Over the years what it means to be a prepper and how to prepare has changed quite a bit for me. I have learned that adaptation is key to survival.
Grew Up With Mentality and Heart of a Prepper
I haven’t been a “prepper” my whole life, but I have had the mentality and heart of one due to the way I was raised. I grew up in a blue-collar family where if you wanted something you worked for it. If something was broke, you tried to fix it first before spending money on it, and where everything had a second purpose. I smile as I write that, because it reminds me of gardening with my dad and using milk jugs as little greenhouses for tomato seedlings.
Stay Quiet and Observe Surroundings
My dad was big into hunting, so I spent a lot of time outdoors. He taught me a lot. He taught me how to hunt, fish, process game, and preserve food. The most important thing that he taught while hunting was how to stay quiet and to really observe my surroundings. It might sound simple, but it was hard for a little kid to always remain still and quiet. However, I did succeed in learning this and have been amazed at how well that ability has served me in my life.
First Big Mistake
As a young man I got more interested in the life style of self-reliance and started to learn as much as I could about sustainable ways of living and long-term disaster planning. Like most young people, I lost my way and became fixated on fads and things that were popular. I was set in the “lone wolf” mentality of survival, thinking that I could conquer the world.
Youth really is wasted on the young. Rather than learning skills and gathering information, I spent too much time on obtaining gear and supplies. Since I took that popular route of prepping, the bulk of my stores were made of weapons, expensive tools, and easy food prep, such as MREs and freeze-dried food. This was my first big mistake because in a way I was relying on others for some of my survival capabilities while at the same time wanting to be a loner.
I had stopped hunting and fishing and hadn’t grown a garden in years. I had tied up a lot of my money in the typical “beans and bullets” type of supplies that I purchased primarily based on the opinions of others, with little research on my end. So, all of my present and future survival food was dependent on what I had in the house at the time. That’s not a horrible thing in of itself, but I never gave a thought to rotating it out or supplementing it with other types of food.
An Epiphany That Something Needed To Change
The day came where I realized that almost all of my long-term food had drastically expired. As I stood there looking at my supplies, I had an epiphany. Something needed to change. I needed to change.
I needed to learn to adapt to various ways of preparing, instead of having tunnel vision. This needed to apply to supplies, skills, and knowledge.
When it comes to food, I still like and own MREs and other long-term food options. They just don’t make up the bulk of my supply like they used to. Instead, I turned to growing a small garden and preserving what I could. For the bulk of my food I decided on canned goods and other items that I normally used on a daily basis.
This was such a huge and important turning point for me and I have a story as to why. One day I had found out that I lost my job and I was out of work for about six months. I did not have a lot of money saved up, but what I did have was a ton of food and other every day items, such as toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, coffee, sugar, spices, et cetera.
Two Critical Aspects of Preparing
This period of time taught me two critical aspects of preparing. First of all, my idea of what I was preparing for changed drastically. I never had a specific event in mind, although it was always something big, like a war, EMP, solar storm, pandemic, aliens, or zombies; take your pick. I now realize that anything that drastically changes your way of life is something worth preparing for. Events don’t have to be these large scale, everlasting situations that most of us think of. They can be localized natural disasters, inflation, supply shortages, et cetera.
I know losing a job might not sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but because I had that store of supplies I used what little money I had strictly for bills. And that was how I got by for six months.
The second thing that it taught me was how important it was to diversify everything when it came to prepping. I mean everything– knowledge, skills, supplies, gear, relationships.
According to the original path I was on, the only things I needed were my “beans and bullets”, and the beans were freeze-dried. I would have been in a world of hurt when I lost my job if I had not diversified my supplies and adapted to a different mentality of prepping. However, since I did, my day-to-day life was fairly normal, and I didn’t have to give up much. I could still have my coffee in the morning, bath and brush my teeth when I needed to, indulge my sweet tooth, since I had stored candies and anything else that applies to your daily life. Just “beans and bullets” would not have helped me out very much.
When it came to relationships, I decided I needed to forget about the lone wolf survival method. That way of survival only really works in certain situations and short-term emergency events. I broadened my scope and became more active in preparedness communities on the Internet with like-minded individuals and started to seek out local people that were like me. It wasn’t until I started to have real conversations with other people who held the same beliefs as me that I realized just how little I knew. When I started to develop friendships with these people, it really hit home that it really does take a village.
On Your Own and Sick or Injured
From personal experience, another reason I learned why the lone wolf method is so hard is because during that period when I lost my job I got sick. Now really think about this. I was down and out for about a week. In a true survival situation, if you are on your own and you got sick or injured, how are important tasks going to get done? Who is going to tend the garden, help you to get healthier, hunt or fish for food, acquire water, and protect your perimeter? These are some of the aspects of true survival that I thought of while laying in bed in the comfort of normal times. Needless to say, I was hit with some hard truths.
The Take Away From My Story
Here is what I want you to take away from my story. Knowledge and skills are above gear and supplies, because supplies are usually easily scavenged whereas information can be hard to come across. Don’t have tunnel vision but instead adapt to different situations and ways of accomplishing things. Preparing for one specific event is going to severely limit you in terms of resources and abilities versus visualizing a broader range of scenarios. People are going to be one of our greatest resources if TEOTWAWKT ever happens, for a multitude of reasons. They will bring knowledge, skills, and ideas to the table that you may have never thought of. Strength in numbers is key when the world takes a drastic turn for the worse.
Not Just Surviving But Community and Rebuilding
The last thing I would like to add is that getting through events is not just about surviving. It is about community and rebuilding. We are herd animals and need socialization as well as other aspects of being around other people. If we didn’t, there is no way we would be where we are at today. I urge anyone who is reading this to not hunker down in their “bunkers” but to branch out and develop a network of people who truly want the best for those that we love and who share the same ideals and desires for the future generation.
No longer will I prepare, learn skills, and do my best to store supplies in order to just get by another day. I am doing so in order to live another day so that I can continue to experience everything this world and life has to offer.
Adaptation To Move Forward To a Positive End
Folks, take it from me that there is so much more to this life than the fear-induced lives we are force fed on a daily basis. If you are stuck in a way of life that causes you to be stagnant and unhappy, then change it. Learn to adapt. Only through adaption can we ever hope to better ourselves and to keep moving forward to a positive end.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.
I agree that we prepare for “anything that drastically changes your (our) life.”
I like seeing that thought in writing. We all think about preparing for the big one but we need to understand that hiccups occur too.
I personally start with my relationship with God. Jesus is the ultimate force multiplier.
I believe you are on the right track.
Great writeup about your epiphany. Thank you for sharing. You don’t mention much about God’s power in your life. I suggest you give him an opportunity.
Regarding building yourself into a network, I offer these techniques to others:
I moved to a new rural neighborhood and am making it a point to stop and meet people who are out doing things. And I invest a few bucks here and there to build community. I bought a 6 dollar gallon of milk from one guy a mile away. I bought two dozen organic eggs from a small farmer just down the road for 10 bucks. But I don’t spend that high price for common commodities regularly or indiscriminately.
Those two small purchases bought me two 30 minute conversations on their livestock, poultry, and intensive greenhouse operations. And I got their email, phone, names, and most importantly initiation of personal relationships.
Another couple was building a fence on the road so I took 20 cents worth of cold bottled water and walked down the road to them and offered it. With acceptance, I got to meet them and get their perspective on neighbors in the hood, learned he has an airplane and is an exerienced electronics repairman, Navy veteran, black powder enthusiast, and ham radio operator.
Thanks again for bringing up the knowledge and community building aspects of thriving survival.
Wheatley, I like your approach! & I hope it leads to friendships with like-minded people in your area. Best wishes & God bless!
Thanks to BL for bringing the topic up. I get good mileage from Forward Observer subscription. And “Map your Neighborhood” has additional moon meaning for me… as in the book Patriots.
Hi Wheatly, I think I’ll take a page out of your book and go meet the egg sellers in our neck of the woods. I’d wondered how to get to know the neighbors short of joining the CERT and mapping my neighborhood (that’s another way to be part of the community and find out who is like minded and who is not).
McBlue, be bold in greeting and smiles. You can always change demeanor later. It’s hard work for me at times to keep from filling all my data in attempts to establish rapport, and after meeting people, I try to keep notes on topics for memory booster. Especially when someone shares that their (pick a telative) is an agency/official/LEO, or such. God Bless.
B.L., great article. Thanks for sharing your journey and how your viewpoints grew with time. Adaptation is one of the most important tools a human being has in their toolkit, and becomes even more important in times of chaos and stress.
Like you, I’ve had the prepper mentality for as long as I can remember. If you needed a rubber band, a tiny screwdriver, a Tylenol or band-aid, a packet of crackers, a sample size sunscreen, a lighter, dental floss, nail clippers, I had it in my purse.
I was in my heyday with the advent of Y2K, and began to fully realize how fragile the veneer of civilization is, and how easy it would be for the whole system to collapse. I had an epiphany about 14 years ago, when I went to Walmart one Black Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. and mingled with about 2,000 tatooed and hoodied thugs waiting in line. Everyone was kind of sleepy and quiet at oh-dark-thirty, but gosh there were a lot of them. In a grid down situation, these and about a million more just like them would be my competition. Yikes. That was the day I set my compass on relocation to a rural area.
It also inspired me to learn about self defense and I began acquiring weapons and ammo and the training to use them effectively. I broadened my preps to include medical supplies and more of what I commonly ate to rotate out. During a mandated 15% pay cut in 2009, I ended up eating from my preps and was so glad to have that as a back up. The experience also showed me how incredibly fast your food preps disappear once you start using them. We are so habituated to stopping at the grocery store every few days, you just don’t realize the amount that is being consumed.
I also began collecting information and books for post-TEOTWAWKI rebuilding of society. I had a dollar book store near where I lived, and I would stop on my way home from work to scan the new arrivals. I have books on emergency medicine and dentistry, construction and plumbing, welding, animal husbandry, U.S. and world history, world atlas and maps, math and physics, drafting, philosophy, children’s educational books, Constitutional law, dictionaries, and lots more. A dollar a book, great investment.
Once I made my move to the American Redoubt, it became a great comfort to get to know so many independent, self-sufficient, grounded people of like mind. I continue to learn about homesteading and canning, gardening (it’s harder than it looks), and networking in the neighborhood. I’ve turned the corner from merely “surviving” to “thriving”. Thanks for your very interesting article, it brought back a lot of great memories of my own journey.
Great discussion on the importance of community!
Good article , It’s the real deal. Friends are more valuable than gold, knowing your neighbors is a good start. Making community is the only long term realistic survival plan. God in your life is what makes it all worthwhile. God’s grace is worth far more than any bunker. The rich will learn that the hard way….God bless this page and all who read it…
I really liked this article. It reinforces that prepping isn’t something you do in addition to daily life; it’s how you live your daily life. Just like religion, it doesn’t do much good if you don’t practice. And it’s amazing what cool and useful information the neighbors have and would love to share if people just act friendly and respectful. Wish you all the best in your prepping.
As a recent post over at SHTF Plan emphasized, it’s also essential to have fun while prepping and planning, and to keep a light-hearted approach to the whole thing. Gloomy Gus and Gayle are not good trench partners, and you may as well have a laugh or two along the way, else, what’s a heaven for?
I agree with your article to a point. IMHO NW most likely will never happen since the elites of the world want usable resources and fallout would destroy there use for many generations.
Neutron bombs of course would take out the people and leave the resources intact…. This would be a worst case scenario but if they were pushed to that level they would do so without hesitation.
More likely they would push a EMP/biological/chemical style scenario to cull the population and/or the environment short/medium term. This we see happening now with Fukushima (slow extension level event) which has destroyed the Pacific ocean and is now destroying food supplies along the western coast of North America. This does not even take into affect the 5 major plastic dumping grounds in the world oceans destroying marine aquatic life.
This is why I believe having a hidden, well stocked bunker is require and accentual for surviving, not only the beginning, but the long term environmental disasters awaiting us. It is much easier to ride out volcanic, biological, chemical and long term storms underground than above ground. Look at the stories accumulated from the native Indian tribes of resurfacing from underground to reestablish there above ground homes after many generations below.
Nope I will continue to believe one can survival much of the climatic and social destruction to come underground.
May I suggest that some in your group should consist of those raised in the 50’s and 60’s,
Some of us learned from parents and grandparents who lived through the Depression.
We don’t run and jump much, but can still reach out and “touch someone”. Some of us know how to use “Cordless tools”, and historic ways of making do with what we have.
Some in their 7th or 8th decade have had some pretty good training at Government expense. Just something to consider.
This is such good advice. We senior preppers have knowledge and living history that bridges over a hundred years, if we listened to our grandparents stories, which of course we did. My mother’s mother was born in 1894, so yes, I have knowledge about things younger people just didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with. My grandma kept 5 children and a husband alive and healthy through the Spanish flu epidemic in New York. She was a great cook and could make dinner appear out of virtually nothing. She made everyone’s clothes including coats and suits, using the finest hand stitching. She taught me about Jesus, and sat in her rocking chair reading the Bible and praying aloud to Jesus for her family to be blessed. She was alive before electricity and automobiles. I do wish some younger people had the time to listen and learn, but they never seem to realize the buried treasure. So busy.
You have to understand that the “Lone Wolf” scenario is a Liberal/Leftist plight for our society. Identity politics, was the catalyst of the Third Reich, and is pitting social groups against one another.
Just look at the NFL players taking a knee while our decorated veteran with no legs is signing the national anthem to them. The NFL says it is to protest police violence against one race, but that race is murdering its own in Chicago every weekend, but no NFL call for social injustice in Chicago.
It goes beyond that, as Liberal/Leftists are usurping the Founding Fathers’ free enterprise system of capitalism [after all God is a Capitalist as he doles out rewards in Heaven on the individual’s good works and doesn’t do a number count in Heaven to dole out rewards equally to all], by their diversity hiring practices. This mocks God’s reward system when a higher qualified candidate is overlooked for employment to place in a lesser qualified or even unqualified person in position due to identity politics [being a woman, African American, or GLBTB].
What I’m getting at, when the Leftists take back the House/Senate and are in “control” that their special groups, they carved out just for their votes [creating victims out of groups that Liberals illustrate they’ll tackle to make them whole], will be given “things” [food, water, shelter, protection] through legislating laws and those not in the Left’s diversity [Christians, Conservatives, Preppers, et al.] are to be selectively left out of the Leftist socialist benevolence. Look no further than B. Hussein O. #44. There will be another that comes soon and one might call it the Fourth Reich.
That’s why we need to ban together, and not be the Lone Wolf. We will never make it, with that tremendous force against us. I know God can carry us through anything but He doesn’t call us to be stupid.