Preparedness and Divorce, by Dan in Montana

“We” had been prepping since Y2K, reading, watching, canning, storing, organizing, teaching and moving to the North West Montana mountains. A Monday morning knock at the door three months ago changed everything.  At the door was a court appointed clerk serving me divorce papers. The crash I felt was not the economy or a gale force wind blowing down my house.  My entire world had just collapsed around me. For me the TEOTWAWKI just occurred.

It took hours to orientate myself, stop my head from spinning, re-read the court papers and try to accept what had happened. My wife of seventeen years and my two daughters were walking out of my life. The anguish was immeasurable.  I watched them drive away and couldn’t stop my stomach’s upheaval.

If you are married or getting married please do not make the mistakes I made.  Don’t’ let the sun set on your anger.  Work out the issues when they first arise. Don’t forget that your marriage is a full time job.  It has to be cared for and tended to.  Like a garden, it has day to day necessities, left unattended; weeds will grow quickly and choke out the fruit. Today, I am reduced to a statistic as a Christian divorce.  The numbers are no different from non-Christian divorces. My witness has suffered and my church attendance is in a slump but my Bible readings and prayer times have hit new highs.  

All the prepping I had done up to this point was for my family.  I bought and stored feminine products, shampoos, hair conditioner and brushes along with all the beans, band aids and bullets.  I saved so that my family would be better off.  The twenty acre retreat we had moved into years ago now means so little. All the sweat, money and time building a garage, chicken coop, tool shop and garden; raising goats, horses and chickens now is questioned. What value is any of it without my family? 

Even with all the uncertainty I continue prepping.  It is who I am and what I do.  The habits engrained in my being have not changed. It is my comfort zone of sorts. Prepping is more urgent than ever before but I hesitate about what and how to prepare. I may have to sell the retreat and re-locate without my family. Maybe I can stay, maybe they will come back? Do I dare even hope?

Crazy as it is, this situation has stripped down and streamlined my prepping priorities. Once my stomach settled down and my head stopped spinning, I was able to re-focus. The surplus supplies stored in the garage and tool shed were first. Neither of us wanted any of these items.  I cleaned and packed those treasures and dropped them off at our local auction.  I sold my extra “barter” items: truck tires, outdoor lights, buckets, garden and hand tools. The frivolous possessions: golf clubs, ice skates, sports card and comic book collections sold for several hundred dollars. I split the money and deposited funds in a checking account for my soon to be ex-wife to access.  I saved my half of the funds as cash.  I am trying to save every way possible. 

Next on my list, (yes, I have an updated list), I attacked the closets.  I separated summer and winter outfits, paired up boots, gloves and beach slippers.  I organized them in; give away, not sure and save boxes. I  delivered the give-aways to the Goodwill store as donations. I have the “not sure” boxes ready for my wife and kid’s evaluation. The save items are labeled, dated and sealed. The concept of carrying and moving every item in the house helps the prioritizing process along nicely. 

The uncertainty of staying or moving has inspired me.  If I do have to sell the home, I’d like to get top dollar so on ward I went with my “to do list.”  I sanded and painted the discolored mud room door and placed new dead bolt locks and weather seals on all the doors.  Since no one is home most days, I have placed locks on the root cellar; tool shed, garage and generator shed.  I constructed a 12 ft metal gate at the entrance of my driveway with large boulders on each side for security. Two of the rooms now have new paint and one bathroom has new tile. Projects I’ve wanted to complete are now being finished.

My wife has returned on several occasions when I was not home and removed quite a few possessions.  Along with her clothes and personal items missing were most of my guns and cash. I trained her well; she took my Marlin .45-70, S&W .44 magnum along with several rifles and shotguns. I was left with only my Glock Model 30 that I carry with me and a Ruger 10-22. I felt vulnerable.

Using the cash from the sale of the barter and frivolous items, I purchased a semi auto shotgun, loaded it with slugs and OO.  Several of the articles read from SurvivalBlog recommend if you have limited funds or are just starting to prep a shotgun would be a purchase to consider. I have used quite a bit of the information from JWR’s site. (Thanks).
My fire wood trunk finally expired after over a decade of reliable service. My friend had a 1984 Ford, diesel 250 ¾-ton pick up he was using to spray his farm fields.  He sold it to me for a very reasonable price.  I used my remaining silver coins and cash I had from selling the extra items.

After the first month I started to feel depressed, especially when I arrived home.  Working two jobs, I leave at 6:45 AM and return exhausted, after nine PM to a dark, cold, empty home.  To help me fight the gloom I purchased timers for several lights.  They are scheduled for various on times. I made certain to have one tick on before nine  PM.  Amazing what a little light can do for the Spirit.

The weather is quickly changing and becoming quite cold.  I have my wood burner running open and hot when I’m home.  It’s marvelous what a glowing bed of red hot coals does for a log home’s setting. I use my best firewood when I leave, stuffing the wood burner full.  My log home retains the heat all day.  When I now arrive, the home is light and toasty warm. 

I have not purchased any groceries since my personal SHTF event.  I am presently cooking and eating my stores of canned foods and frozen provisions. I was surprised by the number of undetected canned foods that had expired under my watch.  Some of the freezer items were ice covered and freezer burned.   Items that are safe for consumption are being cooked and consumed daily.  The others feed my animals.  The freezer is on my list and soon will be defrosted and re-organized into sections with dates.

Cleaning out my freezer, I made venison stew nightly.  First thing in the morning I placed the frozen meat in the bottom of Granny’s crock pot, added cans of expired corn, beans and peas, set the temperature and blasted off for work.  I easily cooked up enough for several days.

I found several of the canned soup and pasta dishes quite flavorful, quick to prepare and easy to clean up. They have elevated their rankings on my inventory. There are also several that now won’t make my list. 

Returning home, I am now welcomed by a rich aroma that fills a well lit, warm log home.  Even with the inviting fragrance and notable taste, repeating the same stew night after night does become monotonous. A variety of spices and a wild game cookbook are essential and now on my list.

There can never be a substitute for my girls.  I pray after some of the wounds have healed, they will want to spend more time with me. In the mean time I elected to adopt a new youngster.  I picked out a year old black Labrador Retriever from the dog pound.  Kimber is great company and a reliable deterrent for unwanted strangers.  As an added bonus she has a fifteen hour bladder! So in my own peculiar way I found solutions to deal with a cold, dark and lonely home. 

Not having my daughters at home with me is excruciating.  I have pictures of them in every room.  I have cleaned their bathroom, closets and drawers.  The emotional cost of this loss is almost unbearable. I don’t know where they are staying.  I miss and love them so very much.  Divorce is horrible.

Attorneys on both sides are making quite a profit from my mistakes.  As the process continues they are the ones who benefit.  My stored silver and emergency funds have been cashed in to pay the attorney’s fees.  Any spare time I had is now used to gather statistics from my IRA, home insurance policy, pay stubs and tax statements then promptly forward them to the paralegal.  My stores of food and fuel are depleting quickly. I wish I had a “do over.”

Lessons learned:
Work at your marriage
Spend any minute you can with your family
Today with your family is more important than tomorrow without them.
Use what you are storing and planning to draw on when the SHTF
Clean out your garage, storage shed and closets, you have too much
Buy and store more spices
Check expiration dates
Defrost your freezer
Start and finish one of your “To Do” list jobs

God’s grace is never ending, in an answer to prayers, my daughter just texted me asking if we can go to lunch on Saturday. That appointment is BOLD, and number one on my list.

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