This past week my husband and I had a wild hot date. It consisted of driving three hours north to a remote farm and buying a 5-month-old Jersey heifer, then driving three hours home again. Oooh yeah.

A Jersey is a cattle breed that gives rich, creamy milk. A heifer is a young unbred cow. A date is something my husband and I rarely experience.

The reason we bought this little girl is because our older Jersey is down to two out of four working quarters on her udder, and we’re not getting nearly as much milk as we’d like. We thought buying a young, healthy animal was a worthwhile investment.

Investment, you ask? Why would we “invest” in a heifer rather than stocks or treasuries?

It’s because we feel stocks and treasuries are worthless, and money isn’t far behind. But a heifer grows. Bred to our bull, she will give us calves we can breed, sell, or eat. She will produce abundant milk from which I can make butter and cheese and yogurt. She will have a productive life of about 15 years.

Not a bad investment after all.

And this is the tactic my husband and I have decided to take from now on. During the rare times we have surplus money, we are not putting it in the bank. We are buying tangibles such as heifers or building materials or fencing or canning jars or storable food or fruit trees.

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We’ve decided on this radical tactic because money is losing its value at a startling rate. In the last eight months it has lost 14 percent of its value. This “dollar’s road to hell,” in the words of Gonzalo Lira, mean useful things like heifers and canning jars and storable food will only cost more and more as time goes by. So why not purchase them now while we can still afford them?

At this juncture I’ll point out that I’m not a financial adviser. I don’t even play one on TV. I’m a housewife on a limited budget. But my husband and I can’t afford to have that limited budget evaporate in value because we naïvely swallowed Ben Bernanke’s lies that our economy is just fine, thank you, and recovery is right around the corner.

We believe foolish people trustingly keep their money in the bank and don’t notice when its purchasing power dwindles (or when their solid dependable bank just … goes away). We believe foolish people think the stock market can never fall to catastrophic lows (again). We believe foolish people think our economy is fundamentally sound despite all evidence to the contrary.

We believe smart people pay off debt and get rid of unneeded luxuries and put their money into things that will provide a useful function in the future. We believe smart people invest their retirement money in physical gold and silver rather than 401(k) plans.

Tangible. Think tangible.

We are not alone in this push for tangible investments. People far savvier than we are discovering a fistful of treasuries isn’t worth the paper they’re printed on, whereas a sweet chunk of farmland will last forever.

What’s behind this interest in tangibles? It’s nothing more than truly hearing what smart economists have been telling us for several years: The United States cannot alter its course toward financial insolvency without massive changes that – let’s be frank – would be political suicide for any politician brave enough to suggest it. Some economists are predicting the dollar’s collapse within three or four months.

But people don’t want to hear it. To paraphrase an old proverb, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear. These financial rumblings are portending something massive, something beyond our ability to alter, something that makes me think a little Jersey heifer will be worth her weight in gold in the near future.

I feel intensely sorry for anyone naïve enough to think “it can’t happen here.” I’m sure that was the prevailing attitude in September 1929 as well. I know it was the prevailing attitude in 2008 before the sub-prime housing market meltdown and Lehman Brothers fiasco. Do you really want to get caught with your pants down because you prefer to tuck your head in the sand?

I know an elderly woman whose husband passed away four years ago. She was left comfortable due to her husband’s astute financial investments. But in the year after he died, $70,000 of her retirement just … disappeared. While she is keeping body and soul together, she is nowhere near as economically stable as her husband had planned.

By contrast, I know a wealthy individual who saw the storm on the horizon three years ago. Over a period of several months, he took his considerable savings (I’m guessing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) and purchased metals (gold, silver, platinum) and tucked it away somewhere known only to him and his family. Gold at that time was somewhere around $300/ounce, silver hovering around $4/ounce. Guess how much his wealth has multiplied in the three years since then? What would his wealth be worth if he had invested in stocks or (worse) kept it in a savings account? Like our elderly friend, it would simply have … disappeared.

This is why I think tangibles are such a good idea. We can’t afford metals, but we can afford cows and canning jars and garden seeds and fencing and building materials and fruit trees. We can prepare our farm to be as self-sufficient as possible. We’re investing in assets we can control instead of intangible assets that can be buffeted by the uncontrollable winds of economic turmoil. Which tactic do you think gives us greater peace of mind?

In a few days we’ll bring home our latest investment and make her comfortable in the barn. It’s not often you can scratch your investment behind the ears and have her lick your hand.

I much prefer these kinds of investments, personally. We named her Polly.

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