I recently read an article on a prepping blog entitled “Are You Crazy To Continue Believing In Collapse?” which made me realize that my ideas and purposes in ‘prepping’ may be a bit different than mainstream.
I am first a homesteader. From a young age I had a homesteading spirit, and enjoyed working with my hands, gardening, landscaping, raising horses, chickens, ducks, turkeys and rabbits. I’ve also always liked organization and order, and that serves me well in my efforts.
I can’t imagine ever ‘bugging out’ to another location. I’ve been in our home since 1981 developing these 3 acres to suit our purposes and I feel safer here than anywhere else. Our home is in as perfect a location as I could hope for, with low population density, no chance of hurricane, flood, forest fire, earthquake, tornado, tsunami, major inclement weather events and virtually no likelihood of nuclear or chemical event.
Economic events are, however, another story.
As a homesteader and a ‘bug-inner’, my infrastructure is of primary importance to me. We heat with wood (although we do have electric ‘backup’), have a good well with a windmill as well as a submersible pump, two 3,000 gallon above ground water storage tanks, a generator and a significant quantity of propane to run it, facilities for chickens and goats , a small tractor and several garden areas. This requires more than a little work to maintain and upgrade, which suits me perfectly. Water filtration is accomplished using Sawyer Mini Water Filters along with several Sawyer Water Filter Bucket Kits. Home is my favorite place to be.
Having a functioning and hardy infrastructure that you can depend on will literally be a lifesaver if (when) times get difficult.
Although our region has little very cold or sustained wet weather, it seems that when you most need firewood is when it is most likely to be wet. Having a dry place to store at least weeks’ worth, to me, is a luxury, because I’ve had to make do with tarps or scrap plywood or anything to keep it covered and dry.
Making sure my animal pens are predator proof is another consideration. This has been a recent and continuing project. A 6 foot adobe wall around the house, gardens and animal pens is another ongoing project on which we have made very good progress over the past few years, with part of it always under construction as time allows.
We enjoy a wonderful and comfortable lifestyle, but many things threaten that. Trying to be too specific can be over-thinking the situation, because preparation for inflation, weather related disaster, extended illness, loss of jobs, a Walmart truckers’ strike, viral pandemic or total economic collapse may have the same or nearly the same consequences affecting your life style, short or long term. My greatest concern is loss of electrical power for an extended time. I know that I can never hope to replace the cheap and abundant electrical power I now use, primarily for pumping water.
My entire ‘prepping’ mindset is ‘What will I need for the next five years?’ and to that end I try to prepare. I know that in time I will need a new water heater, so that is on my list to have on hand, along with the fittings to connect it.
Whether in stockpiling food and supplies, or upgrading buildings and systems on the homestead to try to achieve a greater degree of independence, I try to think five years ahead.
When I find great sales on groceries or other items that are on our survival food list, I don’t hesitate to buy cases of it. Surprisingly, the clerks rarely ask you why you’re buying so much. Expiration dates don’t bother us much, and we use what we buy and we buy what we use and if you make a trip to the supermarket only to buy 6 cans of beans when they’re on sale, you haven’t saved very much. Expiration dates don’t matter with shampoo, conditioner, soap, detergent, toilet paper, plastic forks and spoons.
Although it’s a bit more costly, we’ve begun buying our cornmeal, beans, rice, wheat and several other items in #10 cans, because, with just Karen and me eating it, the larger containers may not stay as fresh. We do have a supply of wheat and beans in 5 gallon buckets since we’ll likely have to feed our kids and grandkids plus some friends if it comes to that.
We have some experience with this. We were ‘prepping’ before Y2K. Remember that? We are still grinding wheat we purchased prior to the year 2000, and it still makes wonderful bread. We did ‘repurpose’ some soy flour that we just didn’t like and gave the last of our hulled sunflower seeds to the chickens after they turned rancid, but all in all, it was a good investment. And on a homestead, not much goes to waste.
If nothing ever happens, we’ll eat this food anyway, and will have saved money because of inflation and not making such frequent trips to the supermarket. I’ll use that spare water heater and plumbing parts and the rope and twine and extra work gloves and duct tape and dog food and lay pellets, toothpaste, shampoo and Band-Aids. At least, if I live long enough, which I expect to.
It’s an investment, unlike homeowner’s or auto insurance, which is a gamble that I usually lose.
Are we crazy? My kids mostly think so. But, when they’re running short of something and don’t want to stop at the store on the way home because the grandkids are fussy they don’t mind asking if I have an extra bottle of this, a package of that or a spare full propane tank. (And they know I always do.)
Complete self-sufficiency is a pipe dream, unless you want to live under a bush and kill your food with a rock. We are too dependent on each other, civilization and sharing the work load to go back to prehistoric times. Even early explorers and settlers of this continent had tools, weapons, clothing and equipment purchased or bartered from others. They hunted and gathered much of their food and lived in crude shelters made with their own hands, but their lives were not easy, nor did they enjoy a level of comfort that the poorest among us enjoy today.
Most of us want more than mere survival. Most of us want to preserve a life style that we have come to enjoy. And many of us have begun to modify a lifestyle that may be considered ‘excessive’ into one that is more sustainable, more self-reliant. And that’s an important prep to consider.
We can anticipate our needs for 3 months, 6 months, a year or five years. Maybe we won’t think of everything and maybe we can’t afford to implement everything that completes our ‘ideal’ list of preparations, but what you are able to do will be better than doing nothing.
And that’s not crazy.
No, you definetly aren’t crazy. I think you definition of prepping (homesteading) is more than likely ths same definition most of us agree with.
We only have one acre so that means most of the free land we have is dedicated to raising veggies and our chicken coop/run.
What I am having a hard time figuring out is how to continue feeding and raising chickens (6 hens and a rooster) with a total collapse. We have invested in a a small solar system that will run an incubator and brooder system as well as our pumps and filters for our Koi pond.
I have also experimented with storing pellets for the girls. I filled one 5 gallon bucket with a sealed lid and filled another one using a mylar bag. One year later I opened both buckets and the both looked and smelled fine. I fed both of them to my girls and they didn’t suffer any from it. I have since put up another bucket using the mylar bag and will wait 5 years to see how to holds up.
Growing feed for them would take away from garden space for the veggies.
No, I for one do not think you are crazy. They like to use a lot of descriptive terms to describe persons like ourselves and the crazy, absurd, stupid and other names creep into the conversation a lot. If you have not read my chronicles yet, I describe what it was like growing up in the WWII era on a one acre patch of ground with ten kids (two born after the war which made 12 in total) minimal income but lots of courage to stick with it rather than go on welfare. It can be done although some of our methods would appear primitive by today’s standards but they worked. One of your statements mentioned you had a windmill. As a kid we used a generator driven off the windmill to charge 65 volt batteries which we used in the summer time to power lights made of car brake light bulbs with reflectors since the Rochester mantle lamps made the rooms so hot. Those same batteries will power an on demand pump for water and a lot of other things. One other thing to mention is in reference to a statement made by Bev about solar panels. There is a version of the PVE panels that function well with low light that do not have to have direct sunlight to work. It takes more of them but still they are active during the daylight hours even in the shade. If you doubt this take one of the el cheapo claculators that are solar powered and you will find it works in the shade, inside the house, etc. Works best if a lamp is switched on but will work with just the daylight. Nano solar (to financial ties with this company) has copious amounts of information concerning this.
Thanks Harold for the resource on solar panels, I will have to research them!
Dan, for most of the history of chicken domestication (they are derived from wild jungle birds) chickens have been kept because they are practically self-sustaining. Yes, my girls are pets too but when push comes to shove getting them to carry their weight is truly important and what better time than now?
Given the hawks and eagles we have here, I have been very hesitant to let my girls run. But last summer I tried it and it worked wonderfully even though their pen is right next to the garden! They tend to want to go away from the garden which is a blessing. Their preference for eating is insects and they do well at this in the yard. And they always come home to roost. I also feed them scraps from our meals – between the insects and the scraps, they are not hungry.
You know how chickens love cabbage?! Cabbage is an excellent winter storage food and will take them through the winter months again just feeding them table scraps as a supplement. Hope this helps.
Letting our girls free range is not a viable option in our neighborhood. We have 2-3 Red Fox dens on the property and though we could delete them more would just move in. We do have a dog that is vicious in protecting them and has already killed a few rascals trying to get at them she can’t be everywhere.
Sure in the summer they more than likely would get plenty to eat on their own it’s just in the winter I’m worried the most. No bugs, frozen ground some of the time and not much green they will eat. In the summer they love the Kudzo and find plent of bugs there in their run. We also have a large compost pile in their run they hang out in most of the winter. Mainly because it’s warm and they can scratch up an occasional worm or two. They get all the table scraps every day.
When it gets to a SHTF scenario we can always use some of the fields across the street from us to grow some food for them in the summer. I guess I need to do some research on what to grow for them to time them over in the winter besides corn and grains. We could put in some winter harder greens in the gardens for them. Most winters they do fine. This past winter has been a killer though, even here in NC.
I would love to let our hens free range all the time, but I’m so spooked by predators, that I only let them out when I get home in the afternoon, usually around 2:30 or 3:00. Their run is actually a cage with concrete curb anchoring the chain link and a chain link roof. The adjacent goat pen is being constructed the same way, though we don’t have the roof on it yet. Last summer I would let them out and sit nearby smoking a cigar and enjoying the quiet and a neighborhood hawk that I swear was smaller than the hens would come around and salivate, one time swooping down to try and grab one while I was sitting there. One year a snake crawled in the hen house, through the chick wire that separates the brooder inside and ate several of my chicks, which swelled him up so much he couldn’t get back out through the wire. Needless to say, he’s not still around and the chicken wire was replaced with half inch rabbit wire.
Randy, the snake problem was prevalent around here with the eggs. We acquired some marble eggs and found several snakes that had eaten them and then beat themselves into two pieces trying to shatter the egg shell after they had eaten it.
I find that many people who are called preppers are really just people that enjoy living with less, growing their own food and all the many other things that you do to maintain a home. I enjoyed canning, sewing and making things before it was the “in” thing to do. I had five kids to feed and clothe on one income and those things stretched the budget so I could be a stay at home mom. I have made preparing for difficult times a priority because better prepared than not. I will still be doing all those things because I enjoy them whether everything goes south or not.
Sounds like all of us have like-minded thoughts. We really don’t consider ourselves “preppers”…but rather think of ourselves as people who love to take care of ourselves as much as possible, love to camp, love to motorcycle, love to garden, love to dehydrate & can and love to JUST BE LEFT ALONE by those who think they’ve been appointed to watch over a bunch of dummies. We “like to eat off our own plate” at every opportunity. But, it’s people like us that those with empty lanterns laugh at…for now. Perhaps we’ll never experience any real economic collapse, but when we take care of ourselves as much as possible it just leaves more for those who don’t.
WE2 That is about the closest I have ever heard our lifestyle explained. Simply people who want to just take care of ourselves, eat off our own plate with sustenance produced by our own hands and not requiring nor wanting anyone to watch every thing we do and expecting us to do it their way.
That defines homesteading whether in the country or in the city.
RE: WE2’s ‘JUST BE LEFT ALONE’, reminds me of my kids and grandkids (we have 13 grandchildren, 11 of which live in our small, small city.) They say that on Planet Earth, you’re never more than 3 feet from a spider. My grandkids are nearly as ubiquitous, at home, at church, at Walmart. Karen reminds occasionally of the time that I asked ‘are all those people coming over tonight’, to which she replied, “By ‘all those people’, you mean your kids and grandkids?”.
I really do love them all dearly.
When you speak of electricity being hard to do without, I read just this week, a survivor of the Sarajevo war, said that electricity was the easiest thing to give up. That made me ponder. I think the electricity and the refrigeration would be hard to be without. As I thought of this all this week, every time I turn on the water, I am so thankful to see that water come out the faucet. I have many ways to make water drinkable, but I know it would be a pain to carry, purify, store all the water that comes through my faucet everyday. There are so many ways to heat your house in the winter, and you can live through the heat in the summer. I am starting to believe that making water drinkable would be the hardest thing to do in hard times.
I would really like to hear your opinions on what would be the hardest to give up.
Rourke- We did w/o water for 6 weeks when the well point broke when our daughter was three weeks old. We hauled water from a lake on the property where we were employed as caretakers. Good thing I was breastfeeding and I had to temporarily use disposable diapers(I used real ones before and after) I would definitely miss running water(although we have a cistern and two ponds now)and a hot shower and cold water to drink, with ice cubes !!! Arelene
Dan,no you and we arent crazy.I believe the people who arent prepared are those who are not dealing with reality. Arlene