My Prepping Perspective, by Jenny O.

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Waking up to the sudden realization that my safe, comfortable world as I have always known it to be was not the result of watching any “end of the world” movies or documentaries, or from reading something about it or from a friend convincing me.  I feel it was a gift, a freebie wake-up call from the heavenly powers that be.   I can’t help but think that I am supposed to be a survivor…..at least long enough to keep my children alive and healthy until they are grown and can then survive without my assistance.  My husband on the other hand, has been given no such gift.  He is in denial of anything going askew with the easy way of life he’s always known.  I have tried in vain to convince him of a very dire economic future.  Having information from very reputable sources placed in front of him does no good as he ignores it or explains how it’s all wrong.  I feel though, that on some level he is aware but is afraid to acknowledge the reality of it.  I fully understand that a highly unpredictable future can be too much for some people to stomach – but it’s a future, I feel in my bones is going to be encountered.  Nonetheless, it’s a difficult situation for a marriage to be in whether the one who has awakened is the husband or the wife.  But, I would bet my home-made rain barrels that it’s definitely tougher to be the wife, or female significant other who is the enlightened one.  Men for centuries have usually had the final “say-so” in most situations and our society still predominantly leans that way.  As strong and independent a person as I think I am, I still find it hard to go against my husband’s wishes.  When he comes home from work and sees the box or two of preps that have been delivered and sitting on the kitchen floor, or knows that I’ve made another run to the Thrift Store and scored more wool sweaters and blankets for the girls, I acutely feel pain when he winces or shakes his head in an “I give up!” manner.    Our marriage is still a good one, but because of my prepping it has a few dings, dents and rust spots that I wish were not there.  And let me state it clearly right now, that although my husband is still asleep as far as the reasons for prepping go, he has been one of my best life supporters, and has done more for me than anyone else could.  He has always been there for me when I was going through (and currently am) some of the worst life decisions a person has to make.  For all of those reasons and more, I will forever be loyal to him and will not allow myself to wallow in self-pity for more than a couple of minutes just because he and I are not on the same page about prepping.  My hope in writing this piece is that I can bring to light some areas of prepping that are not often thought about, plus show my empathy and understanding for those preppers who don’t have the support of their significant other.
 
My “awakening” just happened, out of the blue.  One day I was blissfully unaware of any potential economic, political, environmental or other such trouble, just happily skipping through life and the very next day I was aware.  Boom!  Just like that.  My day of “catastrophic awakening” was in early December, 2009.  Now in early 2013, I feel I am far better prepared than most in my middle class neighborhood, but still not where I need to be to feel really good about it.  I am coming to the conclusion that that place of comfort is unattainable.  It’s been quite an adventure, and a process from which I get little rest.  If I’m not actively doing some sort of prepping activity I’m thinking about prepping.  I closely watch the economy to see if I need to hurry my prepping up or can I wait until the credit card flips before using it again.  Though I still very much enjoy life, and participate in non-prepping activities with my friends and family, I can’t help but miss the days of blissful ignorance when I was totally unaware of impending DOOM.    I must continually read, study, buy, make, plan, think, save, and use my  imagination in anticipation of various disastrous scenarios  and prepare for them for all of us…….alone.  My husband’s only contribution is paying for most of it.  He complains frequently and loudly and I ache frequently and strongly.  Buying extra food and all the hundreds of necessary items on a tight budget is a work of art in itself.  I think only a woman can truly understand the logistics of it all.  If it were just he and I, I might not even try to prep.  But I have kids…… and that changes everything.

Another heavenly gift I was given was the desire to never become pregnant.  That didn’t mean I never wanted children, I most certainly did.  I simply never felt the need to have my genetic code replicate itself in the form of human that was half me, and half somebody else.  Even back when I could still get pregnant I felt an inkling of a looming, foreboding future. My environmental courses while attending the college didn’t help me culture a positive attitude about our world.  Why should I bring more people into an already “overly-burdened with humans and their endless problems” planet?  Adoption was the answer for me.  I won’t bring any more people in but I will be more than happy to raise those already here.  So after completing grueling reams of paperwork, background checks, intrusive home studies, and a “wait and hold-your-breath” for acceptance from a certified adoption agency, we were finally off to China to adopt the most precious two baby girls in the world!  I am determined that these two kids will not only survive life, but will have the best chance at the best life that I, and the “heavenly-gifter” (God), is willing, to provide.   I’m sure I share this deep, primitive instinctual drive with many mothers across the globe to protect their offspring even to the point of death.   Fathers, no doubt, are also deeply driven to protect their children, but my experience is from a mother’s perspective.   I’ve read many blogs about the perfect prepping relationship and living situation.  Sometimes when I start reading one of those blogs and realizing it’s another “preppers heaven” situation, I stop reading and look for something else that I can use.  I sometimes find myself having fleeting feelings of jealously mixed with a tad of resentment towards those “blessed” preppers who have it so good.  But in the final analysis, I’m really happy for them and can only imagine what it’s like to have someone to readily discuss world events, prepping needs, scenarios, to practice skills with and to have the same desires and needs concerning getting ready for an eminent catastrophe of some sort.  I don’t have that.  And, I’m probably never going to get that.  But what I have is enough…..I was given the gift of waking up and the means to prepare for the future and that is all I can ask for.  I am very grateful.  We are all exactly where we are supposed to be though I sometimes have to remind myself of that.  I’m here where God wants me to be and here is where I’m staying until God says it’s time to move.

So here’s our family situation.  The four of us are suburbanites living in a two story brick house with an unfinished basement.  And it’s the basement that may be our sanctuary.  It’s dimly lit, cold, cluttered, and just plain dirty but I pretty much enjoy being there.  It’s where I feel my prepping call the strongest, and where I can readily see the fruits of my prepping labor.  I feel a little bit closer to my Higher Power when I’m in the basement.  I receive more spiritual encouragement being there than anyplace else.  And I need that encouragement since I find it nowhere else except on my favorite survival web sites (Survival Blog my most favorite) and other blogs from my fellow internet preppers and friends.    I look around the basement and notice the windows and French doors and see all the work I still have to do to make them as secure as possible from break-ins.  I study various ways of protection but all are more than I can afford.  So, I must think, ponder, mull over and dream about effective ways of providing very inexpensive home security.  I feel that sometimes I’ve been guided to the right places at the right times.  I was at Lowe’s when they were selling “imperfect” lumber at 90% off and loaded my husband’s pick-up truck with it, and unloaded it alone when I got it home.  It took me two trips to get it all.   So now I have plenty of lumber of various lengths and sizes.  I bought four (4), metal zinc 6 and 3/8” bar holder brackets and have bolted them to the wall studs ,two on each side of the French doors and rammed two (2), 2×4’s through them directly across the doors.  I realize that all one needs to do to easily enter the basement via the French doors is to break the one of the many glass panes, slide the board out of the brackets and proceed to kick the door in or bump the dead bolt.  To prevent this I have screwed two (2), 2 and ½” screws deeply into the exposed wall studs next to the end of each 2×4 board.  I can pull outwards on the end of the boards to release them over the heads of the screws to slide them out of the brackets, but I can only do this if I’m already in the basement at the inside of the doors.  I was surprised at how well this worked!  Someone on the outside would have a hard time trying to slide the boards out of the brackets due to the stud screws stopping them.  I know I can’t keep them out, but I sure can slow them down some.   Hopefully long enough for me to grab my shotgun!

All sorts of projects are in the works and a few have been completed.  My rain barrel project was at first very intimidating but I persevered and now have three (3) of the plastic blue 55 gallon water barrels daisy-chained together and collecting off of one downspout.  And they are nicely hidden behind the huge cedar tree I took as a seedling from my grandmother’s yard several years ago.  I had read many different plans by many different people on how to make rain barrels but none of them really made clear sense to me.  So I ended up taking a little from this plan, and a little from that plan and created my own plan along the way.  The jigsaw I bought my husband for his birthday several years ago finally got used to saw the tops off of each barrel.  And I had to make a lot of trips to the hardware store and think and ponder as I stood in the PVC section playing with all the different parts and connections trying to figure out something that would work.  (The guys working at the hardware store got used to seeing me drop by nearly every day and are still interested in all of my various projects.) Then I had to decide on the best hose to use (radiator hose) to connect my barrels together, and solve a dozen or more other small but very important details.  I had some minor leaks of course at first.  After taking the barrels apart and trying rubber vs. metal washers, and with a little swearing they finally held water-tight and have been for water-tight about three years now.  They even survived a couple of hard freezes with thick ice on the top. 

Water is so extremely important.  It’s the most important thing to have, in my opinion, after shelter.  I should build more rain barrels, and I will, but only after some other things are done first.   I must admit that I’m very proud of myself for building these all by myself.  It was kind of a hard chore but a necessary one.  Hubby was surprised I did it but I wasn’t!  When I’m in the basement I also see the many 2 liter water bottles that I’ve spent hours washing and filling up with tap water just in case of a water shortage.  I used some of the lumber I got at Lowe’s to make separate shelves for my canned food and home-bottled water.  I have to keep as much on the cheap as possible so I bought  masonry concrete blocks for a little over one dollar each  and made shelves using some of that lumber.  I’m tall, 5’10”, and the top shelf is at head level.  Canned food and bottled water weigh a lot so these shelves have to be strong.   They are great to see what I have in order to keep them off the floor and to rotate in and out. 

Still, so many other skills needed to be mastered…..it still seems overwhelming at times.   I often find myself thinking back to the days when I was a young girl and staying with my grandmother out in the country.   She was a real country woman who could have taught me a lot of self-survival skills.  I watched her work in her huge garden, then canning the vegetables she grew.  She even made her own soap from wood ash and lard out in the yard.  I just took it all for granted…….but at least I still have the memories.   My grandmother would be proud of me now.  I’ve learned to pressure can, garden, dehydrate veggies and fruit, sew, (build rain barrels!), make soap (but not yet out of wood ash and lard) and am still working my way up the learning curve.  I need to learn how to quilt, make pottery, hunt (dread that but will if I have too), fish for real – not pleasure fishing, and a ton of other skills.  I also think about skills I need to have in case we need to find a new community to live in.  I want to be found useful enough for us to be allowed into a safe situation.  I’m a music teacher by trade, and even have a Reiki II level training in healing.  I’m always trying to improve myself to become more useful by way of skills.    Women are naturally useful in many ways but those who only have training in artificial human-made vocations such as law and economics may be in for an extra hard time if they don’t get practical training in everyday life skills.   Same of course, goes for men.

Though I speak of possible future community acceptance, right now bugging out is not a viable option for us.   Being a woman, I see things perhaps, somewhat differently from most men.  Instead of focusing on BOLs, BOVs, guns, and ammo to a great extent, I prepare for life right here, where we are in our suburban neighborhood.  All of our lives are here, everyone we know and love is nearby.  To “bugout” is not realistic for us, at least at this point in time, so I am preparing for life right here.   I’ve read many pros and cons about bugging out, and feel leaving would definitely not be in our best interest.  If we had a place to go to maybe we would bug out.  But for us to hit the road when all hell breaks loose with nowhere to go would do us no particular good.  My plan is, as a woman who is doing this without any input or advice from her husband, is to stay put for as long as we can.  Danger lurks greater out there for women and children than for men.  I think about situations that probably few men think about.  Most of them probably aren’t overly worried about getting raped, though it may cross their minds concerning the women in their family.  I especially fear something bad happening to my girls such as getting raped, or murdered or both.  Women have deep fears rarely expressed, even to each other.   By far most of our fears relate to our children’s welfare and all the dangers involved.  And all of these fears can happen right at home too.  I feel my ability to protect is far superior from behind walls with a loaded shotgun than walking out in the open with my kids at my side and all I can carry on my back.  Such exposure I cannot tolerate.  Also, I have to have faith in something greater than myself that we will be alright.  If I do the footwork (prepping) I can leave the results of my prepping to God.  I didn’t wake up suddenly with a desire to prep for no good reason.  Nor did anyone else who is preparing for disaster whether it be small, great, or somewhere in between.  Those of us who have awoken have done so for reasons that may exist far beyond our immediate ability to grasp them.  Who knows what the Universe has in store for us, but hopefully very wonderful things!  If preppers are fortunate to be living with others of like mind, then their jobs are much easier and much more enjoyable. However, not all of us live in such a good situation and have to carefully balance prepping duties and marriage duties ever so carefully.  Some of us face outright hostility, and others, like me, endure mostly silent scorn.  And this hostility, whether overt or covert, can cause some irrational feelings to be felt.  On rare occasion, I have found myself actually wishing the economy would suddenly crash, or that a CME would race towards earth causing destruction of our electrical grid, or even a pandemic to occur just to prove to my husband that I was right!   But that kind of thinking is crazy, and I know it’s just my ego.  At least I realize it when it happens and can see it for what it’s worth.  I’m only human……we’re all only human and so I don’t berate myself about having such thoughts.  I guess if God, or whatever our personal Higher Power is, wanted everyone to have help from our spouses or significant others, then we all would have their help.   This is definitely my solo learning journey. 

Prepping is now a way of life for me.  It’s something that I have come to enjoy for the most part, despite having to do a lot of it in secret.  It’s futile to discuss world economic or political situations, or anything that might lead to reasons why I prep.   He and I just aren’t on the same page and attempts to discuss differing points of view always lead to bad feelings in the both of us.  Also, I can’t share even little things like my great news about all the wonderful clothes I bought for next to nothing at my favorite thrift store, in larger and larger sizes for the girls as they grow. Or about the nearly brand new Timberland boots I scored for only 4 dollars at Goodwill!  I bring home my items in secret and store them away in secret without telling anyone.  I check all my favorite web sites everyday for bargains on the things I feel are necessary.  The headlamps, two for the price of one, the large spools of dirt cheap sewing thread, the solar battery chargers and rechargeable batteries, the manual floor sweepers, the survival books, the oil lamps, ceramic water filters, the heirloom vegetable seeds and more – all ordered off the internet in secret.  The other items such as soap, OTC medicines, antibiotics, toothpaste, toothbrushes, boxes of salt, lamp oil, wicks, propane tanks, candles galore, ammo, slingshots and replacement bands, bicycle tires and tubes, toilet paper, tools, etc…. are all secretly stashed away in the bowels of the basement.  Some special items that I have purchased I feel are very important and would like to list them here.  These are spring-loaded rat traps, fly strips, essential oils, flea control, colloidal silver generator, distilled water, canning jar lids, self-clumping kitty litter by the 40 lb. buckets (the empty plastic buckets can be used for other purposes), fire extinguishers, several rolls of 12 ml. window film and tubes of clear latex caulk.  I feel these items are especially important.  Flies and rodents will be a BIG problem if garbage is allowed to accumulate and ugh, I hate to say it, but if dead bodies are inside and outside of houses the flies will be super thick.  Flea outbreaks will also be a bad problem if SHTF and will be carriers of disease.  I want to keep my pets as flea-free as possible for as long as possible so I buy extra of those small tubes of flea control that you squirt on their backs.  Also, in the last month I was able to purchase a rocket stove and thermal cooker which should save a lot on fuel.  I am very concerned about hygiene if the grid goes down and I plan on using the kitty litter in makeshift 5 gallon toilet buckets, if we can’t flush toilets or there is no water.  Having plenty of pre-packaged adult washcloths, gallons of hand sanitizer gel and other cleaning supplies is extremely important.  If you manage to survive the first round of SHTF trials and tribulations, you certainly do not want to succumb to any diseases afterwards due to unsanitary hygiene.  I bought a lot of these items from Sam’s Club and many others I ordered from Amazon.com.

I have placed the window film on all the lower level windows and all the basement windows (finally finished that since I started writing this piece!) and carefully caulked the edges with clear latex caulk to give them added strength for resistance to break-ins.  Security is always first and foremost in my mind.  I even tried out my home-made water purifying system on myself to make sure it worked.  I took some really nasty rainwater out of one of my barrels and ran it through my ceramic filtering system (I leak tested it first), then added a little bleach, stirred and let it sit for a while.  I poured myself a tall glassful of the filtered water and chug-a-lugged it down.  I got sort of scared for a moment, but the deed had been done and now I just had to wait and see if I got sick or not.  I am happy to report that I did not have any problems whatsoever!
Another thing I have done to try and protect my two girls is to buy larger sized boys clothing at the thrift stores.  I have even gone so far as to buy boys underwear to complete the desired look.  I plan on turning my girls into “boys”….at least temporarily.  If the situation gets bad enough, I will cut their hair short, and dress them as boys.  Boys get sexually attacked too, but not as often as girls.  I will even turn myself temporarily into a man.  I guess my husband will just have to deal with it for a while. (LOL.)  At least he’s aware of that possibility so it won’t come as a total shock should it happen.  If women don’t look like easy targets, then they won’t be as prone to attack.  And temporarily looking like a man is a small price to pay for safety.  At least that’s how I see it.  I also practice with my 12 gauge shot gun.  I don’t get to shoot it as much as I would like, but I try to keep reinforcing muscle memory by using the fake metal shells I bought from the gun store.  Quick loading and racking practice…..over and over. 

As well as acquiring the physical preps to keep us healthy and happy for the duration, I have also been buying rolls of mercury dimes when I could afford too.  I don’t have many, but even with all the careful planning and scenario predicting, I will not think of everything.  I’ll need some way to buy those items I overlooked, if they can still be bought.  Barter is always possible, but I don’t spend any money on items to use for barter.  I know some people do, but I simply can’t spare it and really hope to not have to barter, at least not much.   Luckily I bought a boat load of .22 caliber rounds some months back so if that becomes currency I good to go.

And lest I forget, I want to tell you about some signs I have downloaded from the internet, printed out and laminated for future use, if necessary.   You can easily find, “BEWARE OF DOG”, the Gadsden flag symbol, and various bright orange and black infectious diseases warning labels all free and downloadable from the internet.  Of course you can create your own signs as you see fit.  I have made several “LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT” signs in various sizes and have all these signs nicely laminated and stored in a folder to pull out and attach to the doors and windows as needed.  I even made extra signs for the neighbors to use.  This is another step towards home security to warn and hopefully thwart off anyone who may be having thoughts of annoying me and my family in any way.  Also, having the signs in Spanish might not be a bad idea either.   Get these made now in case there is no electricity later to use your computer and printer.

Since I have been continuously prepping since late 2009, I have accomplished a lot bit by bit over the months and years.  I feel mostly alright about the preps, but I will always worry about security.  I think about what will happen to my neighbors who show no indications of any knowledge of what catastrophe(s) is/are coming down their pike in the near future.  Will they be prepared or will I have to make those hard decisions about sharing my preps and endure all the heart-ache involved in that?  Should I try to approach my neighbors and talk about disaster preparedness and get an idea on where they stand without divulging too much information about my situation?   Opsec is so critical to me.  I want too talk with them very badly and will most likely do so but I must be very careful with my words…..this is an area that will take much prayer and guidance before any discussions with my neighbors occur.  Having neighbors on board however, is a prep item that is better than anything else.  I am dreading the approach, but as calamity gets closer and closer I really must talk with them.  And if they feel nothing is bad is ever going to happen, then at least I will know better how to deal with them later should they come knocking on my door asking for some of my preps.

For women who especially are having a difficult time doing what they know is the right thing to do, while keeping the waters calm at home is in the very least, a challenge for which a gold medal should be awarded.  Ending a relationship that otherwise is very good, is a terrible loss.  In the initial months of my prepping I was concerned that our marriage might end, but after nearly 4 years I suppose we’re still solid.  I know that God put me and my husband together for very good reasons.   I have absolutely no doubt about that.   And my husband was born and raised in the country and knows a lot about hunting, fishing and those skills of which I am at a loss, so he most definitely will be very helpful when the time comes.  He will shine as a protector and warrior, as that will be his heavenly gift from God. 

I hope I have helped someone by writing all of this.  I am forever grateful for all the wisdom and good advice I have been freely given by those who contribute to this site and to the many other sites I have read and enjoyed.  I just wanted to try and give back as best I could.  God bless everyone and thank-you!

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