What to look for when 'shopping' in North Idaho
Because of my background in natural resources and land management, as a real estate agent, I specialize in land, ranches and homes with acreage. I have several alternative energy properties listed and one has a huge underground house on it, etc. So because of these things, I have seen a marked increase in clients who are looking for “Survival Properties.” Perhaps they want to prepare for a collapse of the financial infrastructure, a collapse of energy infrastructure or a collapse of governmental institutions. Some want to prepare for the “end days” as prophesied in their religion, some want to be prepared for a world war which may affect the continent or just be prepared for natural disasters such as meteor impacts, polar shift, massive volcanic eruption, earthquakes, global warming, global cooling, or all of the above. Their reasons are varied, but they all share a desire to be self-sustainable and not have to rely on the infrastructure of the modern world, as much as is possible, or have a place to retreat to and live off the land if needed. Some think this mentality is eccentric or plain crazy but others think it wise while most remain indifferent. I believe it is simply a great country lifestyle which brings a certain peace of mind on many levels.
But what is a “survival” property and what are the elements one looks for in choosing or even developing this type of property? It does depend to some degree on how you see the need for such property unfolding. Specifically, do you believe you will need to protect the property by force of arms? If so, there are added components of defensibility of the property, most notably to hold the high ground, have clear visibility of approach routes and if possible a means of preventing wheeled vehicles from entering your property. Let’s face it, as individuals or a small group, we can not realistically protect a property from a real military force with say tanks, aircraft, etc. Realistically one could only hope to protect against civil unrest, i.e. roving groups who want to steal resources or a majority of the population who find themselves unprepared and then may be inclined to go collect the resources of others who are prepared. But I will leave further discussions of that for the experts in this area, as I am not one.
Instead of writing about the military/defensible aspects of survival properties, I will focus on the aspects of property which make it good for being self-sustainable. Good sun exposure is of great importance for being able to grow your own produce, as is land with good flat areas to put your garden on, which have some decent top soil. Generally, most forest soils can be converted into garden land with clearing, and adding alkaline to make the soil less acidic, but most any soil can be made better with added manure, compost, etc. It is important and not widely known that adding wood chips and or bark to gardens can induce nutrient deficiencies and should be avoided. I believe it is important not so much to choose a property which has perfect soil for gardening, as it is to make sure the property has a place which can be made into a good garden. Building or buying a greenhouse is also a very prudent idea which can greatly increase the growing season and help compensate for less than perfect farming land.
Water is, of course, of utmost importance and while I do believe that fresh, fishable water is the best to have on your property, it is not a necessity. A good producing spring, which can gravity feed to your dwelling, would be second best but a good well with a hand pump for backup will work too.
I think it very important to be bordering or in walking distance to the vast areas of public lands which our area has. The private lands would quickly become hunted out, if the general population were to need to live off of the land. Therefore the ability to be able to go out on regular hunting trips, on foot, would become of paramount importance, given that motorized transportation may no longer be available.
It would be important that the land you choose have areas which would be suitable for raising livestock too, which does not necessarily mean you need plowable pastures, even for horses, but rather some larger areas of relatively flat or gently sloped land which the animals could live on, and hopefully do some seasonal foraging on. Open forest is fine for all types of stock, including horses and cattle, but especially goats and sheep which can live most anywhere but do require a source of food during the winter months, which goes back to your gardening capabilities.
Overall the land you choose or have should have reliable water, an area of good sun exposure which can be made into a garden area and be within a reasonable distance to large areas of public lands. There are many alternative energy options too but these are not absolutely necessary. It would be prudent, however, to be prepared to be able to cook and heat with a good, old fashioned wood fire which, in the long run, may be the only reliable source of energy we have available.
For more extensive information on this topic contact me through my web site and I can offer much more specific information or direct you to several good sources for survival preparedness.