Is Easter Critical to Christianity?

Related imageI should be outside, enjoying this beautiful Easter Monday. Instead, here I am, typing away. Sometimes, I question my priorities. On the other hand, I simply had to write and process some things I read this morning.

In yesterday’s New York Times, an opinion writer, Nicholas Kristof, had a rather interesting, and disturbing interview published. His interviewee was, Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, in New York.

First, I think I’ll Link the article. You’ll Find it HERE. That way, no one can accuse me of taking anything out of context.

I have nothing against Dr. Jones. She seems like a decent person. I have no intentions of slandering her or the school. It’s merely the thesis of her interview that bothers me to my core. The short version is, she does not believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus from the dead, in his virgin birth, the necessity of the cross, or even in the efficacy of prayer. And she still calls herself a Christian Minister.

She has every right to believe, or disbelieve, anything she likes. The U.S. Constitution grants her that. I will fight for her right to believe, stand for, and even proclaim her beliefs publicly. My problem is this: you cannot deny the fundamental core of Christianity, and still call your theology, Christian. That is simply not fair to either Christians, or non Christians.

Even a cursory glance at the New Testament, will demonstrate that the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth, was the central doctrine of the early Church. It is the cornerstone of all four Gospels, including Mark, which she says doesn’t have it. In all 4 of them, and in the Book of Acts, the resurrection of Jesus is central to the very being of Christianity. In Acts, for example, the Resurrection is the core teaching of every gospel sermon recorded. In I Corinthians 15, Paul says it is of “first importance”, and that if Jesus is not raised “we are of all men, most miserable.”

It is Jesus resurrection that gives meaning to the Cross. Without it, its merely the story of a murder, or a public execution. It gives validity to the Christmas story of the virgin birth. Otherwise, it’s just a tragic tale of a pregnant woman giving birth in a stable.

The Resurrection, gives meaning to all of Jesus teaching. It validates every thing he said. In short, there simply is no Christianity, if Jesus did not rise from the dead.

You don’t have to believe it. Although I encourage you to do your homework and read about it. I would encourage you to read the Gospel of John, to begin, then investigate the claims.

You you can’t call yourself a Christian, yet deny every central claim of it’s belief system. I’m sorry. Neither Christianity nor logic will allow it. I stand by my initial arguments; Dr. Jones is entitled to every jot and tittle of her beliefs. But she cannot call it Christianity.

I was hoping I’d feel better, getting that off my chest, but I don’t. I feel absolutely rotten because of the many people who will read the article in the NYT and come away confused. Please, read the New Testament for yourself. You may not believe it, though I hope you do. But you’ll see with absolute clarity that Dr. Jones does not align with Christianity as taught in it’s pages.

That was a dare. Let me say it more clearly. Read it. I dare you. At least read the Gospel of John, and the Book of Acts.

Oops! My First Keto Mistake

pink saltI made a mistake with my keto program, and it really messed with me for several hours today. Stay tuned and I’ll explain it here in a moment.

First, We’ve (my wife and I) been keto for two weeks. My bride has not lost much weight. It’s a girl thing. Ladies have more problems than men dieting in general, but it’s especially true with keto. Some women don’t lose, or they even gain weight, during the first 6 weeks of the program. Yikes.

As I understand it, when we switch to a keto diet, we’re asking our bodies to do something dramatic. We’re asking it to change the fuel it uses to burn energy (calories). On a typical diet, we use carbs to provide that fuel. When we switch to keto, we tell our bodies to switch to burning fat as our primary source. That doesn’t happen overnight. Think about switching your car from petrol (gasoline) to diesel. Probably you’re going to have to change cars, you can’t just switch.

That’s one of the ways the human body is different. God made us so we can run on either fuel base. I think that’s incredible. But it takes time to become fat adapted. Some people switch easier. Some people take longer to adapt. We can do it, we just need to be patient.

In my case, I lost 5 pounds the first week. That was awesome and I’ll take it. But I’m 62 now rather than 32, and my metabolism is not what it used to be. Of course the 5 pounds was water weight, not fat loss.

The second week, I lost another 3 pounds. I was disappointed at first. When I was 30, I could lose 20 pounds the first two weeks of a diet. Then I remembered, I’m not 30 any more. I’m more than twice that. Sigh. Anyway, I’ll take the 8 pounds and be happy.

Ok, let’s get back to my mistake. Yesterday, I decided to go to the gym. I was feeling more energetic than I have in two years. I went a couple times in January, but the experience was awful. I used to be a guy who worked out 5 or 6 days a week. I trained with WWE wrestlers and professional body builders. I know my way around a gym, even though I look like I only know my way around a Golden Corral buffet.

I walked to the gym rather than take the car. It’s only about half a mile, so the walk would be a good stretch before the workout. When I got to the gym, it was really crowded. Mostly with children and teenagers. Children in the pool, teens in the gym area.

I managed to get a few minutes on a treadmill, and a fairly decent upper body workout with some of the machines. I couldn’t get near any free weights.

I decided, while doing my workout, to go to the sauna and steam rooms. Those are my favorite parts of the gym. I have loved saunas since the late 80s. I can sit and think. I can pray and meditate. It’s a real selfish, me time. Especially when the sauna is empty, like it was last night.

I did a full 20 minutes in the sauna, which is all my doctor recommends right now. After that I hit the steam room. I only managed three minutes in there. All the steam gets to me pretty quickly, so I didn’t push it.

After I got home, I had a cup of tea, talked for a while with my wife, then went to bed. That was my mistake. I didn’t re-hydrate. I had lost a lot of electrolytes sweating away in the gym and sauna and I didn’t replace them. So when I got up this morning, I was severely tired. I had my coffee, but it didn’t do it’s usual job. Honestly, it was 9:30 before I figured out what was wrong. I had a cup of tea and took some iced tea upstairs to the office. By 10:30 I thought I was going to pass out. I was really weak.

I went to the kitchen and ate a handful of Pink Himalayan salt. Then I had another. I was instantly revived, just like if I’d had a chocolate bar. The electrolyte boost was almost instantaneous. At lunch I put extra salt on my meal. And had some more before going back to work. I’ve been drinking iced tea all afternoon. As a result, I’m starting to feel better. Not as good as recent days, but certainly I’m getting hydrated and getting the electrolytes back in balance.

I’ve never been one to take electrolyte concoctions to the gym, or to have a pre workout shake, or a post workout one. A glass of water, yes. Any thing else seemed weak. I’m going to have to rethink my options. I’m not the man I used to be. It’s now obvious to me that after a workout, especially if I go to the sauna, I will require electrolytes when I get home.

Take my advice. If you’re trying a keto lifestyle, be patient. It takes a while to become fat adapted. You’re asking your body to adjust to a new fuel. And, don’t neglect your electrolytes. If you’re losing water weight anyway, you’re flushing them down the toilet. So if you go to the gym and sauna and sweat a lot, your body will need the replacements.

Finally, if you’re over 40, or if like me, you’re over 60. Take it slow. Don’t have the expectations of a 30 year old. We can do this. It just takes time.

The Ketogenic Diet and My Problems With Aging.

meI’m Fat! There I said it. Sadly, not for the first time. But I want you to really understand what I’m saying. I’m not overweight. I’m not portly. I’m not big boned. I’m Michelin Man, fat. Obese. No, Morbidly Obese. It’s the kind of fat, that makes it easy for me to be self deprecating, and use it as a part of public speaking as a great source of humor.

Here’s the deal. It works. I’m funny. I can make a crowd chuckle, giggle, and roar with laughter. I love that. It feeds me. I truly enjoy making people happy. You can get people to swallow a great deal of truth while their mouths are open laughing. And I love sharing truth with people.

While it works, it’s easy. It may even be the shallowest form of humor. Very little thinking or creativity needs to be put in to one’s humor when you’re using self deprecating abuse as your method and target.

Because I love to make people laugh, and hear their laughter, I’ve been able to avoid the actual fact that I’m unhealthy. I just bury it in the back of my mind and go on. I can make jokes about buying larger clothing, breaking chairs, or causing fear in the eyes of the person who has to sit next to me on an airplane. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been able to joke about getting a bus seat all to myself. People will laugh. I will cry a little in private. Then swallow it with a cheeseburger, and go on.

Two years ago, things got serious. I was having trouble breathing when I walked any distance. My chest hurt. I didn’t know what was wrong, until I had a heart attack. I’d had a small stroke in January of 2017, but didn’t tell anyone. I was raising money to become a missionary, and didn’t want anything to stop me. For a while, my wife had to do everything because I couldn’t think straight, or write. I am so grateful for her.

Then in late August, or early September, I had a heart attack. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. It was kind of embarrassing. I had two strokes, small ones, but real, in the hospital. I remember them both quite profoundly.

After about a week, I went home. Things were somewhat better. I was now on all kinds of medications and I had to carry a spray in my pocket in case of heart issues. But I carried on.

In November, my wife and I took a trip down to Edinburgh for our anniversary. For those who don’t know, “The Royal Mile” is one of Edinburgh’s more famous shopping and tourist areas. Walking back up the Mile, my heart began to hurt like it hadn’t since my attack. I used my spray several times, but I was scared. Eventually, we made it back to our bus stop and went to our hotel. The short version is, I ruined the anniversary. My wife was so scared. And to be honest, angry. When we got home however, I used it to make people laugh.

In June of 2018, I was finally taken in to hospital for triple bypass surgery. It was a terrifying time. I was stone cold scared of the thought that someone was going to stop my heart, take veins form my leg as replacement for the blocked ones, then try and get my heart going again.

When I awoke, I felt better. Two days later something went wrong and I had a bad reaction. I genuinely thought I was going to die. I remember hallucinating during the event. Later, as I began to heal, I noticed a blind spot in my vision. My left eye was distinctly missing part of it’s sight. Eventually, after several visits to doctors, and having many tests, I was told that I’d had a stroke during surgery. Many people die from that. I only lost part of the vision in one eye.

When I got better, it all became the source of much laughter. That’s the way I do things. I’m not proud of it, I’m just telling you how I operate.

Finally, came the pain from sciatica in my back. I’d had it for years, but the pain became excruciating in 2018. I can’t even describe it. I’ve had many scans and doctor visits and tried multiple medications. It is awful, and sometimes debilitating.

I’m 62 years old. I’m not a kid anymore. Something has to give. I have to take action, or give up, fall apart, and, die.

I tried counting calories. But honestly, the discipline required in that, was too much for me. I lost a few pounds, but it was so much work I just lost interest. I gained the weight back.

Recently, two things happened that clicked my brain. The first was my pain was so bad that I would have to lay down for at least a couple hours a day for relief. My wife would take walks and go to the gym with her friends leaving me alone. I felt lonely, and I got jealous. Seriously. I’m not proud of it, I’m just saying.

The second thing is, all my clothes became uncomfortably tight. My entire wardrobe is too small. Every day, I wrestle with what I’m going to wear. Fortunately, I have a few large sweaters. I can put them over a too tight shirt, or just wear the sweater. For trousers, I have two pair of jeans, 1 dress pair of suit trousers, and one ratty old pair of casual trousers that are fraying at the cuffs.

I couldn’t bear it. I was literally dying, plus hurting, plus looking like a homeless man each time I left the house. I wept. I tried watching YouTube videos for fitness ideas, but those are all young studs and beautiful women, and frankly, I couldn’t relate to any of them.

It was at that point, I discovered, or I should say, I started paying attention to, the Ketogenic Diet. My wife had been talking about it for a while, and had even played with it off and one. I might add, she played successfully.

I headed straight for Google. I read everything I could about the eating plan, both pro and con. I watched dozens, maybe over a hundred videos on YouTube. I got the basic understanding of eating high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrates. I loved and hated the idea of cutting out refined sugar and flour from my diet.

I hated it because I love bread like I love my heartbeat. And I loved it for the same reason. I knew, and have known for at least 5 years, that I am addicted to bread. I don’t understand all of the reasons, but I know it’s true. Bread, donuts, pizza crust, pie crust, rolls, hamburger buns, cupcakes, you name them, I’m an addict. Give me a toaster, a loaf of bread, some butter, and honey or jam, and I’ll clean it all up and ask for more.

I’m not here to discuss the reasons for it, but I know it’s true. Simple carbs, especially highly processed ones are a huge source of weakness for me, candy bars, potato chips, fries, onion rings, you name it. They are all a part of the problem. My mouth is watering, just thinking about all these yummy goodies.

Anyway, 10 days ago, we made the jump. I haven’t had any bread, sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta, or highly processed carbs. The first week I lost 5 pounds. That was all water weight, I’m sure. But it’s still encouraging.

At the moment, I do not believe potatoes will be gone forever. They are really tasty and healthy, but for now they are totally out. I believe the junk is gone forever. I’m not convinced that after 10 days, I’ve broken my addictions, but I’m doing pretty well.

I’m not yet able to exercise. My pain is still inhibiting me. Soon I will go to the gym. I have no expectations, but I’ve got to do it. Whatever that means. Treadmill, weights, stationary bike, I’m not sure. The thought of my leg and back hurting turns me into a whimpering 3 year old. I want to cry, fuss, and beg mommy to take me home.

The only appealing thing about the gym is the sauna. When I’m warm, my leg doesn’t hurt. I’m relaxed and in a good mood. Maybe I could start in the sauna, get loosened up, do my workout, then go back to the sauna to finish up. I don’t know. I’ll let you know what happens.

It’s tough sledding for a man my age, to admit he’s past his peak, but determined to do something about it. It would be easier just to let myself go, and enjoy myself. But enjoyment has brought me little joy. I’ve got to stretch myself and see what happens. Here I stand.

I made my goals for 2019 back in November. I’ve still got time to meet them. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted on this whole Keto experiment. TTFN (ta ta for now).

Off The Wagon!

wagon

I’ve really been spotty about updating this page. I kind of hate that. But I’ve got so many irons in the fire, that some things just have to give. Sadly, this page, which is lots of fun for me, drew the short straw.

What I love about this page is, this is the page I use to process. I take ideas and throw them around and get them out for the world to see what’s going on in my mind and in my world. It’s fun. It’s just that sometimes I simply don’t have time for things like this.

Anyway, today I want to update you on my diet. Or lack of one. Brittan was out of the country for 3.5 weeks and I was cooking for myself. I was going to say I fell off the wagon, but that would not be correct. I drove the wagon off the bridge and drowned it in the river beneath. Bye Bye wagon. I made some great foods, but I ate a lot of junk. Especially bread. Oh, and white chocolate.

When you’re cooking for one, it’s just easy to make, say a meatloaf and rather than make potatoes and green beans, to slap a slice of it on two slices of bread or a hamburger bun, and be done with it. That’s what I did. Everything became a sandwich of some kind. Even my curry. It was just so easy.

What’s worse is, every night I’d sit down with a cup of tea and eat half a bar of white chocolate. Every single night.

So you can imagine, I didn’t lose any weight while she was gone. In fact I gained everything I had lost in January. That means, I’ve had to start over.

This is the scourge that torments fat people. We do well, then something comes up and we fall into old habits. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’ll confess it, build a new wagon, and get back to eating right.

I haven’t had any bread in 4 days. I’m Jonesin’ something awful. I want cheap white bread. That’s the only kind I like. I don’t like whole meal or ordinary brown. I like the cheap stuff. Actually, I like rye bread too, but that’s outrageously expensive here.

I very seriously considered switching to the Keto diet. I watched hours of YouTube videos and read everything I could get hold of. But I have a problem with almost any diet plan. It’s the whole foods you must give up. I’m not talking about junk, like white bread, or granulated white sugar. Or nasty frozen things full of MSG and stuff. I’m talking about potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips, winter squash, grapes, bananas, honey, and other good things like that.

I believe God made those things for our enjoyment. I believe the right way to eat is to eat whole foods, and when possible, to eat with the seasons. God made potatoes. They are good for you. They are full of vitamins and minerals. When potatoes where brought to this country, it literally saved the Scottish clans and the people of Ireland. I cannot accept that they are bad.

Honey is a natural sweetener and tastes great. Natural honey made a major difference in my allergy issues more than twenty years ago. Natural, local honey is a different beast from most of the sugary stuff with the same name that you find in supermarkets.

I think you get my point. For the next thirty days, B and I are going to eat only real food. Nothing that comes from a box. No lunch meats. No bread. No processed sugar. I’ll keep you posted once or twice. I really believe I will notice the difference in my health before I see it on the scales. I think the first thing will be the disappearance of sluggishness and bloating.

Let me be clear, I’m not bashing anyone’s diet. Especially if they’ve been successful. I haven’t been. This is brand new. I think Keto, Paleo, W.W., Atkins, and a hundred other plans are great. Find one that you like and try it. If it works for you. Great. I’m just sharing my thoughts and what I’m going to try for the next 30 days. I hope you’ll stick around and see what happens.

2019 – Here We Grow Again

aztekI’m really excited. It’s garden planning time. For the first time since early 2016, I actually feel like planting a garden. It’s only now that I understand how bad my heart was the last few years. I had bypass surgery in June. Now, my brain is more awake than it’s been in years.

My only problem is, I have so little space to grow anything. We live in a small upstairs apartment in the North Eastern part of Scotland. I have no yard at all. That’s a big change from our acreage in Georgia. Fortunately, I’ve found a couple small spots the used to be  for trash cans, where I can put up a couple rather small greenhouses. And I’ve had to be choosy on varieties and even how much I can grow.

I’ve decided I can grow several bags of Potatoes. I can plant them at the Church building. I tried growing them last year, but did something wrong. Mostly, I think I was just so ill after my surgery that I didn’t take care of them properly. This year will be different.

I have ordered 4 dwarf tomato varieties. Two reds, one yellow, and one orange. There won’t be enough to can, but maybe next year. I think I might plant one Green Zebra.

yellow morugaFor peppers, I’ve really had to put my thinking cap on. I know that if I grow them in small containers and top them, I should be able to grow them shorter and bushier. I will plant two Jalapeno, 1 Yellow Moruga Scorpion, 1 Ghost Pepper, and 1 Carolina Reaper. I haven’t decided on sweet peppers yet. I also have Cayenne seeds. I might grow 1 of those too, because they have so many uses.

I intend to grow Partenon Zucchini. and Socrates Cucumber. These are both Parthenocarpic and should grow well in a greenhouse. I will plant them in succession to save on space and maximize the amount I can grow. socrates

I also have  Yellow Crooked Neck and Spaghetti squash. they will not grow in the greenhouse so I’ll have to take special care of them and watch over them.

That will be all the things I’ll be able to grow. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I have plenty of bags so I could grow carrots, but they are so cheap here that it’s foolish to waste the space. Brittan wants me to grow some strawberries, so I’ll try. I have some doubts but it’s worth the risk.

I guess that’s it. Just had to share the news. Pepper seeds will be planted next week. Tomatoes will be about a week behind the peppers. I have my seed trays and my heat mats. All systems are grow!

Best Dogs For Preppers

I’ve wanted to write this article for years. Dogs are one of the few subjects I’m truly literate on, and I’ve given the subject a great deal of thought. I’ve avoided it because I know it’s somewhat subjective. But perhaps it will get you thinking, so here goes.

Dogs can be appropriate to us for many reasons; they are useful as companions, hunters, load bearers, transportation, care for other livestock, and even protection. But our tastes and needs differ, so our personal choices will differ. I get that. I understand.

Do we live in town or in the country? What will things look like if our world melts down? What will our needs be?

siberian huskyMy first love in the dog world has always been the Siberian Husky. They are loving companions, and using my dogs to pull sleds was my hobby for many years when I lived in a climate that allowed me to do so. I operated a husky kennel for over 30 years.

If I lived in the north, I would still consider them quite valuable to have for transportation purposes in case of a bug out situation. They are strong, athletic, and can travel for miles pulling a sled or cart loaded with camping gear and people.

When I lived in Iowa and Maine, people had their snowmobiles. They loved them for recreation, and they provided an excellent method of transportation in harsh conditions. The downside is, they require fuel and frequent repairs. I had a snowmobile. I hardly ever used it, because it was always broken down. My dogs, on the other hand, were always ready to go.

When I lived in Georgia, however, it was too hot for most of the year. Huskies were not practical. I gave up riding sleds in 2007. I still miss it. I will never have a hobby I like as much.

But huskies would not be practical for the many tasks expected of a Prepper dog. For that, my first Choice is an English or French Mastiff. First, their size alone makes them ideal protection dogs. And their temperaments are ideal for families. Protection comes naturally to them. They aren’t aggressive and don’t require a great deal of protection training. Secondly, they are naturally watchful over those they care about, and their property. Ours would lie down between my wife and visitors in our home. They would put themselves between strangers and their mistress.

French Mastiff

I also knew our property was safe. If strangers pulled in the drive, the dogs would go straight to the gate. They knew the entrance to the property and that’s where they stood their ground.

Mastiffs also don’t require a great deal of exercise or grooming. They can exist happily on acreage , in a subdivision, or even in an apartment.

English, and French (Dogue De Bordeaux) Mastiffs are also excellent choices for backpacking and carting, because of their size and strength.

If you have livestock that needs guarding, Anatolian Shepherds and Great Pyrenees are anatolianexcellent choices. They are not town dogs though. They bark pretty much at everything, especially at night. Out in the Country, though, they could be excellent choices. For me, the Pyrenees, have too much coat. I have never owned an Anatolian, but would love to. They would probably require more exercise than a mastiff, but could easily adapt to backpacking.

smooth collie
Smooth Collie

Also, any of the breeds like German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and Smooth Collies would be excellent choices. Any of them can be trained for protection, backpacking, or even to pull a cart. I have a soft spot for Belgian Sheep Dogs, and Smooth Collies, as I’ve owned and loved both breeds. Honestly, for me, either Belgian Sheepdogs, Tervurens, or Rough Collies, simply have more coat than I want to deal with. And all of these breeds will require a lot more exercise than an English Mastiff or Dogue De Bordeaux.

If you live in the country, there are a variety of hounds and gun dogs I’d recommend. They can be great for helping you get game and sounding the alarm in case of intruders. Bloodhounds, most coonhounds, foxhounds, bird dogs, beagles and even basset hounds can be extremely valuable for training to hunt.beagle

Most of them require a huge amount of exercise and they will bark excessively if under exercised, so I don’t really recommend them if you live in town.

Same thing with most bird dogs. They have stamina aplenty and can run all day. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to keep an English Springer or Brittany Spaniel. The exercise requirements may just be too much for you.

airdaleLet me mention the benefits of terriers for a moment. As hunting or pest control varmint dogs, most terriers are unbeatable. They were bred for that job. Some for hunting small game, some for rat control, and some of the larger varieties, like Airdales, are phenomenal dogs to be trained for protection. For me most require too much coat maintenance, and I like big dogs.

I know I’ve left out your favorite breed. This article isn’t really about favorite breeds. It’s about some of the dogs I think are best for a Prepper lifestyle. I am fully aware of the many Mastiff varieties. I could own most of them. Especially Great Danes. I know I didn’t mention any sight hounds and some of them I adore. I’m not much of a toy dog or utility dog fan. But this post wasn’t about my favorite breeds. It’s about what breeds are the best choices for me as a Prepper.

So let me hear your thoughts. What breeds that I didn’t mention would you rank highly for prepping for a melt down? Give me the breed and some of your reasoning. I would love to hear your ideas.

Confessions and Evolution of an ‘End Times Prepper’

In late 2008 I became a Prepper. A Prepper is someone who wants to be ready when disaster comes. It was fun, hard work, and extremely exciting. But I must confess, I did it for some bad reasons. I did it for some good reasons. I’m going to lay it out here. Judge me, if you must, but please recognize that sometimes people do the right things for the wrong reasons.

We moved from Maine to Georgia in January of 08. Later that summer, the economic world started melting. First, the housing market blew up. Our house lost 25% of its value the first 6 months we owned it. That was tough to swallow. Especially since we had bought a big house with a half an acre yard.

The next thing was the stock market. It crashed and burned. My 401k turned to dust. At the same time, I was a senior manager in a publicly traded company and began to see the ugly side of those companies. My attitude went from trust, to disillusionment, to outright disgust and hatred. Someday I’ll tell you all about it. But by the beginning of 2009, I wanted nothing at all to do with the stock market.

Thirdly, Barack Obama was elected president. I believed that was going to produce a disaster for America. Before you go there, race played 0 part in why I thought he was a mistake. Anyone who knows me, will vouch for that. I believed his extreme left wing policies would take us down a hole from which we might never recover. Frankly, I believed his was a nice person. I loved the way his family was presented. He was someone I would like to go to dinner with and talk about things. I think it would have been great to go to a basketball game with him. He loves basketball and I’m from Kentucky. Instant room for rapport. But as a conservative, I found his fiscal and foreign relations policies a nightmare.

Finally, my wife and I had begun to be concerned about GMOs, the issues of highly processed foods, big Agra, the severe cruelty in the meat industry, and other health related matters. We began thinking about growing some of our own food.

Then, I heard about the Prepper movement. People, some like us, and others for different reasons, were starting to take matters into their own hands to make sure they could survive anything, from an economic meltdown to a zombie apocalypse. I was attracted and jumped into the pool head first.

First, I bought guns and ammo. I bought lots of both. I bought a huge gun safe for my basement. I filled it with hand guns, shotguns, rifles, a crossbow, two sling shots, and thousands of rounds of ammo. Each pay day I purchased ammo.

I bought it all for hunting, for self defense, and as an investment. As I already said, I was no longer even remotely interested in the stock market. The morality in that industry was directly opposite of my core values. For those who care about such things, I never purchased an AR, although I wanted to. Prices went through the roof and I didn’t want one that badly. Besides, hand guns, shotguns and hunting rifles were still extremely affordable.

In the spring of 2009, I planted my first garden. My wife was, I think in Florida, and I planted. The first year was tomatoes, peppers, kale, cabbage, and green beans. Later that year, we bought a freezer and my wife also learned to can. We were on our way.

We had a few problems. Primarily because we lived in a Home Owners Association. The rules didn’t allow for livestock. Heck we weren’t even allowed rabbit hutches. We figured out a way to keep rabbits without making a scene. We bought 6 of them and cages. We set them up in the basement of our house. I wheeled them out in the mornings about 6 a.m to empty the cages and clean them. Rabbits are great, but you have to keep them clean or the stink will run you out. All the waste went into a compost pile in the garden. The rabbits had a duel purpose. One, there is no fertilizer like rabbit dung. It’s the best. Secondly, rabbits are a phenomenal protein source. They reproduce quickly and the meat is really good for you. Some people can’t get past the cute factor and that’s unfortunate.

We also put bees in the Garden. That was against the HOA rules too. But bees are essential to pollination and honey is so good for you. They are also easy to hide.

I began to learn about aquaponics and hydroponics. Our basement and garage became home to several tanks of Tilapia, catfish and bluegill. I was having the time of my life. And breaking every rule of the HOA. I was such a rebel.

In the spring of 2010, a friend from Church offered to rent us some land for grazing livestock. I was ecstatic. The price was cheap and the place already had a barn, electricity and water. We installed some fences and brought in chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats (dairy and meat), Dexter Cattle, pigs, donkeys as guardians, and our biggest mistake two beautiful, huge, draft mules.

When the goats had babies, we took the babies home and kept them in the basement for about 8 weeks to care for them. Yep, at one point we had 8 baby goats living in our basement. See the land was about 5 miles from where we lived, and we had to bottle feed them, because we were milking the mothers. So to make that easier, we build a stall in the basement.

In 2011, we raised 150 chicks in our garage and the HOA never suspected a thing. Obviously, we took them to the farm once they got big enough. What a rush, keeping goats, rabbits, bees and chickens right under the noses of our Home Owners Association. We bribed our neighbors with fresh veggies, eggs and meat.

I was blogging about it, and writing articles for online magazines. We had people contacting us about eggs, chickens and ‘how to’ advice. We had a group of teachers come out and visit the place to see what we were doing. It was all great fun. We even had a national television program ask to come out and film at our place. We were having discussions about it, but 5 days before the cameras were scheduled to show up, we backed out. First, we didn’t want our secret to become public and secondly, the program was pushing me on some things that we weren’t ready to do. And I didn’t like their pushing. Especially since it was going to cost me some considerable coin to do it. So I missed my chance at television fame.

By 2012, we had gone from Preppers, to suburban homesteaders, to small farmers when we found a repossessed farm in a nearby county. We purchased it, moved there, and sold our big home in the suburbs. We didn’t make any money. In fact, we had to take $5,000 to the closing table. Our house was still slightly underwater.

But out in the country, we weren’t breaking any rules and life was great. We loved our simple, sustainable life. We had blankets, bandages, tents, extra fishing lines, knives, matches, candles, light bulbs, batteries, lanterns, heck we even had toilet paper. We had bug out bags for each of the cars. And we had very large dogs. Dogs who were big enough to defend the homestead, or to backpack with if we had to walk away. We provided most of our own food. We had stored up 2 years worth of supplies, seeds, and cash. Life was good.

Then in 2014, what we were prepping for came to pass. I lost my job. Its a long story. It wasn’t personal. I hadn’t done anything wrong. The company was making all kinds of changes and I was let go. For that matter, so was our boss, and his boss. It was devastating. Except my wife and I were prepared. We had food, seeds, livestock, supplies, and cash, and we kept right on going. During that time, my wife had begun making goat’s milk soap because of the excess milk our girls produced. That business became our primary source of income. We also sold eggs, pork, vegetables, rabbits, goats, and starter plants.

In 2017, we decided to move to Scotland. I had lived here in the 1980s and we had a chance to come back, so we sold off everything and moved in July. We live in a 2nd floor apartment with no yard at all. I miss my animals, my land, and sometimes my life. But, I still have seeds in the freezer, candles in the drawer, and have all the knowledge we gained stored on flash drives and my memory.

I’m still a Prepper. I have learned all about how to live off the land. I can do plumbing, electricity, and other basic maintenance. My wife can make soap, fix a car, milk animals, and a hundred other things. We learned those skills. We are still prepared. If society goes crazy, we can take care of ourselves. And we can help others do the same. I am not afraid.

Prepping is not much of a thing these days. It has run its course as a fad. A lot of Preppers have become homesteaders. Some have become strong voices in animal management, gardening, and care of the environment. A few have gone off grid. And a small minority have become end of the world hermits.

The U.S. Election in 2016 oddly killed off the Prepper movement from public view. Frankly, that’s odd to me, because the choice between Trump and Clinton scared me senseless. I didn’t vote for either one. I wrote in my choice. He wasn’t elected. Prepping, though, is not about presidents or congress or the supreme court. It’s about taking responsibility for yourself. Its about budgeting and being wise with your money. Its about being able to adjust to the circumstances of society and thrive.

What would happen to you if you lost your job tomorrow? What if you lost your house? What if the economy collapsed? What if something went wrong with the grid and you didn’t have access to the supermarket and were forced to rely on yourself. Could you do it? Are you sure? That’s what prepping means to me. Developing the skills and resources to be able to do more than survive a crisis. I sleep well.