Ready or not, winter is on its way. As my family is working through finishing our items to get the homestead ready for winter, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels to prepping in general.
For our winter “turndown service” of the homestead, we work from a list that has been refined over the last several years so that nothing is overlooked or ignored. The list is prioritized so bigger jobs don’t get put off to the end and critical items get the attention they deserve.
This is also the similar approach we take to prepping in general, and I wanted to share a couple of examples of the similarities as I see it.
We have a variety of equipment and machines that require fuel. Some of these are seasonal, and some fuel is stored long term. So, storage requires some effort.
Lawn Tractor/Mower and Summer Machines
I like nothing more than to be able to put the lawn tractor/mower away for the winter. There should be a national holiday to celebrate this great day!
As we northerners put away the lawn mower and other gas operated summer machines, there are of course different ways people go about doing this. A few that I know of are:
- Park it and forget it until spring. Just run into the house, turn on the ball game, and have an adult beverage. Yeehaw! While you are inside in your comfy chair, you might want to start searching for a deal on carburetor cleaner and plan ahead for that Saturday in spring when you will be wondering what engineer designed “this thing” and why they made it so difficult to get the carburetor off.
- Run it out of fuel so that it will remove any stale gas issues and prevent gumming the carburetor up. Now, I know many folks who go this route, but my personal experience is that this does not work. I have cleaned too many carburetors to be convinced otherwise. Though, for sake of argument, let’s say you are able to start the machine up in the spring and while it gets the job done, it just isn’t as crisp running as you remember. Next year, likely it will be worse.
- Mix some fresh gas with a fuel preservative  and run it long enough to cycle it through the system. There is no gumming of the carburetor, and with usable fuel in the tank you can add fresh gas to in the spring and begin your use of the machine. Unfortunately, this means that you actually have to mow the lawn after all. Maybe you can pretend you need to tune up the old beast and spend a couple hours in the shop listening to the ball game on the radio.
With the above choices you can see there are different ways to get the lawnmower put away. While there may be more than one “right” answer, the choices usually have an array ranging from poor to best.
The Right Choice in Prepping
Prepping is no different than our lawnmower example in that there are many choices and paths to follow. However, the right (or better) choice often isn’t all that difficult, nor does it require an advanced degree from the MacGyver school for adults.
Fuel For the Prepper
Fuel for the prepper can mean the difference between getting home to your family or not and having crucial power for the first days to conclude your preps or not. Here are some different choices a prepper could make on fuel, as an example:
- Don’t pay any real attention to what is on hand in the gas can in the garage or in their vehicles gas tank. Just get it when you need it, since there are gas stations all over the place. If things go bad, hopefully you have enough gas in the tank to get home without a fuel stop. You have nothing to run a generator (with a gummed up carburetor likely) at home though it would come in handy to run the freezer, giving you enough time to can up the contents before spoiling.
- Keep the vehicles tank always at least half full and a couple spare gas cans around filled. You can get home and keep things going in the short term, hoping things are back to “normal” soon.
- Vehicles are kept topped off regularly along with having bulk fuel stored, treated, and rotated at home with the idea of keeping enough on hand to last your planned usage for a year or more. You are home and can focus on your plan to switch gears into a prolonged self sufficient lifestyle as needed without worrying about rationing the last bit of stale gas you just siphoned out of the lawn mower.
Who doesn’t like a cold winter day at home to finally get to that Expatriots  book you have been wanting to read but haven’t had time or to binge watch a Jaws marathon on the TV! Grab some venison summer sausage , some cheese, and crackers, and life couldn’t get much better. That is as long as your house isn’t 30 degrees inside.
Heating systems need winter preparation. Not taking care of it can yank the remote control right from your hand and replace it with a receipt for the emergency heating service. Here are some different approaches to getting your heater (in this case a forced air furnace) ready:
- That cold front hit just as the weatherman had been warning, so you turn the thermostat to heat and bump up the temperature a bit. Thinking to yourself that you were just at the lake swimming what seems like a couple weeks ago. Sadly, you don’t hear the furnace start. After smacking the thermostat a few times while cursing, you call the HVAC company. Luckily you are only eighth in line for emergency service, and they should be at your place in 4-8 hours. You miss a half day of work so you can be home for the magic window of time, all for the pleasure of paying hundreds of dollars you could have spent on more summer sausage .
- Before the cold weather comes in next week, you change the filter on your furnace and make sure the pilot light is happily flickering away. You turn the thermostat on to heat and bump up the temperature so that you can hear the furnace come on and feel the warm air coming from the registers. You are happy with yourself and order that Jaws DVD collection  so that you can watch it next weekend while you have your snacks.
Examples of Heating Preps
Similarly with how you approach fuel storage, how you prepare for heating your home in a SHTF situation can make the difference between life and death. Here are a couple options as an example of heating preps:
- Your gas furnace has been working year after year for the last twenty winters and the inside of it doesn’t look more than twice that age. Your house is away from town, which means your heater uses propane rather than natural gas like the city folk. You are happy that if things go bad, you will have your own supply of propane in your 500-gallon tank and you can run the furnace off of your generator. You remind yourself again that you need to get the gas delivery company to come out and fill the tank, as it is running really low and that you should also get your lawn mower gas can filled back up in case you need to run the generator for the heater. All I can say is that I hope you have plenty of blankets and a forgiving spouse.
- While your propane furnace works well, you followed through on your decision and had a wood stove installed this summer. Even though you only plan to use it occasionally this winter, you spend the time putting away enough firewood for what you believe would last you through two winters of full-time wood stove use. You had to give up a few weekends of beach time, but you also got to spend some time with your kids explaining to them why you needed so much wood in the first place. You have two heat sources and an experience your kids haven’t let you forget for weeks!
McGyver Tricks In Comments Section
Now, I know there are some holes in the examples above, and I used some creative license to make my point. With that acknowledgment, hopefully I can save you some time in correcting the examples and pointing out the many McGyver tricks you know on how to get a furnace or carburetor working in the comments section. 🙂
What I hope the examples above will show is we can use many things in our lives, like winter being right around the corner, to set up discipline and a thought process in us that will also be applicable and helpful in guiding how we go about being ready, should the worst happen.
One Last To Think About
I’ll conclude this with one last simple one to think about. Are we learning from our normal life chores and building upon them a good practice and applying that to help your emergency preps, or are we just going through some motions to check things off our list? Here are some things to ask yourself:
- How do you treat your garden hoses and outdoor faucets for winter? Do you disconnect the hose, drain it well, and put it away? Do you shut off the faucets on the inside of the house and ensure it is drained completely to the outside? Or, do your hoses end up in the garbage before they should and you get to practice your fantastic plumbing skills in January?
- How does it compare to how you treat your emergency water supplies and plan for obtaining water if the SHTF? Do you have enough stored water on hand to last for a short-term event? Do you have a plan that can supply you with a consistent water source that is safe and easy to obtain? Or, do you have a case of bottled water somewhere and a dirty five gallon bucket to haul water from the fertilizer-infested creek nearby?
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 79 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 Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, 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).
- 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.
Round 79 ends on November 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.