When Darkness Falls

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Grampa and it’s a long one! If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

I am…. The shortest sentence in the English language. Which demonstrates the limits of my grammatical abilities!!! Going forward I will attempt to convey my thoughts on survival. Please excuse the use of my inadequate verbiage, my assault on your senses and hope you have a tolerance for boredom that is larger than normal. My spin on survival comes entirely from my own aging mind.

Among my rambling rants one may pick up a useful tidbit of information. With so much information, how does one define what is needed or not? What will be truly useful or not? What will get us killed or not? I may have a different perspective. While not totally immobile I suffer moving great distances and would provide yet another hazard on the road. I am part of the aging population that would most certainly perish in a crisis of any size or length. Looking at the aged, what value are we? We live in a world where when something fails or breaks we discard it. Buy anew and go on without thought of what we would do when we will have no stores to purchase what we need. At this point having spoken to my grandchildren, who like most, suffer from their immortal ideas of what life is or fantasies of what it should be. The impatience evident with things of today’s technology, providing instant action, information, or gratification. Who or what will they turn to when and if TSHTF? I now begin to realize it won’t be only our aging population that will be at risk. We are indeed a nation of educated morons.

Intelligence limited by our electronic devices. I doubt most could open a can without the electric can opener to prevent starvation. Knowledge is a relative thing. Put an electrical engineer that earns six figures in the woods and he is stupid. He will die of thirst, starvation and exposure. Having water that abounds, food at his feet, shelter and warmth with little effort. I read a short story once of how in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. So it will be for the ones who have the usable knowledge. Survival assured by matching one’s skills and ability to adapt to the problems at hand. The problem will be whatever threatens our well-being and existence. It will come from many directions and many forms. Food and water quickly running out because we the people will not conserve, having the good sense to limit our intake. The ways of waste consuming valuable resources. Such mundane things as children refusing to eat food because it doesn’t taste good. With the food and water gone the people will move. Some will form bands that provide security and force to take what they need. This is a predictable fact we have seen take place in south America. As for the next danger, coming invisibly, quietly and in many forms in air and water and some food. The severity, unpredictable as the mobs after food. The stench of death that hangs prevalent and unavoidable. Disease will take more people than all the wars of mankind. What did man do before Doctors and their medication prescribed to battle illness. The long defeated illness of years past will become the pandemic that we cannot defeat.

Will it send man the way of the dinosaur? This is the one thing we will have no warning to avert, As the mob in search of food. This is the danger we must prepare for if we expect to survive with an acceptable level of civilization. Having no skills in this area I defer to people who have spent much time gathering the data that will avert most of our ailments. Who would I trust? I have my pharmacist with a degree in chemistry as it applies to dispensing the compounds to heal. She has also studied natural medicine that would provide substitute treatments. Would they work as well? Possibly not but what would be our alternative. This would be a skill to have as TSHTF.

If we hope to survive we must do more than recycle. It must be repair not replace. The days of the disposable society gone. We will try desperately to return to our powered society. As a retired contractor this is the small area I may provide answers and Ideas with substance. Because I am located in Michigan I have given this area some thought. I realized we had resources unused. A river that flows with some force both summer and winter. While it would take organized effort we could build generators to sit below the surface unaffected by the ice flow. Power that could be provided could power the one refinery that is in Melvindale. It would provide fuel for trains that could transport food. Before this is running we have several steam engines around Michigan and in Henry Ford museum. They also have a machine shop to restore other engines that would transport tools and parts where needed. They even have boilers and generators that with little work could function. Their old cars providing needed transportation for vital services. Knowing where assets are that can be used will determine where we will stand with power as we were used to is gone. Steam wouldn’t be effected by magnetic short-circuit. The very thing we want to eliminate would again provide limited power.

If we do nothing but panic resorting to pillage, we will fail. Plans at all levels but below government level that involves people of skill that knows where resources are that can be used to recover. Because it would be the grid that needs the repair data of the resources of parts that can be tested recovered and moved to critical areas that would get other repair sites working.

Leaving it to government it would be the capital that would take priority. In truth fuel to power trucks and trains to start the flow of food and water. The organizing of communities that have no skills and show them how to get by with much less than normal. This a statement that startled even my own inadequate reasoning! Normal? With an event that could end mankind’s stay on our planet, it will be we who will define what normal will be. It will be defined upon the efforts of the few who will step up to be the new leaders. Leaders take many forms. The many that wish only the power to control with no thought of the future are as all in our history destined to fail. With their failure they take the others who follow with them. If man will hope to survive an event that could end man it must have balance between power and growth. Growth to the direction that will take us back to civilization. Civilization the word itself defines a wide range of conditions. With the step back we will be forced in taking, the billions have a chance for a new direction. To use this advantage, we must first survive! The leaders that step forward have a daunting task. Those who take it will be as much or more at risk than the people who need help. Knowledge weighs nothing. Now is the time to acquire it. Survival will come back in many stages. To the impatient and unprepared this is the moment that will define if man will return to any form of civilization. Survival cannot depend upon having food and water to last for the first few months. This is existence not survival. A realization you won’t want as the event is well under way.

Returning to the subject of survival it seems to have become quite complicated. For all the “plans” proposed none have presented themselves as a solution that will cover all. The only answer becomes having enough information and your abilities to apply it to your needs. Even this presents a problem. Knowing how to start a fire and the actual chore accomplished by unskilled hands, will define if you live or die. Having the warmth to survive to the next day is but a small part fire will be in your efforts to survive. Survival cannot be a day-to-day decision. Civilization has now ended and the rules changed. It will require us to make hard choices. No longer equal to the ones that decide which toothpaste to buy so your teeth are the whitest.

Your decisions now will determine if you and your family lives to see the next day and hopefully the next week. To start a fire with a match on the grill has flustered many. Add the factors that you now are forced to use wood, wet wood and in the cold and in a wind with one hand hurt and it becomes clear that you may join your ancestors and you have failed your family. You manage to get the wood alight and give off the sigh of relief for you have overcome your first hurdle. Your first step on the journey of many. Each determines your fate of yourself and family. Before you extend the daily decisions to make where any one of them can be your last. You can make only one fatal mistake. I hope I have presented my message that each choice one makes in a crisis that must be made quickly should have with it the authority of knowledge and skills behind it. Only now do you increase your chances of survival. Without knowledge and the skills to use it survival becomes little more than a crap shoot. Again I find myself repeating myself using my poor English skills in the effort to make myself understood. I ask your understanding for making this longer than it should be.

With so many clever people who have given us wise sayings such as the one about life giving us lemon’s and making lemonade. Having fractured it I hope you understand my meaning. With an event that sets man back centuries in technology hands us an advantage as well. We will have the proverbial “reset” button. As I said earlier I was lucky enough to spend my summers on a farm. Life wasn’t as complicated in the fifties. The adjustment to having little power to use wasn’t seen as a great problem. Unlike the adjustment of today with communication only a text away we had time to enjoy the anticipation of seeing a friend at a social get together. We as a society have lost so much with technology. How can I describe feelings? The simple pleasures lost. The things looked upon as taboos were not even thought about. The gang, both boys and girls skinny-dipping in the river. Enjoying the sights nature provided. How many have enjoyed the sight of a beautiful young lady with water glistening upon her skin. The touch of a hand that sets your skin alive with goose bumps sending the feelings that nature has given us to enjoy. Today we would find ourselves standing in front of a judge charged with crimes that “government” has determined illegal. We as society have lost so much. The tragic event that would take so many lives could give us back our humanity. To have it back we must first get past the event that will devastate most of mankind. I repeat, we have a choice. It will be up to us if we make it. To most life will end with the ability to text. We, the ones who have prepared must prepare also for the ones who haven’t As I ponder what we will face, each new article hands me a new problem. So many that I see them as insurmountable. And they will be when confronted by the single person or family.

A partial answer must be the community. With today’s technology we are a community of strangers. Knowing the people next door and across the street are the extent of most acquaintances. We have no real friendships. This will present our greatest problem for our survival. So unfamiliar with people that we only nod politely to as we pass will provide the distrust that could provide the split that will provide the fall of a community. The children having more contact than we. How did we get to this point? Two items that I see divided us the most. TV and air conditioning. Growing up we sat on our steps because the inside was hot. We walked and talked and in doing so knew who our neighbors were. We as children never knew how our parents knew when we were caught raising hell or were in a scrap with another child. The parents told our parents before we got home. We knew that if we caused trouble it would find its way home before we got there. We did enjoy a peaceful and quiet neighborhood. It will be critical for our survival to be able to rely upon one another. How do we put this into a book for all to learn? We can’t. We have lost a critical skill developed by generations of social behavior by people needing the contact and bringing the young people together that would ensure the future of man. We will need no less.

With the density of people, we cannot be self-sustaining. Even if we all grew a garden it wouldn’t be enough. Man is at the point where we waste as much or more than we consume. We must put away the food needed for winter. Winter will cull still more people. Our learning curve cannot be sharp enough or actions quick enough for the majority of us to survive. At the risk of being redundant we will face the ones who haven’t prepared coming after the food that others have stored for themselves. Would you or could you kill someone you knew who demanded you give up what you have. Understand their reason and need to eat will be as great as yours. The reason they are in this position will be of no consequence to them. Knowing they are hungry and their family as well is reason enough. Logic will have no force in dealing with these people. Be prepared for you must make the choice. It is one thing to talk it another to pull the trigger. Is it then better to convince your neighbor to prepare? The time to be blunt is at hand. Telling them that if they show up at your door to take what you have you will shoot them may make them mad but may save their life in the long run. Knowing your position may get them to put away food and water. When times are good and no real foreseeable threats we let tomorrow take care of itself. The attitude that got us in this shape to begin with. While nature and the concept it will remove mankind is a remote thought for most. Man’s threats are more real but almost as remote. The idea that government will take care of the threat and be able to rescue assures most that actions to prepare is unnecessary. So how do we convince them? It will be these people who will be at your door demanding that you stand as their savior and resort to taking what they need to survive yet another day. It would be my wish for these people to read the story’s about the famine in china where the people resorted to eating their own children to survive. Their refusal to see the possibilities of such a reality blocks their mind of acceptance that such a thing could happen. The tragedy of the Donnar party in 1884 is but another myth told as a horror story to frighten and thrill, but real none the less. Does any have the answer.? People such as I who only want others to stay alive, not dying on my doorstep. Because I must make the choice for survival.

It isn’t fancy gadgets that will insure our survival. It will be the skills developed by man over the millennia. Unlike our temporary electronics, the skills present in a man’s hands doesn’t go out of date. The skills to repair will be in most demand. Our days of tossing items away must be over. If each chose to develop just one skill that was needed in years past, survival becomes easier. If I may be clear, life carry’s no guarantees. Just as the pioneer took the risks to choose the life they wanted. The sailor that chose to sail to the uncharted waters. Many times not to return. The risks they made gave them the rewards they wanted. Our rewards would be survival. The gift that gives us choice to go forward or sit down and perish. What is your choice. Without civilization nothing will come easily. It is time to prepare.

We have the time, and no time like the present, using the well-worn phrase. For too long we trusted, relied on others to provide our nation with the secure environment that provides the atmosphere for everyday life. Our attention diverted, focused on a dream we all have. Most content to live and enjoy family and friends. Others have the higher goals that success demands. In our successes we are also failing to see the larger problem. We are like a clock with many parts. All must work in unison or it fails. Some degree of error can be tolerated and while it may not provide correct time its function will continue. Our nation faces the threat of one weak point. If it fails, we will be sent back, unprepared to the middle ages. It is my personal belief the distraction of our people is intentional. The objective, power and control. The collapse from our weak point is not a part of their plan. What is our weak point? Our power grid. Having no talent for predictions I can only speculate as to who or what will start the event. Man or nature my choices. Man pales to the power of nature. The event that would remove man’s future is on a path from our sun. It will come as it has before. With hours warning and we cannot prevent it. It may be averted with some localized success. The degree of severity will depend on how complete our preparations. They come without guarantees. If life is to go on with any amount of success, we must look ahead and be prepared to live a much harder life that is demanding our attention both today and tomorrow.

The multitudes are in no better shape than I to judge what will keep us safe. Daily I have pop ups flash across my Email screen with the promise that they have the answer for your survival. It comes prepackaged in convenient sizes that require we add boiling water to provide the gourmet meal that has a shelf life of twenty-five years. All heated on your stove made from the soda can made with your universal handy-dandy do all tool that is also guaranteed not to rust, bust, or collect dust. One small question. If it fails or the food tastes bad who will you complain to? Are you willing to risk your life on these promised miracles? Who among you expects to be in the woods when TSHTF? Who is willing to put their family at risk for the fault of being unprepared. Again the conundrum we face if we decide to act and plan ahead.

There are so many problems to consider, so which do we choose to prepare for? A fortuitous meeting with an old associate answered some questions. The man was in the Navy as was I. Our conversation was about survival. He said something interesting. He compared survival to planning a mission. As a member of the special forces America he had trained for decades. Telling me that it isn’t just a bunch of men given a mission to do and they go in and kill people and break things. Preparation is as big a part of the mission, and survival of the event. Attention to the smallest detail to ensure success. The large part? Intelligence is critical so they have the correct actions at the time they are needed. We as individuals must do as much planning as they. No less required to ensure our survival. We cannot use governments plan with it’s one size fits all. Just as each man and families are different answering the needs to the individual is the only way to insure our survival.

To survive we must use every resource. The thought of grabbing the wife and kids to “bug out” is romantic but unpractical. While true that the majority will not recognize it for what it is. You will still have plenty of company. Within days the food gone and the stark realization that help isn’t coming. The movement starts. What will it be like? With the magnetic assault on earth by nature or man it will leave few sources of transportation. With the presidential executive orders these will be seized along with your food and water. The rest pushing or pulling anything that will hold what they think is valuable. We have seen the refugees fleeing in the war zones. The reality is they having lived with this would survive better than we. As the people move they would strip the land of anything edible. Moving into the countryside to consume the very things that would offer a true chance for survival if used correctly. Thoughts for the future are nonexistent. The stomach is empty today and their child screaming with hunger and the wife that pushes you to feed your children is yet another pressure that drives men without logical thought. Desperation and hunger are powerful forces that cannot be reasoned with. Can any invasion the riots for a scrap of food that won’t feed one sought by the many? As the multitudes pass the countryside striped as if hit by the locus. The damage so great it won’t produce for years. Even the people who were prepared unable to defend, finding even their pets eaten.

Our answer and our only answer is if man’s actions must be kept from happening. If natures, we must if unavoidable must have enough organization to insure the survival of most. To let them see that the answer isn’t to venture out to find food because it would insure their death. Again I repeat myself. How? If we need to sit down to read of which actions to take it is already too late.

Now I offer a resource that many overlook. Our aging population. We are on the cusp of losing a great resource. Over the past centuries this information for the normal every day family life was passed down within the family. Each method for the family’s survival tried many times and refined to where they knew it worked. Even as we write these words another bit of information is gone. Books were rare, focused on life’s basics of reading writing and math. It was quite sufficient to serve the life they lead. We have a tremendous amount of information. With the collapse of the civilized world and its access, technology becomes worthless. To survive we must be able to take a step back in time and recover skills long dormant. Still practiced by a few, these people will become the center of survival. Now with time plentiful, answers seem simple. We must have the ability to practice the skills of yesterday. Even when read about in books the skills cannot be forthcoming. All skills are not found in books. They must be passed on from practiced hands and repeated by the apprentice until the skills are ingrained and automatic. It should be clear that we must not retire our aging craftsmen. They must be used as teachers to pass skills to new hands. Having looked at the basics that would keep a community alive, the skills of our aging craftsmen must be saved and used. No community will have all the skills available for complete self-reliance. The structure that provides survival must also include the ability to trade services and goods. Society has taken this to its extreme. This is what makes us so vulnerable. If we lose our source of power society will collapse and within the cities with such panic and chaos that we will have mass deaths. Well government will step in and prevent it yes? With the many cities with their millions where will government find the forces to hold our civilization from exploding from mass hysteria? Hunger will make even the most civilized do things not dreamed of in everyday life. Even the most prepared will not survive an onslaught of people wanting what you have, and doing anything to get it. Would you have enough bullets or shoot fast enough? Not even the most skilled military trained individual could. It should be clear by now that it isn’t having the things necessary to sustain but your ability to keep it. With a catastrophic collapse of society and its mechanical abilities to provide food water and food, will it be like before the people stop coming? Never having such an event what can we use as reference?

Leaving the last and most unpleasant for last, well this is it, Shit! Yes, what will we do with it? Can you even fathom how much waste a city of just one million people can generate? In America in our densely populated areas a million is usually the average. Pack the cities next to each other and we quickly reach near four million. Stop a moment and see the unseen. Our trash collectors. Noticed only when they block our way out of the sub. The truly unseen will soon get our full attention. How many have unconsciously flushed the toilet? It gets our undivided attention when blocked. The plunger a minor unpleasant chore is quickly forgotten. Without power it will need your undivided attention. What was only a short interlude sometimes used to talk because our out house had two seats. And horror of horrors it wasn’t uncommon to share it with a cousin, of either sex.

We didn’t have the hang-ups displayed with today’s society. Privacy wasn’t as big a deal The farm had no bath tub so we had a rain barrel cut in half set next to the wood stove in the kitchen that provided the hot water. Privacy provided from the respect we showed each other. As we stood exposed our privacy came from the others in our family. People will need to see that privacy is a thing of the past and it will now come only from the respect we have and show for each other. It will be only family that will let us survive.

Mankind!!… Has existed on this planet by accident or design by intelligence far above ours. Roughly four million years give or take a few thousand. But who am I to split hairs. Mankind is nothing more than the result of a multitude of survived accidents. In the blink of the eye we are the new kids on the block. No other organism has come so far so fast. All because we have the capacity to think. We plan, we error, we record and we learn from our mistakes. Well most of them anyway. We, being unique in the animal kingdom, waring as others creatures do but the big difference? We have devised weapons that will destroy not only our enemy but ourselves included. All this has been said before but does anyone listen? We formed governments that are promptly corrupted by the desire for power. It is then up to the citizen to act individually and with responsible actions that will insure our survival. We must look at what we have learned from our accidents and apply them to the problems we know we will have, and the ones we cannot predict. It must be the accumulation of all our knowledge, using it to our best advantage and a healthy dose of sheer dumb luck.

Now I enter the area in which I have absolutely no experience, which is just about everything. Planning the survival of your group. I now risk making myself the absolute fool. My goal will attempt to first ensure the continuation of our existence as a community and mankind as a whole. With the endless possibilities I will choose to explore the worst case being the loss of the power grid worldwide. No help will come! We are on our own. The many born and raised within the city and the closest contact with nature is a zoo and a park will be thrust into silence. Most never realize just how much noise pollution exists. With the dark and the silence, we will have a very scary first night. Many will go into a mental shock. Without direction, confusion is your enemy. The fact that so many won’t know what to do will be the first cause of deaths. By the very law of averages says we will have people who are capable to survive without food or water and certainly without power. How many they can support or organize to work together to provide support will be the question. How many will use the crisis to take advantage to seize power? Just having food and water for a set period of time addresses only the short-term solution. Having the good fortune to spend my summers on my cousin’s farm in Canada has given me a different perspective on what is possible without power. The problem is that I am in the super minority. The realization to organize the panicked population into a work force organized enough to insure survival for even a small community is a task too large for even the military if it still survived. They are power and force. They are trained to kill people and break things. Saving people is a very small part of their training. Military follow directions they don’t organize community structures. The purpose of military is to secure and push people into a cube that the danger to themselves is reduced. For long-term are most ineffective. Each community is different, enough so that it is critical to have local intelligence that knows what each needs.

If mankind is to survive with any degree of civilization, preparation is critical. We do have areas government has actually moved in the right direction. Our seed bank is one. After our critical event who will get the seeds? The ones who do will have control? Is the idea noble or a quest to ensure absolute power? The Idea itself a worthy effort that would help insure man’s survival. The direction government moves to feed and house a multitude will fail. I have seen the plans and they are meager. Requiring force to protect. Protect from who? The ones who won’t fit? Who now holds the power that will decide who survives. The answer should be ourselves. If we prepare we will be the majority. It can only happen with we, working as mankind as a unit if we remain fragmented we are finished as a civilization. Mankind will survive but will do so at a level few can or would want to. As in all things we do we have choices. We are presented with some future possibilities both natural and man-made. How we go forward will determine at what level man will survive. Is the crisis real? Who can say. Nature has made survival very hard at times. With our brain it is possible to adapt and survive. Natures events are always much larger than man can only dream of doing. If we all prepare and expect the worst will some or most survive? The question is, do you want to be one of them? I survived quite well with the simple life the farm provided. Having lived well into my seventies I can only reason it did me no harm. Even the farm required the need for power. The possibilities that it can work without it are possible. It is power that expands its useful range. It is power used to push it past normal productivity that has presented us with our dilemma. If we start now will we solve our problems before the event occurs? Yet another prediction which I don’t have an answer. For each man prepared we will have a million unprepared ready to take what you have so they can live another day. The larger the communal effort to prepare your odds go up. So I ask what is your survival goal? I give food for thought. We have two possibilities for man. One from man the other from nature. I feel if we would increase our odds by fifty percent we must look to the threat that we have some control. The one presented by man………. As darkness falls, from which hand will fall the shadow?

A Grampa……………… If you made it to the end I thank you and commend you on your endurance.

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  • paul crosley

    This sort of reads like a survival manifesto.
    But the info is true. Let’s face it, any long term emergency will be natures way of culling the unprepared, ignorant or just plain stupid.
    Stupidity may not be the persons fault, but nature doesn’t care! There will be those who survive by wits, gile or plain old luck. They have to adapt quickly, and some will. These will be the new teachers and sages to show the rest how to survive and thrive.
    Maybe then we will revere the wisdom of our elders.

  • Linda S

    Being one of the aged population I think you wrote a very insightful article. I raised my kids in the country & they learned skills from necessity. Only one lives on a farm now but they all will eventually. Their kids are grown & have some skills but I think they will improve. A lot of my teen granddaughter’s friends like to camp here in the Idaho mountains & they know how to rough it. I do have faith in our young people but you are right; we must pass this knowledge on at every opportunity. Thank you.

  • GregChick

    I agree with this rant, even if no “end” comes, this rant is an ethical one that is about the inconvenient reality that could happen. I subscribe to respecting life and all the resources that sustain it. This writing is about just that and more. I really hope we are not in a “body snatchers” reality and the TV and such has not masked the experience so we think that we think for ourselves, when we do not…

  • Bill

    Grampa: Amen brother, when all of todays societal convenience disappear there will be those who will quit, give up. But there will be those who will stand. Knowledge is knowing to try something different when you failed the first time. Survival is so much more than prepping with guns, ammo, and dehydrated food. It all about preparing your mind for what will be after the food runs out or has been taken from you. BUT LET ME ADD, when we come out the other side of this disaster/crisis we are about to enter, we will be a far better people and nation.


    Except for my 14+ years in the military I too have always lived in Michigan. As with Detroit and all the other “Large” cities Ive been to over the years Im thinking the majority there will all die before the rural areas. Even those of us in smaller towns will have the same problem. No food, no water, no transportation, no medical, no help. Most think that prepping and preparing is for the crazy and a majority have never or will never even think about it. They are all to tied up in the fast paced tech world we live in. Most arent friendly enough and for sure arent the “neighbor” type. Not where they could really depend on each other when the SHTF anyway. Getting any of them to even think about let alone prepare for a end of the world situation would/will be impossible. They will all die and kill each other off. THEN those that survive they will finally figure out they need to expand their search for survival outside the cities. Then all others who have been fortunate enough to last that long will have to fight even harder to survive. To fight off the most desperate, the ones who WILL do anything to survive.
    In generations of past where we were all in it together. Where we didnt have to depend on (but it was good to have) someone else we could call a friend or neighbor for the most part are gone. Not just someone we waved or smiled at. Some dont believe (many dont) but God & Faith does and will have a huge role in survival. It will be a daily struggle mentally, physically and spiritually to survive. Getting people to be interested in doing any of it will be a challenge.

    What you have wrote IS probably the way it will happen. No skills, no instincts equals no survival. When its all said and done, when its all over, when it is finished and “the smoke has cleared” those left (probably decades later) will only tell stories of how it was. And mankind will start all over again.

  • Nailbanger

    Very good piece, thank you, thought provoking for sure, unfortunately there are a lot of truly awful evil people in the world today and humans can be awful. Unfortunately, i fear that in my AO the very worst possibility is also the most likely.