So how does one start down this journey of becoming a prepper? For me and eventually our family, it was a gradual transition, which included the convergence of medical, physical and political convictions. This was not a planned journey but rather one, which we have come to embrace as our only path to survival.
We are a typical family in one sense and atypical in another. We have led a typical life of work, play and trying to get ahead. Where our life has veered from this typical course is the support we must provide to one of our children who has special needs. We have a child with autism, who has been experiencing medical problems for many years. After trying various doctors, we landed on a doctor of homeopathy. Not only did we find a kindred spirit who also believed that typical western medicine did not seek of solve medical conditions as much as prescribe another pill. We also found that our child had celiac disease also known as gluten intolerance to the extreme!
Learning about celiac disease, the cause or what triggers it and the need to go gluten free has rekindled the desire to grow and produce natural foods free from gluten and other chemicals, which are destroying our bodies. Our parents grew gardens and put up canned foods but through years of grocery store conveniences, they gave up those practices. Both my husband and I grew up with home canned goods but neither of us had continued this practice. The diagnosis of celiac prompted us to begin canning our food, and searching the Internet for recipes and outlets for whole food products. We have found a variety of resources including Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods and grocery outlets in our local area to buy flours and other products, which are gluten free. We found magazines like Gluten Free Living and blogs such as Gluten Free Girl with recipes and solutions to everyday foods, which we can no longer use. We have made friends with our local homestead store, re-discovered useful books such as the Ball Blue Book of Preserving and sustainable recipes for everyday household needs such as Make Your Place: Affordable & Sustainable Nesting Skills, by Raleigh Briggs. We purchase heirloom seed from Territorial Seed to grow our own garden and are learning about medicinal herbs. Several years of trial and error has led to a point where we are producing several hundred pounds of fruits and vegetables in our garden each summer. Building the garden has also led us to learn about water catchment systems, looking for water barrels and adding a metal roof to one of our sheds in order to catch the rain water. We also added chickens to the back yard. We get to eat all the eggs we want, give several dozen to our neighbors and use the manure in our garden.
This should be the end of the story but it is really just the beginning. Lack of consistent gluten free products in our grocery stores, the necessity of running to multiple locations each month to accumulate the needed groceries to round out our meals and a frustration with the lack of options began pushing our thinking toward what happens if? What happens if there is a disruption in society’s ability to stock the local grocery store? What happens if any number of scenarios take place including super inflation, political unrest etc. You can imagine a variety of different scenarios based upon our current economic, political and social climates.
The result of these types of concerns has led us to begin to put away food. Although not LDS ourselves, we discovered a local LDS Bishop’s warehouse with number 10 can sealing machines available for use. The LDS church members who assisted us were very willing to help us learn how to put up the food. There are also several good You Tube videos that will help you with the process of storing and sealing food in number 10 cans. We began working with other couples that have similar concerns and began buying in bulk quantities. You can download the LDS Preparedness Manual which will give you basic recommended quantities of food, household and survival items at Abysmal.com. It is a good starting point to determine what to put away and how much of each item. Gluten intolerance will change some of the recommendations though. Instead of putting away hard wheat (which could still be sprouted and used for greens) we put away more rice and corn. In our desire to remain gluten and chemical free we search out raw food and herb suppliers such as Mountain Rose Herbs. Fortunately there are companies which produce freeze dried gluten free foods as well such as AlpineAire, Saratoga, and Augason Farms. By talking directly with several other manufacturers we have found that many others have some products that are gluten free such as their fruits and vegetables. We invested in food dryers and dry our own garden products each summer. The local Costco has organic vegetables that can be dried straight from the bag with no extra preparation.
Working together as a group of folks makes the process of locating and storing food seem to be easier and go faster, or at least it seems more enjoyable as you work together to locate resources and then prepare them together. Once per month buying trips can become an excuse for a social outing as you meet at various locations to buy food and have lunch together or put on a canning party. It is also easy to become complacent. When you are working with a group, the group will spur you on and keep you on track.
We have spent hours in the evening and on rainy days on You Tube watching a variety of prepper videos and have learned a great deal about many topics as well as identifying many more topics we need to learning about. There are so many good ones to watch but to name a few, SouthernPrepper1 and USNERDOC are just a couple that we have watched a great deal. We are learning to divide and conquer when it comes to skills we have decided we need to learn. While one is working on their ham radio license, another is tackling medical supplies and needed training. We attend gun shows and prepper shows in our area. We are reading everything we can find on the topics of food and water storage, homesteading skills and more. The popularity of prepping in the media is helping when looking for books and other resources, as local retailers are willing to stock in more items associated with prepping. Bookstores such as Powell’s Books and the Survivalblog provide lists of books and other items, which can be useful in a variety of scenarios. Ebay and Craig’s List have also been helpful in trying to locate items inexpensively. Remember, we are middle aged folks who did a great deal of backpacking in our twenties and thirties but have let life get in the way for many years. We are finding that the skills do come back, just like riding a bicycle and we are having fun remembering how to do many of these skills.
We are learning that if we approach the prepping process step by step it does not seem so overwhelming. We are great list makers and have lists of needed items with us where ever we go. We divide tasks among our small group and are always looking for folks with specific skills to join our group. We have read blogs and posts where folks are asking how to get connected. Our answer is to be observant as you go about your daily tasks. Notice who is looks at bulk quantities, talking a gun class with you and asking about various resources. Sometimes you overhear a customer asking where you find a resource or explaining to someone else how to do something. We ask probing questions and notice answers. If we think that someone is receptive we may ask a few more questions. We try not to draw attention to ourselves as many in our community don’t think they way we do and many don’t have to as they can eat in any restaurant or go to any store to buy their food. We still have more questions than we do answers yet we are enjoying working together to discover the resources. We took a gun class not long ago and found that a little competition made for some great ribbing over the next few weeks as we debated who hit the target more consistently. The more we talk to folks we meet in our journey, the more we are finding like-minded folks who have similar concerns about our present circumstances and desires to be self-sufficient. You too can become a prepper and find similar folks. Just ask a couple of questions or start a conversation with the person next to you at Bob’s Red Mill as you see someone asking about bulk flours. That’s how we started.