Letter Re: Plan B–Call Them Your Hobbies

Some of us don’t always have a spouse that is 100% on board with prepping.  So I thought I’d send a list of some hobbies that help with prepping in a SHFT situation, and have a non-SHTF function too.  Most have worked out well for me, some my wife has become more avid than I, the remaining she tolerates.

Flower Gardening – Allows for purchase of gardening tools, composting, development of good growing beds, fertilizer, books on growing and seeding, and pest control products. You will have to pay attention to vegetable safe products, but in SHTF you will have what you need for the next planting season. I also replaced a number of evergreen bushes around my house with Rosemary. Might as well let as much of the decoration plants have a second use too. 

Coin Collecting – Focus on silver coins. As a side note, keep in mind if you collect silver proof sets from the U.S. Mint, you may have to trade the whole set, to keep that plastic packaged ‘silver’ stamp on it and to instill trade confidence. Pre-‘1965 dimes, quarters, halves and silver dollars – including the modern One Dollar Eagle Silver coins may have a premium compared to buying junk silver, but it gets me fewer strange looks from my wife.

Wine Collecting – It’s a great way to have both barter items, and antioxidants/vitamins.  One word of caution: think French bordeaux. The higher tannic levels can allow for 20+ year storage, where California wines will usually not last that long. The downside?  Guess who brings the wine to the family get-togethers.

Birdwatching – Specifically having bird feeders. This brings small game into your area, especially  pigeons, doves , squirrels, and other goodies.  In addition to having surplus bird-feeder seed to attract small game, binoculars are easily justifiable.  My wife looks at the yellow finches, I look at the pigeons and doves under the feeder.

Attracting wildlife – Well, that’s what I told my wife when I bought salt licks. When the deer started eating the roses, I just stored the salt licks in the basement. Yep, that went over well.

Grilling – Since propane based grills will probably be out of fuel a few days into SHTF, I recommend becoming skilled with charcoal based grilling.  The grill should be able to smoke meat too.  They are adaptable for wood based cooking, and since coal – hardwood coal – burns hotter and quicker, you can buy in bulk without much convincing.  Hardwood charcoal also (usually) does not have embedded lighter fluid, and can be used to pre-filter water when ground down – buyer beware.

Cooking – Learning how to cook well, can justify iron skillets, heavy duty pots and pans, and general items like mills, manual food processors, and cooking books – one that I recommend is called: The Silver Spoon. It is a Italian cook book, that has instructions including pigeons and doves, pheasant, wild game, and how to butcher the animal -, it’s $35-to-$50 dollars depending on where you buy (Phaidon Press, ISBN-13: 9780714844671; ISBN-10: 0714844675), It is thick as a brick; but for me it’s worth it. Downside? Now I’m the primary cook in the house.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to justify extra plain bleach by doing the laundry.

Target Shooting – When I left Massachusetts and moved to America a few years back, I bought a M1A almost immediately after moving in and getting a new couch. Once my wife saw the cost of .308 ammunition, saving money by buying it cheaper in bulk was easy.   Later I didn’t have to argue too much to get a good .22 LR: $9 for 100 rounds versus $18 for 20 rounds. We still buy in bulk to save on both.  Since my wife is a little gun-phobic, she did not have any background with firearms. For safety reasons I was able to get her to take some classes on handling a rifle, and teach her how to shoot. I know, not as good as tactical training, but she is down to 1.5-2″ groups at 100M on my rifles that can do it. For me, the key here is not to talk ‘tactical’, but to talk about firearms as collections, and stress release at the local range. Also, synchronizing when I to to the range, with her prime ‘phone time’ helps. Ladies, think Monday night Football for getting to the range.

Food Storage – canning as a hobby helped me. But anything beyond a 30 day supply is very hard to justify in ‘non-prepping’ terms. Personally, I was get up to about 90 day supply  before the ‘comments’ started. I just point to my grandparents having easily twice that amount, and there weren’t ‘prepping’; just normal Depression era people.  I still get a hard time about this, but it’s worth it.

Medical – Couldn’t find a hobby for this one. I just do my best not to call my medical equipment a med-kit, and stick with the term first-aid.  Oh, and I never say that quick-clot is for gunshot wounds, I just remind her how many times she has dropped a knife.  Your mileage will vary.

I’m looking forward to your latest book. Best Wishes, – Robert B.