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Suggestions From a 2 for 1 Prepper, by M.M.

I especially liked the February, 2001 SurvivalBlog article about Forever Preps [1]. I now have enough salt to last me forever in Mylar lined buckets. That includes regular salt for salt curing. I need saltpeter. I have dry bleach, hand tools, skills, and Jesus. I’m working on the rest. As a matter of fact, within my extended family we have four medical people, a fireman, a teacher, a banker, an accountant, HVAC [2] technician, mechanic, farmer, baker, trucker, engineers—we don’t exactly have a butcher or candlestick maker, but my son tends to his own deer and fish and I have made plenty of candles!  What works for me may not appeal to you but I’m on a tight budget now so here goes.

I have several health issues, so I have plenty of prepping to do. I think I finally have a handle on the high blood pressure, cholesterol, gout, diabetes, and GERD [3]. I’ve lost 5 pounds in the past five months, blood pressure-perfect, A1C is 6.4—waiting on cholesterol and gout results. The doctor wanted to know if I’d been exercising so I told her yes.

The truth is, I’ve been working long hours at the store and have been raising chickens for meat, eggs and feathers. That means building a coop and run. I got my ideas from here [4] and here [5], and here [6] My framework is all PVC [7]—3 pieces 1 ½” for base and 5 pieces of ½” for ribs . I used 2 pieces of ¾” plywood, hardware cloth, screws, hardware, lath, 2” x 2”s, clear and aluminum building panels for the 4’ x 8’ x 4’ coop and chicken wire for the 8’ x 10’ x 2’ covered run again PVC framing-8 pieces of ½”. I can easily expand this run for more birds.  I used a skill saw, drill, hand tools, and a borrowed jig saw. I had three pairs of hands to help. Since my latest batch of Buff Orpingtons are only three months old, I haven’t installed nesting boxes yet. I plan to install in the area below the roost. There’s plenty of room in the 4’ x 4’ roost for more birds so I can raise more in my bathtub on newspaper and flaked pine shavings. They are covered by aluminum screening anchored with scrap boards and warmed by a 100 watt light bulb. The screen keeps them from flying out when they get six weeks old or older and keeps the inquisitive cats out if the door gets left open. My work at the store allows me to get a few dollars worth of nickels a week and recycle all the newspapers I care to. (To use for mulch or TP [8] in hard times because Sears doesn’t publish a Big Book any more.)

I’ve been gardening, canning, drying and freezing for years. I have plans to raise rabbits for meat and fur. Right now, we only have a pet rabbit for learning.  We catch and use rainwater when possible. My son and I ask friends and clients for used barrels. We have a spring and ponds. I need to get an alternate way to pump water. My son and a friend of mine are the fishermen. My son and I hunt. I think we should learn to trap also. If I could talk my son and daughter into letting me have sheep for meat, wool and cheese and goats for meat, milk and cheese, I’d be happy—besides, they would mow the grass instead of a gas guzzler or even a reel mower. (Boy, was that fun growing up!) My daughter helped me get my son on board with a root cellar. She has agreed to supply the labor this summer. I did manage to talk my son into a raised bed for carrots and potatoes. He even suggested silt fence from a home center instead of boards. You will need additional stakes to fit your area, heavy duty stapler, and a sledge hammer to pound the stakes into the ground.  I was lucky and got all the peat moss I needed on clearance. I had compost and also added vermiculite. 

See the book Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre [9] by Brett L. Markham. The potatoes are growing berserk. If I could talk my dad into letting me farm his land, I’d have self-sufficiency in sight. I want sheep, goats, llamas, ducks, geese, horses and cows. We had chickens, pigs, ducks, horses and cows when I was growing up. We raised most of our own vegetables and grain also. I could raise enough food for the livestock and the family too. Yes, I learned how to plow with a horse and a tractor. My 25 year old Troy Bilt tiller needs another engine. So, in other words, I’d have the ‘beans’ covered. 

For the ‘bullets’, I buy cases of ammunition on sale from big box stores or online with tax returns. As long as that lasts…I have a .22 LR (with 3,000+ rounds), a 12 gauge semi-auto shotgun with interchangeable chokes that takes 2 ¾” – 3 ½” shells (I’ve accumulated 575+ shells of assorted types), a  .32 Special revolver (150 rounds), 35# right hand and 40# left hand recurve bows, edged weapons from 2 ¼” folders to a 40” fencing foil, slingshots, and have plans to buy a crossbow. I need to stockpile arrows and bolts. I’m also growing bamboo arrows. Bamboo is very invasive. There is a good Instructables article on making arrows out of bamboo [10]. I prefer to grow my own feathers [for arrow fletching] instead of buy them. My son also has a 75# compound bow, guns including a black powder pistol and .243 Winchester rifle. He also has blades that range from large folders to a 2-handed claymore. I know how to reload shot shells and my son wants to learn rifle reloading. We are saving brass and shells to that end.  Before leaving ‘Bullets’ I’d like to add a few words about security. I really appreciated Chino’s Retreat Security article [11]. My budget does not include razor wire topped chain link fencing. I plan to use rocks in aluminum cans but they may be suspended by waxed dental floss. Cans would be painted on the away side. My son has planted holly bushes. We also have wild blackberries.

For barter, I sew and have a treadle ready to convert my machines. I bought one at an antique shop and got tubing, connectors and shaft collars from McMaster [12]. I also found the instructions for that project [13]. I couldn’t bring myself to sand a plastic hand wheel.  I have fabric stockpiles from before Wal-Mart’s closing of the fabric department at $1 and $2 per yard. Don’t forget sewing needles, machine needles, and thread. I also do many types of needlecraft—you’ll need yarn or roving to spin. I could also barter chickens, eggs, feathers and so on. I was a math teacher. My son is strong and can do many types of labor. Right now he’s a landscaper. He can also weld, do auto repair, body work, masonry, and carpentry. My daughter is a cosmetologist but since I’ve taught my kids all they would pay attention to. She can install flooring, plumbing, cook, clean, and do most of her own auto repair as well! Their dad, a Navy SEAL [14], has passed away.  He served in Vietnam and was the only one of us not in Scouting. We are teaching my grandchildren everything they can understand also.

Now for the Band-Aids: I grow many of my own herbs but triple antibiotic ointment does not grow on trees. However, there are plenty of dollar type stores that can supply gauze, alcohol, peroxide, adhesive bandages, etc. $5 dollars a week can buy a lot at those places. When I run out of a bottle of cinnamon for metabolism support, I buy two. At the end of 5 years I’ll have enough for another 5 years, if I don’t forget to buy two when I run out of the first bottle. Same for all the other OTC [15] meds my doctor has me on for various conditions. Go for the twin packs at the big box store. If your goal is to be ready in less than five years for five years of lean times, then you’ll have to adjust your plan accordingly. Don’t forget to rotate! I wish I had the budget to buy it all up front, but I don’t so I do the best I can and try not to worry about the rest. I cannot grow my prescription medications so I’m trying to reduce the need for them.