A Preparedness Plan for a Single Woman With Children

I’ve been reading SurvivalBlog for almost a year.  I am thankful for the advice that I receive each day.  I have had a “be prepared” attitude for about 30 years, although the past two years have thrown several speed bumps and roadblocks my way.  Two years ago my son and his family were in a life threatening accident.  I spent almost every penny I had saved toward retirement to help my daughter-in-law recover.  This year I fought for and won custody of three of my grandchildren from my daughter.  So now, instead of planning for TEOTWAWKI for just myself, a 50 something divorced woman, I now am the proud “parent” of three elementary aged children.  Even with these changes to my situation, I am still actively preparing.  I wanted to share what I am doing with your readers, so that those who are still in the thinking stages rather than the action stage can see that it’s not too hard to begin. 

Years ago I decided to create a written plan.  I started with my basic premises.  First, I assume that I will live where I’m at forever.  I live 10 miles from a city of 100,000 and 15 miles from a city of 500,000.  While it’s really close to a lot of people, it’s not in the direction that the masses of people would head toward.  I have five acres with a good house, a good well, a great climate for growing food and lots of storage.  With that in mind I need to set up the house and yard to fully sustain me and now the three grandkids.  I also need to make some changes along the property boundary to make it less welcoming.

Second, I assume that when I retire from my government job that my pension income will exist.  That doesn’t mean that it won’t be reduced, I expect the government to steal some of my pension.  (Most people just think that we are given money but I put in 20% of my income into this pension fund) I also expect to receive some social security benefits and plan to start collecting my money as soon as I hit the minimum age.  Barring any additional family disasters, I also plan on having cash on hand.  I am working hard to cut my expenses to almost nothing.  That way I can retire sooner and live prepared rather than being in a state of getting prepared. 

Third, I assume that the weather patterns may fluctuate as they have throughout time, but I will not buy into any of the global warming and cooling as something that we can truly prevent.  If the environmentalists wanted us to change our habits and become more energy efficient, I wish they would have just come out with that statement.  Or, they should say that we can alter our microclimate (planting trees lowers the temperature around our homes, paving roads and parking lots raises the temperature in the city, lakes add to the humidity) rather than trying to scare people into believing that we are destroying the world. 

Fourth, I will practice, as I know that when you practice, the act becomes second nature. Times of trouble is not when you should be learning new things.    

Fifth, I do not panic.  Part of this is because I practice.  Part is because I do not allow myself to be influenced by the news story crisis of the day.  I behave very level headed and am rational.  I know that my attitude and my actions will influence those around me to be either calm or crazy.  I vote for calm.

Sixth, I trust God.  I know that God expects me to take care of myself…or at least to prepare myself to take care of myself.  I can not say I don’t need to be educated, or prepared, or dedicated because God will provide.  I am expected to work hard.  God will take care of me if I try to take care of myself.

The first thing I did in my quest for independence was to determine what I really needed.  The stuff.  I also figured I probably have 30 more years to live, although I hope I’m blessed with much more.  Now I have three more people in the house.  How would I figure how much I need?  I decided to keep track of what I did and what I used.  I started by going through my entire house, room by room, and making an inventory of everything. 

Let’s start with household items.  There are items that can last forever: dishes, glasses, pots, pans, furniture.  There are items that are used up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.  Well, how much do you need for the next 30 years?  I started keeping track of what I was using.  Keeping track of exactly how much food purchased, how much toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo, etc. was used in a year gave me a very good idea of what I would need for 10 or 20 or even 30 years.  Then I just started buying extra.  It was simple.  Every time I went to Costco I’d buy an extra laundry detergent, bleach, dish soap, 409, Simple Green, vinegar, etc.  I probably have a 10 year supply on hand without any pain at all. 

I don’t have a basement but I do have a huge garage.  It holds my truck, tractor, freezer, tools, and what seems like miles of floor to ceiling shelves.  It looks like a mini Wal-Mart.  Now that I have the grandchildren, I have devoted space for bins of clothing.  The bins include the basics in every size: jeans, t-shirts (long and short sleeve), sweatshirts, jackets, socks, underwear, hats, gloves, and shoes.  I also sew and have fabric, thread, and am well stocked with sewing supplies. I keep it very organized.  I witness my friends buying things that they know they have somewhere in their homes but they are so disorganized they have no clue what they have or where to find it. 

I’m not going to discuss weapons to any real extent.  This topic is definitely best left to someone who knows what they are talking about.  I really get into this topic on this blog so as to learn more.  I do have a .22 pistol, a .22 rifle, and a 12 gauge shotgun.  The last thing I shot was a rooster who was roaming my yard and continuously tried attacking me.  I know I should have more protection and I also need to involve the children in gun use.  Maybe this summer we will all go to gun camp and then set up a practice target in the back yard. 

Change your diet! Stop eating instant boxed stuff.  If nothing else, you will save lots of money.  Learn to cook.  Learn to bake.  You can buy a pound of yeast at Costco or Sam’s for the same price as three small packages of yeast at the grocery store.  I love the 5 minute bread recipe.  6 cups flour, 3 cups warm water, 1 ½ tablespoon yeast, 1 ½ tablespoon chunky salt (kosher, sea, etc.).  Mix it together with a spoon. Let it rise an hour.  Put some flour onto the counter and pour the dough onto the flour.  (At this point I like to add Italian seasoning to half the dough) Shape into individual rolls or two round loaves.  Bake 350 for 15 minutes.  Noodles are another one of our favorites.  Flour, egg yolk, water, salt. Mix and roll out.  Cut into whatever shape you want.  We use the pizza cutter and make crazy shapes.  Boil for about 10 minutes. 

My garden is my hobby but also something that I’ve set up to feed myself, the grandkids, and my animals.  Since moving to my property 12 years ago I’ve planted fruit trees and plants with most of my spare money.  I have oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kumquats, apples, avocados, cherries, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, apricots, kiwi, figs, olives, loquats, mulberry, blackberries, raspberries, almonds, asparagus, and probably some others that I’ve forgotten.  I’ve been canning for 30 years now.  If I can’t can it or freeze it we eat fruit and vegetables in season or we don’t eat them.  The only fruit or vegetables I buy are bananas, pineapple, and mushrooms.  I have lots of gardening tools, at least one for each of us so we can all work together: shovels, rakes, hoes, hoses, irrigation parts.  I also have seeds on hand.  It is crazy to spend the money on the latest fad of “non-hybrid seeds in a container for only $150.” Sure, it will grow you a garden, but is it what you like to eat?  Will those varieties do well in your area?  Go to your local nursery and pick up seeds of vegetables you eat.  Have a garden like mine.  Each year I let some of the beets go to seed in the beet section of my garden, I smash a pumpkin on the ground in the pumpkin section, I let broccoli go to seed, etc.  I don’t have to replant the entire garden each year.  The stuff just comes back.  I do replant the corn, eggplant, and peppers.  I do save seed each year to make sure I have a several year supply of all my vegetable seeds.

We have sheep and goats for meat and chickens for eggs.  Although they are easy to raise, I don’t raise rabbits or hogs due to religious dietary restrictions.  I don’t have enough property for a steer because I don’t want to have to rely on buying hay.  I don’t milk the goats because I don’t have time.  I do buy beef and chicken from the store but know that at any time those purchases can stop and we can provide all our meat needs. 

I have a 500 gallon propane tank that never has less than 250 gallons in it .  The propane is used for cooking, heating the house, and the hot water.  We don’t use much for heating the house.  I try to keep the heater turned off during the week.  Since I am at work and the kids are at school, I don’t need to waste propane heating an empty house.  On the weekends I use the woodstove.  Worst case scenario, I would use wood to cook with, heat the house with my wood stove, and at some near future point, set up a solar hot water system. 

We are on a well so we aren’t relying on city water.  My next project (with money from my tax return) will be to set up a solar power system to charge batteries for running the well.  We don’t usually have much wind so I don’t think a wind generator would work.  I’d also like to set up solar for a backup for my appliances.  I don’t need a huge solar system since we use minimal amount of electricity.  We really do conserve on electricity.  My electric bill is only about $40 a month for the refrigerator, freezer, washer, dishwasher, microwave, television, computers, and the kids leaving all the lights on.

Fortunately, we don’t get sick often.  I keep a good stock of vitamins and OTC medicines.  I haven’t been able to convince our doctor to write a prescription for extra medications but I have been able to stock up on some. I do have a large stock of supplies for injuries.  I have a rescue bag in each vehicle plus a large supply at home.  I do want to remind people that even minor injuries can use up lots of supplies.  You need lots of gauze, gauze, and more gauze.  And, gloves, gloves, and more gloves.  Rescue workers will change their latex gloves every 5-15 minutes.  Read the articles already posted about medical supplies.  Go through your cabinets and see what you use.  Buy lots of them. 

We have a great library at home.  Classic books, new books, survival books, cook books, just about all topics for all reading levels.  I also have school books: math, science, grammar, and history for each grade level.  We also have games, puzzles, and cards.  Lots of indoor activities for the kids to do.

We have tons of office supplies: paper, pencils, erasers, pens, paint, crayons and markers, tape, staples, and glue.  Whatever amount you think you need, double it, or triple it!  Take advantage of the end of summer back to school sales. 

Exercise and being active is important.  This past summer I made an obstacle course for the grandkids (and me).  We have tires to run through, a sprinting area, cones to zigzag around, ropes to climb up trees, nets to crawl under, and a cross country running track.  I also set up a tetherball pole, a basketball hoop, badminton and volleyball net, croquette, whiffle ball, and a soccer goal.  We also go hiking and bike riding.  They think it’s just for fun.  I know that being in good condition helps keep the mind in good condition.

Three months ago I purchased a 23 foot used travel trailer.  It has a stove, refrigerator, full bathroom and a tank that holds 40 gallons of propane.  This winter we took it on a trip to Colorado and Oklahoma and didn’t turn on the heater, just for fun.  Our sleeping bags (from MajorSurplus.com) kept us warm although I’m sure the grandkids would have liked it warmer than 30 when they got up in the morning! The trailer held all the clothes and food we needed for our two week trip.  It was great practice. I have more to do.  I plan on planting some non-inviting plants in the front along the road and along the sides and back of the property as well: probably cactus, blackberries, some itchy thistle, or even poison oak!  I really need to get backup power.  I also would like a holding tank for several thousand gallons of water.  I’d like to hire someone to dig a pond.  Our water table is 12 feet so the pond would have to be deep in order to hit the water table.  I need weapons for protection, not just for shooting roosters and possums.  It all takes time and money, but this is an example of what I have done with not too much money, just some common sense and dedication.

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