that cities are a dangerous place to be when life becomes uncertain. Apartments or even suburban houses limit people greatly in what they can do to survive difficult times.
And I still believe what my grandfather firmly believed, that land is the best and most secure investment a person can ever make. Most people who live in cities have plenty of reasons why they stay there, but I will repeat, over and over again, that your own piece of property, preferably outside any urban center, is ideal.
However, no matter where you are, from country to city and everything in between, there are ways to increase your untouchable wealth.
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An Ample Wood Pile = Warmth and Cooking
If you live in a rural area, this can be quite literally a pile of wood, since many country homes have wood stoves for, at the very least, supplemental heat and cooking. For the most part, a good wood stack is theft-proof.
If this is not possible, though, consider what you can have instead of an actual wood pile.
People who do not live in rural areas can still take steps to keep the home warm and the food cooked even when the power is out.
After all, when someone else controls your fuel or even, in some apartments, your heat, it is even more important to have a back up.
In addition to our cut and stacked firewood, we have eight cord of logs aging.
These are the assurance to us of warmth and the ability to cook.
Depending on winter severity, that is two to four years worth of firewood. Around here, stacks of logs are a common sight on many properties. If the homeowner is physically capable of chunking and splitting it, logs are far less expensive than split firewood.
Our wood shed is quite simple and inexpensive, but it does a great job. The mister made a frame from some 2x4s and slab wood and then covered it over with a large tarp we had (it had been a commercial greenhouse tarp, then it covered our hay, and now it covers our wood – lots of use from that tarp!). Old pallets cover the ground so that the wood is not sitting on the ground. The tarp intensifies the warming heat from the sun, keeping it relatively toasty in there.
As far as I can tell, wood heat is the least expensive and most carbon neutral way to heat your home. Obviously, this is not an option everywhere. For us, it was just one more reason to move out of the city and into the country.
Urban homes have less ability to stockpile fuel due to space and safety issues.
However, no matter where you live, build up a reserve of heating fuel that does not depend on electricity.
Propane space heaters are available for example. In fact, we have one of those – even with the wood stove, there are times when we need to heat up a single room, away from the kitchen, more rapidly than the wood stove can do it.
The most popular way to provide emergency heat without electricity remains the kerosene heater like this. If you do get a kerosene or propane heater, make sure to provide ventilation. They both consume oxygen.
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A Full Cellar or Pantry = Secure Food
Even when we lived in the city, we stored food.
The idea of having only three or four days worth of food in the house is kind of alien to me. No matter what happens with the economy, the price of food will go up, not down. This means that stored food is always a good investment.
The picture is of the pantry in our small cabin.
Along the right hand wall are stacked plastic containers, each holding a dozen pint jars full of food. Since taking this picture, we’ve add more shelving on the left side. In back is our drinking water storage. This is not, however, our complete food storage.
Depending on where you live, different foods – and amounts – can be stored. Obviously a family living in a small city apartment is not going to have the space to store the same amounts that a family living in a large country farmhouse can.
Aim for a three month supply at first, then six, then slowly increasing to an 18 and then 24 month supply. Always remember – Eat what you store and store what you eat.
For those who have the ability, the full cellar or pantry can expand to include food that is “on the hoof” like chickens, meat rabbits, pigs and more. We do not need to store many eggs because the chickens provide them a few at a time, for example. Combined with seasonal eating (again, with the chickens, we eat more eggs in the spring and almost none in the winter), the animals increase our security.
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An Abundant Seed Box = Secure Future
Most people can grow something.
When we lived in a dark basement apartment, we grew a beautiful sweet potato vine in our bathroom. It grew so lush that I frequently needed to cut it back. Otherwise, it would have taken over that small room. It didn’t produce tubers, but we supplied dozens of slips to a friend who grew them and gave us delicious sweet potatoes.
Not all gardens grow the same. Try a windowsill herb garden, small vegetables in pots on your balcony, or considering growing on someone else’s land – a community garden, or simply asking a friend to loan you some land.
A full seed box is a hedge against disaster. It’s a promise, from this year’s harvest, to fill your cellar next year and the years to come.
A full seed box should contain heirloom or landrace vegetable seeds, and perhaps the occasional hybrid, of types that your family will eat. I will not be growing onions this year, for example – we eat so few of them that my abundant perennial chive patch suffices. According to Carol Deppe, in The Resilient Gardener, you should not only store seeds but hoard them. She makes sure that there are enough seeds stored deep in her chest freezer that she could easily restart her garden from scratch several times over. If you decide to get that book, and I do recommend it, also pick up her book Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. I’m reading it right now, and I’m learning a lot!
Although seed companies abound, it is wise not to rely on them too much. With seed patents increasing all the time, it seems prudent to build up a supply of seed that is not under anyone’s control but your own.
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Why Wood Pile, Full Cellar and Seed Box?
These three – fuel for heating and cooking, food on hand and food for the future – are solid, tangible forms of wealth that are very difficult to steal or tax. If an asset is not HARD – that is, a solid, tangible thing that you can hold – it is not a real asset in uncertain times.
There is a lot of freedom in knowing that you have enough fuel to heat your home and cook for the next year or more, enough food to get you through the next year, and seeds to renew the cycle. When life is uncertain, having these gives you the breathing space to take care of everything else that is necessary.0