The Panhandle Rancher visits once again…..SHTF life on a prairie ranch


Much has been written about hiding your retreat far off road and deep in the woods. I own and operate a working Texas ranch located 25 miles from the nearest small city of 2,000 souls. Off the beaten path and rural the setting may be but the surrounding mostly flat prairie poses unique security challenges. I chose to construct a poured in place, rebar and entrained fiberglass reinforced concrete dwelling as ranch headquarters. With great difficulty, a track hoe with hydraulic driven vibratory hammer cut through the mesa cap rock, chiseling deep footing trenches. A cosmetic stucco finish was applied to the exterior walls, hiding the concrete such that this physically strong dwelling resembles any other frame stucco house. Take the high ground is a well understood military maxim and given the terrain and lack of vegetative cover, that is what I did building on top of mesa more than 200 feet above the surrounding plains.


Adjacent to the residence, another concrete building was constructed (including the roof). An interior concrete wall divides this building. One half holds a diesel generator equipped with a low noise hospital muffler and several thousand gallon diesel tank. The other half is a storage room for bulk comestibles and dry goods. Electrical service and water lines (from two nearby water wells) running to the house and storage building are buried. Waste flows downhill to an outsized septic system located on the prairie below.


Approach to the residence is via several miles of public dirt road connecting to a mile long private road within the ranch. The half mile of public road facing is fenced in drill tubing. Earth work for several fortified LP/OPs is being completed on the mesa top remote from the house. These LP/OPs will communicate with the residence and each other via military field telephones. These LP/OPs can see one another and between them cover the entire ranch perimeter. A number of signs advertising ‘If you can read this, you’re in range’ have been purchased and are waiting that fateful SHTF day for installation. Known distances have been measured from each LP/OP to the locations where these signs will be installed. Likewise known distances have been established to various geographical choke points.


To impede vehicle egress on that SHTF day, a backhoe will be used to remove all perimeter cattle guards, The cattle guard gates, also made of drill tubing, will be locked. The backhoe will ‘clean out’ the trench under where the cattle guards were located leaving pits five feet wide, ten feet in length and four feet in depth. In addition, small caltrops made from sharpened #6 rebar will be distributed in the grass at logical vehicular choke points, egress points to the mesa, and in the cattle guard pits.


Critical infrastructure to be protected include the ranch headquarters and curtilage, windmills and tanks, large livestock (cattle, horses, and donkeys), barns, the garden, and orchard. Rustling and theft will likely be a serious problem SHTF and must be dealt with pro-actively. The windmills will be attractive to the wayfarer and the plan is to interdict everyone as close to the ranch perimeter as possible.


Much thought has been given to SHTF charity. Water we have in abundance so we would offer to top off all water containers the wayfarer might have. Advice if requested would be freely given along with directions if needed. The wayfarer would be most strongly urged to move on and not return. Although we might hold surplus food, I worry that kind of a handout might make return too tempting. If as things progress, the ranch becomes short of a critical skill, a knowledge/skills/abilities questionnaire would be developed for any who might wish to stay and work.


It is envisioned that each LP/OP would operate around the clock and be staffed by husband and wife watch standers working in shifts. One watch stander will have a 7.62 mm main battle rifle; the other a 5.56 mm light rifle. Each will have personal pistols. Each LP/OP will be equipped with binoculars, a compass to aide locating things of interest not near prominent landmarks, and night vision for evening shifts. A catadioptric high power telescope with shielded objective lens is available to closely scrutinize anything questionable. Watch standers will take their own water and food needing no fire to heat such as MREs to the LP/OP. Selected LP/OPs will be equipped with telescopic sighted .50 caliber M82s intended primarily for anti-vehicle use.


I anticipate that life post SHTF on the ranch will largely consist of security, theft prevention, and food production. A family successfully defended this same ranch against Indian predation in the 1880s. Post SHTF problems will be identical to the problems faced by those original settlers (security, theft prevention, food production). In some ways life after SHTF may be easier than that faced by settlers in Indian country due to a better understanding of how to obtain water.



Panhandle Rancher

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6 thoughts on “The Panhandle Rancher visits once again…..SHTF life on a prairie ranch”

  1. Impressive – well thought out and planned defensive strategy.

    You might consider sod roofed structures (over the concrete roof) to reduce visibility from the air.

    You might also consider remotely activated thermite IED’s placed under likley vehicle positions to force anyone who cuts your pad locks to continue into your kill zone on foot.

    Hope you never have to test your plans.

  2. Wow. That is impressive. Sure puts my basement full of supplies to shame. Would love to be able to construct something like this but live in a city so not possible. Looking for land on the water to try to have a similar protected position. Thank you for your post.

  3. Highly impressive set up. I envy your overall posture. At this point in our preparation efforts, I would be happy to obtain enough concertina wire for my perimeter and an alternate power source to run a well pump, hot water heater, refrigerator/freezer, washing machine and oven/stove.


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