Living in the Middle of Nowhere Fosters Self-Sufficiency

Driveway leading to a house you cannot see
A wooded driveway leading to a rural house that is hidden from the road gives you a sense of isolation. When you have to run an errand, you really feel the distance.

Sometimes, the very things we love about living in the middle of nowhere have downsides. One of them is that the outside of Walmart, the closest big box stores are 75 to 90 minutes away. This can make running errands take a long time. It is also why country people like Dollar General. I drive past three Dollar Generals on my way to Walmart. They seem to be everywhere.

In the city and suburbs, the small hardware stores have been driven out by the Home Depots and Lowes. Out here in the country, Ace and Tru-Value are alive and well, and people like me depend on them. In fact, the first people we met when we arrived here were the folks who own the hardware store. Not because they reached out to us, but because we needed things like mouse traps and cleaning supplies.

When we lived in the city, my wife had at least six different grocery stores to choose from. I’m not talking individual stores, I’m talking six brands of store, most within a 15-minute drive. Out here, we have one grocery store and Walmart. There is no Target. There is no alternate brand of store.

Because of the distances involved, you can’t run out and grab something. Even going to the post office is a 40-minute round trip. As a result, we save up our errands and get them done in one big trip. Here’s an example.

Running Errands

We needed another box of tile for the bathroom renovation, so I had to go to Lowes. Because I already had an appointment in a nearby town (45 minutes away) I decided I would go to Lowes afterwards because that gets me more than halfway there. So I left at 11 a.m. for my 1 p.m. appointment. Why so early? Because I had stops to make.

On my way there, I went to the library and dropped off books. I swung by the gas station with the lowest price around and filled my tank. Then I went to the post office. On the way out of our town, I dropped off the trash and the recycling center because we don’t have trash pickup. (The idea of having to drop off your own trash confounds my kids who live in or outside cities). Then I drove to the other town where I ate a fast-food lunch (a treat since we have no fast food here), went to the bank to make a deposit, bought two books at the used bookstore, and then made it to my appointment.

After the appointment, I stopped by the general store and picked up some mulch my wife wanted. Then I drove to Lowes. I also went to the nearby Walmart (bigger and nicer than our local store) and Tractor Supply, simply because they are in the same general area and I needed to replace a cracked chicken feeder. I considered driving a little further to visit a very nice gun store, but I was tired, so I skipped it and headed home. Besides, I blew my prepping budget for the month.

That’s 11 stops and more than 100 miles in over six hours. I burned a quarter tank of gas. So you can see why we don’t want to do that every day.

The good news is that I don’t have to leave the house again for another week.

Distance Create Self Sufficiency

When you can run out and grab a bite to eat or pick up food at the corner store in just minutes, there’s no reason to have a full pantry. Conversely, when there is only one decent place for dinner in twenty square miles and the grocery store is half an hour away, you better have a full refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards.

Forget about delivery. No pizza or other takeout place delivers here. We are out of the service range for delivery from the grocery store and Walmart, too. Even UPS and the post office won’t deliver to us because we are on a mountain. We are on our own.

When it snows, we are even more on our own. No snow plows. No rescue. If the power lines go down, it’s going to be awhile before they can get them fixed because we are at the end of a long run of wire.

If someone shows up to rob us, we are also on our own. I’ve only seen a sheriff’s deputy out here once, and that was because someone called him. This is as close to “shoot, shovel and shut up” territory as I have ever seen.

And if you need EMS, you better hop in the car and meet them halfway or it will take an hour to get to the hospital. That’s why I have splints, gauze, compression bandages, QuikClot, CAT tourniquets, chest seals, and other emergency meds.

In short, living here makes you prepared, even if we aren’t officially a prepper. Since we are preppers, we stockpile even more. For example, I bought two 28-ounce cans of Keystone roast beef at Walmart today, just because it is ingrained into me. (So much for being over budget.)

Living alone is good practice for TEOTWAWKI. Try to go a week without leaving your property and see how well you do.