And our last new preppers of the season are the Barber family, of Kansas.
Kevin sets the stage with a description of the typical, supposedly-ideal postwar American lifestyle. They live in the burbs, they work long hours at jobs they hate, they have bills for food/electricity/heating/airconditioning/TV/mobilephones/school/everything, “and that’s the problem.”
Kevin believes (probably correctly) that the national debt will continue to grow until “called” by our creditors, at which point he believes the “suburban dream will turn into a nightmare.” Pull the wool from over your eyes, folks, and wake up. The nightmare is already here – the System is just really good at covering it up and distracting you from it.
So, after recognizing that our society’s answer for Everything is simply ‘Make a Program and Throw Money At It’ (“Every problem we try to fix with a credit card!”), Kevin’s preparation for an oncoming economic collapse isn’t simply to turn his back on suburbia and go off-grid (like Joe from last week, which would be totally adequate). Instead, he’s pulling up stakes and moving to Costa Rica.
Though really, why Costa Rica? Do they want to be as far from the US as possible without leaving the continent? I feel like pretty much any dictator-free Central American country would have a similar environment and ethic; my third dad just got back from a two-month motorcycle trip through Mexico down to Guatemala, and it sounded just like the Costa Rica Kevin describes.
Kevin explains that they’re heading south (before the economy does) because he’s realized that living at a lower standard of living (a phrase solidly rooted in our culture’s Myth of Progress)— in other words, one somewhere a few rungs below the First-World industrial daydream he lived in the ’burbs—provides more opportunities for one to be self-reliant and therefore have a greater possibility of overall survival. As he says, “the typical Costa Rican doesn’t have as far to fall—they grow their own food, make their own power, and are used to living a simple life.” This is probably true. However, while it’s inspiring to see a suburban family from the West realize that it’s alright to live like the Rest, the bigger issue is all the folks from the ‘developing’/Third world/Global South who have been told that it’s the First World lifestyle they should be aspiring towards. It won’t do much good for all the Kevin Barbers in the world to move to the Costa Ricas of the world, if all the Costa Ricans of the world have been told for the last 50 years that they should want to be Kevin Barbers. Instead, everybody needs to realize that the Kevin Barber way of life just isn’t good for anybody.
Unfortunately, while I guess his idea is okay, I’m not a big fan of how they implement it. Instead of selling off pretty much all their possessions and arriving with suitcases and not much else (making do with the necessities, like the locals), they elect to hire a shipping container to fill up “to jump-start our new life”.
At least they take some solar panels and a generator.
Thankfully, while he still hangs onto a lot of Stuff, Kevin at least realizes that “self-sufficiency isn’t about buying a lot of gear, but having skills.” WORD. I think it’s also about having a certain attitude, but that can come later. He goes on to admit that “despite living in Kansas”, they “don’t know much about growing [their] own food or butchering animals.” Yes, Kevin, because you live in the ’burbs. Joe and Wendy live in Kansas too, and do know about those things—but only because they’re unplugged. Even if you’re not living the self-reliant lifestyle, if you live in the ’burbs or anywhere else within the matrix, you really owe it to yourself to at least become familiar with such things.
Thankfully, the Barbers do just that, and take the opportunity to take some crash-courses in areas they lack.
Joe Fox of Viking Preparedness drops by to teach the kids basic Don’t Get Lost in the Woods skills, and gives them kid-friendly bug-out-bags. They also start taking Spanish lessons. Finally, they get a visit from Marjory Wildcraft (with a name like that, she was pretty much born to teach outdoor skills). She schools them in survival entomophagy (or as non-westerners calls it, eating dinner)—chowing down on mealy worms, crickets, and scorpions. And then she breaks out a live Sister Turkey to butcher. Ms. Wildcraft has Kevin dispatch it, and they skin and butcher it together. Now, from what we’re shown (or not shown, thankfully), it seems they just hold the hen down and slit its throat, which is pretty much the least humane way possible. Yes, you want to bleed the animal, but that shouldn’t be what kills it. Thankfully, when dispatching poultry, you have several methods at your disposal. Regardless of what technique you choose, it always helps to hang the bird by its feet for four or five minutes first, which basically causes the bird to pass out. That way, when you stab/whirl/knock/chop it, there’s much less flapping and screaming.
*Books will tell you to stick an icepick through the roof of the bird’s mouth, but as small as their brains are, I wouldn’t trust myself to stick it right on the first try, and nobody likes a botched lobotomy.
*Alternately, I have a friend who uses a wire loop to hold the bird’s head tight to a board, and she just holds onto the feet and yanks up, cleanly breaking the neck.
*For what it’s worth, I’ve also found that a miniature Louisville Slugger is perfect for knocking chickens on the back of the head.
*Finally, there’s always the archetypal hatchet-and-stump method, which results in lots of flopping around like, well, a chicken with its head cut off. I’ve noticed that this method always results in “postmortem contractions of posterior neck ligaments”. In other words, your decapitated chicken will quickly stiffen up and do its best to imitate a dead therapod:
When dad dispatches the bird, Kevin’s son remarks that “This is sad.” Indeed it is. Nice to see the kid—while he may not be consciously aware of it—is still undomesticated enough to sense a kinship with his sister animal. Without an reciprocal offering or thanking of the Great Spirit, however, it just feels imbalanced.
In the end, the family receives 60 points, which computes out to nine months’ survival. I’m kind of surprised they got such a relatively-high score, considering they don’t seem to be immigrating with much in the way of stored food or water (and we know what sticklers the ‘experts’ are for storing water).
And we finally get to see a post-filming update from the family, with a really funny bit where Kevin starts out all bundled up only to strip off his winter clothes as the camera zooms out to reveal they’ve arrived in the tropics! There’s a dozen different kinds of fruit just waiting to be picked off the tree, they have the chicken coop set up, and the weather is spring-like all year. I was never big on the tropics before (maybe because the last time I was there was the rainy season), but Kevin makes it look really tempting.