I try to have a long view, one that is both near and far in perspective. Whenever significant events occur, I do a quick review of my potential events risk analysis to see if anything’s changed that might impact how I’m prepared. For example, when North Korea started acting up, I realized that I needed to do some additional preparations to handle potential nuclear and EMP events. At the start of every year I also do a deep-dive review to see if there’s anything I might need to re-consider or adjust.
A Question During This Year’s Review
During this year’s review I thought of a question that I really didn’t have good answer to: How long am I really prepared to survive for? I have about a year’s worth of food stored. Every year I have a decent-sized garden that I harvest and can for the winter, and I also harvest the seeds for next year’s garden. I can fish and hunt year-round, so I have pretty steady access to meat. I have several waterproof bins worth of medical supplies, and my house can be heated with wood alone, if necessary.
There ared several hundred gallons of water stored inside, and several high-capacity water filters. (I live next to a lake and near a river.) But I also realized that many of these preparations aren’t sustainable in terms of multiple years, and many depended on having the right tools, supplies, and skills available and in working order to make them viable in the long term.
One question you need to ask yourself when preparing is, how long should I plan on the need to be completely self-sufficient? If you’re only worried about events like earthquakes or blizzards, you may only need to be able to take care of yourself and your family for a few weeks or maybe months. However, if you’re concerned about events with a long-term impact, where society may not reassert itself for years or even decades, you may want to consider expanding your preparations. For the purpose of this discussion I consider long-term planning to be anything beyond two years after a society-ending event.
One of the hardest changes for most people will be shifting from a “throw-away” attitude to a “repair everything” one. Since you won’t be able run down to the store or log onto Amazon to buy replacements for things that break, you’ll need to start developing repair skills.
Inventory Things You’ll Need
Start by taking an inventory of the things you’ll need use on an extended basis. These might include knives, saws, shovels, hammers, farming tools, solar systems, et cetera. Now think about all of the ways they can fail and how you could go about fixing them several years down the road when there are no stores available. Keep in mind what may not store well long term. These things might include welding gas, liquid glue, duct tape, et cetera. Here are a couple of ideas for items you may want to stock to help with repairs:
- Haywire clamper and wire – This allows you to create tight and strong repairs using wire.
- Powdered glue – If you store this in an airtight container, it will remain effective for years. You should also become familiar with making and using natural glues, like hide glue and pine-pitch glue.
- Nails, screws, nuts, and bolts – The purpose of these is kind of obvious.
- WD-40 – This stuff lasts forever and has thousands of uses.
- Hot glue sticks – You can melt these with any heat source and use them for repairs, and they’ll last a long time if stored in an airtight container.
- Files – Useful for hundreds of different repairs.
- Sharpening stones/pucks – These can be used to repair any edged tool.
- Self-fusing silicone repair tape– The manufacturers’ claim this stuff will store for decades and still be effective.
- Sewing supplies – This is handy because clothes tear.
- Solder – Yes, you can solder without a soldering iron.
- Manual tools – Your battery-operated drill and gas chainsaw are nice, but for long-term repairing you’ll need the tools and skills that your ancestors utilized for hundreds of years that only required muscle and skill.
Some Recommended Manual Tools
Here are some items I’d recommend acquiring and practicing with:
- Brace and bitwith a good selection of drill bits
- Various types of hand saws
- Hand planers
- Carving knives
- Treadle lathe
Skills To Do Repairs
Having the skills to do repairs is just as important as having the tools and supplies. You should start practicing a “repair everything” lifestyle right now. Not only will it save you a lot of money, you’ll have the skills you need to sustain yourself and your family long term.
One of your biggest long-term concerns will need to be food. If you aren’t currently completely self-sufficient in terms of food production, you probably won’t be able to become so after a major long-term disaster. The rule of thumb is that it takes anywhere from ½ to 1 acre of land to grow enough food to feed a single person per year, and that doesn’t include meat sources like chickens, rabbit, or cows. You also need the capability to preserve food for consumption outside of the harvest seasons (e.g. canning, smoking, et cetera.)
Even if you do currently grow and preserve a lot of your own food, you should take an inventory of what you need to continue to support that process on a long-term basis. Do you harvest and save your own seeds? What tools do you need for farming? Do you use commercial insecticides? Do you depend on commercial fertilizer, or can you feed a one acre farm using just compost?
Practice Maintaining a Farm Now
Maintaining a one acre farm long term is very different than growing a small backyard garden, and if you try to accomplish the transition after a major SHTF event you’ll be well behind the curve. You should consider starting the process now. Below are some considerations in this process:
- Assuming you have the land, begin expanding your food production until you can support your family and have a surplus.
- Practice using easily produced and repairable manual tools to do as much of the labor as possible. You don’t need to completely replace your labor-saving gas and electric tools, but you should be prepared to continue farming if they aren’t available.
- Wean yourself off of commercial chemical products. Start using composting; natural, easily-available, and easily-stored insecticides; and methods like companion planting.
- Practice food preservation. Can the foods you grow, with the goal being to minimize the amount of food you have to buy at the store. Make sure you have plenty of spare canning supplies, since glass jars do break occasionally.
- Harvest your own seeds. Your goal should be the ability to plant next year’s crops without having to buy any new seeds.
- In order to extend your growing season, consider setting up a greenhouse. Make sure you have enough repair and replacement materials to sustain it in the long term.
- Learn how to forage to supplement your farming. While it’s probably not practical as a large-scale, long-term food source by itself, a good dandelion salad or a handful of fresh raspberries can add some much-needed variety to your diet.
The same concepts apply to farming animals. If you’re not currently doing it, even on a smaller scale, it’ll be extremely difficult to start after a disaster. Even if you’re currently raising chickens or rabbits, are you prepared to continue to do so on a long-term basis without any outside support? Can you diagnose and treat injuries and diseases? If you want to make yourself more self-sufficient, I recommend taking an animal husbandry class or two. ACS out of Australia offers a good online animal husbandry certificate course. Depending on your situation and location, you may also want to consider fish farming. It adds another dimension to your long-term food supply, and it’s not very labor intensive.
Tomorrow, we will continue with this section on food and move into water, weapons, and more.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 74 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,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- 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 Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 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 74 ends on January 31st, 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.