(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)
I found it quite helpful to have books at home that cover raising, dispatching (killing), and processing livestock. The internet is useful but nothing beats a written guide when the internet is unavailable.
Lessons learned from having livestock:
- Remember the reason for raising the livestock. They are not pets; they are food for the family. The first cute calves we brought home were named Lunch and Dinner, which served as a reminder to all that these bottle fed babies would someday be on our supper plates.
- Animals get sick and die. Be prepared both emotionally and physically to deal with this.
- There’s no such thing as a “free” animal. They will all need to eat and need medical attention- both of which cost money!
Organizing it all
I try to simplify things in order to remember so when it comes to prepping I try to divide supplies into 7 different categories. Yes, many say that this is an over-simplification, but it works for me. Below are the 7 categories I use.
These categories can be subdivided as needed, but they were a good place to start for me.
As I began filling in these categories, I would see voids- areas that were greatly lacking. Some of these voids were higher dollar items such as generators or hand pumps for the well. Rather than go into debt purchasing these items (remember our low debt tolerance?) we would save up for them.
After much research we recently purchased a solar generator that can also run off of a wind turbine. This $1,500 purchase will help many areas but mainly keep our freezers and refrigerator going in a grid-down situation.
Also when prepping for our family, we have to prep for our animals (both livestock and pets) in the way of feed and medicine.
I have found that filling in the voids can be a fun adventure by attending auctions. We recommend using auctionzip.com to find possible used items of value. Some of my cheapest buys from an auction have been the following items:
- Over 100 candles for under $10
- Kitchen hand tools (non-electric kind)
- Used water troughs for $20 each
- Pressure cooker for $5
And many other useful items!
I have also purchased items for the farm from Craigslist but we are always cautious when meeting with sellers. Many of the items we buy are for sale on someone else’s farm, which means meeting them in a public place is difficult. Who wants a farmer to bring his chickens into the police station safe room for a potential buyer who may or may not show up? So when possible, we travel in pairs to their farms and always have some form of self defense on our person.
Remember how I mentioned that it is best to start out small? I began with just a few tubs in the laundry area. As room and funds became available, I changed a spare bedroom on the lower level into the pantry. This holds almost a year’s supply of food and paper products. Also in this area are the medical supplies, toiletries, and OTC medicines.
Although most of the food is home canned and in jars on metal shelving, I do have some supplies in food grade 5 gallon buckets whose contents are sealed in mylar bags with O2 absorbers.
Inventory is Crucial
The contents of this room are inventoried and kept on both the family computer and on printed sheets in the room. My husband brought me home some of the plastic covers- the kind that your mechanic places your work order in. I place the printed sheets in these holders and have zip-tied them to each shelving unit. A pen is handy to change the inventory numbers as items are added to and/or removed from this room!
Lessons Learned from Pantry Inventory
- Inventory is easier if you do it as you set up the area you plan on using as a pantry.
- Maintain it as you add and remove items
- FIFO (First In, First Out) is important. Set up your pantry so you can accomplish this.
- Take pictures and print of lists for insurance purposes, just in case the home is damaged by fire. Keep this list with your important documents in a fire safe.
A Word on Medical
If you remember, I said earlier that my prepping strength was in food and medical. So here are a few comments about medical prepping.
- Don’t wait until you run out of prescription medicine to renew. Yes, I realize that insurance makes it difficult to stockpile more than a few extra day’s worth, but still, DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST DAY!
- Due to the probability of high costs, buy medical and first aid supplies a little at a time.
- Discount stores such a Family Dollar, Aldi’s, Dollar Store, etc. are good resources for OTC medicines.
- Items such a fluid replacements (ie. Pedialyte) can be life savers. And they come in packets of powder.
- Having resource books on hand can also save lives. Two books, “Where there is No Doctor” by David Werner and “Where there is No Dentist “ by Murray Dickson are worth every penny. Both books are also available for PDF downloads!
Communication is Crucial
Having been through multiple emergencies from a responder’s side, I know that communication (or the lack thereof) is always a problem. To improve our odds of overcoming this problem (or at least improving it), I became certified as an amateur radio operator (ham). Our likeminded neighbor who lives on our farm is also a ham. Earlier this year our family purchased an eight pack of Baofeng radios that will also help during with communications. These specific radios can be used as walkie talkies and as amateur radios.
It can be a difficult balance between spreading the news to our friends and family about prepping, and maintaining operational security (OPSEC). We want people to wake up and start preparing for the unstable and uncertain future that lies ahead. But we don’t want everyone to come knocking on our door when bad times come knocking at theirs. To handle this, I start the prepping conversation by stating the need to be prepared for the most common disaster we experience in this area: power outages. I generally cite common past disasters and then follow up with basic tips on how to start preparing for the next power outage.
And remember that neighbor who lives on the farm in my parents’ home? His strong suit is security- all aspects of security. This includes but not limited to firearms, knives, and night vision goggles.
I have read that no property is totally secure, but the property owner’s goal is to make theirs appear more secure than the next property. This was one of the reasons we decided to put up a woven wire fence across the 500+ feet of road frontage. The second reason is to deter the occasional loose livestock from escaping to the neighbor’s farm. The only openings are at the driveways.
Community Plays a Part
Our faith in Jesus Christ is very important to us and our daily lives. Because of this we are part of a small Christian community. Although many know that I teach disaster preparedness, only a few outside of our immediate family know the extent of our pantry. Something that our prepping has made possible for us is being able to help others during their times of need. We also enjoy opportunities to share with others their need to be prepared- even if it’s only having 3 days worth of food and water on hand-as suggested by FEMA.
Family on the Same Page
I am able to prep to this extent only because I have the support of my family. They have realized the value of having extra supplies on hand, regardless of the reason it is needed. As possible, I include immediate family members in the organization and inventory activities of the pantry. We have made sure that everyone in our immediate family has “get home” bags that are kept up-to-date.
Thankfully not everyone in our family preps the same way. For example, our son is proficient in firearms and rather than duplicate that skill, my husband has taken up archery. I have books on livestock; my husband is reading a book called “Backyard Foraging” by Ellen Zachos.
Diversity is a good thing. If all we had in our food supplies were rice and beans, we would survive. But with a variety of foods and skills and knowledge, we hope to thrive.
What we have learned – a general list
- Start small – just start!
- Try planting herbs in the window sill as a beginner’s garden
- Pick one (of the 7 broad) categories a week and work on that
- Don’t wait until the _______ (fill in the blank with your least favorite, but most common disaster) happens and you need to make a Wal-Mart run
- Voids- Think outside the box when you have a need that can’t be filled at this time.Find like-minded people without blowing your OPSEC – a whole other topic!
- Learn/Read/Research- some of the best resources I have found are James Wesley, Rawles, Joel Salatin, and Justin Rhodes (IMHO)
- Lots of opinions, lots of resources- find what works for you
- Try your tools prior to needing them in a disaster
We know that our solar generator will run our freezer where we keep the majority of our meat.
- No animal is free (in the long term)
- Do your research before making the purchase
- Think before you throw- (Nothing goes to waste) – another writing, another time!
- Print out how-to articles so that you don’t rely on web access
Where We Are Today
We are actively adding new skills to our resources. This past summer we recently took a free training session in how to start a fire with just flint and some shavings. To prove we could do this, we cooked hotdogs on our blazing inferno! This was fun and educational, as well as learning a skill that be life saving.
Decreasing our debt is also a priority for us. Without the burden of a house payment we will be able to 1) help those in need now and 2) increase our prepping. We want to use our resources to bless others today and our family later when basic items become scarce in the world. We have invested just a bit in precious metals (besides lead), and we hope to get more silver as our debt goes down.
We are far from where we began, and far from where we want to be, but we are on our way. This is a life long journey, and although it may not be the easiest path, we truly are enjoying the trip. Thanks for walking with us.