I Used To Be a Prepper


are-you-ready-2     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.

bucket-and-bags     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,

Mary Lotus

What Exactly is a Cord or Rick of Wood?


With terminology being different in differing regions all these wood terms can get a bit confusing.

It is actually pretty easy to get ripped off when buying firewood, at times leaving you with less wood than you thought you were buying. But you can prevent that by learning a few basic terms and understanding their meanings.

There is a smidge of math involved but don’t worry. No calculating, just the use of a tape measure and the ability to count to eight <wink>. Most firewood, split or whole round wood is sold by stacked volume.

The standard formula for measuring stacked or solid volume is: length x width x height.


So what is this illusive “cord” of wood you may ask?  A full cord of wood when stacked, will measure 8 ft. in length x 4 ft. in width x 4 ft. in height.

     For those interested in the technical gobbledygook. A cord of wood, a cord of biscuits, or a cord of toilet paper will all encompass the same 128 cubic feet. How is that so, you might ask? It’s because a cord is a measurement of specified dimensions. A cord is never larger or smaller in volume than 128 cu. ft.

Next, we move on to the “rick” of wood. A rick of wood is also known as a “face cord” depending on where you live. It measures 8 ft. x  16 in. x 4 ft.


It takes three ricks or face cords to make one cord of wood.

You will hear some people say they sell “half cords”. There is no such beast. What they are actually selling you is a rick or face cord of wood for 1/2 the price of a full cord of wood.

The only exception to this is if they cut their wood into 24 inch logs, which is highly doubtful. Logs that size are unwieldy to handle and do not fit in many wood stoves. Standard logs are cut to 16 inches.

     As an example let’s say a cord of wood costs $200 (price will vary per location). Your supply person would charge between $65.00 – $70.00 per rick. Whereas this half cord fella or gal would charge you the bargain basement price of $100 for that same rick. Play it safe, do yourself a favor, and forego dealing with anyone selling half cords.

Now here is the part where it gets confusing. Most delivered wood does not get stacked on your property before you pay for it. So how do you know exactly how much is on the truck?

If someone is bringing wood in the back of a full standard size pickup and they are telling you it is a full cord, it better be stacked up close to the height of the top of the cab. If not, they are telling you a fish story.

On average, it takes two stacked truck loads of wood that fills the truck bed to equal a cord.

Now, if they stack it in the truck, then you can tell right away. But you need to know what to look for. With the use of this handy chart, life instantly gets easier.




So next time you order wood or perhaps sell some, you’ll be better prepared and understand what these terms mean.

Onward in Strength and Knowledge,

Mary Lotus