I see that one of the main reasons people cite for being interested in self sufficiency is a fear or expectation of society collapse. They figure that they will simply grow their own food, then all will be well and they will survive. People email me to assure me that I will survive whatever the future dishes out. Seldom do they consider those other aspects of collapse...the roving lawless gangs who will attempt to steal one's equipment, livestock, and crops. Who will gleefully kick you off your farm, rape, torture and kill for the fun of it. Gosh, more in your face doom & gloom.
Sounds like fun, eh? So you don't think it could happen? Think Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambawie, Iraq, etc. Collapse and vicious aggression happens quickly. Think government sponsored aggression - Syria, Tibet, Palestine. Think what happened in the aftermath of Katrina.
Doom and gloom. Doom and gloom!
Rather than hiding my head in the sand, saying it couldn't happen here......or going the opposite route by stockpiling an arsenal, there are a few things I can do. Prepare to some degree. Have some food, water, cash, and supplies stockpiled. Arms and ammo too, for sure. Perhaps have a hidden cellar for storage or for short term hiding. If not a separate cellar, then perhaps a hidden room or attic. Have firearms and be willing to use them. Learn how to use them before you need them. Know how to make basic defense weapons from scratch. Keep a bug out kit. Have an evacuation plan. Keep some big watchdogs. Dogs aren't a fail safe, but they help. Keep a nice assortment of basic tools and general supplies. Keep cash accessible. Banks will shutdown as soon as chaos breaks out.
I know a person who survived the Khmer Rouge by having the skill of farming. Knowing how to grow food for the enemy saved her family's lives although life was decidedly unpleasant until they were able to escape. Even after escape, life was terrible until they could immigrate. Being persistent eventually paid off.
Other factors I think that can help survive a collapse:
...having basic survival knowledge and skills.
...have a warning system. Barking dogs. Something that makes noise if triggered -- a driveway alarm, or even a simple string strung and attached to tin cans, etc. Boobytraps.
...paying attention to what is developing around you. Trying to evacuate too late traps many people.
...be persistent and don't give up. Some people have survived horrible situations by being ready when an opportunity came along.
...stay optimistic. Keep a good attitude and sense of humor. Real hard to do when chaos ensues, but survivors tend to have these qualities.
...don't panic. It kills. Try to keep your emotions detached if possible.
...be willing to defend yourself. Otherwise guaranteed you WILL be the victim.
Nothing will completely protect you other than luck. But luck's not something one can buy or store. Oh here I go again....doom & gloom.
As I've said, I don't see myself as a prepper or survivalist. But it surely doesn't hurt to be prepared. As the people who lived in the aftermath of Hurricane Iselle learned, having two weeks worth of drinking water, food that doesn't require cooking, medical supplies, pet food, and basic living supplies is a real good idea. Having cash hidden someplace at home is very beneficial. Some people wisely choose to load up on gasoline which came in real handy for generators and chainsaws. Being prepared got many people through this crisis.
So you say, "Ok Su, how is this about your homesteading experience." Lets say that the whole idea of homesteading has made me prepared. No, I don't have a year's worth of food, but I have enough for a month plus the means to grow more. I can produce much of my own seed stock. I can produce meat and eggs. I can cook and heat water using resources on the farm. I'm learning to use local medicinal plants to supplement my medical supplies. Plus I'm starting to cultivate them. I'm on solar to generate my own power. If gasoline becomes scarce or unavailable I can continue to garden using hand tools, plus having developed methods to create my own fertilizers. I have the means to collect rainwater for the garden and the house. I have the knowledge to build pedal powered tools. I am part of a community and trading network. I have chosen an area where I can survive without having to deal with climate extremes. Sure, yeah, yeah, yeah, so I've got a giant volcano in my backyard. That's easier to deal with than a crazy government or war.
Nothing will protect me if total chaos breaks out. But having access to enough cash will at least give me the opportunity to buy transportation away.
What I am prepared for is local temporary problems. Like the hurricane that just hit. Like Mauna Loa erupting. Like serious inflation / depression.