When it comes to living off the grid, MREs, beans, rice, canned goods and other foods that will last a long time definitely have a place in the cellar … and in the pantry … and in pretty much any other space you have for storing dry goods. Still, the average person is going to want at least the occasional piece of meat from time to time and if you are one of the ones that always has fresh meat, even in the event of a major economic collapse, you could do quite well for yourself … and make some pretty good money as well … or at least some of whatever is being used as common currency at the time.
Chickens, pigs and fish all have some things in common which may or may not surprise the average person. Perhaps one of the most important things to realize is that they can all be raised indoors. This may or may not appeal to you personally but there are many instances when and reasons why this could very well be important. If there actually were a complete economic collapse, how long do you think it is going to be before all of those people from the city … those that are left anyhow, come out to the country looking for food?
Additionally, even if the people do not begin making raids on your livestock, the government … or whatever is left of it may very well do exactly that. The government has banned, rationed and controlled livestock, precious metals and many other items in the past and there is no reason to believe that they would not do so today. For those that do not really worry much about such things, it is at least, very likely that the government would happily pay you whatever they considered to be a fair market value … or just toss you in jail if you disagree with their appraisals … as they have done in the past.
One of the beautiful things about foresight, is the ability to prepare over the course of time. Isolated lands are readily available from tax auctions and heirs for pretty cheap prices. Those isolated spots can also be very good locations for building up a retreat of sorts. In my particular case, I was situated in the middle of the high desert. For those that are not familiar with exactly what that means, it means that we regularly had temperatures of one hundred and ten degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and Minus twenty or more degrees Fahrenheit in the winter … not exactly the best climate for raising anything, much less raising livestock.
Thus, having livestock that can be raised indoors could very well be important for some people. Now again, daring as I do to stereotype the average person … the average person is probably not going to want to bring pigs or chickens into their homes. Then again, great big barns are probably going to attract a lot of attention as well. For those that have the time and/or the resources to do so, building underground is an excellent option for a number of reasons. The natural insulation alone will provide a lot of benefit when it comes to heating and cooling … though care must be taken to insure proper ventilation as suffocating down there is certainly not going to help you prolong your life or protect your family, much less provide for them or anyone else.
Whether you are building above ground or below ground however, the ability to keep your livestock indoors has other benefits as well. When you have livestock, most people consider the animal waste to be little more than waste. In fact, you can get both refrigeration and electrical power from the waste and then use the “leftovers” from that process to create fully organic fertilizers for your garden.
Refrigeration? Anyone who has ever owned a travel trailer or an RV has probably seen the propane refrigerators in the stores. This is actually early twentieth century technology revisited and works on the same principle as the old ammonia refrigeration units. Regardless of all of that, you can easily build digesters for trapping the methane (natural gas) from your animal waste. The natural gas may need a bit larger hole for the pilot light and you may require some help getting it all set up, but now you have almost everything you need to live and survive in relative comfort.
You have your livestock as a ready source of meat and eggs. The skins can also be used but that is a different article. You now also, because you have kept livestock, have refrigeration for storing the meat, though you may very well want to cure the occasional ham as well … and you also have propane to run generators in addition to any of the solar and wind setups you may have. The generators should be more than adequate for running many household appliances or in our case, the machine shop where we could do other work that made us equally and even extra valuable in such an isolated location.