I, and I suspect, the rest of your readers might be interested in tales of your early years preps, and your recollected reasonings for the same. What kind of stuff did you start out with ? How did you manage what you had, and how did it all evolve to your position today ? What would you have done different in retrospect ?
I think things like that from someone with a few years on them would serve as a guide for the youngsters getting into prepping. Some of the younger preppers who blog could utilize more wisdom garnered from those who have more experience. Of course, the times are different now, but the basics still apply.
I started out as a youngster with almost nothing, got knocked on my ass a few times through my earlier years, and decided I wanted to get up on the game a bit. I don't think the youngsters today realize how much different things are for them today, versus 50 years ago.
Michael sez: This is a vast amount of data to try and transfer to people via a keyboard. The task is monumental. I will try to say a few things that might show some of the determination we espoused during those years.
The Old Man, Daniel Wright, had gotten a leading from God to come to this valley. He was awakened early one morning while living in Indianapolis when a voice spoke to him, outside of his body, and said, "I will show you my Valley." He immediately got dressed and got in his car and started to drive. He did not know where he was going. All he knew was the leading of the Spirit. When he came to an intersection he would look all directions and drive the way the Spirit felt strongly to him. Not many people travel that way. He drove and drove and found himself, finally, on a dirt road going down into a Valley. And dirt was what it was. Two ruts with grass and weeds growing down the middle. Driving down that hill on that old dirt path he aid he felt like he was entering the original Garden of Eden. The Spirit was on him very strongly. He got down the hill and drove a few feet and his Spirit was so high, so awakened, that he felt to pull over. He stopped in the little road and got out and went to the front of the car and raised his hands as he was kneeling in the dirt, to praise his God. There were birds singing and squirrels chattering and leaves rustling and a small creek bubbling, but suddenly it got very still. And that voice spoke a second time to him. "Here men will take off their shoes. This is Holy Ground." It was turning into quite a day!
He finally got back into his car and went on down the dirt road. After a few miles he came to a small rough cabin that had a sign in front of it that said "Smokey Valley Farm for Sale". He drove on another mile and a half or two miles until he came to a small water fall where he got out of his car again and went to a rock that was close to the little water fall. And there he made a few promises to God, standing on that rock by the water fall. He said to God, "Let this Valley come into my hands and I will use it for your people." A conversation ensued of which I am not privy to, but Daniel's offer was accepted and God gave him some instructions. Thus was the start of the God's Valley as a home for his people.
The man who had the farm for sale was contacted and a deal was made for Daniel to buy the farm. It is the original 86 acres of the almost 3000 we have now. I think Daniel paid almost $87 per acre for that land. Things were cheaper then and the Valley was a long ways away from the developers. A long ways.
Things moved along and a group of people were moved to the Valley. Just a handful really, but that was the beginning. The first few years were spent gardening and fishing and hunting with basically no income. Sort of an agrarian lifestyle. They built the first big lodge from trees growing right on this land. The locals gave them the wrong info on what specie to use so there were a few logs that started to rot away after about 8 or 10 years. They were Soft Maple and they should have been all Poplar. That was the first and last time that mistake was made.
A decision was reached that the farm needed a barn and Daniel went to a local sawmiller and asked him to cut out the barn pattern. It would be much cheaper than buying lumber at a lumber yard. The sawmill owner said Daniel should just buy a sawmill and cut his own barn out and save even more money. And he just happened to have an old hand mill he would sell. What a guy! So the few men who lived in the Valley went to work and built a building to house the sawmill on the side of the road that ran through our village. They dozed a place on a steep part of the hill and built the Mill so the sawdust had a long way to go to get to the bottom and would not build up too fast. The EPA didn't exist back in them days. Just a little bit down from the Mill we built a slab fire that we used to burn our slabs and edger strips. Again, no EPA was around to stop any of that.
The Mill finally got built and running and the men started logging the 86 acres. Jim Wright was the main sawyer back in those days. He is the guy who had to learn to run a 60" circle saw and make it cut good lumber. Not an easy task at all. Mind boggling if you don't know what you are doing. For a totally green beginner it must have been hell. I am a head sawyer and I know what it is like as far as difficulty when you have several guys around who have already got the routine down and can tell you what to do. Being a green guy and trying to get production must have been pure hell at times. But he learned a lot quickly and became a very good sawyer. And that is no easy accomplishment on an old hand mill.
We were on our third mill when I came in late January, 1971. It was not all installed but we could saw with it and make a living. Ya' see, there was a hardwood lumber company that sold to the trade located in Bedford, Indiana. It you could cut proper thickness they would buy your lumber and you would get a check. They graded it and told you what you had. Not a bad deal for them. They must have made a fortune off of us. But we had cheap timber and we were not paying wages so we made out okay. We were a partnership, although Daniel initially owned everything lock, stock and barrel. That was the Patriarchal way and it was fine with me. I was sold on that idea. But the fedgove finally said we could not do that. They said it was like the old company store of the old days. So ownership of the business was transferred to a partnership comprised of damn near everyone in the village. The IRS hated us. Every quarter we went in and laid this bundle of tax returns on their desks and they had to figure them out. We had a good accountant who had been an IRS guy for about 10 years and he knew what would fly and what would crash and our stuff always flew. I remember that we got audited twice in three years by the IRS. I asked my brother, who ran a Surveying firm, what he thought of that and he said. "It sounds like someone doesn't like you guys." And that just made us proud. They were going to give us some recognition one way or the other. And we wanted recognition. We wanted the world to know that we had the ideas of the future and they had just better watch our smoke! They didn't believe us but they will. It isn't time as yet, but it comes quickly I think.
And that is how it is when you are a political and religious revolutionary. Those are the things that count in this world and we knew it and we were striking a blow against the system every time we sawed up a log. We bought every piece of land in God's Valley that we could get someone to sell to us. When we weren't buying land we were build buildings, delivering babies, buying tracts of timber and all sorts of things. Every national holiday we could work, we did. I called it stealing a march of Scag. She was laying on her ass and we were growing stronger. Hell, take off another day, Scag Baby! And maybe not everyone is as crazy as me but I was thrilled by it. I believed in the rulership of God over the planet and whatever it took to accomplish that I was ready to perform. Daniel's message had really gotten to me.
We had free water from God for our kitchen and lodge we had a high spring we found and we dug it out and walled it up and ran a tube around the hill a long way until it was on the hill above our kitchen. Then we had a stainless steel tank of some size and we buried that on the hillside and the spring kept it full. We ran a tube down to the kitchen building and it supplied us with water those first few years until we grew too big and too spread out for the spring to handle it. But I loved that spring. I loved the water and I loved it that it was free. You had to buy the material to put it in but after that you had free water. No water bill! And no electricity to run a pump! Wonderful! Those saving would by us a keg of beer on Saturday night and I loved that too!
We worked like dogs back in those days and now that I am older I am proud of it. It was hard work. Long hours in the rain and the heat and the snow and the dust. If you had the dream it was easier to bear than if you were one of those who just worked because you had to. And we had guys who didn't want to work. But they worked anyway or they hit the fucking road. Life was too hard and money too tight to have a bunch of freeloaders. Supporting bums and loafers was for outside society. The fedgov could contribute to that mess if they wished, but not us. He that won't work, neither shall he eat. Of course, we broke that rule constantly with guys off for being hurt, but that was never mentioned. They were troops injured in battle as far as we were concerned. And to those who bought the dream, it was a battle. The battle to survive against all odds. The battle to please God and take care of our big family. It was strictly an us vs them situation. No quarter asked and none given. The new day was being built and get out of our way!
I have to quit now but maybe I can get back to his again soon. I have a lot of stories to tell. Stay alive and have some peace in this troubled world.