I first got serious about prepping in 2006, when I realized the U.S. Dollar was on its way down. I had a young son at home, and I wanted to make sure he would be safe if civil unrest occurred. I built a home on some acreage in the country in 2007 and started getting setup to be self-sufficient. I believed 2008 was going to be a bad year, and I wanted to be ready. I installed a wood stove in my home and purchased a hand pump for my well. When I moved my chickens out to the new home, I felt we were right on target to survive the coming turmoil. In this article I am going to share some of the things I have learned.
As the years have passed, I have continued to perfect my small piece of heaven into a full scale food-producing compound. I have leveraged tax advantage from my sale of all natural meat, poultry, and eggs. I have learned many things about sustainable food production. And meanwhile, my son grew up and joined the military. He is thousands of miles away, and here I am still maintaining the refuge I had envisioned would be for him. I have had some trying emotional times learning to deal with a situation where I am no longer needed by the child I was trying to protect. And then it occurred to me that there are many young people who are barely able to put food on their table, let alone make preparations for an uncertain future. So I continue to live the lifestyle of a prepper and believe I may be sharing my knowledge and my stuff with people who didn’t have the time and resources to be ready.
The Tax Man Cometh
I have been able to use many of the expenses for developing my little farm on my income taxes. Fences, buildings, irrigation installation, vehicle expenses, equipment, etc. Because my goal is to make a profit by selling the food I raise, the costs associated with its production are tax deductible. The deduction has been very useful in keeping more of my hard-earned cash so I can invest it in the development of a farm. Each time I need to make a big purchase, I strategize how it is associated with the farming production, so I can properly account for it in my income tax return.
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
When I first moved onto my acreage, there were no fences. My German Shepherds would wander off to the neighbors at times. The neighbors’ dogs would help themselves to my chickens. The coyotes and foxes had my place on the top of their list of great places to score a meal. And then one day, I heard a chicken in distress and ran with my dog to find the chicken in the tall weeds. My dog got there first. The scoundrel attacking the chicken was a small dog belonging to a neighbor. My dog killed it. It nearly became an International incident. The neighbor was furious. He threatened to kill my chickens if they crossed onto his land. It was a tense time.
That is when I invested in good fencing. My fences are 5-foot high predator-proof mesh. They keep dogs, coyotes, foxes and other neighbors out, while the chickens and turkeys are usually more interested in staying in. I had a gate constructed with the same mesh. My dogs patrol the acreage and anything that manages to get in, soon decides it wasn’t such a good idea to get in. The gate is locked so some unsuspecting “visitor” doesn’t just open the gate and come in. My chickens and turkeys free range and we seldom have a predator incident. The dogs are quite aggressive in protecting our turf.
Garlic Cures Everything
I need to get a good garlic garden planted, because I have so many uses for the stuff that I simply haven’t been growing enough of it. I have an astute neighbor who is also a prepper. She noticed my need for garlic and planted a bunch to barter with me when things get dicey. I put the garlic cloves through a hand-cranked juicer. The pulp is mixed in with corn for my sheep, cows, and poultry. It helps flush out internal parasites, keep the lice and fleas away, and builds the immune system. I also mix garlic into my dogs’ dinners sometimes to combat internal parasites.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic and anti-viral. The juice is potent stuff. I keep some on hand in the refrigerator all the time. If I feel a cold coming on, I can spread some of the juice or pulp on toast with butter and the cold almost always goes away within an hour or so.
When I had triplet lambs this past spring, one apparently didn’t get her dose of colostrum. She suffered an acute onset of e-coli within the first 24 hours and was near death. I added garlic juice to some warm water and gave it to her with a syringe. I continued to administer the water with the garlic and honey every 10 minutes or so for a couple of hours. Three hours later, she was up and nursing. I have been told even with antibiotics, that kind of recovery is pretty much unheard of.
I have a small herb-garden in my kitchen. Recently I noticed the basil was being killed by tiny gnats. I mixed some garlic juice with some olive oil and put it in a small spray bottle. The gnats apparently don’t like garlic, because they are gone and my herb garden smells like an Italian dinner.
There’s A Lot of Poop
Raising produce without the help of commercial fertilizers is tricky. I started vegetables indoor this year with an “organic” fertilizer I bought at Home Depot. They did very poorly and many of them just keeled over dead after a while. I bought the fertilizer because, at the time, everything was frozen solid outside, so I couldn’t collect poop to make the poop water I usually start them with. Lesson learned. This year I have some poop set aside in a place where it won’t freeze so I can start my plants indoors with something I know works. I have also mixed some soil that I have ready to use.
Chicken poop is not ideal for gardening, but I have been successfully using it for several years. When I clean the chicken coop in the fall, I spread the stuff over the garden area, so it can be rained into the ground over the winter. I till more manure in with my spring tilling. This year, I did not use enough and I experienced poor potato yields.
Food Cooked on the Woodstove Tastes Better
I installed a regular woodstove (not a kitchen stove) in my home. It has a removable rounded top that leaves a nice flat surface for cooking. If I need to oven-cook something, I use a Dutch Oven. Last winter I slow cooked Salisbury steak in a Dutch Oven and it was heavenly. I have also found that potatoes have a completely different moist flavor if I wrap them in foil and put them in an area of the stove that isn’t in flames. There have been weeks passed in the winter where my kitchen range was never used. It conserves energy and provides a warm glow to cheer through those gray winter months.
Cute Little Children Become Teenagers
It is a fact – those sweet little munchkins we build our lives around eventually turn into teenagers. Mine became increasingly resentful of my prepping. I have heard it said that teenagers become so ornery because it is God’s plan for us feel better showing them to the door when they grow up. Shortly before my son left home, he decided it fit for him to list all of my personal defects which ailed him. At the top of his list was my “paranoid” belief system that something bad could change our lives in big ways. He made it clear he was unhappy with that belief and that he would be carrying on his life without such worries. So far, so good. He is traveling abroad and living a good life. I still believe I would rather be ready and wrong than not ready and starving to death.
The Lifestyle Is Very Attractive
Many people see my lifestyle and want to come join in. Well, not join in the work, but join in the food and the fun and all the nice resources I have. Over and over my generosity has been stretched and taken advantage of. I have learned there are many lazy moochers out there who talk the talk and then lay around in my house watching useless television programs while I carry on with the chores. And they feel the food is “free” because I raised it myself, so they have no urge to contribute. My new policy for anyone visiting my farm is that they will be asked to participate in chores. I will work them out of their fantasy about how great it is to live like I do.
People Hate Rules
When I have had to travel for business, I have also had to rely on friends to help with the farm. I have found that, regardless of the careful instructions, they always think they have a better idea and do it their own way. It has cost me animals and it has cost me having to retrain my farm to the correct behavior for my ecosystem to function. It is frustrating. But it has taught me that I will probably have this problem if we have a SHTF scenario where people will be coming to me for safety and food. And I don’t expect they will be thankful as long as they will be trying to change my life to fit their own view of how things should be. It is human nature. I will have to be very strict and it could lead to confrontation. I anticipate that will probably be unavoidable.
Counting the Tables You Put Food On is Rewarding
Last year, I put meat, eggs and poultry on the tables of 14 families. Counting those families at Thanksgiving was a very satisfying experience. Although this year it has been fewer because I haven’t had beef ready, I still feel grateful to play a role in many family meals. I have contributed to the lives of many people I didn’t even know. I have sold products of my farm, the income from which has enabled me to continue on my adventure.
Life Just Keeps On Going
If I had poured everything I had and taken big risks when I first started prepping, I wouldn’t be prepping today because I would have lost it all. I truly believed 2008 would be a year of disaster – and it nearly was. But the powers that be found a way to kick the can on down the road. And they keep finding ways to kick it down the road again. Life is amazingly easy right now in the artificially secure world we have to live in here in the USA I am so blessed to have good employment from home in an area where people are often trying to live on minimum wage. Technology has brought about enormous opportunities, while it has also let us be monitored 24×7 by not only the government, but also large corporations like Google, who track everything you do on the Internet and keep the data indefinitely (I prefer Duckduckgo.com because they claim not to track). While I hope it all keeps hanging on, I really can’t see how it can. We are living in an unmaintainable sphere of reality that is rapidly growing more unmaintainable. I have chosen to continue to be “paranoid” and prepare to feed people in an uncertain future. The difference now is that I realize I will probably be helping people I never planned to help and I have learned some good lessons on how to deal with them appropriately.