I started off like most of you: living in the city, paying bills, working to stay afloat, caught up in the rat race. Concerned about my family’s future and well-being, I became a dedicated prepper, preparing for the eventual emergency. While I prepped mainly for fluke weather events or natural disasters, I also kept in mind how a civil unrest could affect my family.
A wise prepper prepares for a myriad of possibilities and circumstances, never putting all of their eggs in one basket. The more I “prepped,” the more I found holes in my preps and a need for more and more items, not to mention some creative storage solutions. <wink>
It dawned on me that 60-odd years ago, all of this was just called living. It was daily life, before the world changed and folks got used to instant everything. Much of the knowledge that was passed on to family members was dismissed or rejected as technology took hold, and conveyor belts delivered our wants and needs in cellophane-wrapped packages.
It wasn’t really that long ago that families had intimate knowledge of raising animals and gardening, and knew how to harvest and store the food for leaner times. They knew how to start fires without a lighter, or what to do when there was no toilet paper. Tools were simpler and could be easily repaired. If someone got lost in the woods, they knew how to find their way home and find a few snacks to eat along the way.
A lot of this knowledge still remains in the backwoods, but it has fallen by the wayside for most city folk. Take, for example, storing grains. It’s one of the first things I did when I started prepping. I bought bulk wheat, rye and barley, to name but a few. I did all the research on how to store it properly. I made sure to get the proper buckets, Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers — the works.
It’s funny to me now when I look back on it. What did I think I was going to do with it all? It was the questions that I hadn’t asked that led to uncovering my prep weaknesses. Did I have a grain mill, or know how to make flour? Beyond that, did I know how to make bread? Was I incorporating the grains into our daily diets? Did I understand the serious or even deadly consequences a sudden gluten-laden diet could have on my family?
(It’s easy for one’s body to develop an allergy to wheat when saturated with it all at once. Allergies can pose a host of symptoms from merely irritating to deadly. During a SHTF situation is the last place you want to find this out.)
I’m a proficient shot, so hunting game wouldn’t be a problem. But I wouldn’t be the only one out there. Selective hunting would cease to exist, and so would the few animals in any given area. They’d be taken quickly; then what?
Did I understand the dietary and fencing requirements of domesticated animals? An efficient and humane way to harvest them? Yes, I had an heirloom seed vault, but did I know the soil, light, and water requirements for a garden? How would I plant the seeds, at what depth? Did some need prep work first, soaking or scoring? Did I know how to save seed for the following year’s garden? Did I know safe and effective methods of preserving the harvests, the differences between water bath and pressure canning, or how to dehydrate and store for longevity?
I’ve only mentioned three areas — meat, veggies and grains — and I found many flaws in my preps. It was foolish of me to assume I could wing it and just use common sense if the time came. When trying to feed my family, trial and error isn’t going to work, especially when some veggies take three months or more to harvest. There would be no chance for a do-over.
I had to sit down and be honest with myself. Was I being the best prepper I could be? What I discovered was that I was focusing on supplies and gear, instead of learning skills. That was my biggest mistake. I needed to learn how to walk the walk. Acquiring the stuff wasn’t really keeping my family safe. Yes, it was an invaluable first step and loads ahead of most, but sorely lacking in application.
And so it began, the silver lining after my discouraging realizations: my move from being a “prepper” to eventually living a self-sufficient and self-sustaining lifestyle. I was morphing into a homesteader without really knowing it.
Here’s what I found out along the way. You don’t need to live on 20 acres to grow food. Start mixing vegetables in along with your flowers or beside the garage. Start learning how to cook from scratch. If it came from the store in a box, bag or can, you’re not learning how. If your municipality allows for chickens, get them. Learn about their needs and don’t delay. You’ll thank me for it. Learn how to harvest them and enjoy the best-tasting chicken you’ll ever eat.
Knowledge is everything: start buying books. Used book stores hold all kinds of treasures and at great prices. Stuff can be gathered, but without knowledge, it’s rendered useless. What if the power goes down? How are you going to pull your information from your computer?
Firearms are necessary. Practice, practice, and practice until you feel comfortable with the responsibility and the weapon. Teach firearm safety to all family members. Take a course yourself, if need be. Children who understand the danger and power that weapons possess are much less likely to be involved in accidents.
While I was once proud to call myself a prepper, today I’m perfectly content living a lifestyle that is the epitome of being prepared. I no longer stress that I haven’t done enough, or I need that extra thing. Once I started educating myself and living in a non-consumer manner, things started taking care of themselves.
I’ll close with this: above all else, be smart, do your due diligence, and for Pete’s sake, don’t let it consume you.
Onward in Strength,