A resilient homestead is only as strong as its weakest defense. Therefore, you need to layer multiple concepts and mechanisms around your property to maximize your security effectiveness. This article will go into the basics of homestead security to set you up for a successful and safe off-grid life.
With my background in intelligence and counterintelligence, I will approach this topic as if I were protecting a military base or critical location. The fastest way to be attacked on a military base is by not taking security seriously or becoming lazy in your security measures. Thus, constant vigilance and attention to detail are both paramount when discussing the safety of your family and homestead.
Below, I've created a diagram to easily explain my zoning system for homestead security. Of course, you can use your own version of the zoning or do something entirely different.
Zone 4: Perimeter
The first layer of your security will be the perimeter of your property. This is easier for those with smaller properties because setting up a decent barrier won't take too long or cost a lot of capital. Larger parcels will have to put in the effort and money to fence around the entire perimeter or break the property into smaller sections. While it is ideal to have the perimeter fenced, it isn’t always possible. When this is the case, we have a couple of options.
Survey the perimeter and find places that are more susceptible to possible intrusion. Some examples of these locations include an open area close to an access road, an easily traversable landscape, an area close to a neighbor's residence, and other potentially easy access points.
Fence in a smaller perimeter closer to your homestead proper. We have a treeline that goes around the property line, and fencing the entire perimeter isn’t feasible, so we made an inner perimeter that we could fence instead.
In places where you may not be able to put a fence, think about putting defensive plants. Examples of perfect defensive plants to use on your perimeter include hardy citrus, hawthorn, multi-floral rose, and firethorn. A great list of these defensive plants can be found at gardenerspath.com.
Add a gate to any access points, including your driveway. Yes, this may be a pain in the ass sometimes, but you certainly want to stop someone from bringing a vehicle onto your property.
If you have a smaller property with neighbors in close proximity, I would consider getting a tall and sturdy privacy fence. This will create a great barrier between your property and the neighbors, but it will also give you more privacy while you conduct your resilient living activities.
Cameras: Setting up trail cams on the perimeter of your property is a great way to keep an eye on what is lurking near your property line when you aren’t present. You can get a decent quality trail cam from Walmart for as low as $30. Additionally, you could invest in wifi or LTE-enabled wireless camera to monitor your property. I'll go into this topic a little more in the discussion regarding zone 1.
Make sure you post "Private Property" signs on the perimeter of your property. In most jurisdictions, it's a requirement to have these signs visible if you want to press charges on someone for trespassing on your property. Also, some people may not know that your property is private, especially if you're near a national forest. Posting the signs will help to keep out unwitting trespassers.
Presence: Do your best to be visible on your property at random times. Walk the perimeter and check your trail cams every couple of days. I say to do these presence patrols at random times so that if someone is watching the property, they won’t know when to expect you. If you walk the property every day at 4 pm, you’re making it too easy for a scout to learn your routine and adjust their plans accordingly. This may not be as routine disrupting as you think. You can mix up your walks around weather, chores, and work schedule.
Zone 3: Interior perimeter
If a would-be intruder has gained access to your property, you want to know this as soon as possible. In a grid-down/social unrest situation, one great way to accomplish this is to set a few tripwire alarms to warn you of activity in your interior perimeter.
To the uninitiated, a tripwire alarm is a mechanism that can be made to “trip” when there is an unwanted guest on your property. Many different alarms make noise, light up, or even spray the intruder with something. I wouldn’t suggest the latter, and I would always consult local ordinances to ensure you won’t risk any jail time with your gadget. But, in a de-industrialized world where the laws are no longer a factor—go wild. You need to protect your property with every trick in the book.
The most straightforward tripwire mechanism would use a fishing line, spring-loaded mouse traps, glow sticks, and tin cans. On one side of your tripwire, you would connect the fishing line to the mousetrap. On the mousetrap, you will position the glow stick. You will have the tin cans on the other side of the fishing line. When something walks through your property and trips the line, the glow stick will light, and the cans will make a decent amount of noise simultaneously.
Zone 2: Outside Home Perimeter
I like to split the property up even more by making a zone 2 (outside the home perimeter). As we layer the security, we are looking to make it as difficult as possible for someone to reach the heart of the property. Of course, a determined adversary will be able to get through these defenses, but it will take them some time to break through your many obstacles.
In between zone 2 and zone 3, you want to create a hedgerow of dense trees (or bamboo). This row will act as a wind barrier, adding another layer to your security apparatus. Any would-be attacker will not have a good view of the house area (zone 1), giving you the advantage.
Instead of just a hedgerow, you should create intentional choke points if you can transform the landscape. Creating intentional chokepoints allows you to direct an attacker to exactly where you want them. By surveying the land and evaluating your options, you can set up corridors to funnel any threat into a predetermined location. I'll call this area the Killzone for lack of a better term.
Like the animals in the woods, people walking through your property will use the path of least resistance. Set up some trails that lead into one (or more) locations where you would be able to confront them with the advantage. It's essential to know every inch of your property. Every ratline and trail can be an avenue of approach for people who accidentally stumble onto the property and those there with a purpose.
Zone 1: The Homestead
The homestead zone is the most important place on your property and should be treated accordingly. If we were discussing a forward operating base, we would call this area the green zone. Essentially, in this zone, you should be the most protected.
The entirety of our zone 1 (about an acre) is fenced in, with a large gate to allow for vehicles and two smaller gates to let us out to different parts of the property. On the top of the gates, we have barbed wire. To reiterate, we want to layer our security to make it as difficult as possible for others to navigate the property without significant disruptions. In addition to all the other security mechanisms we have in place with the fences and gates—we have also electrified the fence.
It's pretty straightforward to set up an electric fence, and Tractor Supply has a great selection of kits that are under $200. If you can get a powerful enough kit, you can deter larger animals such as bears from trying to figure out a way over your wired fence. Of course, this might not stop someone from still trying to enter, but it should definitely slow them down if they get a big enough hit of the electricity. For legal purposes, add an electric fence "sign" on your fence.
Inside the zone 1 perimeter, you want to keep the brush down and place trees strategically to have a clear line of sight around the entire zone. I shutter when I see houses with giant bushes in front of their windows or a high garage blocking the line of sight from the home to the driveway. Believe it or not, the plants around your house should serve vital purposes and should not just be there for aesthetics.
Around the actual house, you should have lights set up to illuminate potentially vulnerable places around the house, including blind spots. In this case, I would suggest a motion light that can also be turned on with a switch. The exterior lights should not be kept on 24/7. That's another cringe-worthy pet peeve of mine—if you have your place lit up like it's Christmas every single night, you better believe others will find it easy to familiarize themselves with your property. Light discipline can save lives.
Solar motion lights are a great resource to put around your immediate home or other vulnerable buildings. Amazon has a great selection of high-quality solar motion lights for less than $50. Essentially, you set these up, and they charge themselves. Low-maintenance security devices are a homesteader's best friend.
Inside the home, people on the outside mustn't be able to see in. For this, we use blackout curtains. When you are standing even 20-feet from our shipping container house, you can't tell that we have any lights on, even if it's pitch black outside.
Another great gadget to have near your home is a solar-powered external camera. Many people, including my partner and I, do not have wifi. We have unlimited data on our mobile device plans which gives us all the internet we need. When we searched for cameras, the only ones that looked great were wifi enabled. This was discouraging, but I was determined to make something work.
I stumbled upon Reolink on Amazon, which allows you to set up the solar camera with a small cellular plan. By inserting a sim card (which is also found in your phone), I set up a $35 a month plan. So now, wherever we are in the world, we can log into the app on our phones and see the property in real-time. So we are doing pretty darn good for people with no on-the-grid wifi.
Your Entire Apparatus at Work
Now that you know property security basics and how to layer your security, I'd like to leave you with additional tips and advice.
Know your neighbors. I'm not talking about just being friendly with your neighbors as they pass your property in their vehicle—I'm talking about looking them up in your county police activity system. To define your threat landscape, you need to know everything about their criminal pasts.
Plan with your family or others living on your property to run drills about possible critical scenarios. One of the ways the intelligence world approaches this training is to develop some courses of action. Yes, you should plan multiple different attacks on your own property. This will help you identify your vulnerabilities, and it will allow you to view your property from the eyes of an attacker. Start by planning three attacks—a most likely attack, a most deadly attack, and an alternate. Then, learn what to expect and create an effective mitigation plan.
Never discuss your security plans with someone who isn't directly living on your property. This is operational security (OPSEC) 101. Do not compare property security notes with someone you just met at a dive bar. Keep that information close to the chest. Likewise, don't talk about your resilience activities (food storage, water collection, medical supplies, etc.). Doing so will only paint a target on your back.
If you're able to, get a dog. Look up the most popular guard dog breeds and go with one of those. This will allow you to have some early warning of a possible intruder, but the dog could also potentially (with proper training) be utilized as a defensive weapon.
Weapons are a necessary evil. You only have two hands, so there is no survival need to have twenty different guns in your home. My suggestion is to have an assault rifle, a shotgun, a handgun, and a hunting rifle. If you have more than one person living in the house, it would be good to have a handgun for each person.
The time to set up security on your property was yesterday. As Christopher David said in his most recent article "All Aboard the Collapse Train," "To put it bluntly, if someone has not woken up to this reality, no one else will jolt them into serious action." The serious action of layering your security to protect what is yours needs to be taking place right now. We are on the brink of it being too late to start. Collapse now so the next chapter won't be so painful.