General Eisenhower is quoted as saying, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” We can extrapolate that to preparedness and realize that the planning process is very valuable too.
Strategic Planning for Bug Out Location or Homestead
There are many types of plans and planning. The focus of this article is on strategic planning.
It’s strategic in the sense that a plan is to first identify an end state to the big picture, such as what capabilities we want our bug out location (BOL), retreat, homestead, or just plain home to have. Second, we consider what objective/goals we want to accomplish in the given period the strategic plan covers.
Our Retirement Home Camp
In 2015 we purchased what we thought would be our retirement home. Our plan was to use it as a camp and to fix it up over time until we retired and moved there permanently.
Fast Track the Move to Our Retirement Home
A year after purchasing it I had a life-altering medical condition present itself. The condition is chronic and flares up very unexpectedly. Needless to say, this requires us to re-examine our life and make some changes. One of those changes was to move to our retirement/BOL home much sooner than we expected. We had to “fast track” a few of our projects so that we could facilitate the move.
Start With Planning
We are now about four months away from making our move, and there is much that we want to do with our property. The question was, where to start? The answer was to start with planning.
I took time to think and write down all the things we need to do to get our property where we want it in the next few years. We wanted to produce our own food, be able live off grid, if we needed to, and have the ability to cook outside in an outdoor kitchen.
List of What We Wanted Done
I started the list on my smart phone notes. I quickly added several things. Over the next weeks, as I thought of more goals, I added them. This initial list was just what we wanted done. We did not consider priority or rank the projects.
I looked at several of the homesteading books in our library to see if there were anything in those books that might be of interest to us.
Projects, Break Down Time Frames
After we were confident that our list was pretty much done, I started to place each project on a list by year– year one, two, and three. Each year was further broken down to within three months, 6-8 months, and then 10+ months. The breakdown of time frames was mostly influenced by our weather. So, we could have just as easily done them by the seasons. I also realized that several goals/objectives needed to be completed annually.
In my chart I had a column for a project number, a column for goal/objective/task, and then a column for the time frame for starting the project. The last column was for comments. In the comments column I used several acronyms such as “A” for annual, “W” for weather dependent, “T” for time dependent, “F” for funds dependent, “C” for contractor dependent, “NWD” for non-weather dependent, and “ATP” for as time permits.
Some goals/objectives are also dependent upon completion of other goals/objections. When these were identified I marked them in the comments section as “OTD” for Other Task Dependent and included the task number.
If a goal/objective was deemed high priority, we put the task in bold print and marked it “high priority” in the comments section. Be very discriminating when choosing items as a high priority. When you make everything a priority nothing is a priority. Of the 62 goals/objectives on our 2019 list, only three made it as high priorities. (These high priorities were building a chicken coop, installing electricity into our barn, and purchasing a new tractor.)
Targets of Opportunity Chart
As the list of goals/objective were taken off the original list and plotted on the new lists, we realized that there were still goals/objectives that could not be pigeon holed by time. For example, there were things that we wanted to buy used. These goals/objects were placed on a fourth chart labeled as “Targets of Opportunity”.
The purchase of a used cream separator, hand operated corn sheller, an anvil, and hand cranked forge blower are dependent upon them being available at auction, estate sales, or on Craigslist. I shop locally for used preps at auctions, estate sales, and craigslist and try not to buy things online. So, these are more of targets of opportunity. I don’t necessarily need a corn sheller within three years, but if the opportunity presented itself at an auction it is on my priority list.
Short-Term Seasonal Goals
Twenty-three goals were identified as short-term (to do in the next few months). Thirty goals were plotted for the late spring and summer, and only four were placed for the late fall timeframe. This may seem lopsided, but our fall season seems to be really nice or really bad. Planning a lot in the fall may mean not meeting those goals.
Keep Goals Realistic
Remember to keep your goals realistic. There is no need to rush; slow and steady gets things done. The other good thing about not piling up the task in the fall is that, if the weather is nice, goals that were not completed during the rest of the year can be done.
Budget for Goals/Objectives
The last two columns are funds needed and estimated time needed. Let’s face it, we can all want to do something and have the knowledge to do it, but if we do not have the time and/or funds it will not get done.
By estimating the funds, this allows use to budget for the goals/objectives. Many of my goals and objects do not have a dollar figure attached to them, because I have already purchased the needed items or will use on-hand stocks.
Use “Free” Financing
We do not like to use credit. However, we do take advantage of offers that provide “free” financing. Lowes is one such place where we use this offer. If you spend about $300, they will give you “free” financing if the bill is paid within three months. Sometimes they extend the offers out to six or even 18 months. Having a strategic plan on hand may allow you to purchase materials and supplies utilizing these free credit offers.
Knowing that I have a lot of fencing in my future, I often purchase a few fence posts each time I’m at Lowes. I have a growing supply in the barn. This tactic allows me to spread the costs of the project over time and in some cases even save money as the price of imported materials go up in price.
Benefit of Developing Strategic Plan With Estimated Costs
When the plan is completed, I can add up the estimated cost and now have a good idea how much money we will need to budget for the year towards these goals. If we don’t have the funds, we can move projects to other years. The other useful benefit of developing a strategic plan with estimated costs is getting the buy-in of your spouse, or perhaps your Mutual Assistance Group (MAG) if you are doing a joint purchase/project.
I’m sure we have all heard “And How much is that going to cost?” from a spouse. The strategic plan allows me to, first, let her know I am looking for something, like a forge blower, and second, that I will only spend up to “X” dollars on it. So, when a “target of opportunity” presents itself, it is already agreed that it is a need and a dollar figure has been agreed upon.
My wife spends time on various Internet sites that offer used items, and if she knows I’m looking for something she can also look for it too. She recently found used kitchen cabinets that I used in our new pole barn for storage at a very good price.
Benefit of Developing Strategic Plan With Time Estimate
Estimating time allows you to plan what tasks you will do when. Tasks that take a full day might need done on a weekend verses a task that only takes one or two hours and can be done in the evening. The strategic plan time estimate can also help determine perhaps when you need to take time off work to complete a task. Since the strategic plan also identifies tasks that are not weather dependent, an unexpected rain doesn’t need to be a waste of a day. With your plan available, you can quickly look at it and see if there are non-weather dependent tasks that can be done instead. This is also where purchasing supplies ahead of time pays off too.
Having the time and funds is only part of the solution to implementing your strategic plan.
Planning Locations for Projects
Knowing where to put a chicken coop, clay oven, outdoor kitchen, herb garden, and a peach tree should take some thought and consideration of future projects. Having to tear down, move or put up with the ramifications of bad planning (or no planning) during “normal times” is bad, but having to deal with those issues during and after SHTF/TEOTWAWKI could be life threatening.
There will probably be projects that just don’t have the perfect location on your property. Each location may have some downside to it. This is when a quick SWOT analysis of each project can help you choose the best site you have while taking into consideration other variables.
When I reference the use of SWOT analysis, understand that “SWOT” stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The “strengths” and “weaknesses” are variables that you control. For example, this could be something such as being able to choose a breed of chicken or variety of apple tree. They type of materials and location are also examples of variable that you will probably be able to control. This part of SWOT is nothing more than simply writing pluses and minuses down on a piece of paper. However, SWOT takes the process one step further. We now look at “opportunities” and “threats”, which are variables that you may not be able to control. Building a barn or shed near the road might create an opportunity for you to sell extra fruits and vegetables prior to SHTF. Placing an orchard out of site of your home might present a threat from hungry thieves by you not being able to guard it very well at night during post-SHTF.
Having an aerial photograph printed off and laminated is also a great planning tool for both pre- and post-SHTF. There are a number of free ways to download an aerial photograph of your home, BOL, homestead, or other survival-related property. Working off of small standard paper (8½ x 11) will not be the optimum size for most of us. By taking an electronic file to someplace like Kinkos, for $50 to $200 (depending on the size and type of paper, laminating, et cetera) you can get a very nice wall-sized photo of your area of interest.
Shield Photograph With Clear Protective Layer
Once you have it printed, you will want your aerial photograph laminated or shielded by a clear protective layer, such as Grafix, acetate, vinyl, et cetera. After you have it covered with material that can be changed, you can draw and write all over it. If you, or someone else accidentally uses permanent marker, you can remove the covering and put a new one on it. A piece of heavy mil vinyl is a lot cheaper than having to go back to Kinkos to print off a whole new map.
Markers and Mapping Tools
I also find that it helpful to have a good selection of both permanent and washable markers in various tip styles including ultra-fine, extra fine, fine, bold, chisel, or jumbo chisel. Clear plastic rulers, protractors, and shape stencils are all great, inexpensive tools to make it easier to work on your map.
Figure Out Map Scale
Once you have your map printed and protected now figure out its scale. This does not have to be an exact measurement. Go out and take a measurement of the side of your house, barn, or other structure that is also shown on your map. Now take the measurement of that same side of that structure on your map. Let us, for this example, say that your measure of the actual side of the structure was 30 feet. On the map you measured the same side and it is two inches. That would mean that each inch on the map is equal to 15 feet and a half of an inch would be equal to 7.5 feet. If you needed to, you could break it down to the foot doing the math.
Draw Projects To Scale As You Pre-Plan
Now when you want to add a barn, shed, lean-to, or even plant a tree, you can draw any of these projects to scale on your map to get an idea of what it will look like. You can also pre-plan post-SHTF defenses on a piece of overlay. You can use it to map where you want to put in a trench, listening post/observation post (LP/OP), block a road, or even put up barb wire.
A great benefit of having a map of your area of operations (AO) is that it is a great tool for use in briefing people. The old adage of a picture is worth a thousand word applies to maps too. Showing people verses describing is a much more effective means of communication.
For those that like the digital realm, you can use Google Earth or my favorite– SARTOPO.com. SARTOPO.com is a free Internet-based tool that offers a very easy way to view maps and aerial photos. There is a great distance measurement tool and ways to quickly put radius rings on your map. You can draw the footprint of your new barn or raised beds, et cetera. I use SARTOPO.com, but my go-to is still the paper map and markers.
Pegging a Goal to a Specific Dates is Unrealistic
Notice that you do not see dates in my plan. Trying to pigeon hole your goals and peg them to hard dates may be beneficial to you, but I find that pegging a goal to a specific date is unrealistic and setting yourself up for constantly changing your plans. If you use specific dates, a weekend of rain can throw your plan into a tailspin. We use it as a guide.
At the end of February, we can start looking for goals to tackle in March. If we need supplies or extra help, we can start to coordinate those items and have those already done. As the weekend approaches and we are planning to start an outside goal, we can look at a weather forecast to have a better idea if we need change plans and choose a goal that we can do inside. I like to say we need to be “Semper Gumby”– always flexible.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 80 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
- An assortment of products along with a one hour consultation on health and wellness from Pruitt’s Tree Resin (a $265 value).
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.
Round 80 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.