"My wife and I moved from a major city to a very rural area 25 years ago. I am extremely concerned about the naivete of the people who plan to move to the country to escape the big, smoggy city, or some planetary catastrophe, believing society will never recover. Living in a truly rural area is not like living in suburbia with extra large lots!

We have seen city people (Yes, that's what we call you) come and go over the years. They simply are not prepared for rural life; how physically hard it is, how much things can cost or how long projects can take.

They are also unprepared psychologically. In our experience, perhaps 50-75% of relationships break-up within one to five years. Don't even think about the country unless you have a perfect relationship. If not, at least acknowledge that you may be changing partners at some time in the future and that there will be no hard feelings. (Sure!)

People who define themselves by their jobs will quickly find that no one cares what their previous job was in the city or what their title was. Personal relationships count in the country, money and former status don't.

People in rural areas share what can only be called a history. This shared history is what makes the relationships work. New people often have a hard time making friends because they do not share this common history. It takes time.

There is also nothing to do in the country except, well, be in the country. Realistically, if you believe in the end of the world, you should also acknowledge that there will be no ballets, libraries, movie theaters or even TV. Social life is totally different from cities.

Everything is different. Many, many people cannot stand it and pack up and leave after a year or two. Here are some suggestions to consider if you still plan to move

1. Power -- forget the diesel and propane generators. If you believe society will end, you are wasting your money for a system for which there will be no fuel. In fact, I would forget any kind of generator. They require maintenance; they break; you only have power when they are running.

There are several more realistic options. Spend the money for photovoltaic solar panels, a wind generator or hydro system with inverters and a battery bank. Yes, batteries wear out too. However, you still have enough power during the day to run necessary equipment even when the batteries die in 10 years. We have a 29 kW diesel and an 8 kW gas generator for back up but are still putting in a very substantial solar and wind system that will provide enough power to allow us to live normally no matter what happens.

Plus, we've always wanted a system like this. Figure about $10 per watt. A reasonable system can be built for $30,000-40,000.

If you insist upon a motor driven generator, consider one powered by wood gas. This is what many people did in other countries during W.W. II. The Mother Earth News still offers plans. Check out their web site. Wood gas generators run off gasses given off when wood is burned slowly in a reducing atmosphere. It can also be used to power your pre-emissions pick-up when your fancy new diesel truck has no fuel.

2. ACTION HERO DOESN'T WORK! You don't need a ton of guns. If the idea is to live off the land, forget it. During the Depression, we have been told that all the deer in our area were killed within six months and did not return for 20 years. At the time there were less than 300 people in a 600 square mile area and this is excellent deer country. Before the mountain lions ate most of them, we used to see herds of 20 or more deer. Now we only see a few. Game is too tenuous to count on.

What you need to do is become your own chain and hardware store. We live hours away from major stores and have stocked up for years. You need nails, electrical wire, plumbing supplies, roof shingles, plastic sheeting, etc., etc. You need soap and shampoo, toilet paper and razor blades. You need real country clothes that will stand up to the kind of punishment they will take.

3. Food -- prepackaged food sounds good but are you also including things like chicken scratch for the chickens you brought along? It is unlikely that you will get enough protein from your open pollinated vegetables when your packaged food runs out. By the way, how do you feel about killing your livestock? And, unless you buy a place with mature fruit trees, what are you going to do about fruit when you're a long car ride from the country store?

And don't forget food for your pets. A dog running around in cattle country is going to be shot by some good ole boy without a second thought.

4. Heat -- are you going to have years and years of fire wood stocked up or do you plan to use the two-man saw you brought (called a misery whip in our area) to fell trees? Try it for a while and you'll find why gas chain saws are such a hit. And, speaking of heat, how are you going to have hot water? Crank up the wood cook stove in the middle of the summer when you run out of propane? There are wood burning water heaters available from Real Goods. Check out their web site. Naturally, there are other options, too.

5. Gold and silver -- they might work in the city but they are not going to work in the country where everything will be bartered.

6. Tools -- you will not have the tools you need unless you just go into a store and buy one of everything. You will also need repair manuals and parts for anything that might break down. You will have to learn new skills like welding, carpentry and auto mechanics because you will not be able to afford to hire anyone.

7. Economic reality -- rural towns are rural because they have no growth. I guarantee you that any town will grow, regardless of its location, if there are a lot of well- paying jobs. The place you are moving to PROBABLY has one of every skill it needs. City skills are not usually needed -- so what are you going to do?

The list of things you should be concerned about just goes on and on. I estimate that you will need $20,000-50,000 worth of tools, non-food supplies and clothing to survive if you believe society will never recover. You can never have too much of this kinda stuff.

I know it sounds like I'm trying to dissuade you. I'm not. Rather, I'm trying to get you to take a realistic look at what you are getting into. Would my wife and I move back to the city? No way. But after 25 years she would love to be closer to lotsa gal pals, video rentals, theaters, libraries, stores with choices and not have to drive 15 miles each way to pick up the mail. Luckily, she loves me just a little more than she loves all the above. Me she can have. Signed, a farmer.

LISTS ARE WONDERFUL! I just hit SAVE as text, then I saved it to a directory I call FARMING. Entered it with a text editor to give it some clean up and shape. And then saved it in WORD.