It seems like yesterday, but it’s been ten years since we started on this wild journey of at first just prepping and then and now homesteading! (While it’s sad, I think I still have some canned food dated 2008. Yikes!)
Actually if I really think about it, we did actually start in baby steps while we had concerns about Y2K. But the real path was not there, for us.
The Light Bulb Went On After Patriots
We believe the light bulb went on after reading James Wesley, Rawles’ Patriots Surviving the Coming Collapse (the expanded edition). We stopped and re-evaluated our life and our goals and also our plans. We immersed ourselves in the list of lists and all that we could research. Our first copy of Patriots is highlighted, annotated, post-it note filled, and has a whole notebook that we keep with it with our notes and own lists.
Our Biggest Challenge- Water
Wow! How quickly we figured out what was our #1 priority! We realized water was our biggest challenge.
Solar Panels and Cistern
Since we get our water from a well, the solar panels for the pump were vital. Of course, this also meant we needed the cistern for the solar pump to pump to. It was an amazing amount of work and money. However, after a few trials and tribulations, we are relatively comfortable with the set up. (But, boy, do we have a story to tell about one heavy snow and freezing winter temperatures! I guess that is for another time.)
Since our solar panels can generate more power then we need for the small amount to pump water daily, our next project is to work on harnessing that power for use elsewhere on the farm. This means more research, more reaching out for guidance, and saving for the added components needed.
Roof and Cutting Back the Large Trees
The next major expense was a metal roof for our home and cutting back the large pine trees that loomed over our house as well as other huge trees on the property. We love and respect our arborist, but we cannot claim him as a dependent, no matter how much we have paid him each year. We have been able to use much of the wood, with help of a portable sawmill, for barn siding and of course we heat and often cook with wood. So, our woodlot is vital to our survival.
One Second After
Then we read Dr. Fortschen’s One Second After, which takes place in our family’s back yard in the lovely town of Black Mountain, N.C. (I had to drive out after I finished reading the first book to make sure the town and all my friends and family were okay. The writing felt so real that I had to prove to myself it was fiction.) So that kind of added to the mind set of where and what we needed to be focusing on for our “compound”. I believe the combination of JWR and Dr. Bill have been a blessing to us.
Another Family Added To Our Compound
During all this time we have attended amazing local conferences, schools, and classes and have ordered and practiced and learned and continued to buy food, ammo, duplicate weapons, et cetera. Then, with much prayer and searching, we added another family to our compound. Blessings all around!
Our little homestead blossomed (pun intended, as our “tenant farmer”/partner grows the most luscious pollinator-friendly plants for sale at our farm stand and for his landscaping business). Sheep were added, and then we got chickens and then pigs.
Goal To Cut Ties To Outside Craziness
Fencing, oh my, how that eats up any and all profit. But we scrimped and saved and shared and have continued to work off the homestead for as long as we could (and can). Still, our goal was and is to cut the ties to the outside craziness. We intend, in the future, to just work from home with our old and now new skills. Our “To Do” list is never ending, but the payoff, though not complete, has shown some light that we are in the right tunnel. It always seems that we say, “Oh, one more year, one more big sale (my husband and I are real estate agents focusing on farms and retreat properties) and then we can go off grid for good.”
The 20-20 Hindsight
So now for the 20-20 hindsight. My flour has weavels, and my sugar is like a rock. We so many cans of tuna that even a barn cat will be turned off.
Those #10 cans. Well, what a waste. (As an aside, since we have pigs, nothing, seriously nothing, is wasted.) If we cannot consume the whole can right after opening, we try to freeze it. But freezer space is limited due to the butchering of hogs. I think I will certainly not buy any more.
Don’t Be So Creative With Food Storage You Forget Where You Put It
I do believe no matter how “out of date” other canned food is, if it not spoiled, it is great filler in stews, soups, and casseroles. A note of warning, just don’t try and be too creative with food storage. I mean it. If you lose a whole season of food because you forgot where you put it, it won’t help you unless we are eating our dogs at that point! We have been very retentive about rotating and using the first-in, first-out practice. However, one year we had a bumper crop of tomatoes. After canning them, we put them to be safe in a guest house upper shelf. Hmm. We left no note where we normally keep “stores”. Yea, so I am hoping these jars of tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, and blackberry preserves are still good. Watch your creative storage, folks!
Mylar Bags and Five Gallon Buckets With Screw Tops
Just the other day, I found the Mylar bags and those great sealable screw tops for the five gallon buckets. They were in a tough tote, unused! And I wonder why my wheat is buggy! I think the mice have eaten some of the big packages of toilet paper, too.
And then the real predators come. This time I don’t mean the two legged ones, though we have had a share out here, and boy will that irritate you, no matter how you try to ask the Lord to give you patience! Why do people think that just because we live on a dirt road out in the country it is okay to come and park on the road and do all sorts of stuff? I don’t go into someone else’s neighborhood and park on paved streets and throw garbage out. Our compound is secure as can be in “normal” times, though I often wish we could harden our perimeter better.
Four Legged Predators
Let’s get back to the “four legged” predators. Oh, the first time you hear a coyote bay between you and your pig pen, it sets you on fire. Oh, but then, do you have any idea how difficult it is to have to put down and butcher a boar because he broke through the fence to get to the new mama sow and their piglets? It’s gut wrenching as you see her eyes as she watches the whole thing unfold before her? Pigs are intelligent, and though not human, they have an awareness that will break your heart!
Then you have your chickens, a small flock to start, right? There’s no need to be aggressive! One goes, then another. You become hyper protective. You build the best and safest coops you can, but you know that the free range life has dangers. Was that hawk big enough to swoop down and get my fat chicken girls?
The black snakes you have always respected, because they kept the mouse population down, now have an appetite for your fresh eggs. The raccoon you only saw down the road is now stalking your front yard. Your dogs, the best protection and best alarm, have become spoiled and house bound so they can’t chase the chickens, sheep, or pigs. And when you don’t have enough money to buy (or rather feed) the potential guard dog/donkey/llama, you wind up having critters you didn’t know you had in your area in your compound.
Organic Garden Pests
Since we choose to be as organic as possible, the garden pests sure can wipe your tomato crop, if you aren’t on top of it. The milky spore on the squash is sad, and well then there are the rabbits and deer that eat all the sweet potato greens, no matter how good your fencing is.
Wild and Crazy Ride
Oh my! What a day it has been. Psalm 121 started my day at church, and now as I try to ease my mind into a restful sleep I find myself needing to share this wild and crazy ride.
While I feel that we have been blessed to be put on this path and have been given the most amazing teachers in our life, both in person and in writing, I believe we have chosen the correct course. I know we rushed into some things and waited too long on others. Good, bad, and ugly we have come to this point with a few scabs and always new sores and cuts, but I have an outlook that allows me to “raise my eyes to the mountains”.
Benefits Are Glorious
Though it seems that the negatives can really make you want to question your sanity to live like this, the benefits are glorious. The fresh pork, vegetables, eggs, and freedom that we worked so hard to achieve make all the tears and sore muscles forgotten.
Thank you JRW, Dr. Bill, and Ken Bagwell for this wild journey you all put us on– the path to achieving the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency.
Now did I mention our corn crop failed this year…..sigh!
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 78 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 transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- 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, and
- 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).
Round 78 ends on September 30th, 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.