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.
These 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.