Prepare Without Looking Prepared, by Farm Operator

“Have you watched Doomsday Preppers? Man, those people are crazy!”

“We’ve got this neighbor down the street who’s prepping for the end of the world. What a weirdo!”

We’ve all heard these comments (or similar ones). As for the wife and me, when friends, delivery men, in-laws, out-laws, offspring, or third cousins (who only show when they need something) come by the house, we don’t want them thinking we’re crazier than we are. Most importantly, we don’t want them knowing we’re prepping. For obvious security reasons, we don’t want those cousins to be the first at our doorstep when SHTF. So, how do we prepare without looking the part?

The wife and I are blessed to live in a good home on a remote farm in eastern Tennessee with plenty of resources at hand– good garden space, open fields in front, timber around, plenty of storage space, and a good defensible arrangement. We’re fortunate to keep most of our food stored in sheds and have a dry, cool basement to store food, ammo, medicine, and whatever else we need. Everything is stored in dusty old boxes and bags, clearly marked for what is NOT in them. When asked by our children why our milk is powdered or why their Mom makes her own washing detergent, we convincingly (and truthfully) respond that it saves lots of money.

Our garden is encircled by heavy duty, eight foot tall fencing, anchored by six-inch diameter posts. Why the huge posts and high fencing? “To keep out the deer, of course,” is our response, which seems reasonable. When the time comes to defend the garden, the gate will be locked and barbed wire coiled along the fence. Supplies in the barn include years of firewood, cedar posts, building materials, mulch, fertilizer for the garden, and other items. These stores are easily explained too. We’re staying ahead of inflation, and well-cured firewood burns cleaner with much less smoke.

Our defense perimeter is far from being ready, which is worrisome. Fall-back positions have been determined; fields of fire are planned; and several explainable or hidden obstacles are in place. However, laying rows of loosely coiled barbed wire in the yard is part of the plan, but that would scream “We Are Preppers!”right now. What we have done for a prepared defense is subtle or hidden.

There was never a gate on our long driveway, but with banks deep enough to prevent vehicles from crossing, a creek lines the entire front of the property. Rebar reinforced, concrete-filled steel posts now support a strong gate across the driveway as close to the culvert as we could get. The bend in the driveway at this point will prevent any vehicle from gaining speed to smash the gate. A heavy-duty pickup or an armored vehicle, yes, could ram the metal until it gave way, but the loud racket would alert us, giving us needed time to make ready. However, even though it would be a rough ride, a skilled 4-wheeler rider could negotiate the sides of the gate. We need to slow down any attempt of fast intrusion.

It looks like a nice little flower garden. My wife planted a variety of flowers at each end of the gate that will bloom from April to October with plenty of mulch, but underneath will be the surprise for anyone with nefarious intentions. With many embedded, sharpened three-foot long, 3/8” rebar, anyone on foot will regret ignoring the “do not step on the flowers” sign, or a rider on a 4-wheeler will end up kicking his four flat tires while standing clearly in our line of sight. The rebar was cut at a sharp 60 degree angle, so setting the metal in the ground was not easy. It is recommended drilling a ¼” hole one inch deep in a large knot of pine or fir. The knot will last longer and not split as easily as lumber without a knot. The smaller diameter hole will allow you to pound the knot with the inserted rebar while preserving the sharp end of the spike. Depending on the number of bars you will “plant”, make sure you have enough drilled knots on hand, as each knot will eventually give way.

Adversaries need to be funneled into the field of fire that you determine. We’d love to encircle our home with hedgerows of thorny honey locust. Any enemy stupid enough to attempt to cross the 1 to 3-inch long thorn-covered bushes would surely save us much-needed ammo. We can’t afford thousands of dollars to purchase that many plants nor can we wait for them to be properly pruned and mature. So what was our solution to deter or slow any advancing party, yet keep the defense hidden?

Stored with other fence posts in the barn are sharpened cedar spikes that will surround each shooting position. Before setting the spikes, coat the bottom section to be buried with post paint, which will slow down the rotting process. Also, harvest your cedar spikes and posts in mid to late summer as the wood is at its height of rot resistance. Cedar posts, as well as a good supply of metal ones, will be set up in several outer rings. We will loosely string the barbed wire in coils and loops along the fence row, not taught. You don’t need to keep cattle in; you need to keep intruders out.

Currently we are building a low stone wall out of sandstone found on the farm. It is high enough for a shooter to get into a kneeling position, yet low enough to “fall and fire”. While in a firefight, you will need to shoot a round or two and immediately move to a new position. The wall will provide cover to keep the enemy from seeing where you are going. Every twenty feet we’ve added a column that is a little higher than the rest of the wall. This will give you added protection and will allow for right and left-handed shooting. Okay, okay, for you out there who already know what will happen when a bullet strikes any stone, there’s a solution. For now, we’re trying to make defenses look like part of the landscape. However, stacked up in the woods are hundreds of filled sandbags. When SHTF, these bags will be placed in front of the stone wall, which will absorb unfriendly fire. Otherwise, stone will shatter and act as projectiles.

Even though our home sits between the road and two acres of southern pine and brambles (a good deterrent), there is still a way intruders could sneak around the back of the house. Much of the area’s timber is Virginia Pine and red cedar, but there is also some fir and yellow cedar that can also be used. During storms, many of these trees are downed, which are deposited in the defense “hole”. This line of deterrence is now over 300 feet long, 30 wide, and averages eight feet tall. The limbs and trunks lay at various angles so the branches will make a mess for anyone trying to cross this barrier. Its purpose is to funnel intruders to the front of the house into a narrow field of fire.

It’s still manageable for a starving thief to climb through this jungle, so, as further deterrent, barbed wire is loosely strung in loops and coils the length of the line. As each layer of trees is added for height and density, I add another line of barbed wire. The first time you install the wire, you will realize the exertion needed to climb through the barrier. Don’t make the mistake I did by wearing a loose-sleeved tee shirt, which is now a shredded short sleeve shirt. As each layer of limbs and wire are added, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the first row of barbed wire, so first it’s recommended to unwind the wire in the area in front (the direction of intrusion) of the barrier. Unravel at least twice the taught length of wire so that you will have plenty of looseness to entangle. Using an extension pole, entwine the wire through limbs and get the barbs near the top.

As the years go by, two things will happen to this defensive line– the wood will gradually rot and, with gravity, will settle, making it easier to climb over. Of course you can add more layers, but if you have a tractor with a backhoe or front end loader, “fluff” the pile. By lifting one section at a time, the timber will become entangled again.

Will this deterrent work? It already has! At 2 am one morning last month, we awoke to our barking guard dogs. We could also hear men cussing. Apparently coon hunters, attempted to round up their hounds, without respectfully asking permission to enter our property. Three men were forced by the barrier to trudge up a very steep hill at the end of the line of “defensive” limbs. We watched from a darkened window as this racket continued for over twenty minutes. We could often see flashlight beams congregate while the men swore between heavy breathing.

It’s not often we preppers get a chance to “test” our defenses. Even though this incident wasn’t a threatening one, we were able to feel a little safer knowing that if it had been an emergency, our deterrent works, and we could have prepared for the threat.