Plan Three Times, Measure Twice, Cut Once

Hello Everybody, Frank here
I received an interesting email from the Frank & Fern site and I wanted to share it with you. This man is giving thought to relocating and has some good questions. I hope you will enjoy reading his questions and I hope you enjoy reading the response that I gave to his good questions. This is just the way that I saw it and the way that I still see it. You see, I love watching the movies Jeremiah Johnson and Never Cry Wolf. Yes, I have read both of the books associated with them, and they are very good books, which I would also recommend. Both of those stories influenced my wanting to go to Alaska, and explore and live that type of life style.

Well, Fern and I have been lucky. You see, I got to live a dream and I am still living a dream. Now, I’m not what you call a dreamer. These dreams have come from lots of study, research and hard work. I hope you get to live your dreams, too.

I use a saying which I’ll share with you now, “Plan three times, measure twice, cut once.” So for your dreams, Plan. Then plan again. Have a back up. Do what you need to do to be successful, but always plan for failure. Then live your dream. Someday I will tell you my whole story, but not today. 

If you don’t believe in God, that is your choice. But I do and that’s my choice. God has been good to me and I thank Him for it everyday.

I hope you enjoy the email I received and I hope you enjoy the response. Please tell me and this gentleman what you think. We’re all in this ballgame together. So get off your hands and tell me what you think. Good or bad. Remember, we are ladies and gentlemen. Plan three time, measure twice, cut once.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

Email received

Hello, My name is [omitted]. My wife of 40 yrs. and I have lived in Alaska 39 years. I see you also have lived here, so I thought you might have some insight for us.

We are 60 and done raising our children, and are entertaining ideas about moving south. We are Christians for 40 years too. We had a 40 ac. farm [omitted] [between Valdez and Glenn Allen] yrs. ago, and have learned the harsh realities of self-sufficient living here, and feel it is not really possible due to climate. We cannot grow grains for feed, nor fruits for ourselves, vegetables are limited, winters are so long and harsh our goats, pigs, chickens and rabbits all had difficulty. 8 mo. winter is simply too hard with firewood, water hauling, long, dark and cold, etc.
So I have a few questions.

In Okla. are summers too hot? We don’t mind 4 seasons, but 3 months to each would be fine. We have looked in west Montana, mid-Idaho, and east Washington. prices seem higher due to higher demand and scarcity, but 20 ac. is approx. what we’d like, ½ pasture for grazing & hay, ½ woodlot for ongoing firewood harvesting. Must have water of sorts, i.e. pond, creek, lake, etc. Definitely a rural forested area is our goal. A house is not necessary as I do construction, but cost is always a factor, so $50k or less is our price range for land as we need to develop the farm. Does this seem like a reasonable amount?
Also with all the instability in the country, dollar devalue etc. do you feel you are in a ‘safe’ place should civil unrest, depression etc. cause roving gangs from the city to seek nearby rural food sources? Or do you wish you had moved to  “the Redoubt” area? 

Thank you for an time or info you can provide. Also, I thoroughly enjoy your blog as I recognize experiential farming and all the added trials shared realistically.

Thanks again, and God bless.

Frank’s response
Hello [omitted],
Congratulations on 40 years of marriage. 
Up front. Our time in Alaska was temporary every place we were, so we never gardened or raised any form of livestock, period. Here is a list of the places we lived, starting at the top and coming around and down. Barrow, the Kotzebue area, Nome, mouth of the Yukon River and Dillingham. We had a condominium in Anchorage for a few years, but it was only used a few days out of the year. So, again, we had no experience in gardening or livestock while in Alaska. We did have a church garden in one location, but it was really not very successful. That was in Dillingham, the lowest latitude that we lived.

Somewhere over the tundra about 500 miles from Anchorage
The reason we left Alaska, which was about 11 years ago, was my fear of the economy collapsing, which I still believe will happen. I did not want to be in remote, bush Alaska when the planes quit flying. We were there during 9/11 when the planes did quit flying, for 3 days I believe. That scared me then. Most people didn’t have a clue what it meant, because all supplies there came in either by plane or barge during the warm months.

Nunam Iqua, Alaska 2006
We looked in the Redoubt area, western Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington, just like you mentioned. At the time we left, I was about 57 or 58. At that time I had had several surgeries and after leaving Alaska, I had lower back surgery and open heart surgery. But one day it dawned on us that we were not getting younger, not trying to sound funny here, but I was really tired of shoveling snow. The places where we could have a car, I was tired of shoveling out the car. I was tired of ice, and dark, and cold, and I mean really cold. -50 is chilly. -20 was a good day. When it broke 0*, we celebrated. You should know what I’m talking about. And dark? I never realized how much I missed sunlight until it wasn’t there. And light? I never realized how much I missed dark until the sun went in a circle for 24 hours in the sky. I take it you put foil paper or something on your windows in the summer.
Right now, I am 69. Two plus years back I had open heart surgery and about six years ago I had lower back surgery. I am as active now as I was then, if not more, but I don’t think I could shovel snow if I really needed to. So, therefore, the Redoubt is out of the question.
The non-sunset, Barrow, Alaska, September 2000
Why Oklahoma? Lots of reasons. Fern’s mother lived in southeastern Oklahoma. We went to school in Stillwater, Oklahoma which is where we met and were married 36 years ago. Fern is ten years younger than I am. For various reasons we bought a house and piece of property that joined her family’s property. About 40 years ago, back in my Mother Earth News days, I researched property all over the country for survivability. Southeast Oklahoma, southwest Arkansas and north a couple hundred miles, and south a couple hundred miles is a survivable area. Lots of hills, some small mountains, creeks, rivers, forested areas, and not many people to speak of. Country folks for the most part, a higher unemployment rate, lots of churches, not many bars, and the issues of positive and negative that come with this type of area. 
A small example. The closest westerly nuclear power plant to us is Glen Rose, Texas. The closest easterly nuclear power plant is just west of Little Rock, Arkansas. Our prevailing winds are from the west. I am not concerned about a melt down at the Little Rock facility. Glen Rose, Texas, a melt down would not reach us here. Tinker Air Force Base, just southeast of Oklahoma City, if something nuclear were to occur there, it would not reach us.
Next topic. Neighbors are neighbors, and Bubba is Bubba. This is the same everywhere. 

The rolling hills of southeastern Oklahoma.
Summer heat. Well, it gets pretty hot in interior Alaska during the summer. I don’t know where you live right now. We have mosquitos, but nothing like the ones we had in Alaska. We have no no-see-ums or white socks. Heat is relative. We get the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that provides us with our thick forests, which allows us to grow just about any plant we want to. Fruit trees can be grown, but they struggle because they just don’t have the same conditions they do in the southeastern Washington area. Because of the gulf stream, in the summer time there is high humidity and high heat and sharply fewer bugs than Alaska. Yes, the heat and humidity can be an issue. We never had air conditioning in Alaska. We had a pretty nice condo in Anchorage, but it didn’t have air conditioning. In the summer here, we start much earlier in the day and much later in the evening. That’s the way we do it, and we do have air conditioning. In the winter, if need be, we can use wood heat. And I truly pray to God, that if the electricity ever goes off, it’s during the winter so we will have at least a little time to acclimate.
Land price and costs. It’s this way everywhere, you get what you pay for. If you were to look around with various real estate agents, I think you could find what you’re looking for, for around $50,000. Now there are places here that are covered with rocks. That’s part of being in a mountainous, hilly area. Some places have good well water, some places have poor water. $50,000 depending on the quality of land, could get you a lot more than 20 acres, or a lot less. In Oklahoma, building codes in the rural areas are just about non-existent. I cannot speak for Texas, Arkansas or Missouri. We don’t have silly laws taxing rain catchment, but there are laws about damming up creeks and streams and affecting your neighbor down stream. A competent real estate agent should be able to answer most of this type of related questions.
You addressed roving gangs. Civil unrest. The farther away you are from towns, I believe the less this will happen. As far as the instability of our country and the devaluation of the dollar, the dollar has been devalued before. And instability? Just look at Washington, D.C. Look at that circus. As Ol’ Remus says, Avoid crowds.

Buckland, Alaska 1990
I’m about to wrap this thing up. You ask, do I wish I had moved to the Redoubt area? Outside of the romance of a few novels and films? No. It’s not survivable unless you are very young, in excellent condition and have skills that very few people have. It has a lot of the same features Alaska does. People struggle with gardens there, they have hard water issues. You know, ice. It gets as cold in Montana as it does in most of Alaska. We have ice here for a few hours, or a few days a winter. I am more than happy with where I live. If I were to ever move again it would be 30-40 miles farther east, therefore, I am extremely happy with where I am.
If you would like a recommendation, and I do not live in that immediate area, but I am about 60 miles away from Mena, Arkansas. Or come right across the border into Oklahoma. I do hope this helps.
You know bad times are coming and we are going to have to do the unthinkable. I hope that you and yours have your heads screwed on right. I would gather food storage and a realistic way to protect myself. Some day this thing is going to break. Most people will move to the cities and the vast majority will succumb within a few months. This is a horrible thing to think. You will need to protect yourself. This is the part where it’s important to have your head screwed on right. I don’t believe that God wants us to put our hands up in the air and just give up. God made us fighters and He expects us to do so.
Peace be with you,
Frank Feral

26 thoughts on “Plan Three Times, Measure Twice, Cut Once

  1. Karl, if and when the system goes down, local laws won't mean much. There are crazies everywhere and the conservative, hungry guy is just as dangerous as the liberal, hungry guy.Depending upon your immediate terrain, you might be in a great location. Keep your head down, your mouth closed, go grey and trust no one. It's the same everywhere.Thanks for your thoughts, Frank

  2. I'm in SW Oregon, and the winter climate is wet but mild (little snow, average low in Jan/Feb just above freezing). Summers are dry, with no rain from June to October, and a handful of days over 100.Like you, I have to listen when my back tells me to \”knock it off with the heavy lifting\”.But I find that the hardest challenge here is political. Like Washington, Oregon is a blue state. That means ever more restrictive gun control and ever more regulation of our lives and property. Despite all our preparations, I'm afraid that when the balloon goes up, I'll be in jail for violating some unconstitutional law that makes me a criminal. Just as bad would be to follow those laws and thereby be unprepared when the day comes. That's what keeps me up at night thinking about relocation.

  3. Frank, A large black swan event is very worrisome and quite possible. A snowball rolling downhill is a good picture of the situations of our day, it's going to melt and be messy. I see a lot of unpleasantness in our future. Blessings to you .Bluesman

  4. Hello, I appreciate all of the informative articles and the comments. My husband is retiring soon (I already have). We live in upstate N.Y., and are looking to relocate to Virginia where our sons live. We are looking into the area near Wytheville. Does anyone have any information or advice in that are?Thank you!

  5. Bluesman, thank you for your comment.Yes, there are Bubbas everywhere, and Bubbas know every gate that's not locked, every fishing hole and sometimes they can be a tremendous asset. Sometimes not.Lots of folks are talking about the dealings in D.C. If it weren't so sad, it would be almost entertaining. I know I've got a one sided opinion, but I don't see any way out of this thing. I don't exactly see where it's going, but again, we can't go backwards, that just doesn't work. We can't stay where we are, the snowball is heading downhill. I like what President Trump has done, but him just being there creates a lot of problems. Not that he is the problem. Something is going to have to give here real soon. I'm seriously worried about a large black swan event. If they will kill thousands during 9/11, they will kill many more to not lose more power.Thank you for sharing, Frank

  6. Hi, Tewshooz. Why don't you say what you think? (-:It's too bad other people don't feel like you do. That is a pretty area, Fern has a cousin that lives between Coeur d' Alene and Spokane. Always enjoyed the trip through there. But live there year round? No way. My back hurts just thinking about it.Thank you for your kind words. Frank FeralP.S. Tewshooz, I just love hearing from you. You never disappoint. You either teach me something or give me a good laugh. Blessings, Fern

  7. \”Bring Me Some Sunshine\” was great! I had never heard of the Jive Aces so that was a real treat. Conditions could be better for us, but we are not in any kind of trouble yet. If and when things dry up, we will get back to planting. Generally, corn should be planted before the first of June, and beans should be planted before the first few days of July. To reach maturity before a frost, each plant requires so many heat units. Since a hard frost sometimes appears before the middle of September, it is best to get the seeds in the ground as soon as the soil is warm enough. Thank you for sharing and your questions…CWfromIowa

  8. Southern Idaho? No way; too many libs and muzzies. North Central in a beautiful valley. We were there 30 years ago and we are going back. We are as old as the hills, ya know. Yep, 160 years of shared knowledge. I grew up in the 40's when we still had real food and the horse drawn veggie and meat truck would come to the neighborhood. I had diphtheria, whooping cough and measles and lived to tell about it…imagine that! I don't want to wind up in an old folks home and think, \”I should have done what I wanted when I had the chance\”. The fat asses can drink their poison Coke and Splenda and slowly heave themselves off the couch. Not me or my husband. Until God calls us home, we will go forward into the future wherever that takes us. We will stay lean and mean and speak our minds. You and Fern have inspired us, too.

  9. Very interesting and valid points made in the e-mails. Moving to a new locale is a real learning experience. We lived in NW Washington for many years. We got tired of the annual rainfall ( 35\”) and being surrounded by lots of left wing loonies. We began getting concerned about the direction of things in this country about 10 years ago and were not comfortable in a large population area.We spent time talking about what each one of us wanted, about 2 years of road trips and lots of computer time dealing with all the demographics of an area. Age was a huge factor for us as we made our move in our mid sixties. One thing we did that has been a real blessing for us was to find a good church. We ended up in SE Washington . Half the rainfall, a very conservative community, good growing season, a small population and 40 miles from a city of any size. Comments were made about Bubbas. Or perhaps buffoon would be a more descriptive word, but they are spread generously across the land, you cannot escape them . Just avoid them as much as possible.Happy Moving,Bluesman

  10. Hi, Tewshooz. Was that Horace Greely that said, \”Go west, young man.\”? So, who said, \”Go east.\”? I think that was John Candy.Age is a state of mind. I know lots of people that have just given up on life. They sit in front of their TV, eat poorly processed food and are just dying. They believe, or they've been conditioned to believe, that this is life. They sit and watch TV and learn to just take another pill. I know some people have physical problems. They're not the ones I'm talking about. I'm talking about people that haven't learned anything new since they got out of high school. I'm not quite as polite as you are. Times are getting rougher around the edge everywhere. Fern and I have found ourselves becoming a little less tolerant. I call these people fat, lazy and stupid. I think they're too lazy to die. But we don't have that stinking thinking in my house.I married Fern 36 years ago. She was part of my prepping package. Did I get a good buy with that deal, or what? Folks ask me, what about her? What did she get? I don't know, but she's still here and I'm still here. What I meant to say was that I have been prepping since before I met Fern. They didn't call it prepping back then. Grandma didn't call it prepping, they called it life. Either you grow and store food or you don't eat. My grandmother had a pump in her kitchen. It was not the deep well type, it was a pitcher pump. Had an indoor potty when it was too cold to go outside. One room. That was the kitchen, the dining room and where everybody slept. Boy that washtub was cold.80 years old, eh? You said we, so that means collective experience would be 160 years. So, did you know Methuselah? Remember, humor is the essence of survival. A man I know once said that.I'm going to tell you a secret. And don't tell anybody, ok? Practice does not make perfect. I was not a good shot in the Army. I was not a good shot in the Navy. I was not a good shot with the police department. Here, in beautiful downtown southeastern Oklahoma, rabbits and squirrels laugh at me. So, I've narrowed it down. Two shotguns. One with bird shot, one with double 00. We need to learn to compensate for our deficiencies in life. Now the rabbits don't laugh at me anymore. But the squirrels still do.I hope your move goes well. It's difficult to downsize. I've got a relative that thinks more and newer is better. He works three jobs and seems to think that worldly possessions makes him important. He could work a whole lot less and enjoy his little boat a whole lot more. So, is your move to Idaho all downhill? You know the folks in southern Idaho are sharply different than the folks in northern Idaho. As is the terrain, as you well know.Tewshooz, thank you. You're a motivation. Take care, Frank

  11. Well, Frank, we live on the edge of the redoubt in the high desert of Oregon at 4800 ft. Growing season of 60-75 days with fruit about one year in seven. We have lived here 25 years and are outsiders, still. We are moving to Idaho to 1200ft with 165 day growing season where we can at least grow tomatoes. A very conservative community where we can really fit in more than here, hopefully. You know, age is a state of mind. We are 80 and need to downsize a lot, so we are going to do that and see what happens. Can't live in fear of the future, it sucks out the joy of the present life We are skilled in gardening and whatever else it takes. We are also great shots and will protect what is ours to the end. We have been prepping so long that it is second nature to us now.

  12. CW, thank you for the update. Literally, when it rains, it pours. I follow the forecast for your part of the country. When does the point come when you replant and it can be harvested in a timely manner? I don't know a lot about your industry.In our neck of the woods we grow hay and cattle. And rocks. And pine trees. But the pine trees are the forest and amazingly there is a market for stones and rocks. We actually have some mining in the area, but it's mostly cattle and hay.I hope things turn for you and your area soon. Our country needs grain storage. And from what I read, it is very low right now. That concerns me.Again, thank you for the update. FrankHere is a link for you. You'll need to copy and paste it. Enjoy.

  13. Vicki, words worth living by. Look 20 years into the future.Eleven years ago when we moved here, we gave serious thought to relocating to a colder area. But having shoveled snow everyday for a couple of years, I just wasn't going to do it anymore. The idea of looking 20 years into the future never really occurred to me at the time. As you know, we are downsizing now. We're just getting less of everything. We're giving serious thought to selling part of our current small acreage. Due to the ten years age difference between Fern and I, the fact that I am a male, there's a very good chance, a strong probability that I will pass years before Fern. We are talking about these issues now. Odd things to think about when you get older. We both have living wills with an advanced directive. I think they might be the same thing. We have cemetery lots with the headstone already placed. Unless something strange happens, I will die before Fern. That's not a bad deal. But your words about looking 20 years ahead? Strong words of wisdom. I've got a relative right now that's 33. He's a worker and he's bright. I'll share your words with him. Some things are just no fun thinking about. But it's better to prepare now than wait until the last minute.Thank you again. Fern and I wish you the best.Frank & Fern

  14. Frank, we were blessed with a few days without rain last week and were able to get more fieldwork accomplished. We have had little sunshine and below normal temperatures. Yesterday, we had more rain move into our area and are expecting another couple of inches through Thursday of this week with much cooler temperatures. Lows will be in the upper 30's to mid 40's. Our planted crops are not through the ground yet and are sitting in cold, wet soil which sometimes results in the rotting of seeds. No planting will take place this week. We are going to have to be patient…time will tell. In the meantime, grain prices are still dropping…CWfromIowa

  15. Although I do not homestead, there are a couple of things from my experience that bear mentioning.My late husband was epileptic, which meant that I not only needed to learn how to deal with seizures, but also needed to take up the slack when he became ill, which could sometimes last for several days. Illness can strike sometimes without notice, and if one partner is not fully prepared to take on the task of caregiver or is unable to do everything required to keep things running fairly smoothly, it could be a problem. When I moved into my residence over 20 years ago, the fact that it was a second floor apartment with no elevator in the building wasn't given a second thought. Now it is a problem. Stairs are not my friends. I would strongly suggest looking at property through the eyes of someone 20 years older and see what might be a physical obstacle at that age.That being said, I applaud your ambition to live your dream and wish you all the best in doing so.

  16. CW, what you say about being an outsider is very true. Where we live currently is very family/tribe dominated. You are correct, it makes no difference how long you live here, if you were not born here, you are an outsider. In some cases, even if you were born here, you're still an outsider.Local relationships help. Getting a job locally, attending church, community activities. But you're still an outsider.Some folks would recommend relocating to an area and renting for a while. It does no good to try to change the local people. They're happy the way they are. Outsiders, quit trying to change the local people. They are not broken, you cannot fix them. In my area there is a coarse saying, \”There are Yankees that come and visit and go back to their home. And there are damn Yankees, the ones that come and stay\” and try to change the local people.I wish these folks the best.Have you dried out yet? An update would be appreciated.Thank you, Frank

  17. Hi, Mary. From a temporal point of view and not spiritual, in my humble opinion, people need to be realistic about their abilities. I meet so many people that think that they can live off of the land. That's absurd. Maybe Jerimiah Johnson could, but there are few, very, very few that can truly live off of the land. Some may try it, and when they find them come spring during the thaw….you get the picture. Even down south where it rarely ever freezes, few people can live without some type of assistance. What about the guy that has a family and kids? Let's get in touch with reality, folks. Warmer is better.On a spiritual note. If we are right with God, then whatever comes is the long-term plan. Plan accordingly.Thanks for your words, Frank

  18. TB, can I come stay with you? Bring my eight kids and all of their kids? I'll try to get serious here.There are corners of our country, no matter where you are, that are remote, isolated and peaceful. I have no desire to live in a place that is unsurvivable. There will always be Bubba down the road. There are Bubbas everywhere. There are Bubbas in church, Wal-Mart, where you work and inside your own family. I know I have people in my family that would be happy to take what I have. Some of them are much younger than I am. I don't kid myself about these realities of life.This thing is going to get nasty someday. A whole bunch of us will experience that after-life. That's just the way it is. We're all going to experience it sooner or later. Realistically, the older you get, the sooner it is.Take care, Frank

  19. Hi, SJ. Moving is daunting, even for the able. If a person is comfortable where they are, make peace with that. I'm not comparing myself with anyone else. I'm in better shape than some my age, and not as good a shape as others. As a general rule, I do one day of physical things and take one or two days off. My body needs to recover. This is just the way it is and I have had to accept reality. Sometimes I do things a little bit, what some people would call stupid, and I hurt for days. I am happy for those that can and wish I could do better. These are the cards I have been dealt. Five aces. Take care, Frank

  20. This will be a huge undertaking for this gentleman and his wife, however it seems they have very valid reasons for possible relocation. It sounds as though they would be good neighbors…self-sufficient, Christian people. Should they move to a fairly rural Midwestern area, they may find it suits them quite well. They should also know that they will always and forever be \”outsiders or foreigners\” in most any community they choose to reside. I know, as after 40 years in my rural area I am still an outsider. A move of this magnitude will require a great deal of homework and prayer. I believe God will help them make the decisions…CWfromIowa

  21. Frank, thanks for sharing this provocative subject. The advice for any person searching for answers on this topic will vary individually. As you said, the Redoubt area demands vigor and great health. I agree that's not for everyone. Cost is always a factor. Mental and physical fortitude are pre-requisites. If you're not right spiritually, nothing else will be right. So. Your advice to this reader was spot on. Only he can decide what's best for him and his family, but at least he is asking the right questions. The choices he will make, that we all make, determine our life paths. No one knows what God has is store for us. We can only do our best.

  22. Thanks for explaining your thought process, Frank. It is very helpful.Much as I would love to live in Montana, I doubt it will ever materialize full time. I am in my early 50's and my wife definitely does not embrace the snow. My family's land is in Northern California and although I have many, many problems with the state government, they live on a large chunk of land quite isolated from urban living. One could, in a pinch, make it there: water, wood, reasonable soil for gardening. Only a bit of snow in the winter.I think my biggest piece of advice, beyond what you said and observing my own parents, is plan on getting old. How much will you have to do to keep going?

  23. Great questions and great response. I'm early 60s and have had it with snow and ice. I gingerly shoveled a little bit of snow/ice from one of our storms in February and am still trying to get over the damage. I would love to move but I'm in my early 60s, now single, a woman and no kids. Moving on my own just feels daunting. SJ in Vancouver

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