Background – I am a 40-year old male, my Missus is a year younger and we have three children. The children are active in school, church and 4H. The eldest is a known “good worker” in the neighborhood and during summer vacation is in high demand for haying, etc. Middle child is interested in chickens and sewing. The youngest is an all round good helper and loves to go to the woods.
I have always been interested in farming and in non-electric tools and equipment. My off-farm job keeps me busy 50 hours per week. Missus does not work outside of the home.
I can build or fix most anything. I got those skills from my father although he is better and faster at it that I am. I have never had a high income so we “use it up, wear it out, make do or do without”.
Present home – We own a 40-acre farm in Maritime Canada, 19 miles from the nearest town. We live half a mile off a paved road and the house cannot be seen from the pavement. The nearest store is 17 miles away and we are not on a road to anywhere. The likelihood of people crowding through here escaping the city, which is 110 miles away, is nil.
The house is a 130-year-old storey and half. We have a large barn, wood shed, workshop and a couple of smaller outbuildings. There are about 8 acres of woodlot, 10 acres of hayfield, a couple acres of blueberries and the rest is (now) fenced for pasture. There was no fencing on the place when we moved in and I put up woven wire as we can afford it. We have a small flock of sheep, a few laying hens and a rooster. If we had to, we could live on lamb, eggs and the odd cockerel. We also have a beef cow, a calf, an ancient draft horse and in the summer we raise meat birds and the odd pig. I am working toward improving our pasture and hayfields so that we lessen our dependence on purchased grain and hay. Raising Highland cattle, Tamworth pigs and Royal Palm turkeys may be in our future.
Property tax – $400 per year.
Debt – After my “war on debt” 14 months ago we are down to a small mortgage and that’s it. We did have six credit cards with a total balance of $3,000 and were always behind with the power and telephone bills. We were paying out $100 per month just in interest. The cards were paid off and four were cancelled, the power was brought up-to-date and is now on a 12-month budget plan. With no debt and no interest to pay, life is soooo much better.
Investments – Through payroll deduction, I have put a bit aside in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) for the last 17 years. Two months ago we had $80,000 in RRSPs but since the [equities] crash(es), we are down to $50,000. I have always felt that the farm is my retirement security so I am not too worried.
Right now any income from the farm is rolled back into the farm in the form of hay, seed, fencing, etc.
Shop – The workshop houses all of my tools (hand and power) as well as a blacksmith forge with a hand-cranking blower and a hand operated drill press. I heat the building with a wood stove. I like my circular saw, reciprocating saw and electric drill but I can easily fall back on my handsaws and brace & bit. Supplies that I need to stock up on include files, hacksaw blades, welding rods and coal for the forge.
Water – We have a gravity feed water system for the house so there is water regardless of the power grid situation. There is a year-round river at the base of our property and several intermittent brooks. There is also an unused well by the house and a well for the barn. We use an electric jet pump and tank for the barn but I have purchased a hand cistern pump for on top of this well. Lastly there is a small spring fed well where the old milk house used to be about 70 years ago.
Heat – We have always had an oil furnace, oil-fired water heater and oil tank and an airtight wood stove. When oil reached it’s high last summer I decided to make a change. I replaced the oil-fired water heater with an electric one and bought eight cords of hardwood. I also installed a mini-split heat pump in the end of the house farthest from the wood stove. So far this winter we have not used the oil furnace at all.
We had removed a wood-fired kitchen range a few years ago due to insurance and the space it took up but I am strongly leaning on re-installing it. I may even install a range boiler so we can have hot water.
Firearms – I have a British Lee-Enfield .303 and about 20 rounds and a .22 with about 200 rounds. I need to stock up on .303 [British rifle] ammo, a gun cleaning kit and I should get a sling and scope. I may also get a shotgun and some bird shot.
Security – Just the dog, motion lights and the fact that the house is on an open knoll away from the road. We have good neighbors and we all watch out for the other’s property. The main drawback is distance – each neighbor (north, east and south) is a little over half a mile away. Near the paved road we have had thefts of anything laid down in sight of the road – ladders, fence post maul, gas-powered water pump for a garden, and even chickens. Houses that are left empty have had break-ins and some have been burned down.
Fruit/garden – Perennial trees and plants interest me as a source of food that will be dependable no matter what our economic or health situation. We have several apple trees and rose bushes on the property. We are bringing back the blueberry field and the rhubarb plants. I have planted strawberries, raspberries and chives.
The children and I plant a fairly large vegetable garden every year. This year, after the cow and the sheep were done with it, there wasn’t much left for us. This spring we fence the garden.
This fall, for the first time ever, I purchased next year’s garden seed. This way, no matter what happens, we won’t have to worry about finding seed in the spring.
To extend our growing season, we plan on build a greenhouse onto the south side of one of the sheds in the not-too-distant future.
Food storage – We have three freezers full of chicken, turkey, beef and pork. Our generator is to protect the contents of these freezers. I have a lot of salt on hand so if we had a prolonged grid down situation I could salt down the beef and pork. We have also started stocking up on Mason jars and lids, and bottling accessories. The remains of our garden produce go into our cellar.
After my first week of reading SurvivalBlog last summer, I went to the local grocery wholesaler and bought 200 lbs of dried goods. I made the mistake of telling the guys at work so now instead of being the nut with farm; I am the survivalist nut with the farm. I now keep all preps to myself.
I have laid in a stock of flour, yeast, sugar, salt, rolled oats, white pea-beans, baking powder, baking soda, molasses, peanut butter, honey, raisins, nuts, canned goods, canola and olive oil, spices, pepper, pasta & sauce, rice, dried onion, powdered milk, cream of wheat, pancake mix, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, juice powder, and hard candy. We manage to put an item or two in our deep larder every week. I have been keeping my eye out for a grain mill as we can easily put in 1?4 – 1?2 acre of wheat.
Health – We keep our prescriptions filled or re-filled. My oldest child and I have just completed a first-aid course.
We’ve begun to stock up on: toothpaste, tooth brushes, dish soap, bar soap, Dettol disinfectant, Buckley’s Mixture cold medicine (tastes awful but it works), Raleigh’s Medicated Ointment, multi vitamins, vitamin C, aspirin, female items, Band-Aids & tape, toilet paper, peroxide, deodorant, lip balm, nail trimmers, and razors. I have just purchased a large first-aid kit for the house and a small one for the car. I will eventually add a minor surgery kit, which would be handy if just used for veterinary emergencies.
Vet – I have a large plastic toolbox for our growing supply of veterinary items. I keep a supply of needles, syringes, worm treatment, penicillin, castration bands, iodine, foot treatment, etc. I don’t shear my own sheep but this year I picked up Oster electric shears on eBay for a great price. I did try out the shears on our longhaired dog. He healed up nicely and didn’t hold a grudge.
Fishing – I have a large supply of hand line gear, a small supply of trout rods, and a small gill net and net knitting needles. We have a small fiberglass dory with two sets of oars.
Vehicles – We have a late 1990s mid-size car and a mid-2000s mini-van. Both are in good shape.
Communication – Other than the usual telephone, we have two walkie-talkies and a hand crank radio [receiver]. We live out beyond cellular service. I plan to get a short wave radio. Several hours into a power outage, our phone goes dead due to small fuel capacity for the Phone Company’s generator down the road. I would like to have some way to communicate with my parents (three hours away) and my siblings (one and three hours away) but we would all have to have Ham radios and I know that won’t happen.
TEOTWAWKI – farming – I have been assembling a collection of a few small tractors and 3-point hitch equipment. My main concern is that when gas becomes scarce and too expensive to purchase I will have no way to harvest hay for winter fodder. I have a small horse-drawn mower that I plan to restore. That way if worse comes to worst, I could at least mow hay and put it in the barn loose. In such a time, horses would be at a premium but I know how to hew an ox head-yoke so a horned steer or two and we’re back in business.
Long term goals – “harden” the house with better doors, dig a trout pond, build a greenhouse, increase firewood and hay stores, increase gasoline storage for the generator and chain saw, install a small safe, and buy more ammunition.
In conclusion, in a TEOTWAWKI grid up situation we will not have to change our lifestyle at all. In a prolonged grid down situation, we’ll be eating a lot of salt beef and beans in the winter and fresh veggies and chicken in the summer. – “Mr. Enfield” in the Maritimes