(Continued from Part 1.)
Now that you have decided on a physical location that provides the best probability of survival for you and your family, let’s look at the next stage.
- Do you plant a garden each year? If not, why not?
- When you plant your garden each year, where does your seed come from?
- If you are ordering seed each year from a catalog or internet or purchasing seed at a local store, how are you going to plant your garden when that is not available?
- If you are raising hybrid or GMO varieties, how will you save seed for the next season since these vegetable types will not breed true?
- If you use a tractor or tiller, where will you obtain fuel to run the equipment?
- How do you water/irrigate your garden?
- Where does this water come from and will it still be available during TEOTWAWKI?
- How will you fertilize and with what?
- How will you preserve and store what you harvest?
- What will you do if a third party comes to confiscate your harvest?
Personally, I purchase and grow only open pollinated varieties from which I can save seed. This also decreases the amount of money I need each year to plant the garden. And this past winter, I had fresh tomatoes for salads through December in my greenhouse. The savings I put into purchasing orchard and vineyard plants. I use raised beds and no till gardening with drip line for irrigation from the well run by solar. No fossil fuels needed and maximum water conservation.
Grains will be an issue for most after the first year. If you have a year’s supply of wheat then if society is not back together what will you do when that runs out. Having seed to grow wheat and other grains is a start. However, grains are extremely labor intensive without power equipment. Anthropologists estimate a stable community of approximately forty people in order to have enough labor to plant, grow and harvest the grain necessary to keep them fed.
Once you have planned to provide for vegetables and hopefully, fruit, then there must be provision for protein/meat.
- Can you set a snare?
- Can you trap?
- Do you have supplies to set snares and traps?
- If you do not have livestock, why not?
- What are the rules/regulations/zoning regarding livestock at your location?
- If you intend to hunt and live off wild meat, how long do you think that will last when everyone in the area is doing the same thing?
- If you are sheltering in place and are prohibited from having livestock, consider having rabbits which can be easily kept in a garage, basement or spare room.
- What about putting up shelters which can be used for shade until TEOTWAWKI and then converted to livestock shelters for the animals acquired through purchase or barter after the SHTF?
- How will you feed the livestock?
- How will you provide water?
- If you are able to grow feed for livestock, how will you harvest or store the feed through the winter?
- How will you protect the livestock from predators, both four legged and two legged?
- Have you ever hunted?
- Have you ever butchered an animal?
- What will you do with the offal, hide, horns, etc.?
- Do you have plenty of beans or other alternative protein sources?
Most areas will be hunted out within 3-4 months or less. If you do not have livestock, consider rabbits, chickens, and hogs as your first purchases. Rabbits, chickens and hogs can be fed with scraps from the garden and kitchen with some hand harvested grass for the rabbits and hogs. Remember that breeding pairs will be necessary in order to have a sustainable meat harvest over several years. When acquiring livestock, look at whether you will be able to breed them locally (within walking distance) if you do not acquire breeding pairs. Also plan for the ability to feed them with forage or grain. It also may be possible, if you do not want to have livestock, to arrange a barter agreement with a neighbor who does have livestock to provide garden stuffs, labor, or security in exchange for meat.
Another critical area to assess is power. If you are connected to the grid, your power supply is toast. If you have a grid-tied solar system you will need to find out which type of grid-tie you have. In grid-tied systems, the power that is generated from your solar system flows out to the grid and then the grid supplies you with power. If you do not have a switch installed to disconnect from the grid and directly supply your home with the power from your solar system, then when the grid goes down, so do you. This is an extra expense for a grid-tied system but well worth it.
For anyone who doubts the inevitability of grid-down in this country, I recommend the book Lights Out by Ted Koppel. This is a well-researched book on the state of the power industry in North America and its vulnerability.
For an independent solar system, ask yourself:
- When is the last time your batteries were replaced?
- How often do you have to replace your batteries? If your batteries normally last five years and the SHTF when your batteries are 4 ½ years old, then what will you do when the batteries die in 6 months?
- What will you do if after TEOTWAWKI the charge controller or inverter malfunctions?
- What if the solar panels or wind turbine are damaged in a storm?
For any power system:
- How much power do you actually NEED?
- Can you pitch the microwave, the automatic coffeemaker, the television, the DVD player, the computer, the video games, the incandescent lights left on throughout the house and the many other superfluous gadgets through your home?
- How much meat is in your freezer and how will you keep it when you no longer have power for the freezer?
- How long will the fuel supply for your generator actually last?
- What will you do when there is no more fuel for the generator?
- What if the generator malfunctions?
- Where will you obtain spare parts?
- How many of the electronics in your home will survive a power surge from an EMP or the malfunctioning of the grid?
- Can you live without your phone?
I know one family that has five (count ‘em – five) freezers of meat. They are preppers. I asked how they would maintain this without the grid. They responded that they have a generator and 500 gallons of fuel for the generator. This generator uses approximately 10 gallons of fuel per day. They can then run the freezers for at most two months. After that, the freezers are useless. I asked if they had jars for pressuring canning the meat and they do not. So after two months, any meat in the freezers that they have not eaten will be wasted without any way to preserve it.
In one instance, I went to a seminar on emergency preparedness put on by a gentleman who retired from a certain government agency in Washington, D.C. Some of the information he presented was quite good, however —- some was unrealistic in my humble opinion. He counseled that for communications we should purchase a software program that turns the computer into a ham radio receiver. Communication implies a two way process. Having only a ham radio receiver that relies on A/C power and very sensitive electronics is not communication, it is only eavesdropping. Additionally, this relies on the computer not being destroyed by an EMP and a reliable power supply to operate the computer.
I am looking at ham radio sets that run on DC power and both send and receive. In the meantime, I have acquired a set of Baofeng 5VR radios and am learning to use them and studying for my ham radio license.
He also recommended being sure to have a DVD player and various other electronic devices for entertainment. Truthfully, when the SHTF and survival is utmost, there will be little time for entertainment when the priority is producing, harvesting, and storing food, keeping watch for security purposes and defending the homestead, and taking care of those who are ill or injured. Nor will there be much interest in using VERY PRECIOUS POWER for entertainment. The gentleman doing this presentation also talked about having the physical ability to function while being at least 150 pounds overweight. (Hypocrite!)
He did inspire me in one aspect of my preparedness, however. At the time I saw his presentation, I was also overweight and not as physically fit as I should have been. So I began a program to lose weight and become more physically fit. I am now much more physically ready than I was then.
Personally, I live without electricity for now. I am installing a combination solar/wind system this summer for refrigeration and fans for my rabbits. The area where I live gets over 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the afternoons for 2-3 months and without cooling the rabbits do not breed successfully. But secondary purposes such as entertainment are not being considered as part of this system. Of course, since I grew up without television, I really do not see the necessity for this invasion into the peace of my home. If there is something that I really want to see I can usually watch it on Netflix or Youtube on my phone or tablet.
Transportation is a very vulnerable area when TEOTWAWKI occurs. Over ninety percent of the vehicles on the road may be vulnerable to an EMP (whether as a result of a solar flare or an atmospheric burst or law enforcement/military EMP guns). Only those vehicles with no electronics or hardened against an EMP may still be functional. And they are dependent on fuel supplies that are dependent on the grid. In the event that there is no EMP, consider that the supply chain for most parts includes shipping from overseas. Even many tires are manufactured overseas. So, I have to ask:
- When is the last time your vehicle had a complete overhaul?
- Can you change the oil yourself?
- Can you change a tire?
- Can you do basic maintenance?
- Do you have the parts and supplies to change the oil and do basic maintenance?
- What condition are your brakes in?
- Will your vehicle still operate if the computer malfunctions?
- Do you have a plug kit for the tires and a small compressor?
- Do you keep a basic tool kit in the vehicle?
- Do you check the fluids regularly? Do you know how?
- Do you have fuel stored?
- Do you rotate the fuel to keep it fresh?
- How long will the fuel that you have on hand last?
- If you own or drive a hybrid, how long will the delicate electronics that keep it running last?
- Do you have spare tires and the ability to replace a tire on the rim?
- How old is your battery?
I have a truck that unfortunately has a great deal of electronics in it (a 2000). I am looking for a pre-1973 four wheel drive that I can rehabilitate and have on hand if my current truck becomes disabled. I also purchase spare parts from RockAuto to have on hand in case of necessary repairs. In part, because when you live an hour and a half from a parts store it is not just a quick run to town for a starter, windshield wiper, oil filter or whatever may be needed.
Remember, that people on this planet functioned for thousands of years without cars and trucks. Alternate forms of transportation to consider include bicycles, horses, mules, and your own two feet. These methods of transportation are slower but still effective.
- Do you own a bicycle for each member of the family?
- Do you have spare tires/tubes/repair kits?
- Do the bicycles have cargo racks?
- Do you have a tool kit for the bicycles?
- Did you know that they can be ridden on just the rims (no rubber tires necessary)?
- When is the last time you rode your bicycle?
- Are you physically fit enough to ride your bicycle for six to eight hours a day?
- Do you own riding stock (horses, mules, donkeys)?
- Do you have saddles for each one?
- Do you know how to ride?
- Do you have saddle stock for each teenager and adult?
- Can you rig a pack saddle?
- Are any of the stock trained to harness?
- Do you have a harness? A wagon or buggy?
- Can you drive a horse in harness?
- How far can you walk in a day? With an 80 pound pack?
- Do you own comfortable, broken in walking shoes or boots?
- How will you replace your shoes when they wear out?
- How far can you walk in a day when it is raining/snowing/muddy/snowdrifts on the ground?
- Do you have clothing suitable for long distance hiking in summer/winter?
- Do you have a quality walking staff?
I have a mountain bike with a cargo rack and a horse and saddle. He is older but has a comfortable gait and is an easy keeper. I walk frequently to stay physically fit. I have walked with a small (20 pound) pack the six miles out to the county road so I know that I can do it if needed. I hope to acquire a small wagon or buggy this coming year with a harness and begin accustoming my horse to the harness. With a small wagon or buggy I will have an alternate way to carry cargo (e.g., take produce out to the main road to market).
(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 3.)