Are We Crazy?
By Randy Bock
I am first a homesteader. From a young age I had a homesteading spirit, and enjoyed working with my hands, gardening, landscaping, raising horses, chickens, ducks, turkeys and rabbits. I’ve also always liked organization and order, and that serves me well in my efforts.
I can’t imagine ever ‘bugging out’ to another location. I’ve been in our home since 1981 developing these 3 acres to suit our purposes and I feel safer here than anywhere else. Our home is in as perfect a location as I could hope for, with low population density, no chance of hurricane, flood, forest fire, earthquake, tornado, tsunami, major inclement weather events and virtually no likelihood of nuclear or chemical event. Economic events are, however, another story.
As a homesteader and a ‘bug-inner’, my infrastructure is of primary importance to me. We heat with wood (although we do have electric ‘backup’), have a good well with a windmill as well as a submersible pump, two 3,000 gallon above ground water storage tanks, a generator and a significant quantity of propane to run it, facilities for chickens and goats , a small tractor and several garden areas. This requires more than a little work to maintain and upgrade, which suits me perfectly. Home is my favorite place to be.
Having a functioning and hardy infrastructure that you can depend on will literally be a lifesaver if (when) times get difficult.
Although our region has little very cold or sustained wet weather, it seems that when you most need firewood is when it is most likely to be wet. Having a dry place to store at least weeks’ worth, to me, is a luxury, because I’ve had to make do with tarps or scrap plywood or anything to keep it covered and dry.
Making sure my animal pens are predator proof is another consideration. This has been a recent and continuing project. A 6 foot adobe wall around the house, gardens and animal pens is another ongoing project on which we have made very good progress over the past few years, with part of it always under construction as time allows.
We enjoy a wonderful and comfortable lifestyle, but many things threaten that. Trying to be too specific can be over-thinking the situation, because preparation for inflation, weather related disaster, extended illness, loss of jobs, a Walmart truckers’ strike, viral pandemic or total economic collapse may have the same or nearly the same consequences affecting your life style, short or long term. My greatest concern is loss of electrical power for an extended time. I know that I can never hope to replace the cheap and abundant electrical power I now use, primarily for pumping water.
My entire ‘prepping’ mindset is ‘What will I need for the next five years?’ and to that end I try to prepare. I know that in time I will need a new water heater, so that is on my list to have on hand, along with the fittings to connect it. Whether in stockpiling food and supplies, or upgrading buildings and systems on the homestead to try to achieve a greater degree of independence, I try to think five years ahead.
When I find great sales on groceries or other items we use regularly, I don’t hesitate to buy cases of it. Surprisingly, the clerks rarely ask you why you’re buying so much. Expiration dates don’t bother us much, and we use what we buy and we buy what we use and if you make a trip to the supermarket only to buy 6 cans of beans when they’re on sale, you haven’t saved very much. Expiration dates don’t matter with shampoo, conditioner, soap, detergent, toilet paper, plastic forks and spoons.
Although it’s a bit more costly, we’ve begun buying our cornmeal, beans, rice, wheat and several other items in #10 cans, because, with just Karen and me eating it, the larger containers may not stay as fresh. We do have a supply of wheat and beans in 5 gallon buckets since we’ll likely have to feed our kids and grandkids plus some friends if it comes to that.
We have some experience with this. We were ‘prepping’ before Y2K. Remember that? We are still grinding wheat we purchased prior to the year 2000, and it still makes wonderful bread. We did ‘repurpose’ some soy flour that we just didn’t like and gave the last of our hulled sunflower seeds to the chickens after they turned rancid, but all in all, it was a good investment. And on a homestead, not much goes to waste.
If nothing ever happens, we’ll eat this food anyway, and will have saved money because of inflation and not making such frequent trips to the supermarket. I’ll use that spare water heater and plumbing parts and the rope and twine and extra work gloves and duct tape and dog food and lay pellets, toothpaste, shampoo and Band-Aids. At least, if I live long enough, which I expect to.
It’s an investment, unlike homeowner’s or auto insurance, which is a gamble that I usually lose.
Are we crazy? My kids mostly think so. But, when they’re running short of something and don’t want to stop at the store on the way home because the grandkids are fussy they don’t mind asking if I have an extra bottle of this, a package of that or a spare full propane tank. (And they know I always do.)
Complete self-sufficiency is a pipe dream, unless you want to live under a bush and kill your food with a rock. We are too dependent on each other, civilization and sharing the work load to go back to prehistoric times. Even early explorers and settlers of this continent had tools, weapons, clothing and equipment purchased or bartered from others. They hunted and gathered much of their food and lived in crude shelters made with their own hands, but their lives were not easy, nor did they enjoy a level of comfort that the poorest among us enjoy today.
Most of us want more than mere survival. Most of us want to preserve a life style that we have come to enjoy. And many of us have begun to modify a lifestyle that may be considered ‘excessive’ into one that is more sustainable, more self-reliant. And that’s an important prep to consider.
We can anticipate our needs for 3 months, 6 months, a year or five years. Maybe we won’t think of everything and maybe we can’t afford to implement everything that completes our ‘ideal’ list of preparations, but what you are able to do will be better than doing nothing.
And that’s not crazy.