Many preppers think if they merely store food then they are done–that they have saved their family. And that might be true if they experience a natural disaster in their area which does not allow shopping for a week or so. They have their stored food and just use that during the emergency. Later–if they remember they buy replacements for the food they used–they made their family much more comfortable during that emergency by having that stored food. Plus one for the prepper family. But what about a long term nationwide disaster? What if it is a total economic collapse, or something similarly widespread and enduring? What if it is like Venezuela, which is lasting ten years? Will the prepper family’s stored food save them then? Certainly it will; until it is gone. Stored food is great to have because storing food gives a prepper something he cannot store, time. By that I mean time to produce his own food. Time to find food sources. And obviously no one can store time.
So by all means do store food. And in a short length emergency situation you will be very glad you have that food. Actually, during any length emergency you will be happy to have stored food. The trouble with stored food is that it runs out. If you store a month’s worth of food then it’s gone in a month. If you have a year’s worth then after a year it is gone. So when you store food you are really storing time. So, yes, store food but also have a plan.
A Plan for Restocking
Have a plan to restock your stored food. Have a plan to augment your stored food while you are consuming it. But how to do that if the stores are closed?
That is where your plan comes into play. If you have chickens then you will augment your food storage with a continuing supply of eggs. If you have a cow you will have a steady supply of milk to stretch your food. You could go to the river or lake and catch fish to bolster your food stocks. You could walk the area and forage for wild food to add fresh greens to your meals. You could go hunting to add fresh meat which would stretch your stored food supplies.
Those things are great and would all help to some extent with your limited stored food supply. But they would only be a supplement and at some point your stored food would still run out. Maybe your one year supply of food could be stretched out to even two years. So you have gained that incredibly rare commodity; more time.
Obviously instead of just augmenting your stored food you must have a way to generate more food that you can then store so you have a perpetual food supply. Well, that sounds great and all but is that even possible?
The answer is yes and no. If you live in an apartment the answer is no. If you live on a couple acres of land in the country and have a good water source and some able-bodied people then maybe the answer is yes, you can sufficiently produce your own food. The first obvious thing is a garden. A big garden. But that is not enough unless you have the ability to preserve the excess food that your garden will hopefully produce. This means you would need some way to dehydrate the garden produce or the means to pressure can your excess garden produce. Please note that I said the excess garden produce. Why? Because you and your family will be also eating out of that garden, while it is producing. This means you have to plant a garden big enough to produce perhaps five times or more as much as your family regularly eats.
Some Ground Truth
Here is a guiding principle: If your garden produces for two months and produces five times what you can eat during that time then you have all that much excess to save and eat later when your garden is done for the season. So have a big garden and a dehydrator, and a pressure canner with plenty of the canning jars and more lids than you ever think you will use. And do at least a small garden now so that you learn how to grow things when your life does not depend on it. Is that garden going to supply all your family’s needs for a whole year until the next garden is producing? No, it won’t. You need more.
But you have those chickens so you will be fine. Likely not. At some point those chickens will want a break from all that egg laying. A fox will eat a couple of your chickens and you will have less. The chicken feed you bought is now all used up and it’s gone. You did plan for that, right?
You had a couple roosters and you let a few batches of the eggs hatch so you had little chicks running around. Most of those chicks didn’t make it but some did so you have more chickens now than when you started. Because you have excess chickens once in awhile you have chicken for supper.
Besides planting a big garden you planted millet and corn and other grains that you harvested and now you have that stored to feed your chickens during this coming winter. Some of those new seeds you set aside for planting next year.
The chicken you eat once and awhile is great because you have a family of meat eaters. How to increase your meat supply? Yes you go fishing once in awhile but you don’t always get fish and the lazy day fishing while it is a good break from all the homestead chores seems counterproductive because for a full day’s work you only get about three pounds of fish meat. You need a better way.
Learn how to build or just buy a couple of fish traps. Do that now. Learn what a trot line is and have the required equipment ready now for if you need it later. Using just those two tools you change your fishing days. With these tools you just go and get your fish then come home again. Much less time spent.
Foraging is another option. Often foraging is only a break-even pastime at best. By that I mean you use just as many or more calories gathering as you get from the foraged greens and berries. But you can do better. Start foraging now. Get familiar with all the native plants in your area now. Learn where each plant grows, now. Then you will know exactly where to go and forage later. Remember when foraging you only take some and not all of the plants. Leave some to reproduce so there will be more there later.
Learning where to go to get forage plants will save a whole lot of time but still might not be enough to really be worthwhile. So maybe you just forage plants that you know will give you way more bang-for-the-buck. In this case plants that are packed with calories. So, what plants are they?
It is also time to go nuts for nuts. Nuts are packed with the things you need in those small packages. They can be a key sources of fats in your diet. Walnuts, butternuts, hazel nuts, chestnuts, acorns, beech nuts, hickory nuts, pine nuts, whatever kind you have in your area. Learn now ahead of time where to find the nut producing trees in your area so you do not have to waste calories and valuable time later in searching. Mark the locations on your local map. Oh, you do have detailed maps of your surrounding area don’t you? And not just on your cell phone!
Learn now exactly when the nuts are normally ready for harvesting in your area. Learn which ones are ready first so you know where to first and where to switch to after that spot is done. While you are harvesting the nuts bring your twenty-two rifle and also harvest a couple squirrels for supper at the same time. Squirrels actually taste pretty good but don’t have a lot of meat on them. You’d better shoot at least three! Learn now how to use the nuts now when you have spare time. You do know that those acorns have to be soaked in a couple or three changes of water, right? Pick as many of those nuts as you can, and bring help. Your garden is done now so everyone can harvest nuts. The nuts store well and can be added to many things that you normally eat. Or just eat them as a treat. But do harvest and eat them!
Besides those squirrels that you shot while harvesting all the nuts it is getting time to get real about hunting. You do have plenty of canning jars left over after harvesting everything from your garden right? Well, you can use those jars to can the wild game meat with your pressure canner. Or you can use some of that wild game meat to make jerky. Or instead make Biltong out of the meat. You do know how to make jerky and Biltong, right? Well the time to learn is now when you have plenty of time. Instead of watching Dancing with the Stars research how to make various kinds of dried meat. Once you learn how, then make sure you have what ingredients you need. And try making some of each now, so if you screw up you won’t die of starvation. Um, you did store a whole bunch of salt didn’t you? Salt is incredibly inexpensive now and might be almost impossible to get if there is ever a nationwide emergency. Buy some salt now!
So when the weather cools start hunting. While out foraging you did keep an eye out for game sign, right? Whenever you are away from your homestead you keep alert and you look for anything that might be useful later. Always keep track of what vegetation that you are stepping on in case it is edible so you would know where to find it when the picking season is correct for that particular plant. Some are in the spring, some summer, and for some plants it is in the fall. Learn and be alert. Part of that is watching for game trails. Animals often change locations or habits with changes in the seasons. Learn where they go so you can find them whenever you want to meet up with them.
So you have done all of those things and you are out of some stuff and you have an excess of some stuff. Now would be a good time to visit the neighbors, to barter. You have gotten to know them already, right? You know if they raise hogs so you could likely trade some stuff you have for some lard that they have an excess of at their house. You know that they have milking goats and that they make their own cheese so you could trade for some of their excess cheese. No one will have everything. There has always been trade all around the world, since time began. Maybe you don’t have any excess that you can trade but you have skills that you could trade. Or if you have limited skills, then maybe just trade some hard labor.
You Can Do This
Your family can survive because you planned ahead and you learned many things now while you have spare time and full access to the wealth of knowledge that mankind has amassed through the centuries. And you’ll have that stored food that translates into stored time.