New survival enthusiast, So many questions...

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by TriColorPansy, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. TriColorPansy

    TriColorPansy Monkey

    Yesterday I spent a few hours skimming through random posts on different forums, and I think Survival Monkey is the place for me. So I spent today writing this introduction/question-filled post! Since I'm asking questions I thought it'd be best to post this here instead of the New Members section. I read the Site Rules and Tips and Tricks threads, but please let me know if I missed anything or need to provide more information, violated any rules, or asked something that could be answered in another thread.

    I'm a daydreamer in her twenties who is seriously considering dropping out of college before my $25,000 bill gets any higher. Going through high school I was too distracted by friends and schoolwork to pay much attention to the world around me. Now that I've officially entered the adult world, separated from my friends and spending hours alone in the house taking online college classes, I've had real time to think and realize just how dissatisfied I am - and I'm trying to do something about it.

    My love for nature isn't anything new. I use to spend the summers at my grandmother's trailer and was outside all the time catching crickets and luring stray cats to the house to keep as pets... grandma wasn't too happy about the cats. As I got older and stopped staying there for the summer, the amount of time I spent outside decreased significantly. But lately I've rediscovered my lost love, and it's really what fueled my decision to become self-sufficient. I think the most telling event was when my mother's friend gave her a large, colorful bouquet for Valentine's Day last year. Not only did it smell great, but I lost it when some of the lilies actually bloomed while we had it. In those few days I was much happier than I've been in college the past two years, just sniffing those flowers was therapeutic to me.

    Potential Learning Environments

    In North Carolina, my grandmother has a relatively large backyard that I can practice gardening and real outdoor skills in... and she'll probably be more patient with me than my mother :) But accessing books and supplies would be more difficult because of the distance - it's a small neighborhood way out in the country. Also, I'm not sure if I could find a nearby community of like-minded people to physically interact with, although my mother told me today that my aunt's parents grow their own food and they also live in North Carolina~!

    In Georgia, my mother and I live in an apartment so I can't freely practice many of the outdoor skills that I could in North Carolina. But I'll have easier access to books, supplies, a community, and even classes. And I'm trying to be creative despite the physical constraints by learning simpler skills such as knitting, recipes for homemade products, and experimenting with my 'green thumb' using cheap potted plants (if they do well I'll try potted herbs next). I'm also finding ways to lessen my energy consumption.


    I'm still a college student, but am currently taking a break to figure things out. However, I have only six months to go back or I'll be required to start making monthly payments towards my bill.

    I've spent half a year trying to find a job with no success. If I can become self-employed I'd like to be either a Japanese and Chinese/Korean translator because of my fondness for East Asian cultures, or try my hand at or a farmer's market if I get good enough at knitting and crafting. I've already been self-studying Japanese for several months, and hope that I'll be confident enough to take the JLPT 4 this December.

    However, both of these endeavors will take time before I can profit from them. My mother is aware of my genuine attempts to change and is willing to support my transition into self-sufficiency as long as it doesn't cost too much. She's doing well enough that we often have some extra cash, but I don't want to be a burden for too long especially when the time comes to start paying my bill. I was helping her pay the household bills with portions of my college refund checks, but that won't be the case if I decide to drop out.


    I know it'll take months, even years of learning and practice, but I'm determined to develop a high level of self-sufficiency in the hopes that reconnecting with nature will not only help save our planet but myself. It won't be easy, but if there's one thing that runs in my family it's stubbornness. And I must admit, I'm also skeptical of our government and wonder if we'll have a serious S.H.T.F situation by the time I have children...

    My ultimate goal is to produce my own food and products with help from a supportive local community, harvest water and solar energy, be knowledgeable of medicinal herbs and other aspects of woodland survival, and live in a converted camper van because of its small size, mobility, and it seems financially possible for me.

    I've bought books such as The Forgotten Skills of Self Sufficiency used by the Mormon Pioneers, Little House in the Suburbs, and a few of Abigail R. Gehring's books. I'm also planning on taking a fermentation class next weekend and an edible/medicinal plants class the week after that via The Homestead Atlanta.

    So in the long run...

    * Am I off to a good start, what skills should I really be focusing on in the beginning? Is it better for me to stay in Georgia or live with my grandmother in North Carolina? If I stay in Georgia, what other skills can I learn with limited money and space?

    * Should I stay in art college, majoring in Graphic Design? If not, how practical is learning another language besides the flexibility of being self employed? If I become skilled enough at knitting and crafting, do you think I have a chance on or a farmer's market? Are there others ways I can profit off these skills? Should I just keep trying to find a regular job and focus on learning prep skills in my spare time?

    * Is a camper van sensible? Could I live on a plot of land in a camper van, or would a trailer park or all year campsite be better? What government/state rules and regulations would I have to deal with from living in a camper van? Could I raise a small family in a decent sized camper van? I've seen YouTube videos of a few people, one with two small kids, who have lived comfortably in camper vans.

    Thank you very much if you took the time to read my book :) I joined and wrote this post in the hopes that I could get some idea of how to proceed based on my current situation. I'm really looking forward to becoming a regular member here!
  2. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Welcome. I'll let the experts wiegh in on most of this, they are more in depth, than I.
    If you have some money, but not a lot, I would suggest a good water filter system be your first piece of gear.( even in an apartment, it could be needed, since you will not be able to store much, and you can handle hunger better than thirst.)
    Skills? There are thousands of skills that could be of use, but cooking, recognizing food when you see it in the wild, knowing how to sharpen and use a variety of blades, safely(knives, chisles, axe, machete, would be a good start.) And first aid, of course;)
    Besides growing food, you may choose to hunt, raise food animals, fish, or even combine a couple of these and build a agua-ponics system, several here have. (Try the search box).
    Languages are never wasted time, and do result in jobs. My sister-in-law translates for Google, and my daughter signs for the deaf, and wants to make it a career on cruise ships. (She's damπ good);)

    I think, you will want more space than a camper van, it seems to be human nature to spread out, if space is available. Moving anything to be stored to a shed or garage and out from underfoot, would help with keeping a small living space, if that is your desire, but being self sufficient will require you to have stuff on hand to do what you need to be able to do. Tools, materials, supplies, food, preps, weapons for hunting or self defense, an secure means to lock up what you mean to keep yours, and not walk away.
    Living rough, will mean needing a work space to prep foods, and another to fix, repair, build, and invent answers. You will not want to contaminate where you prepare foods, nor have garbage smells in your workspace. You will get much less done. So think about what you will need as a workspace, and weather will not allow for it to be outdoors all the time.

    Just a start, for you. I'm sure many others will chime in with much more.;)
    Mike likes this.
  3. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    Wow, a lot to work with here. I can't address your concerns point-by-point but here are some ideas I can offer:

    The only thing worse than running up a lot of student debt is running up a lot of student debt and then not even graduating! If you are near the end of your program, stick it out a little longer and get the degree. If you are still a freshman or early sophomore, look into taking some transferrable classes at a lower cost community college. Yes, I know two year schools won't give you that cool "college experience" but they are a great value for the money. I went this route myself and saved thousands of dollars. My Bachelor's diploma bears the name of a highly respected university; no one needs to know that half of it came from a dorky junior college.

    Normally I would say art degrees are basically worthless, but since you are in graphic design I will give you a pass. That is a very marketable skill that could be easily done as a home-based business. You chose well.

    If you cannot live with grandma full time, then spend as much time with her as you can and listen to everything she says. Is there any reason why you could not spend a summer there? Or a long weekend once in a while? It does not have to be an issue of either live there permanently or never go at all. Go for whatever options you can work out.

    Skills are learned slowly, over time. Work with whatever interests you. There is a tendency for young people to want to do everything, now. The enthusiasm is awesome but you will see better results if you pace yourself.

    My bottom line advice for you is to finish school unless you have a solid way to support yourself without the degree. And I do mean a solid way. No far-fetched plans about selling organic candles out of your trailer or some silly crap like that. Long-term survival goals aside, you need to generate an income and support yourself or the rest won't matter.
  4. Snake_Doctor

    Snake_Doctor Call me Snake...

    Stay in school.
    Tevin and Mike like this.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    What he said. Knowledge and how to find it is a good starting point.
    Tevin and Mike like this.
  6. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Sounds like you are off to a good start, questioning everything!

    As far as school goes, college is not for everyone. That being said where are you at in your studies? (freshman, jr, sr.?) I will say I went to U of MN for 6 years and never got my 4yr degree and don't feel that it has hurt me one bit. I'm not familiar with the translator field so I don't know if employers will want a degree or not, and if you are going the self-employed route any education and real-world experience is a plus.

    There is nothing you can't do in an apartment you can do out in the country, the scale may just be smaller. Container gardening on a deck or patio instead of a full garden for example. What kind of food storage do you currently have (3 days, 1 week, etc.). The basics (food, water, shelter) can be done in the apartment and will easily move where you go.

    selling hobby items on etsy and farmers market may be a good way to supplement an income, but may be hard to earn enough to live on when first starting out. you will need to build a customer base.
    Mike likes this.
  7. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

  8. Mike

    Mike Ol' Army Sergeant Monkey

    There is also the possibility of getting into the community garden groups. They have land that you can get a small slice of and grow your own foods. I think they started in Europe, as that is where I saw them first, but now they seem to be catching on in America.

    Stay in school if you have completed the majority of the time for a degree (and are passing the classes). If not, then look into an Associates degree from a local, less expensive, school (as has been said several times above... great guidance).

    If your grandmother has done canning, and is willing to show you the ropes, learn to preserve your excess garden stuff. Also, learn from her about LIFE and how to overcome difficult times. Learn manners, poise, self-sufficiency, and oral family history. When she dies, that all is lost. Don't just move in on her. Move in to help her, be an adult partner there. But always be cognizant that it is her house, her rules, and you are a GUEST there.

    Sorry, the old fart in me just got out. I will get off my soapbox now.

    Good luck.
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    One thing you might just consider, is attending a Weekend Get-Away where Prep'ers meet Up... @-06 Usually hasONE each spring, somewhere in NC, and it just might be worth your while, to make it a point to attend one, and see what others are doing "First Hand".... Just a thought..... YMMV....
    Snake_Doctor likes this.
  10. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Hi Tri-color, 2-3-4 May we will have a gathering at 4-H Camp Millstone. Will have "classes" on various subjects. Will have info shortly about it in a separate thread. Stay in school--get a degree in education or better medicine/nursing. There will always be a need for your skills. You can click on Millstone for pics of the camp and info about it. Been doing this for @ 14 yrs and we have fun while learning. Costs are only for camp charges and/or cabin rental. Will have that on the thread also. We will have two cabins for men/women's bath needs and/or use for sleeping. If you need a dutch oven let me know and will bring an extra.
    STANGF150 and Snake_Doctor like this.
  11. Snake_Doctor

    Snake_Doctor Call me Snake...

    You're a good man '06
  12. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    First: welcome to the monkey tree, this is a great place to learn.

    Stay in school - motion seconded.

    "Crafting" for a living yields pennies. Waitressing would be higher paying.
    No sarcasm intended. Best of luck finding a job these days.

    Camper van ? No.
    Live as cheaply as you can, buy some land when you can. Single wide mobile's are very well made these days (think code+construction) and can be up to 16 ft wide. Smaller ones (< 900 sqft) cost only as much as a new car. Where I am they are taxed about a third as much as a stick built. "Trailer" parks are mostly two kinds, privatly owned and Co-op (resident) owned. Both tend to have restrictive rules, but Co-op owned is the better choice.

    Best wishes. [coo]
    Mike likes this.
  13. Snake_Doctor

    Snake_Doctor Call me Snake...

    If you drop out how will you pay off your student loans? It's good that you're a thinker, but think harder about the long term implications of your decisions. You'll find a lot of support and information here, feel free to ask questions.
    Mike likes this.
  14. Mike

    Mike Ol' Army Sergeant Monkey

    Doesn't military enlistment eradicate some of the student loans? Also good way to get some great training. Just a thought.
    Sapper John and tulianr like this.
  15. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Nearby there is a 20 acre tract in the middle of a farm that is being set up for one acre parcels. One can put in temporary housing, fencing, garden, etc on his lot plus there will be a community garden plot. They is "city" water and community electricity available if desired. Most are thinking of solar. May be part of it myself according to the folks involved. If interested just PM and will pass on info.
    Mike likes this.
  16. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    Having worked and still working in the education field there are several things a BA is good for... to an employer it shows that you have a grasp of basic skills, are trainable, have a degree if "stick to it-ness, will Show up to work on a regular basis, and have some critical thinking skills. Depending where In NC you choose to set up there is probably a Monkey within 90 or so last count was 20+ monkeys in the state. My recommendation is stay in school... finish your major and work on your languages... there are lots of Graphic artists... but few who can work in the languages you describe in the US... jobs with international companies should be fairly easy....
  17. TriColorPansy

    TriColorPansy Monkey

    Wow, thanks for your feedback everyone! Looking back I think the idea to drop out was more out of frustration because I simply didn't know what to do with myself. I got so wrapped up in the idea of dropping out it slipped my mind that I could also be a self-employed graphic designer *facepalm* College just became so repetitive and much less satisfying compared to the first year when I was an eager high school graduate jumping to join my friends in the same school, and I began to wonder if I was just digging a hole for myself with the dept. I guess for now I should at least work towards creating an even mix of survivalist activities and schoolwork in my daily life to keep me active so I don't get burnt out by college and end up throwing away my education. Then I won't have to worry about the dept until I graduate in the next 3-4 years and can still help pay bills with my little refund checks if I can't find a job.

    It sounds like it would be best to learn what I can in GA then go to NC so I'll be able to freely practice a variety of skills like the ones you've all suggested - my mother is suggesting late April since we'll be visiting for Easter. I was hesitant because if I decide to go to NC I would basically be living there, since my mother would only be able to come get me during her vacation weeks which are scattered throughout the year.

    This is a lot of helpful information! So for now:

    * Stay in school

    * Keep self-studying languages

    * Prepare to move in with grandma in NC, and definitely see what I can do to make the trip -06

    * Use these suggestions to do what I can to practice survivalist skills regardless of where I live

    * A camper van is no longer an option. I found this lady's website about her converted camper van and started having fantasies, but it's back to reality X-)
    STANGF150, Tevin, tulianr and 2 others like this.
  18. Mike

    Mike Ol' Army Sergeant Monkey

    I am a full time RVer who lives in a 40' fifth-wheel with 4 slides and lots of amenities. It gets small sometimes with the two of us and our sheltie Gia. I know of a gal that lived in a pickup style camper for 3 months while finishing up some of her nursing studies. She survived, but with mental scarring. lol. So, good choice on the decline of living in a camper van.

    Your other choices are good as well. Good luck
  19. Snake_Doctor

    Snake_Doctor Call me Snake...

    It sounds like you're on the right track and willing to listen to advice from others. I know a freelance graphic designer in New Orleans, and from talking to her over several months I offer this advice, be firm in your pricing and tough about collecting payment. She often has problems with the payment aspect. And many people want free work, which she no longer does for anyone. I bought a watermark for Blue from her and it was rather expensive. I wish you the best ofluck in your endeavors and your life.
  20. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Bud lived in a converted school bus for two/three years while building his home. There are ways of saving money to live. Picked up a used 20' RV that just tickles me. Room to live dry/warm/cool/shower/facilities/and mobile if need be. Adding a new awning soon with screen sides which will give us lots more room to stretch out in comfort. Nearly will double available space and we can grill there w/o heating up the insides.
    tulianr and Mike like this.
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