Monday, August 12, 2013


Prepping: Present participle of prep (verb)

1: Prepare (something); make ready
2: Prepare oneself for an event

When we bought our farm, our goal was, and still is, to become more and more self sufficient and create a place to retire to.  Along the way in this process, we've come to realize that in our own way, we are also creating, hopefully anyway, a safe retreat to go to in the event there is some crisis that forces us to leave our house in the city.

When we searched for a property, we wanted something out in the country, away from the city, along the back roads, and out of the general public.  When "Ma" decided to sell, of course we wanted to buy.  Our initial plans went into motion and we started the long process of transforming it into what we have always dreamed of.  We are doing it because we want to, and we enjoy it and we called it becoming more self sufficient, but we are discovering that we are doing is actually a form of prepping.

Words like "preppers" and "prepping" and "bug out location" are popular today.  There are many, many websites on prepping.  There are TV shows and books and radio shows and Internet videos devoted to it.  It's become mainstream now and it's in the general consciousness   There is some great info out there.  Sadly though, because of some of the extreme people they show on TV, it's also become something that many people don't want to mention that they do.  

Funny thing though, our Grandparents and Great Grandparents WERE preppers.  They grew their own food.  They did their own stockpiling for Winter or droughts or other weather events.  They prepared for a time when they might have to do without.  During the Great Depression, many of them did.  They recycled, they reused, they learned to live on less.  But to them, less was more.  They didn't do it 'just in case', they did it 'just because'; that was the way they lived and the way they had always lived.  They weren't doing it to be trendy or fashionable or politically correct, they didn't have a special word for it, they just did it because it meant the difference between living and perhaps something worse.  It was what they knew and it was how their parents had lived, and their parents before them.

Somewhere over the years, that's gotten lost in our processed, prepackaged, disposable, instant gratification society. 

So as we build our self sufficiency at the farm, we are also thinking of what would happen if something big went down and what we'd need to be to be OK.  For example, we live in a hurricane threat area and we've been through several over the years.  The last one, IKE, left us without power in town for over 2 weeks.  No air conditioning, no refrigerator, no freezer, no fans, no TV, no way to charge phones.  We lost all the food in our fridge and freezers, most stores were closed, we got low on gas, and it was well into the 100's with not even a fan.  It was what might be called the perfect 'bug out' scenario.
Alas, we had no place to bug out too.

But now we do have a place.  So I've been reading up on it and the more I read about stocking a home for the unexpected, the more I want to make sure that we are doing it properly.  It's only in the natural course of developing the farm that we realized that we have the rare opportunity to create a safe place to relocate to (if the need arises) from scratch.  We have a water well, so we're good if there is no water.  We have septic tank sewage so we're good there too (toilets will still flush!).  We're building a garden area.  We've planted fruit trees.  We have some backup water in the form of several 5 gallon bottles.
We're stocking the mudroom with canned goods.  Cleaning supplies.
I'm collecting a supply of heirloom seeds of all types and storing them properly.
We've got a couple of grills and plenty of firewood.  We're just storing things so we don't have to go shopping as often, but in the process, we're also creating a backup plan.  And yet there is so much more to do.

If a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane hit, we now have a place of safety to go to that's far enough away from the Gulf that we'd be safer at than we would be in Houston.  If there was no power in town, we'd have a place with power.  Food?  Shelter?  Water?  Check, check, check.  But what else?  What if something else happened that forced us there for an even more extended period of time?  Another two weeks without power in town and we're good.  But what about terror attack?  Man made disaster?  Some sort of outbreak or illness?  We live in the shadow of a major metropolitan city with millions of people.  It might not take much to make people crazy and make us want to leave to the sanity of the country.

We're not worrying about aliens or asteroids or Mayan prophecies, and we certainly don't think about it 24/7, that's just not who we are, but why not be prepared for the unexpected?

Here in the US, the CDC has a funny approach to the serious subject of being prepared.  They are advertising it from the point of view that "if you are prepared for a zombie apocalypse", you are prepared for any emergency.
Of course it's silly, but it gets the point across.

So now we think of other things we don't have at the farm yet that will help us be more prepared for our future.  We need more alternative lighting, oil lamps for example, flashlights, extra clothing, batteries, radios, more first aid products, solar powered devices and chargers, etc.  In a way, anyone visiting the house would just assume it's a farmhouse in the country.  And it is.  But we are actually preparing it for self reliance and I guess if you want to call it prepping, then yes, we are prepping in plain sight.

Update:  Such a great response to this post, I'm going to start sharing things we've done and how we've done it, ideas I've read elsewhere, and hopefully learning from you all as well.  I've also added a new 'category/label' below, PREPPING so that I can organize the posts and make them easily searchable.

Will also reply to all of your comments, just ran out of time now. 


jaz@octoberfarm said...

well, if there is a disaster around here i am screwed!

Tombstone Livestock said...

Living in the country automatically means you are more prepared. You don't just run to the store for one or two items. Yes our ancestors new how to be prepared, because they had too, there were no super Wally Worlds out there to run to for a loaf of bread or a tube of toothpaste. Just be sure to keep the car gassed up just in case. Living out from town made me learn quick never let the gas tank get below a quarter full, should keep it at least half full, if there is a power outage, no gas pumps.

kymber said...

1st Man - what a brilliantly-written article!!! oh yes - you are definitely prepping in plain site. and i would recommend that you and 2nd Man sit down together and make a list of everything that you would need at the farmhouse for a 2-day power outage...then for a 2-week power outage and then start a "the whole grid is down - what do we need" list. jambaloney and i did that back in the city over several years and it really helped us figure what we needed at our BOL. and once we got here and realized that we are living in the middle of nowhere with other people that have been living in the middle of nowhere for their whole lives - let's just say that we have learned a thing or two from these people! these people stockpile food, emergency supplies, all kinds of stuff. just about everyone in our 2 communities is on the Volunteer Fire Department and most of us are first-aid/CPR/AED qualified. one good thing about our 2 communities is that we are each on a different grid, luckily enough. that means if we lose power in one community, we don't necessarily lose it in the other community. everyone has a well or a spring but we have water everywhere and everyone has filters, water is never an issue. everyone has their own septic. but the great thing is that a lot of people here are still living like their grandparents - a funny thing - most people don't have showers, just bathtubs. i like that.

anyway - you 2 sound like you are taking all of this seriously and i really commend you for that. figuring out what you need at the farm to comfortably retire there will also help toward your prepping even if nothing ever happens. prepare for the zombie apocalypse and then live very comfortably and peacefully when no zombies ever show up.

again - this is a great post! your friend,

Tonya @ My Cozy Little Farmhouse said...

Fantastic post FM! It is kind of scary when you first make the lists and realize how unprepared you actually are. Once you overcome the shock, you make a plan and it becomes soothing--like a security blanket. Just knowing you can ride out the storm/ crisis is a great for peace of mind.

After 2 years of slowly gathering things we still are not were we need to be but are getting closer. We are not fortunate to have our own BOL but my cousin has a place if the $h!t hits the fan so to speak, we can go there--with the condition I bring as many of canning goodies as I can pack in the truck, lol

At least twice a month I try to pick up a few extra supplies... (an extra jug of water, canned food, candles, etc...) whatever we need and strike it off the list.

Speaking of lists the Red Cross, FEMA and CDC all have links on their pages to help people prepare

Joani said...

Even in town if my tank gets to 1/4 tank, it's fill-up time!

Joani said... a child I lived on a ranch in Arizona that did not have power & did not have running water and as kids we made it as well as all those adults that were before us.

My grandparents had fruit trees watered by a spring, planted a garden in the spring, and canned, canned, & canned. They also butchered & kept the meat between the houses in the daytime & hung it at night so that it would cool off. They did not have refrigerators.

The main staples were sugar, flour & salt. Everything else was a plus. Oh, and it was kept in big cans so that the ants and mice couldn't get to it.

Grandmother made bread, tortillas, pinto beans and lots of chili. She also had a lot of fruit from the canning process in the summer. It was hot then to do all the canning but everyone pitched in.

Something to think about may be a butane tank as there are butane stoves, refrigerators, water heaters & etc. We had out houses....never had a bathroom in the house. Lights were kerosene and in the winter we went to bed early & in the summer it was after the sun set. Warmth was by wood used in the fireplace or stove. Cooling off was sitting outside under the pomegranate bushes in the hottest part of the day.

Keep it simple and one doesn't need all of the necessities that people think they need in today's world.

Have a good week.

donna baker said...

I am glad you wrote about prepping. My family and friends think I am crazy when I talk about it. So, I buy extra foodstuffs and stick them away. Foil, bleach (8 drops per gallon of water to make it drinkable), soap, shampoos, etc. I've read that 50% of Americans are at risk if there is a national emergency. One only has to look at a cyber attack and the subsequent results. A pandemic? Personally, I think it will be a trifecta of events happening simultaneously. So, I prep. Like you, I think they show too many crazy preppers, but I think you also need to think about security. I live on 50 acres and it will be hard to defend against those wanting what you have. I read about something someone said in the paper. He said when it hits the fan, he going to arm himself and go down the road to the Amish settlement. I have found a wonderful place to buy stuff for prepping. Lehman's out of Ohio has everything you'd possibly need. I get the catalog but I'm sure it's online too. We have three ponds stocked with fish which wouldn't be too expensive or difficult for you to build. Find someone with a dozer and they can do it in a day. One thing we didn't do that I wish we had, is have them leave an island in the center of the pond for your geese and ducks. Coyotes always get ours and this would have solved the problem. I'd much rather live in the country during a crisis than still be living in Bellaire. I really do believe that it is just a matter or time.

Marcia said...

Do you have a generator? We have two 1000 gal propane tanks that run our boiler (hot water and heat source) and cook stove. They also run the generator. Necessary out here.

2 Tramps said...

Yes, living in the country does require prepping. Town is a trip and gas is expensive plus the time involved, so we stock up on things here. I store 25 pound bags of sugar in ice chests - great to keep out bugs or mice. For flour, rice and beans, I use food grade buckets. One thing I don't think you can have enough of is toilet paper (or any paper products you use) - we buy it by the case and store it in the attic. And of course, because we BBQ and Dutch oven cook, we store plenty of charcoal, buying it in May and September when the sales are best - we keep over 300 pounds on hand always. We buy multiple cords of firewood and a pallet load of pellets for the pellet stove in the shop. Now is the time when we get ready for winter - it seems to be almost instinct brought on by the shifting of seasons. And your post has reminded me to make a list of the things that we have let lapse a bit - time to check the cupboards and replenish - thanks!!

beachdaddy said...

Lots of good ideas here from people who obviously know what they are doing ... one small thing, rotate your stock of canned goods... always use the oldest first ... We routinely buy large quantities of canned goods and I always put the new in back so we don't have a special 'prep' cupboard, but have the things we use all the time, and plenty of them, and always well within the pull date. Just an idea...

mugwump said...

Dear Ants,
I'm not going o worry about it...when it all hits the fan I'm going to come hang out with you guys.
The Grasshopper

Trailshome said...

Hi, I read this post this morning and it's been on my mind all day, as I go about harvesting things from my organic garden, can peaches and pick our blueberries for delicious winter desserts. When I hear people talking about "prepping" they're so often talking about buying lots of artificially prepared foods that are really bad for them, and about buying guns and ammunition.

It always makes me shake my head in dismay at the bad life habits taken to extreme. So much of what's being stashed away for WTSHTF is food they'd never eat in their normal life and if they tried to switch to it in an emergency, they'd have such digestive problems they'd be really sick.

I think your solution is so much more sensible. Why not take normal, sensible good habits just a step farther and be ready for whatever happens, or an emergency if that happens too. We're two retirees in Northern Indiana, growing our own organic food, canning, freezing and storing in buried garbage can root cellars. When our power went out for three days last winter, we simply built the wood stove up a little higher, got out the lanterns and flashlights, put a pot of soup on the stove, and relaxed, until the lights came back on. Well said, and I hope you continue to live a good life, whether or not the emergency happens.

1st Man said...

Well don't say that, you can stock up some stuff, I know it! :-)

1st Man said...

That's kind of what we were thinking as we stock it up. We just buy stuff that a) will last, and b) we think we might need if we couldn't get to a store. TL and Joani, yep, definitely about keep the tank full(er). It's kind of neat thing they do here in Houston. We have those large freeway signs that show warnings about traffic jams and stuff. Well, when a Tropical Storm forms in the Gulf of Mexico, we get a warning that says "Storm Forming in Gulf, Fill up your Gas Tank". I think that's a good reminder.

1st Man said...

Well THANK YOU for your kind words. We have had, over the years, a 2 day outage and it's uncomfortable but not horrible. We learned to have a few things on hand that we didn't before. Then with "Ike", we had two weeks of no power. THAT was a wake up call. A lot of people never experience that. Let me tell you, losing everything in your fridge, not having cool air, gas stations being closed, grocery storms being closed, not having tv or internet, it really changes things. We THOUGHT we were prepared but that was a big wake up call. Since Ike, we've purchased the farm and have been stocking it. And NOW we have a life experience to think back on. It was Summer, so we learned how to prepare for heat, but we have to think about Winter and staying warm if something happened then.

The farm is just making us plan it out and we are able to keep it organized as we go. We have so many places to store stuff, we just think of what we need and put it on the list and we add to it. Like you said, prepare for zombies and we'll be set when they never show up, LOL!

1st Man said...

We kind of thought about it and asked ourselves "OK, if we had to leave town and go out there on short notice and stay for a week (or more), what do we need?". And yes, the list shows us woefully unprepared. But now as we think of things to get and take out to the farm, it does help with peace of mind.

Hey, your cousin is a smaper person, canning goodies will always work huh?

Thank you for the links...great reminders. Off to check out the lists!

1st Man said...

What an awesome comment. Thank you for taking the time and sharing. I think you hit the nail on the head, keep it simple and we don't need all that we think we need huh? Sounds like you had a great life growing up an didn't miss what you didn't know you didn't have. Again, what a great story to share and a great reminder to all of us. Thank you!

1st Man said...

Well thank you! You know, we don't mention prepping that much to friends as well because you're right, sometimes you get crazy looks. I'm with you on possibilities. Aliens? No. Asteroids? Probably not. Zombies? No. But a pandemic? Definitely possible. A cyber attack? Also very possible. Heck, Google went out the other day for 5 MINUTES and it stopped worldwide internet traffic by 40%. What if it all went off for a month or more? Coming from Bellaire, (which is in Houston for those who don't know) you well understand how crazy it would be in Houston if something like that happened. We'd definitely rather be out in the country or at least have that option.

Defense I've given some thought to but again, haven't gone crazy.

Lehman's, my gosh that's one of my favorite catalogs (and we've bought some stuff from them). I look at the catalog for ideas on things to have. Also looking for some parts for some oil lamps and I'll be getting from there.

No pond for us yet but there is a natural pond site on our property and it's definitely on the future list. And what a great idea you have for an island. Heck, the island would be great for anything you might want to put on there. Even a small space would be great. Thanks!

1st Man said...

No generators but I've been looking into those. Right now I need to wait until we have a barn so we have a place to store them safely (not outside in the elements) until we need them. Our Winters aren't QUITE harsh enough to worry about that, but again, if we had no power for weeks and it WAS in the low 30's, upper 20's, we would definitely need some alternative heat source. :-)

Kelly said...

When I was taking my classes for my insurance license (again) we learned that Lloyds of London is now selling Zombie Apocalypse insurance. I think we need to get in on that!!

1st Man said...

Food grade buckets huh? I need to research how long you can store rice/flour/beans for. Since we aren't out there all the time, I'd like to have storage but I don't want to waste it either. Looks Like I need to do some googling, ha.

I totally hear you about the TP (and for us, paper towels). I have read that before and it does make sense that it's a luxury most of us would not want to do without.

Charcoal is a great idea. We do have a lot of wood on the property (and we don't have any sort of wood burning stove or fireplace, yet anyway) but charcoal is a great idea. Thank you.

Thanks for the suggestions and glad we could help remind.

1st Man said...

That's a great idea. Thank you. So far we don't have a large amount of canned goods but I will make sure we put newest in back. Another tip from me that your comment just reminded me of is when anyone is shopping for canned goods at the store, remember that grocery stores do the same thing. They put their older goods in the front of the shelf so people pick them up first. In fact, just yesterday I bought some canned goods and the can in front of the shelf said "best by 12/31/2013. I stuck my arm in the back and pulled out a can that was good through 09/10/2014. That's closing in on a year difference! I have always bought those later ones just because to me, they are 'fresher' and more recently made. But that reminds me that like you said, I need to do the same at home. THanks again!

1st Man said...

LOL! Come on down!! :-)

1st Man said...

What a kind comment. Thank you!!! Yes, that's a great way to sum it up. Instead of buying and stocking up with stuff you might not normally eat, grow what you like and put up things that you like. I can't wait until we get more stuff going in the garden and I can start canning.

I like the way you said when you had a mini emergency of sorts, with no power, you just put a little extra wood you had in the stove, got out the lanterns and lights you had, and started cooking food that you had. Then you just relaxed and waited. Perfect example! Thank you!

I must read up on garbage can root cellars. Not sure if we are cool enough down here for that, but i'll have to research it. Thank you again and thanks for such an insightful comment. Good life to you too!!

1st Man said...

Seriously? I wonder if that's something we'll start offering at our company, LOL! Too funny. :-)