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Perspectives on Prepping

January 22, 2016

First things first, that’s what I was told so often as a kid. To that end, let me say this, first. I do not think of myself primarily as a prepper. Not because I think being prepared is a bad idea. Not because I don’t value my independence. Not because I can’t foresee a situation in which my family and I might have to survive for either a short or even extended period of time without much of the support/comfort/convenience of “the grid.” Certainly not because I don’t believe in freedom, both for myself and others. No, the reason I don’t think of myself as a prepper is pretty simple. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a fair number of preppers and came away with the impression a good many of them are self-professed experts who are, well, missing a big chunk of insulation in the attic. I have, in other places, expressed my less than favorable opinion of some of them.

As a result, I’ve had some people, primarily from the right hand end of the political spectrum, call me any number of names and suggest all sorts of intended-to-be-terribly-insulting things about my intellect, character and behavior. For instance, I’ve been called/told

  • I’m a coward
  • I’m a closet socialist
  • I have no love for freedom
  • My sexual interests deviate significantly from the norm
  • I suffer from a mental illness
  • I’m stupid

All of these, and more, have one thing in common (except the socialist thing, that one is limited to people on the right, those on the left call me a fascist). They are all the same things I hear from those toward the left hand end of the political spectrum. This suggests that maybe, just maybe mind you, those toward either extreme end of the spectrum have more in common with each other than with the rest of us.

With all that said, here are some of my thoughts regarding being prepared.

  • Preparedness that encompasses only one area or aspect of life (food, finances, self-defense, etc) is not preparedness at all. Whether there is a TEOTWAWKI event or whether you are faced with a big earthquake/flood/hurricane/forest fire/tornado/economic depression/blizzard, there is a possibility you could be on your own for either a few days or even a significant length of time. Preparedness involves being as prepared as you can be to preserve your life and all the things that make it your life. It’s great to have food, water, first aid supplies and all the weapons you need to defend yourself. Have you included friends or family in your preparations? You have a place to which you can “bug out.” Have you pre-positioned supplies there? You plan on bugging in. Have you made plans for how you’ll prepare food in the prolonged absence of gas/electricity?
  • Some people have mistakenly, I believe, come to the conclusion preparedness is doing things and collecting stuff. Others have decided preparedness is a mindset. Both groups are no more than half right.
  • Is preparedness a mindset? Of course it is. Both in terms of the myriad of things you need to consider and for which you need to plan. More than that, it is a mindset in terms of the need to be mentally prepared to do what is necessary for survival without violating your moral standards. Are there things a well-prepared person will do? Absolutely. Thinking and mindset that don’t produce well considered action are useless. Jim Rohn said “Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.” Likewise, action without thought is a waste of limited time and resources.
  • You can read every word written on every prepping site in existence and be hard pressed to find more words of wisdom than what you’ll find from the Bayou Renaissance Man series that begins here, or this one from the blog “On a Wing and a Whim.” Both of them lack the often supercilious attitude of many self-proclaimed experts. Instead, they’re filled with basic common sense – the kind that can not only help you survive, but do so with your marriage or other relationship intact. That can only be a good thing (if you are married/in a relationship and it’s not a good thing, there are some issues you should probably address now!).
  • You can enjoy life, even while preparing for who knows what.
  • If your ongoing preparations don’t allow you to enjoy life, you aren’t being prepared. You’re being paranoid.

The more time I spend thinking about this stuff, and becoming as prepared as I can, the more I realize just how much there is to consider. My wife and I had to spend some time thinking about our response to any number of possible events. We decided, unless absolutely forced to choose otherwise, to bug in rather than to “head for the hills,” popular though that idea seems to be with many people. Here’s why we’ve decided to stay put.

  • Food and water. I’ll be honest, my days of humping a pack across the desert/up a mountain day after day are gone. Even with a vehicle, I can’t transport as much food as we can store in our pantry. There’s more to it than storage, though. Our house sits on about 1/3 acre. After subtracting space for the house, garage, sheds and some concrete walkways, we’re left with about 1/4 acre – enough for our own little “urban homestead,” if rightly used. On that much space, we can grow/raise enough food for our family. Since we have a great well, we aren’t dependent upon municipal water if things go horribly wrong with the municipal water supply. Between our garden (including cold frames and a possible greenhouse in the near future), fruit trees, grapes and blackberries, we can grow more food each year than we eat. What we don’t eat, we preserve by canning. This year, we’ll be adding a hardy breed of chickens for eggs and obtaining a buck rabbit to keep our does company. Later, we plan to add a couple of dairy goats. Their offspring, thanks to the services of a nearby Boer goat buck, will find their way into the freezer alongside the bunnies. There are days it’s good to have spent so many of my formative years on and around farms.
  • I like to camp – when it’s optional. I have no desire to camp because I have no choice. I’ve been rained/snowed/hailed/sleeted on and baked by the sun when I had no choice. Yes, you can stay warm and dry if you know how and if you have right supplies or have the means to build what you need. It’s a lot easier in a house.
  • Look, unless we have complete societal breakdown, there will still be an economy of some sort. My wife and I have jobs that are as close to recession/depression proof as a job can get. Income is always good.
  • Sure, I can break my leg at home or in the woods. Even if the local hospitals are so full they can’t see me, I’d rather be home than in a tent in the middle of nowhere, thank you. See also, “shelter,” immediately above. And, just like with food and water, I can store more medicine and first aid supplies here than I can carry on my back.
  • I know my house and I know our small piece of land and I know both of them far better than any jackass (or group thereof) who might choose to invite themselves to visit. Besides, concrete and limestone walls stop bullets far better than the walls of a tent.
  • Distance from here to there. We have actually been invited, by people we know and trust, to what I consider as close to perfect a bug out location as one can imagine in this part of the world. It has everything we have here, except more of it, plus, it has a pond and a nearby river. It’s also several hours away and cannot be reached without either going through a major metro area or crossing a designated evacuation route. In most circumstances, it’s really not an option.
  • Our lives are here. While I would not hesitate to bug out if it became truly necessary, and that possibility is something for which we are always preparing, leaving home is not the first choice. There is something perhaps intangible but nonetheless real and important about home. While in a true SHTF scenario we would almost certainly have in increase in crime here in what my wife calls “the biggest small town in America,” I’m really not worried about the “golden horde” that’s so feared by many. Most of them will never make it out of the cities alive. Some people here might choose to plunder and rapine, but they would shortly learn just how intolerant most people in this part of Texas are of such behavior.

If things do, one day, go as horribly awry as some people predict, you may have to “hunker down” for and extended period. You might even have to bug out. Which one you do is entirely up to you. I think you should make your decision based on your situation, resources and needs. It’s probably a good idea to prepare for doing both, as one of them may not be a viable option if and when the bad times come. Whatever you choose, however you prepare, do it because you’ve seriously considered all your options and as many factors as you possibly can. As you prepare, don’t forget to live your life. If we do everything we have planned and nothing bad happens, we’ll be able to sit outside at night and look at the life we’ve built while we sip our tea (or bourbon) while watching the flames from the fire pit. I hope for you, the same is true, that you prepare now for what might come and that you enjoy your life, regardless of what does or does not happen.

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