The Prepping Imperative, by P.B.

Growing up in a fairly large family with a work at home Mom, and a truck driver Dad, we learned to “make ends meet”.  One of our favorite dishes was “teedl-oh-bow” as Dad called it…wild rabbit (or squirrel) with biscuits and gravy.  Some even call it, ahem, “Stuff On A Shingle”.  Made many a supper meals for a family of six.  Mom even “barked” a squirrel once and it’s still a standing joke that Dad tells on her.  “Couldn’t find a bullet hole anywhere in the darn thing!”

Breakfast was nearly always oatmeal, cinnamon, and honey with mixed powdered milk over it and a piece of homemade bread toast.

Mom made us girls’ underwear from the pretty pink with blue flowers sacks that our flour was bought in.  Life was hard…but we survived.

After I married, life got even harder.  My first husband (who is now passed on) was a drinker and life was miserable.  Meals were hard to come by and sometimes me and my two kids found sanctuary at Mom’s house with something to eat.  When pregnant with my first child when I couldn’t work, beans and biscuits were our staple and wasn’t very good for someone carrying a baby…but we made it.  Raised some rabbits, raised some feeder pigs, plus worked a full time job at one time. Gardening was a must, and I didn’t even have the fancy hoes & shovels!  I picked weeds by hand and planted on dirt that I turned over with a kitchen spatula and depended on the skies for water. He became severely disabled at the age of 38 and I cared for him for 26 years before he passed on.  Good food, a lot of love, and knowing how to make ends meet, life was hard…but we survived.

One “unprepared” trip nearly cost us our lives and our baby boy … we were traveling across the mountains from a warm climate and forgot that it snows in the mountains and that a car needs anti-freeze.  We got stranded and the only shelter we could find was a post office and thank God the lobby doors were open.  We placed the baby over the floor vent (they probably don’t have these any more) and we laid down on each side of him to keep him warm.  The next morning we hauled water from a local creek to put in the radiator and managed to make it to the town we were going to…rolled down that mountain with smoke barreling out the back of that car like a freight train!  Didn’t dare stop for fear the engine would seize up.  Life was hard, but we survived.

I remember when we were raising rabbits that we had no heat other than a small wood stove (ran out of propane) so closed off all the rooms except the living room where the wood stove was and the kitchen.  We all slept on the floor of the living room to keep warm.  What a time for some friends to come calling!  They enjoyed our living room floor also and they guys slept in front of the wood stove and woke up to re-stoke.

I used a stock tank warmer to heat water in the bathtub and washed our clothes with a toilet stool plunger when I got the water hot enough.  Hung them on the clothesline to dry.  We pretty much ate tame rabbit, chicken & eggs from my 20+ Buff Orpington hens and a few roosters, and what I gleaned from the garden or bought really inexpensively at the grocery store.  Didn’t have a big box store anywhere near.  Life was hard, but we survived.

When we raised feeder pigs we lived a little better, but had our hands full when both of us got laid off from our jobs and had to depend on ourselves to put a roof over our heads and eat.  Sold off all the sows, boars and feeders and moved to town.  That was one winter my kids still remember because all they got for Christmas was a pair each of pajamas I made from scrap material from a discount store.  For Christmas dinner we ate gravy and biscuits and had a cake I made with only whipped cream dyed pink for frosting.  Life was hard, but we survived.

My then husband had a past, and that past took him to prison and I found myself alone with two small children and working in a factory to try to make ends meet.  I got behind on the payments on our house and they locked me out without anything that I owned.  No begging could persuade them to even let me have our personal things like clothes, pictures etc.  Some friends managed a trailer park and they helped me by letting me move in without a deposit and the first month’s rent free.  Some church friends gave me money for utility deposits.  Me and the kids at off paper plates etc, with plastic spoons etc., and my friends loaned me a skillet and some pots.  Life was hard, but we survived.

After my late husband had his brain surgery and radiation, we moved back to our hometown to be closer to family.  I then had two teenagers that didn’t understand why their lives had been turned upside down. Once we had a power outage that lasted for 3 days, so we heated with a fireplace (one room) and cooked eggs and bacon on a KeroSun heater in the kitchen.  Life was hard, be we survived.

After his death, I met my gentleman and after a year of dating, we married a few years ago.  He was a “prepper” I guess for years, because his house was absolutely full of survival stuff.  It really made us feel bad when someone broke into it, rummaged through it like crazy, and took nothing but our two valued metal detectors.  Just turned everything upside down and made us a mess to clean up.

So being a prepper really isn’t a question for me, since I married one! (smile) Now we both are engaged in watching out for our own futures.   We put in a square foot gardening system very early with the “domes” to cover it in cool, frosty weather or hail storms…here it is late April and I’ve got lettuce in a jar in my frig, dehydrated onion tops in a spice jar, and a tiny little tomato that is a signal for the best to come!  Also have dehydrated pineapple slices in my fridge for my “sweet fix”, fresh cut up tomatoes in a vacuum sealed jar in the frig for salads and lots of other goodies.  I’ve gotten to be pretty good at dehydrating, food sealing, and looking for bargains at the grocery stores, discount stores and freight damaged stores.

I’m not excited about washing our clothes in our little counter-top hand crank washer but in a pinch it’ll do…and doesn’t take much water or soap!   I’m not excited about living life after shoot hits the fan, but…we’re doing what we can, with what we have, to prepare as best we can.  A big part of that is saving money at every turn. 

We’re not “scaredy cats” … we’re just two people who don’t like what we are seeing around us and know from experience how hard life can be if things go south in your life.  You don’t need a major event for life to wreak havoc for your family.  Sometimes all it takes is a bad decision for you to find yourself in dire straights or even deadly circumstances. 

I guess the moral of my story is simply that being “unprepared” is going to make it really hard on a lot of people for quite awhile…and they won’t have the support structure for them to survive that I had back 40+ years ago.  Even though I didn’t get welfare etc., I still had neighbors, family & church people to take my hand encourage me to keep on keeping on.  That’s why I’m saying that to prep or not to prep shouldn’t even be a question!  If you’ve ever been caught between the fence and the gatepost you know what a tight squeeze it is and how difficult it is to get loose. 

My current husband and I don’t smoke we don’t drink much other than an occasion beer, and we are very active for people in their 60’s.  We’re headed for a preppers expo this weekend and are really excited about learning even more than we’ve learned and are practicing.

Right now we’re loners, but have met another family not far from us, and we’re looking forward to getting to know better.  We’re being extremely careful about who we take into our confidence.

We’re looking forward to taking some gun training shortly so we don’t shoot our feet off. I haven’t hunted in more than 30 years.  I love fishing so that comes natural for me and my husband is going to make a great fisherman. 

We don’t plan to leave our “homestead” because we can’t afford to buy land. We’ll just do the best we can and if we fail we fail and we’ll meet you in those heavenly realms.  We love to travel and will do some of that when we can, and will keep our camper stocked with emergency supplies at all times.  We’ve purchased a lot of small propane bottles and are getting them filled.  Our travel trailer’s refrigerator runs on propane, our stove and furnace run on propane, and we have a nice outside grill if we need it.  We’ve practiced “dry camping” and found we could stay warm quite nicely with the furnace turned down really low, wearing well-insulated underwear, and hiding under a biscuit quilt that weights a ton. But I believe that it insulates better than any sleeping bag every could.  We carried jug water to “sailor bathe” as well as quick flushes in our toilet (we traveled winterized because the weather was cold and we didn’t want the plumbing to freeze up in our travel trailer. 

Never know when we might want to take a vacation for a few days (smile).

I’m not sure if this posting qualifies for anything “new” to do but hopefully will point some people forward to start making some sort of preparations…just in case something unexpected should come up.