First of all, a note of praise to JWR: thanks for all you do. You’ve got an amazing reference blog site going here and are providing an immeasurable amount of help to your readers. I stumbled across SurvivalBlog via a link in the comments section of another blog called The Deliberate Agrarian, last October. The link included the warning: “Just see if you can escape from the archives in less than four hours.” Two weeks later, I emerged from the archives with blood shot eyes and was both enlightened and scared at the same time. I had a lot of work to do, and became a daily SurvivalBlog reader.
If you read the post referenced in the above link, you’ll see that I was already interested in preparing for what I foresaw as the coming hard times. My accounting background coupled with an interest in current events gives me an understanding about the world which is not comforting. I began seeking advice on the best ways to prepare. The advice in that post mirror what JWR and many others have said here in terms of the investments to make in your future. I write today not only to show examples to add context to some of these ideas, but also to bring the issue of priority back to the forefront of all of your minds. This essay is written to both help others in my position and also get my own thoughts organized for what needs to be done. I would also love feedback from any of you that have a moment. I’ve linked to a few of my own blog posts where you can leave comments and critiques.
The prioritizing of my endeavors since then has been the following, and I’ll discuss each:
- Real Estate.
- Water and Food.
- Tools and Skills.
- Precious Metals.
The land part is self explanation in its definition – you need a homestead where you can be self sufficient. I grew up on a farm raising grass fed beef, and intermittently raised other animals as well. Last summer my wife and I raised pastured poultry and I wrote about the experience here on SurvivalBlog. Many acres are required to grow enough food and also raise enough animals to support a growing family.
Debt free land which is agriculturally productive could perhaps be one of the greatest assets to a homesteader. My wife and I are renting at the moment and looking for the right deal to come along. We’re trying to find as many resources as we can on purchasing foreclosed homes or pre-foreclosure properties. That is where the real deals are, but they require a significantly larger amount of work (and patience) to find.
While I appreciate the American Redoubt concept, we made the decision to relocate to northern Colorado. Our reasoning was that we didn’t want to be too far out there so that we still had a fairly decent sized town nearby for our needs such as groceries, hospital and church. This is a far cry from the concrete jungle of southern California and we feel much safer. Another reason to stick closer to civilization has to do with our future business plans. We hope to grow our homestead (once it is located) to a size large enough that we can not only feed our family but have excess that we can sell. Raising animals according to a grass-farming model allows you to enjoy some pricing premiums if you can market directly to the consumer. I feel that we need to be closer to a few large towns in order to capitalize on this market. Northern Colorado, having a number of universities is ripe for a business of this type.
Water and Food
We have a few 5 gallon bottles of water in our basement for short term weather related emergencies in the room where all of our canned goods are stored. At this point we’re ready for a tornado and a few days without public utilities. Long term, our plan for water purification is boiling. I also really like the idea discussed here previously in the Forever Preps article about storing a quantity of dry calcium hypochlorite. It is still unclear to me what the best way to store it (mylar bag? Ball Mason jar?) might be, so more research is needed. If anyone has more information on this, please write to JWR and share with the rest of us.
My wife and I are avid canners, usually doing jams, green beans and tomatoes or whatever is abundant and cheap at the moment, but we’re slowly pushing our comfort level into other things like butter and chicken and also watching for deals on various produce at the store/farmers market that we can preserve. I’ve got a 120 VAC food dehydrator, but I’ve read a lot about solar rigs too. I’ve bookmarked a guide from Mother Earth News on a New Mexico style solar food dehydrator. Many locals say that Colorado actually has more sunny days in a calendar year than southern California. Learning to take advantage of the sun would be a great benefit.
While we do have quite the stockpile of various canned goods, we have an even bigger job to do on the rest of the food. My wife recently stopped at a local grain elevator and picked up a few ten pound bags of various types of beans. We look forward to watching for bargains this fall during harvest time on not only beans, but wheat and rice as well.
The nice thing about storing these types of food (raw ingredients) is that it is the next logical step for us. We have been getting more in tune with our diet and focusing more and more on cooking from scratch and optimizing the nutrient density of our food. A most excellent book that I’d like to recommend is Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, by Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation. A lot of preppers have done the storage, but now the challenge is proper utilization of the stored food. This book will help a lot and I urge you to give it a shot. Plenty of explanation and research is provided on the scientific background on their recommendations, which we find very helpful.
Tools and Skills
The basic tools of self sufficiency hold many forms. I find them used for very affordable prices at garage sales and refinish/refurbish where necessary. We’re not just talking about shovels and posthole diggers, although they are very important. I’ve recently written about what I’ve collected so far on my own blog, so I don’t need to elaborate here. These posts include hand tools, mechanical tools and kitchen tools.
A very important tool for family safety would be a firearm. On my own blog post I’ve written about what I have so far. The obvious gaps are the sidearm and the MBR. I’ve decided to order an M1 Garand through the CMP to use as my MBR. Reasons being both budget limitations and also the fact that I’ve already got a Remington 700 chambered in .30-06 so I will standardize my small arsenal around that cartridge. I’ve already begun collecting plenty more ammo including AP and Tracer cartridges in that caliber so that I have many options at my disposal. Once I have the Garand, an Appleseed shoot will be next on the list so that I can become acquainted and hopefully master the gun.
Gardening skills are a must. We’re renting a house until we find our homestead, so I can’t till up the sod in our backyard. So, we’re container gardening as much as we can. It is a challenge in its own right, but you’ve got to keep your green thumb sharp! We’ve joined a Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) co-op for the summer here and I’m volunteering my time at the farm when I can to learn the differences in growing crops in this area, and also learning about the water rights issues.
Thankfully I’ve had an interest in precious metals for a number of years now. I certainly don’t own a ton of it, but at least I have a general level of comfort and knowledge about coins. I’ve used JWR’s advice to purchase Mercury Dimes on the dip days and have also started to pile up rolls of nickels. I agree with the advice echoed many times on SurvivalBlog that precious metals investments are to be a lower priority. Get the rest of your preps in line first and then plow the excess into silver. That is my plan.
I’m blessed to have a wife that understands the world the same way I do. This is a team effort and we’re in it together. We look forward to the day when we have excess food storage that can be shared with others or donated to food pantries.
A final word about priorities: I do believe the above list is in the correct order. We’re out of the city and feeling great about the safety that comes with that. We’re working on food and water. Tools and skills come about slowly as deals are found. All of this is done with the knowledge that it is through God that we are enabled to do this and so the glory is His.