Archive for February, 2013

Doomsday Preppers: Craig Compeau/Don Kubley

The series continues with an episode (‘Pain is Good’) looking at folks in the US&A’s two youngest states. We’ll start off with a look at Craig Compeau and Don Kubley of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Transparency clause: it was pretty easy to see why these guys agreed to do the show (Craig sells fancy boats and Don sells fancy domes). As I wrote in my notes for this profile, “I’m pretty sure this whole segment is just an Alaska hunting trip, and they’re calling it prepping.” And yeah, that’s exactly what it is. See this article for great insight into the ‘reality’ behind this show.

Craig is [playing somebody] concerned with the possibility of “total government takeover”, but like everyone else this season, that’s really code for economic collapse. The way he sees it, our nation’s enormous debt—usually reckoned around sixteen trillion, though I’ve seen figures as mind-bogglingly high as 200 trillion—will eventually lead to widespread economic devastation. As we’ve heard a thousand times, when people don’t have jobs they don’t have food (most troubling of all, no one ever wants to take a step back to question what this says about this civilizational experiment of ours), and will turn to widespread rioting, leading to declaration of martial law. Of course, even though martial law has never been declared nationwide (only for isolated areas or events, like in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina), Craig is afraid that someday it will. In which case, he believes that the government will then “control every aspect of our lives”, somehow turning “every town into a prison.”

As I’ve said many times before, this oft-recited scenario is just one end result of the unsustainable worldview promulgated by Our culture, one ingredient in a deadly cocktail of shatterpoint issues. If we speak of the economic issue, the adoption of ‘money’ (itself simply a more-portable representation of the shiny rocks it is ‘backed’ by) as the only acceptable form of wealth brings out the most selfish behaviors in humans. In our tribal days, ‘wealth’ was intangible, taking the form of prestige or respect, resulting from unselfish acts which functioned to support the tribe as a whole. However, when ‘wealth’ took the form of Things, people were free to act solely in their own interests, and the accumulation of that ‘wealth’ became the driving characteristic of the lives of those at the top of the pyramid. Of course, those at the bottom of the pyramid looked up and saw what their ‘superiors’ were doing and so began to try and get their own ‘piece of the pie’—though by the time that ‘wealth’ eventually reached them, they got little more than crumbs.
With regards to his fear about the guvvmint turning towns into inescapable prisons, take a big-picture look and see that it wouldn’t take much; the pieces are already in place. The relentless global expansion of Our culture (and its One Right Way to Live) has already formed bars of a world-prison which one really cannot escape (“sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small that we can never get away from the Sprawl?”); the unspoken and unquestioned tenet underlying Our culture (“go to Work, or you starve”) leaves little room for the rewilded rest of us. /soapbox.

Anyway, should the guvvmint hammer come down, Craig’s objective will become “get out of Fairbanks, fast.” Luckily, he’s not planning on bugging out by himself, as he has a prepping buddy in his daughter Emily.
(For what it’s worth, take note that even though they live up near the Arctic Circle, their home looks as if it could have been plucked out of the suburbs of Chicago, Denver, or Seattle—witness our culture’s one-size-fits-all solution to housing (a nature-isolating plywood-and-drywall box incapable of operation without relying on the Grid for heating, cooling, water, sanitation, and energy), with no room for regional variety. Ugh.

Apparently, Craig likes to do this practice bugout twice a year (i.e. hunting season). Their itinerary begins with a four mile hike to reach their SJX jet-boat (it’s made of UHMW, some kind of super-plastic?), and then a four hour (90 mile) boat ride to reach their bugout location. The boat is very light on the draft, so they’re able to travel in shallow water (did I hear him say as shallow as six inches? Impressive.). Along the way upriver, Craig has somehow put explosives in certain trees, which they shoot and explode, to provide additional roadblocks (riverblocks?) to would-be followers. There’s a lot of industrial NÜMETAL-type music while they’re jumping over all these downed trees and stuff; I guess it’s supposed to be HaRdCoRe or something.

When they reach the Dome, we’re warned of “another threat to their lives”: they come across a bent-up garbage can and Craig reminds Emmy that “we’ve got bears, so have your gun ready!” Now, maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading a deep-green book on interspecies communication, but I’m pretty sure Craig’s first instinct if he saw a bear (shoot it!) would not be appreciated by the bear. Should he actually come upon a bear, sure it’s possible the bear might attack (especially if it’s a mother with cubs), but it’s also possible that the bear wouldn’t attack. At least give the critter a chance!

intershelterdomeWhen we’re finally shown the Dome, I have to admit I wasn’t that impressed. They claim that it’s supposed to totally blend into its environment, and from what we see, I guess the structure itself is pretty shiny, but the outside of it is just a mess; there are gas cans and more white bleach bottles strewn around the place than I can count, so…way to be camouflaged, dude. The dome is an ‘InterShelter’ designed and marketed by Craig’s friend, Don Kubley:

donkubley Don brings his boat up to the Dome for a visit, and there’s a hilarious bit where Craig and Emmy catch him in a net when he arrives; dunno what that was all about. Once he’s there, they decide it’s time to go moose hunting separately. Now, I understand that moose are like, the hippopotamus or rhinoceros of the northern hemisphere—aggressive and prone to charging if threatened. Personally, considering they’re using big-game-hunting, bolt-action guns (a nice change of pace from the black, tricked-out paramiliscary pieces we usually see), I’d go as a group, but oh well. Emmy and dad come across one and she tries to shoot it. Mind you, she’s standing, in a boat, in a river, and she’s shooting off-hand…so yeah, she misses. Moose walks off into the brush. Meanwhile, actually Don shoots himself a bull moose.
No, an actual bull moose. There’s a shot of Don waving the antlers over his head and shouting like he’s so proud of killing this animal. It’s like every time deer season rolls around, the local county newspaper always runs pictures of kids proudly holding up these animals that they can’t imagine are their brothers and sisters. Though I can’t say I’m surprised based on what I’ve seen of these folks; I didn’t seriously expect Craig and Don to thank the Great Spirit for the moose’s strength or speed, or apologize to the moose for taking its life or anything.

Anyway, the experts suggest that they get a water filter at the Dome, because it’s possible that water could be polluted and unusable. Dudes, it’s Alaska; it’s supposed to be like, the last untouched wilderness or whatever. If we get to the point where even that water becomes undrinkable, there’s a good chance that everybody else is dead. Then again, if Canada’s tar sands operation is allowed to expand, it’s always possible.

The experts also say they should “harden their shelter against high-caliber weapons”, because apparently they expect Craig and Don are going to have to go up against grizzly bears with machineguns? Yeah, and clean the place up while you’re at it.

However, in the end, the guys get a new high of 82 points, for seventeen months’ initial survival time. Now, in the past, if the prepper disagrees with the experts or thinks he deserves a higher score, they usually say something like, “Well, that evaluation didn’t take into account some stuff we didn’t show the film crew, so I’ll just agree to disagree.” Craig, however, just replies, “Those numbers are $%@#. Practical Preppers can kiss my ass.” Jerk.

And in their post-filming update, we hear that they’ve added a bulletproof dome 75 miles upriver (not sure if that’s fifteen miles before they get to the other dome, or fifteen  miles past it?), and Craig has designed some sort of water cannon to hook up to his jetboat.

Doomsday Preppers: Jeff Flaningam

The episode wraps up with a too-long look at Jeff Flaningam, the series’ third—and least interesting—missile-silo prepper. There’s really not much to say about this one either, because the producers seem to be majorly banking on ratings-friendly Awkward Drama in this segment.
jeff flaningamLike seemingly everybody this season, Jeff fears an economic collapse. Yeah, so what else is new?
It seems three years ago, Jeff bought another one of these Atlas missile silos buried beneath the plains of Kansas, and has been ever-so-slowly renovating it into a livable bunker. Of course, he’s from Wisconsin (800 miles away), so he’s only able to make it down to the silo a few times a year, so there doesn’t seem to have been much progress.
We get to see Jeff and a few of his buds waste some propane, while they show off their ‘flamethrower booby trap’ (Derek Price did the same thing a few weeks ago; it’s a weed-burner); meh.
Regardless, Jeff is lonely, and wants a partner to prep with him and help fix up the silo, apparently, to ‘flip’ it. And so, we come to the meat of this segment. He sets up a profile on a ‘nationally-known dating website’ (it’s Match.com), and proceeds to go on dates with prospective would-be ladypreppers. We then get to see bits of three different meet-ups.
The first one, Stephanie, is quite conventionally attractive, girly, and generally unthinkingly optimistic about the world (her type abound on Match).
The second, Laura, I would describe as a sort of ‘down home girl’ (and I mean that in the best way possible), who seems to have many practical skills that a prepper like Jeff would appreciate.
The third, Serle, is a former member of the Navy (and we know how much preppers seem to like military experience).

Now, I’m not the type to knock another guy’s approach to dating…but…Jeff approaches these women like a manager interviewing potential employees. C’mon, dude; if you’re going to define yourself by your prepping, at least let it wait until the second date.
Anyway, of the three women above, which do you think would make for the worst prepping partner, and therefore would also make for the most opportunities for awkward reality television when Jeff shows her around his own personal horror movie set missile silo bunker? If you said Stephanie, congratulations, you think like a TV producer!

So, Stephanie meets Jeff at his front gate, where he proceeds to put a blindfold on her and drive her to his silo. Personally, if I were this girl, I’d have my pepper spray out and ready to go. You don’t just meet a girl in the middle of nowhere, blindfold her, and then take her for a visit to the creepiest place imaginable without raising some red flags.
Anyway, Jeff shows her around the place, which sure doesn’t look like it’s had three years’ worth of improvements made to it. In fact, it looks like it’s straight off the federal auction block 50 years ago.
Eventually they make it down to the heart of the silo, where Jeff reveals his biggest prep: 1,400,000 gallons of water! Well, that’s impressive, until it turns out retrieving any requires one to rappel down several stories with an empty Gatorade bottle. Seriously, a bucket on a rope would be easier. Of course, the poor girl isn’t going to drop down a giant concrete tube for a measly sip of water of unknown quality, so I guess she belays him while he brings some up. Then he runs it through a homemade charcoal/sand/gravel water-filter-thingy, giving us yet another instance of preppers awkwardly toasting and drinking weird things.

In the end, because—aside from owning a dilapidated missile silo and a whole lotta (albeit hard-to-retrieve) water—Jeff has no stored food or weapons or anything, the experts give him 56 points, for 2 months, and in his update he tells us he has installed his new hydraulic front entrance. So, yay!, no more having to weld the door shut each time he leaves!

Doomsday Preppers: Doug the Rock Man

Our next episode (‘Solutions, Not Problems’) is another of the two-uneven-profiles variety; we begin with a short look at Doug Eaves, aka ‘Rock Man’.
doug-the-rock-manAs his name suggests, Doug is all about rocks. Not surprising, as he owns and operates his own rock quarry in the mountains of Tennessee. And since he’s all about rocks, it’s also unsurprising that many of his prepping strategies also rely on rocks. It’s nice to see someone who is so familiar with one material that he can make his living from it and integrate it into his life.
And what does Doug fear that drives him to prepare? All together now!: “an economic collapse that will change the world forever!”
Really? Seriously, for this season, a full 30 percent of the folks profiled have been economic collapse-ers, which while only two points up from season one, just seems so uneven. C’mon, just for shits and giggles, couldn’t the producers switch ‘em up, so we don’t get like, three in a row?

Anyway, Doug worries that “our economy is in distress” and he “don’t see it getting better.” Like I’ve said before, this was probably filmed some months ago before the stock-market bump of the last few weeks. However, I’m not sure about one of his strategies for dealing with this contingency. Every week, it seems Doug takes his profits to the bank and exchanges his paper money for rolls of fifty-cent pieces. He then spends an evening on a ‘treasure hunt’, searching for any pre-1971 or pre-1965 coins. If you didn’t already know, the rising cost of silver caused the US Mint to eliminate that element in dimes and quarters, and reduce its content in half-dollars from 90 to 40 percent in 1965; by 1971 they followed suit and began minting silver-free half-dollars.
The current price of silver means that should you actually find one of these coins, it’s worth far more than its face value: as Doug suggests, what appears to be a 50-cent piece could be worth 20 dollars. Of course, as in all concepts of ‘value’ and ‘wealth’ in civilized society, it’s entirely reliant on the consent of its participants to function. The only reason our system of backed-by-gold green paper notes is allowed to continue—even though there hasn’t been enough gold (or silver, for that matter) to back the money for years—is because we continue to go along with it, pretending that these rectangles of green cotton-paper are equal to 100 of these little coppery discs, or 20, ten, four, or two of these silvery discs. Isn’t it funny how—with the exception of the all-but-forgotten Sacagawea gold dollar—all of our monies are inscribed with pictures of dead white men? Personally, I like to deal with root problems instead of symptoms, so if you’re worried about an economy that’s in danger of collapsing, recognize what’s causing that economy to collapse, and then get as far away from it as possible. Hell, read up on uncivilized economies (generally based around person-to-person support as true wealth) and implement one with your neighbors. Or something. Just an idea.
If you want to continue to buy into the ‘green paper = value’ game, that’s fine, but realize how inherently unstable that system is, and don’t rely on it. Better yet, take a page from Kelly and John Taylors’ playbook: convert that paper into useful purchases ASAP and get used to life without it. Bah, precious metals as wealth are inherently bullshit. /soapbox.

So, because so much of this show is just folks tying to make themselves feel good about being ‘prepared’, we get to see Doug’s family’s $45,000 shipping-container bunker. Which doesn’t seem like a lot of room, especially when they reveal that in an emergency, Doug’s best friend Inez and his family will be coming to stay as well. So, seven people in a shipping container? Sounds crowded to me. Regardless, thumbs-up for having a buddy to help you out.
And with all those people packing in there, Doug has implemented strict water-rationing—and this is probably the scariest thing to most folks watching the show: only two gallons per person per day. Eek! That’s right, no more ten-minute Hollywood shower for you! According to our narrator, the average American somehow uses 100 gallons or water per day? I really hope that’s wrong.
But as soon as they showed the septic tank getting lowered into the pit, I knew we weren’t looking at a long-term problem solver. So yeah, septic tanks. AKA ‘big concrete box that you fill up with raw shit and now-contaminated drinking water, requiring a vacuum truck to come and suck it out every so often.” Someone please remind me how this is a reliable way of dealing with human waste in an uncertain future? I’ll say it one more time…HUMANURE. No water, no smell, awesome compost at the end. What’s not to love?

Now, should the rampaging hordes of unprepared city-dwellers come swarming out of the nearest metropolis, what is Doug’s plan for dealing with them? This is the Rock Man we’re talking about, so naturally all solutions involve Really Big Stones. His first line of defense is apparently a one-time-only trick, because he plans to create a rockslide to block the road. Wow. Next step is to create some stone pillbox firing positions around the bunker. And finally, break out the bobcat and barricade the driveway with an improvised rock wall. Like I said, I like that he uses what he knows. And Doug knows rocks! I also really like that they wrap up their night of rock-wall-building with pizza! Because as we all know, “There is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can’t be improved with pizza.”

The experts give him 69 points, for twelve months’ survival; Doug seems pretty pleased with that assessment. Not bad.

Doomsday Preppers: Frank & Elaine Woodworth

Our last preppers on this episode are Frank and Elaine Woodworth, of Maine.
As in the case of the seeming majority of folks we’ve seen this season, Frank is Preparing For Economic Collapse, *slam bunker door*.
frankwoodworthAs usually happens when a segment wastes time on sensationalist appeals to the lowest common denominator instead of letting the subject discuss their issue, I don’t a whole lot to say about this couple.
Frank’s big kick is the idea of physical fitness as a survival tool – it’s survival of the fittest, guys! To accomplish this, he and his wife train with the ‘Irish Hand Grenade’, MMA fighter Marcus Davis. This is a good way to kill a few minutes watching an older fellow get knocked around the octagon.

So, when the stars proclaim the time has come (or however an economic collapse is announced these days), Frank and Elaine plan to hop in their bush plane and fly into the north woods to their hidden bunker. Now, unlike Bryan Smith from a few weeks back—whose massive, $150,000 Atlas bunker boasted all the comforts of civilized life—the Woodworth’s $24,000 bunker is apparently only 140 square feet. If that seems kind of small, that’s because it is. For a frame of reference, let’s remember that H. D. Thoreau’s one-man cabin at Walden was 150 square feet! So, with that little space, there’s really not much room to do anything besides sleep and do push-ups on the side of the bed. Hope they stocked up on reading material.

Because they are concerned about being able to reach their bunker, Frank makes a backup one (it’s what he does) to bury nearer their home. And because he seems to think that should they be discovered by marauding vandals, said raiders would attempt to breach the bunker by digging down and throwing some dynamite under it, that’s exactly what he tests. So before the thing gets buried, they wedge a few sticks underneath and set them off. Now, I’m by no means a demolition expert, but I seem to remember reading something about how a successful charge needs something to direct the explosion where you want it—likesay, if you’re going to blow up a parking garage, you don’t just duct-tape dynamite to the support columns and call it a day, you surround the dynamite with sandbags or something. Like I said, I’m no expert, but the way they do it seems kind of unscientific and ‘just for the lulz’.

Frank also seems to think that “America would be safer if more people had bunkers”, because there would be “less people out trying to steal food.” Well of course he’s going to say that – he builds bunkers! And for a very short-term disaster like a hurricane or tornado, maybe that’s true; if everybody had a well-stocked bunker off which they could live when things suddenly go south, then yes, people wouldn’t need to go looting. But a bunker is only ever a short-term solution. Unless you’re prepared to recycle water and grow crops with piped-in sunlight and your own humanure, you’re eventually going to have to come up for air.
Basically, it all comes down to this: a bunker isn’t going to help you survive the scenario that we never hear preppers talk about: the ongoing, Long Emergency-type slow failure of our unsustainable civilizational experiment we’re currently seeing across the globe. As overpopulation and climate change continue to ramp up, weather patterns get more extreme, our corrupted monocultural food industry becomes less productive, and people become more desperate and violent. I’ve never been one to deal with symptoms—I prefer to focus on the root of problems. And excluding celestial events that can’t be prevented, I can’t think of a disaster situation that doesn’t trace its birth to our 8,000-year-old culture of death and domination.

Anyway, the experts suggest that Elaine and Frank think about storing staples in their bunker, as well as consider a food resupply plan (because those food buckets aren’t going to refill themselves!) and joining a group of like-minded folks; on this last point, Frank stubbornly boasts that he doesn’t “play well with others.” Really? Dude, humans became human as social animals in communities; if you’re worried about survival, recognize that trying to fight your evolutionary heritage probably isn’t the best strategy.
In the end, the couple receive a score of 47 points for three months’ initial survival time – a new low.

Doomsday Preppers: Brian Brawdy

Up next we have Brian Brawdy, with a wonderful approach to life and survival.
brian brawdyA former police investigator, Brian is a sort of mental-self-help guru/explorer/lecturer/jack-of-many-trades who hosts a podcast from his souped-up RV (which he considers to be the ultimate bug-out vehicle), out of which he lives with his dog Brash. And I do mean live—Brian apparently has no home base and is a fully mobile, bona-fide rubbertramp. Brian has no interest in being held down defending a single piece of land (a la the Type I ‘bunker model’ to which most folks on this show cling)— “What kind of life is that?” he asks—and so for him and his dog, life is a 24/7 bug-out.
With this strategy, Brawdy believes he will be able to survive his fear of ‘any terrorist attack’ by maintaining complete mobility. Like the last couple, I honestly think he’s in a position to cope with just about any foreseeable contingency.
And why do I think he’s sufficiently prepared? Because his driving impetus is to “imitate Nature!” YES! Why does it feel like Brian is the very first person on the show to suggest such a concept?


Unlike Jim D.’s big miliscary rig, Brian’s looks pretty much like a regular consumer RV, with the addition of some solar panels, deployable wind turbines, and satellite dishes (and a bunch of sponsor logos).
Unlike ‘the Behemoth’ (which could somehow run on regular fuel and propane), Brian’s vehicle is just a standard diesel. In true Road Warrior-style, this means he is always driven (pun intended?) by the search for more Juice. To help him with this, he enlists the help of a wishes-to-remain-anonymous friend to show him how to siphon fuel from other vehicles. That’s fine, but personally my next step would be to convert the RV to run on biodiesel/cooking oil. If there’s one upside to our culture’s cancerous Sprawl, it’s that fast food restaurants (and their greasepits) will be ubiquitous features on a postapocalyptic landscape.

Because space is at a premium (leading him to have some ingenious storage space) Brian apparently doesn’t store ridiculous amounts of water. As such, he has to find and filter water wherever he’s camped for the night, so it’s nice to see the Katadyn Pocket getting some use. For a long-term bugout, it’s probably the best mechanical water filter around, what with the solid Swiss machining and the 13,000 gallon capacity. They’re a bit heavy and relatively pricey, but definitely worth it; I put three weeks’ worth of water through mine when I was in Guyana some years ago, and never once got sick. For what it’s worth, however, I recommend carrying (and practicing) a variety of purification methods; chlorine bleach, iodine tincture, potassium permanganate, a mechanical filter, charcoal for flavour, &c. It’s always a good idea to have backups for your backups!

We see Brian shooting a crossbow, but never get much more than a glimpse. I’d be interested to know if he travels with any firearms, or if he’s focused on mostly-silently eliminating intruders.

The experts give him 63 points (nine months); personally I’m surprised he got that high of a score, as his approach is so far removed from the Type I Prepping (to which the scoring system clearly skews) practiced by most on this show.

Why I Do What I Do.

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled programming…
While I normally reserve my non-television-related posts for the off-season, I have to share this while it’s still hot off the presses.

A great bit of weekend reading is just out from Robert Jensen, taken from his recent print publication and entitled “Rationally Speaking, We Are All Apocalyptic Now“. It’s a tight, less-than-1,000-word essay, and it’s absolutely spot-on.

‘What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed’, indeed.
This is the reason why I continually espouse the genius of Max Brooks’ WWZ. This is why The Matrix is one of the most unappreciated blockbusters ever. This is why I just wrapped up a 12,000-word project on Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs (and I’m just getting started). This is why I read Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings is apocalyptic to its core: epic Life-affirming adventuring against Industry threatening to bring about the End of the World). This is why I have a very hard time listening to most music, watching most TV, or reading most fiction—I don’t like to turn off my brain; I like to think, and I like to think about these kinds of things ^ because they’re important.

Doomsday Preppers: Kelly & John Taylor

After taking a week off, the show returns with ‘Hit the Ground Running’, which begins with a visit to the Virginia homestead of John & Kelly Taylor.
John&Kelly_TaylorThese two have years of experience as emergency responders and firefighter medics, including dealing with a rioting, looting, panicked populace in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the years since that storm, they cashed in their pensions and moved from Florida to 41 acres of rolling land in the hills of Virginia. Apparently they paid for the land and house in cash, which means no mortgage, no debt, no bank constantly threatening to take back their property.
This is appropriate, because John and Kelly are “preparing for a total economic collapse” in probably the best way imaginable. If you’re worried about a world in which all your green paper is worthless, it’s only logical to intentionally create a way of life that doesn’t rely on that green paper, and that’s just what the Taylors have done: they’ve decided to live without money as if an economic doomsday is already here.  With no debts, and an ‘almost non-existent’ cost of living (their only bills are for phones and TV, and it sounds like they wouldn’t mind letting go of those, too), their plan to survive economic collapse by living without money looks pretty sweet.
And just in time, too. John explains his view that “you don’t have to be a genius or rocket scientist to see that our financial system is probably in its death throes.” Of course, it probably looked that way when this was filmed some months ago, but at the moment it seems that people believe what they’re being told (it’s getting better all the time!), and so consumer confidence is pushing the stock market to its highest levels in 5 years.
But don’t worry, it can’t last forever: remember, “growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

With little money left, the Taylors have focused on growing just about everything they eat, or as the narrator describes it, “turning their property into a giant self-sustaining supermarket”. In other words, they’ve created yet another permaculture food-forest, but we should know by now we’ll never hear that phrase uttered on American TV.
Because they’re focused on things that have actual, intrinsic value (as opposed to arbitrary value like precious metals and paper money), their self-sustaining homestead includes 40 chickens (with that many, they could easily go Barrelhaven and just start using eggs as currency), at least six goats (milk!), and best of all, a basic apiary setup! That’s right, they keep bees! Kelly and John get some assistance from local beekeeper Sharon Hall, who does some post-money bartering with them: she helps them out with their hives, and they recharge a car battery for her, using their awesome $99,000 solar panel setup.
Of course, with all that real wealth, the Taylors are worried in the event of an actual economic downturn their crops, honey, and solar will make them seem rich to the unprepared. And y’know what? They’re right: they are rich! They have no money (how our culture defines wealth), but they’re off the grid, they eat real food they raise themselves, the power company pays them, and they don’t owe anybody anything. Throw in some nearby neighbors doing the same thing and you’d have the makings of a community of true survivors. It’s the civilized, postindustrial, willful wage-slave folks with the green paper who are truly poor.
Anyway, they’re afraid their real wealth will make them targets to the zombie hordes, so they go to the co-op and buy a conibear  trap. I guess we’re supposed to believe they eventually intend to encircle their house with them? Honestly, I think these folks have more sense than that, and probably will just put traps around the chicken coop, but the producers spun it as if they intend to defend the whole homestead with leg traps.
Should their property be compromised, they have multiple caches hidden up in the hills to which they can fall back. Of course, the cache we see is simply a big white plastic cooler, covered in camo netting, visible from the house. Unfortunately, a white dot up on a hillside makes a nice target, so I’d invest in a few cans of earth-tone spray paint and truly camouflage the stash. From these hillside retreats, John and Kelly do some practice spotting and sniping at night. While I’m not sure about shooting towards one’s home in the dark, it’s nice to see them getting familiar with their weapons’ capabilities in the circumstances they’re preparing for. Too often we see guys practice at the gun range, who then assume it will automatically carry over to a homestead-defense scenario or whatever.

In their assessment, the experts tell them to start hoarding a year’s worth of food; Kelly thinks that’s ridiculous. The experts give them 71 points, for thirteen months’ survival time. Knowing how the scoring algorithm is skewed, I’d say that barring a planet-killing, extinction-level event (rogue asteroid, nuclear war, &c), these folks are well on their way to being able to deal with anything thrown at them.
In the update, we see that the Taylors have added some draft power to their menagerie and bought a donkey! Hey, it’s better than a mule. Now they just need to find a neighbor who also has a donkey and they’ll be set.