Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Practical Prepper
Sponsored by: Nitro-Pak
As a boy, my first real recollections of needing to be prepared were weather-related. Late Spring always held the promise of summer vacation, but was overshadowed by the threat of tornadoes that could seemingly erupt from nothing. Winter was little better… sure "snow days" off from school were great, but the blizzards in the late 70s meant being stuck at home for days, sometimes without electricity.
Fortunately, I had parents who were ready for such emergencies. They certainly weren't "farmers," or even "homesteaders," really. After all, we lived with power from the grid (although we could survive without it for a while) and had treated "city water" (even though we had a well and used it regularly). Of course, we had some things in common with homesteaders. For example, we had a pretty big garden that covered the majority of our side lot, and we canned a lot of the produce each fall.
I can't really call my parents "preppers," either, despite the fact that they were obviously ready to handle the crises that life threw our way. As do-it-yourselfers, I guess the best way to say it is that they were "self-reliant," and that trait was central to our family. Unsurprisingly, I've always a strong streak of self-reliance in me.
Now, fast-forward a couple decades… after being on my own for a while, I had never really embraced the same forethought as my parents. Sadly, I'd grown to view the lifestyle of my childhood as hopelessly outdated and backward. I had fully embraced a "modern" lifestyle of instant gratification and consumerism. I was self-reliant in some aspects of my life (like being able to make home improvements or minor car repairs, but my level of disaster preparedness was nil. I had flashlights and candles to "handle" a power outage, along with a hundred bucks in my savings account, and that was about it.
The first glimmer of my "inner prepper" came with Y2K. Unlike some, I didn't run out and buy a ton of "bullets, beans, and bandages." However, I felt it would be prudent to have some extra bottled water, some extra food, and some cash on hand — just in case. When Y2K was a non-event, I fell back to sleep… at least for a couple years.
Then came 9/11.
Like the rest of America, I was utterly shaken, body, mind, and soul by that terrible day. It was a very surreal day for me, as I left the Philadelphia area that morning and was driving back to Ohio. As I drove, I heard of the horrific events unfolding behind me, and then eventually reports of an airliner crashing somewhere in mid-Pennsylvania, which was near when I was. After being in isolation during my all-day drive, I arrived back in Ohio. Panic had gripped the area. Many businesses were closed. Gas prices were doubled in some places. The world had changed, and so had I.
There was no way I could continue to take things for granted. I still wasn't in full-on "prepper mode," but I started thinking more about the question, "what if?" I gradually started doing more to minimize disruptions in my life. I did little things like making sure I had an extra one of everything… toothpaste, soda, deodorant, and so on. I kept my car's fuel tank about half I paid down my debts and set aside 3 months' worth of money. Gradually, I grew a sense of peace by having the "insurance" of some resources to fall back upon in times of emergency.
I continued on like this until I met my wife, Anita, and her daughter, Astrid. Together, we worked hard to build a happy household in our first years together living in a rented home. After a time, we bought a house so that we could make it just what we wanted. Like my parents, we found a home that met our needs and allowed us space for gardening and other do-it-yourself home projects.
Not very long after moving in, our region experienced terrible wind storms that were actually the remnants of Hurricane Ike. These storms knocked out the power for days, and for some, weeks at a time. It was incredibly inconvenient, but thankfully not really life-threatening. We were fortunate, since the weather was pleasant… not too hot or too cold. Also, the water still ran from the taps, albeit without any hot water. I was also able to buy some ice and borrow a small generator, both of which enabled us to keep the contents of our refrigerator and freezer intact. We were able to use our gas grill (with it's side burner) to cook food. Still, my mind again echoed loudly with, "WHAT IF?"
We threw ourselves into getting prepared from that point on. We started storing more of our food in less-perishable ways, and have planned out what to do with the perishable food when the electricity goes out. We began increasing the amount of water we stored. We planned out methods for heating and cooling, should we lose power in the winter or summer.
And then I read the book One Second After by William R. Forstchen (you can read my review here). When I was done, it was yet another awakening. You see, I still thought of power outages as the most inconvenient thing that could happen, and even then, they would only last days, or maybe a couple weeks, right? After finishing the book, I saw how we live in the extremely complex web of modern society, and that it really wouldn't be hard for someone to throw a cog in the works.
One Second After focuses on the impact of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack on the US. However, that's not the only widespread threat. A large enough Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the sun might produce similar catastrophic results. Hackers (or really cyber-terrorists) could damage the power grid's systems, again resulting in a long-term, widespread power outage and related societal breakdown. A worse threat could be the "slow-motion" disaster of a national (or global) economic collapse, with all the shortages and unrest it would likely create.
This is indeed scary stuff, but it's important to not give into fear. For instance, we haven't let panic grip us and gone into a hermit-like existence as the stereotypical "survivalists." Instead, we've just made it our priority to prepare for the future as best we can, no matter what it brings.
We still focus the most on maintaining preparedness for the more common disasters in our personal lives, like what if there's a blizzard, or what if I lose my job? Being truly prepared for those things will go a long way toward being prepared for the truly widespread catastrophes. Moreover, help in an emergency frequently comes from those around you. As such, you need to build relationships with others in your community who can help you in your preparedness.
So, that's why I'm here. My intent is to present preparedness advice that you can actually put to use in your everyday life. Over the next several posts, we'll focus on some prepping basics and then proceed from there.
In the meantime, if you have questions or topic suggestions, please feel free to comment below or send me a message. Of course, if you have insights on what I post, or tips of your own, please share them too. Remember: None of us is as smart as all of us!
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