The season continues with the episode ‘In the Hurt Locker’ (a title which actually comes from a line in the episode about having no money). We start off in the Bible Belt with a look at Lucas Cameron and his group of ‘Seven Trumpet Preppers’. As our narrator tells us, Lucas, his wife, son, and parents are all “God-Fearing Christians”.
A few weeks ago I was explaining Doomsday Preppers to a friend, and he asked me what kind of ‘doomsday’ the folks were prepared for.
“Oh, you know,” I said, “pretty much everyone says financial collapse, with the odd earthquake or volcano thrown in.”
“What?!” he stammered, “Those aren’t doomsdays! An asteroid is doomsday!” His point being, there’s a difference between something being the end of your world, and the End of The World.
Well, on this episode, we have the first group preparing for that latter category, stemming from their particular book of faith: Lucas and the rest of the Seven Trumpets fear a “global earthquake described in Revelation”. They somehow think this will relate to the big, bad wolf of the Eastern US, the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Which…isn’t global…but whatever. Maybe they think that’ll be the first Trumpet, and the rest will follow.
Once again, like everyone else, their real fear is that in the days after a quake, “people will turn to lawlessness”. Well, probably, but let’s first recognize that—just as there is no one right way to live—there are more ways of keeping order in a society than relying on arbitrary “Don’t do _x_!” laws decided on by elite old men, which are fully expected to be broken. Given a big enough disaster, a long enough timeline, and the absence of a dominating militarized government, it’s conceivable that we might actually see a return of an organically-evolved system of tribal law. Of course, we’re dealing with a guy who wears a miniature set of Ten Commandments (the world’s most famous set of anti-tribal laws) around his neck, so I don’t really expect them to understand.
Anyway, to deal with the likelihood of lawless, hungry folks hemorrhaging from cities, the Cameron clan has spent a comparatively-meager $50,000 fortifying their farm and home; like Tom Perez, they call their fortress home The Alamo.
And to help with the defense and upkeep of the place, Lucas has recruited prepper friends with a very telling variety of skillsets. These include a soldier/‘private military contractor’-type, a guy who works night shift security, and Lucas’s father, a lifelong farmer of row crops and beef cattle. Additionally, Lucas and his buddy Spence work together to fabricate machines including a wind turbine and another one of those ‘wood gassifiers’ things (I have yet to really understand how they work) they use to power a generator. And what is this wood-burning fuel-maker made from? An old oil drum and some jumbo ammo cans! Well, that gets a thumbs-up for DIY solutions! However, when it comes to farming, I have to raise this point: like Lucas’s pa, my dad and uncle have been growing maize, soya, and beef cattle for decades. But do I think they could do it without modern synthetic fertilizers and antibiotics and inoculants? No way! If you want to be really able to survive an uncertain future, make friends with someone who has a big, productive organic garden. Y’know, a horticulturalist, instead of a totalitarian agriculturalist.
So to recap, the way the Trumpets see it, one’s essential concerns should be defense (warfare), herding, and maintaining power. For those who say our culture has continued to evolve, let me point out that those three essentials are calling cards of the patriarchal, warlike, sky-god-worshipping Indo-Europeans who rode into history to dominate Europe about the time I’m guessing the Seven Trumpets believe the Earth was created.
Anyway, where were we? Food? Speaking of food, about the only time we see the ladies is when they’re showing off a bit of their massive food stockpile, including a lot of rice in two-liter soda bottles. For dry goods, I think those are hard to beat: bugs can’t get in (I guess mice might be able to chew through), they don’t shatter when dropped, and they stack up pretty neat; win-win-win. Apparently, they also have multiple food caches spread around the farm, which is always a good idea—Nature doesn’t put all her eggs in one basket, and we shouldn’t either.
We also hear that the family has a fair amount of food on-the-hoof: five goats, a score of chickens, and two-score cattle. That’s not bad, but again, can they keep them fed through a winter without relying on maize? And furthermore, would they really want to?—remember that ruminants like cattle evolved as grazers, not grain-eaters; grass-fed beef is way better.
Like most long-term thinking folks, the Seven Trumpets plan on reloading a lot of ammo when things head south. We get to see grandpa (who owns a firearms business) and Lucas teach his son how to reload shotshells, which they use as an opportunity to quiz him on his gun-ethics.
“What are guns for?” “Killing people trying to kill you.”
“That’s right,” says grandpa. “Guns are just weapons, like a carpenter’s saw.” Wait, what?
Always interested in swelling the ranks of the ’Trumpets, Lucas has been in contact with a new arrival to the area, who just happens to be a familiar face from season one…Kevin O’Brien! This means we get to see an update on his ultimate prepper homestead, right? Unfortunately, no. While the O’Briens bought 130 acres of lovely countryside, they still have no home, so they rent a house nearby and take frequent camping trips to get familiarized with the land. There’s a bit where the kids make it abundantly clear they have no intention of ever living without indoor plumbing, haha.
So, to try out for the ’Trumpets, the O’Briens head over to the Cameron compound and do some target shooting with that crew. They seem pretty pleased with his performance, but have a more rigorous test in mind for him, one for which they’ve called in the big guns, literally. Because who shows up next but the ‘experts’ themselves, Practical Preppers! Hot damn, this is turning out to be an all-star episode!
Kobler and Hunt roll up with black guns, night-vision, and more tactical crap than I’ve ever seen before, to play to role of ‘raiders’ that O’Brien and the Seven Trumpets will hopefully detect and defend against. Which begs the question—exactly what kind of raiders do these guys expect to deal with? Are they planning on facing hungry hordes of unprepared city-folk, or the local band of Navy SEALs? Seriously; boys and their toys, *eyeroll*.
Luckily (unlike some of the other invasion drills we’ve seen), at least these guys’ guns are loaded with blanks (Kevin is armed with a spotlight in hopes of blinding the night-vision). Anyway, the experts manage to sneak up right under the others’ noses, and during the shooting, Lucas’s AR jams! Haha! I think I’ll stick with my EastBloc dunk-‘em-in-mud rifles, thank you very much. Despite all this, I guess everybody considers it a successful learning experience, and Lucas offers to bring Kevin into his group.
In the experts’ assessment,
O’Brien gets 62 points—keeping chickens (his daughter names her chick Nugget. Right-on, that’s the way to do it!) gets him extra kudos for food resupply—for 9 months’ survival.
Lucas—who the experts say needs to buy some two-way radios—gets 74 points for 14 months.
In their update, the O’Briens have moved to a new location with a stocked fish pond, wood-burning stove, a bigger chicken coop, and lots of stonework, which looks really good in the woods. Thumbs-up for architectural camouflage. Meanwhile, Lucas reports that they’ve taken the experts advice and bought walkie-talkies, as well as installed a hand pump for their well. Yay for the best kind of sustainable energy, people power!