I’ve Discovered I’m A Prepper, by H.H.

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How did I get here? About a year ago, I was covered up with apples from my one, lonely apple tree in my back yard. (I have since planted another.) I ate some, gave some away, canned a lot of apple butter, but I still had about a bushel basket of apples left. Not wanting to waste them, I did an Internet search for ways to can the remaining apples and found some great information. I ended up canning applesauce and apple pie filling, too.

This Internet search for ways to can apples led me to many prepper and survivalist sites. Initially, I thought, “Okay. I believe in planning for the future, but that’s all that I have in common with THESE people.” I always thought that survivalists were those odd ducks or crazy people who stood on the streets with signs proclaiming the end is near and who lived in underground bunkers. I was wrong. It turns out these everyday Americans are just like me. We’re your friends, neighbors, church family, coworkers, et cetera. We are aware of what’s going on around us, and we don’t want to be caught in the panic of those who weren’t ready, or worse yet, thought the government would take care of us. (Can you say “Katrina”?)

Who am I? I am a middle-aged Christian wife, a mother of three adult children (two of whom are married), and a grandmother to two wonderful grandkids. I live in a rural area just outside a small, Midwest town, and I am a teacher at a small, rural school. I was raised on a farm, as was my husband. My husband and I were each in 4-H for over ten years. (That’s how we met.) My grandparents taught me many skills. They lived through the Depression and felt that there were things I should be able to do. They told me, “This may come in handy some day.” They were right.

I’m the lady who lives next door. I have flowers in my yard. I put lights on the front of my house and a nativity scene at Christmas. I ride my bike, kayak, and walk for exercise. My husband and I love to go camping. I’ve been told that I make fantastic cinnamon rolls and cheesecakes. I like to read, take photographs, eat ice cream, and laugh with my friends. I complain about the government and too many lazy people in the world. I’ve been told that I’m very organized. I’m a night owl, but my job requires me to report at 7:45 in the mornings. I love to eat homemade ice cream, and so I make it often. (Did I already say that?) See? I am the lady next door!

There’s nothing special about me. I am NOT a prepper or a survivalist! Am I? I mean I do believe in preparing for the future. I do believe in saving for a rainy day. I do believe in living a healthy lifestyle. After being cut off from neighboring towns during a flood several years ago, I began preparing even more than before. While others were panicking because the grocery stores and Walmart were flooded, I simply lived my life and ate the food I had in my home. So what have I done to prepare for TEOTWAWKI? I’ll tell you. I’ll also tell you what I want to do to be further prepared.

What skills do my family and I have? We can:

  • teach,
  • cook, bake, can, freeze, and dehydrate food,
  • safely and accurately shoot firearms,
  • grow our own vegetables and fruit,
  • raise livestock,
  • do electrical and mechanical work,
  • weld,
  • repair and maintain automobiles and engines,
  • do carpentry,
  • apply first aid,
  • provide dental care,
  • start a fire,
  • sew,
  • weave, and more.

What plans have I made for my family’s survival? Let me tell you about them:

  • Water– Like most of you, I have potable water stockpiled. I also have a pond and a natural spring on my property, plus a creek about a quarter mile from my home. I can purify water by boiling it or using chlorine bleach. I also have a filter that attaches to a five-gallon bucket, a filtered water bottle that was a lifesaver on a mission trip to a foreign country with an unsafe water supply, and a straw-type filter. In an off-grid situation, I can boil water in my camper, on the side burner of my grill, or on an open fire in the yard. In the future, I want to purchase an additional large water filter, preferably a Berkey and more filtered water bottles and straw filters. I want to order a water barrel that will not freeze in the winter months and enable me to stockpile even more water. I also want to purchase supplies to distill water.
  • Food/Cooking– I have a vegetable garden, two apple trees, asparagus plants, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. I know how to save my own vegetable and fruit seeds, and I have a supply of heirloom seeds, including those for medicinal herbs. I have food that I have canned or frozen that I have grown in my garden or purchased locally. I have a gas-powered generator to power my freezer during power outages and extra fuel with stabilizer added. I have purchased nonperishable food and am just getting started stockpiling dehydrated foods. My two freezers are almost full, including beef raised by the family who rents our pasture from us. They also have a packinghouse to process the livestock they raise. This is the best beef I’ve ever eaten and is much cheaper, and in my opinion, healthier than store-bought meat. It’s pasture-raised with no hormones. I got a few pullet chicks last spring and am now getting eggs enough to supply 15 people with all of the eggs they need. We hunt deer, turkey, dove, and squirrel. We also fish. We have all of the gear we need for hunting and fishing. When my husband and I remodeled our home last year, we got a gas range to cook when the power is out. It turns out that our range needs electricity to function. I was told that it did not. I can’t even light the burners with a match. In an off-grid situation, I can cook in my camper on my gas range (plus we have a generator to power our house), on a Coleman tabletop camping stove, in my gas smoker, with two gas fish fryers, or over an open fire. The fish fryers are great for canning in the summertime. This keeps the heat outside. For the future, I am continuing to buy a box of canning jars every week or two. Due to a hand injury at the beginning of last summer that stopped my gardening and canning for a few weeks, I do not have near enough home-canned food. Next year I will can more food, and I need more jars for this task. When I replace my 30-year-old freezer, I’m getting a gas-powered one, just like my Amish neighbors have. This would enable me to keep my frozen food safe in a long-term, off-grid situation. I do not have near enough food stored for my family and for sharing or bartering. I need more grains, dried beans, canned goods, and so forth. I’m also adding more chickens next spring, including a rooster so I can raise my own chicks. I will freeze and dehydrate any extra eggs. I will be adding dairy goats. My son’s girlfriend has both meat and dairy goats. She will help me with this. I also want to purchase a grinder for grains. I want to get a gas range that will function without electricity, or figure out how to bypass the feature that keeps our range from working without electricity.
  • Shelter- My home is in the country, outside the city limits of a town of approximately 10,000 people. I live about 150 miles from a city of more than 300,000 people, and 40 miles from a city of about 30,000 people. We also own 40 acres about 10 miles from our home. Our farm borders a national forest, and is “off the beaten path”. We have a pull-behind camper that comfortably sleeps eight. We always have the LP tanks full, but the white water tank can only be full when the outside temperature is above freezing. We have to winterize in late fall and can’t refill until spring. We have a few tents that are not all-season tents and the typical camping supplies. Many of my extended family live within 20 miles of my home. My grandparents’ farm is very secluded and now owned by a cousin. This would be a potential bug-out location. My future plans involve making my home more secure, especially the doors and windows. I also need to build a structure on our farm, so that we may use this as a secondary location. I need to keep supplies in the camper to make bugging out a quick process. I need to arrange with my cousin to have a secondary bug-out location on his farm, formerly owned by my grandparents.
  • Heating- My home is all electric. We have a gas-powered generator to power our back-up heat and electric baseboard heaters. We have extra fuel for the generator with stabilizer added. We also start the generator and make sure it runs well. -We have two kerosene heaters but very little kerosene stored. We have an old gas heater that could be set up, if needed. For the future, we need to have the supplies on hand to install the gas heater. We need more stored kerosene and a lot of firewood, with more trees available for cutting. We could install a woodstove, if needed. I would like an automatic, whole-home generator. This would enable me to be able to quickly power our home, without having to keep adding fuel to our portable generator.
  • Transportation- We keep our vehicles maintained and at or above one-half tank of fuel. Our son, who lives next door, has two, old, diesel vehicles. He has diesel stored at home. Our future plans include buying an enclosed trailer to haul supplies. We’ve been looking for several months and hope to find one soon. We need to get extra plugs, hoses, and other parts to keep the old clunkers running.
  • Health- I am in good health, exercise to maintain my health, and daily wear sunscreen, which is stockpiled in abundance because if we are working outside more we all will need it. I have a small amount of first aid supplies, over-the-counter medications, and natural remedies. We are all up to date on vaccinations. We do take prescriptions but no life-saving prescriptions. For the future, I plan to increase my stock of first aid and homeopathic supplies. I need to stockpile prescription medications and medical supplies. I need to begin talks with the doctor and nurses who are my neighbors to see if they would be good people to form a group with, and I need to increase my medical knowledge and skills.
  • Information- I have made a large binder with information on the following topics: Water gathering, storage, and purification; First aid and medical; Natural remedies; Growing plants and herbs for healing; Cleaning and sanitizing, including recipes for soap and cleaning supplies and for making lye; Simple recipes; Ways to preserve food; How to care for chickens; Gardening; and How to process animals, preserve the hides, and make things with the hides, including making moccasins. I also have books on some of these subjects as well. I have all of our important documents in a large envelope in this binder. Make an information binder or book. Everyone needs access to survival information. We don’t want to think about it, but something may happen to the expert, and you may have to do their job. My future plans involve making copies of all of my information and putting it in other locations or giving it to my family. I need to coordinate with out-of-state family, because they may be able to serve as contacts and sources for information if our local communications are out of service.
  • Entertainment/Enjoyment- We have lots of board games, movies, CDs and player, musical instruments, and snack foods that would occupy time and raise spirits in difficult times.
  • General Information- I have candles and matches, flashlights and extra batteries, hand-crank flashlights and emergency radio, and a battery-powered radio/CD player. We have shoes and clothes for all weather situations, including moisture-wicking clothes and anti-blister socks. This is important. I do have items for bartering and we do have some security. Our future plans include me getting my ham radio training, license, and a radio. We need more security and to band together with like-minded individuals. We do not have BOB’s, which needs to be a high priority for us. We need to replace clothes and shoes as needed. I will be debt free in a few months.
  • Workplace- I have enough food and water in my workplace to survive for several days. I have one set of spare clothes and shoes, and extra cold weather outerwear. I also have blankets, a pillow, and flashlights with extra batteries. I have a first aid kit with plenty of extra latex and non-latex gloves. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary for me to provide aid to others. My cell phone is always fully charged, but I have a phone charger at work, too. If necessary, I can walk the few miles from work to my home, and on my way home I will get my grandkids from daycare. For the future, I need an emergency radio and extra batteries for my flashlights.

Plans for the future: I have made plans in every area, but I also need to practice scenarios with my family. We need to know what to do when it is TEOTWAWKI. A couple of friends and I have discussed helping each other, if needed. We already share garden produce, home-canned goods, and eggs. We have casually discussed what we could each do to help, based upon our strengths and weaknesses. These are people I can trust, but we need more like-minded people to survive worst-case scenarios. Who do we include? We need to be careful in discussing this. I don’t want all of my work to go down the drain by the wrong people knowing what I’ve done. Loose lips sink ships.

Hmmm. Maybe I am a prepper.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I guess I want to share what I’ve done to help my family. Maybe something will help you. Maybe you’ll discover something you’re doing right or something you forgot to do. I want you to know that it’s okay to live in the present while preparing for the future. I want you to know that you don’t need to live in fear. I want to network with like-minded people. I want feedback from those of you who have been at this far longer than I have and have far more knowledge than I do. I have faith that God will take care of me, but He did give me a brain and He expects me to use it. Thank you for indulging these ramblings of an ordinary woman who discovered that maybe she is a prepper!

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