Drought and how to prepare for food production

I am posting this separately so it doesn’t get lost in the original thread “Adventures in survival gardening: planting, sunstroke and aphid apocalypse” that led to this thread on “Drought and how to prepare for food production.”

There are two more issues to deal with:

I just came back in from finding a carpenter ant. Luckily, I had experience with them once and now I spray any vector points for entry into my home including up between the foundation and stucco to ensure they don’t get in the house that way.

These ants, for those who haven’t seen them, are gigantic. They will destroy the wood in your house as will a termite, however they don’t eat the wood but nest in it by tunneling throughout the studs. They can turn wood studs into chop sticks.

The search for info on aphids resulted in the news article linked below. We are in some big trouble if we don’t get rain.

The irony is that I remember when I first moved back to Manitoba in 2005, we faced record breaking rainfalls. There was the “worst flood in 50 years” and then the “heaviest rainfall in 100 years” until they gave up quantifying it and just called the heavy rainfalls “record breaking.”

It is official. The prairies are in a drought, but as the article states, so is a swatch that stretches from Vancouver Island (known for it’s lush rain forest and dewy weather), to southern Quebec down into the USA into California and Mexico. They are calling this drought “never been seen before.”

We are in the red zone in southwestern Manitoba. Crop failure in the Saskatchewan and Manitoba areas are bad news as they grow the bulk of legumes and grains. Alberta is beef cattle ranch country and beef farmers here are worried about having enough water for their livestock. Dugouts and other sources of water drying up or dried up.

Shortages due to crop failure and lack of water for cattle are going to translate into more money for the consumer as well.

Drought declared and details

What I am concerned about as a prepper is how rapidly food production is impacted when the weather becomes extreme. And, per the original post, how quickly insect pests that can affect food production can populate so quickly.

I am still searching for info on how to change my preparing in order to cope with this situation. I am looking at how to shift my food production, if it is possible.

In the “dirty ’30’s or The Great Depression, crop failure due to a long drought was a feature of life. It continued for 10 long years. People in Canada affected by it simply packed up and left. Some people starved to death.

Dorthea Lange made an incredible photographic record of images showing how a natural disaster like drought and a financial disaster like The Great Depression could impact people. Her photographs were of American people. In Canada, our images were the same. Overwhelmed people fleeing a disaster.

Dorthea Lange and images of drought during The Great Depression

Our hope is for the rain that is again promised to come. So far we have had a few sprinkles but the regular rainfall that we see is predicted and then doesn’t happen.

Even if we get the rainfall that is once again predicted, to the extent that we now need it, I will never forget this experience and how rapidly we were impacted by drought conditions. Never again will I omit food production during a drought in my preparedness planning nor how fast insects can take over.

I will post any helpful information on alternate grow methods or strategies as I can research and find them.


  • Comments (46)

    • 5

      Regarding insects, we can eat ants and aphids. Some bugs are a source of protein. It’s little consolation, however, in desperate times like a drought and crop failures, this might be a good thing to keep in mind:


      • 5

        You eat the bugs.  I’ll eat from the gardens & orchards. 🙂  I’m gonna keep plenty of insecticides in stock… from the organic ones to the really nasty ones.  I also stock several years worth of fungicides.  

        If one is a prepper & plans to grow their own food during a severe crisis, one must prep for the worst of times… not the best.  Just as one should keep garden seed in storage, one should also store plenty of insecticides, herbicides & fungicides.  Roundup gets a bad rap but if you want to quickly clear an area for planting, nothing beats it. 

        One must make plans to irrigate crops.  Every situation is different but with planning, each problem can be solved.

      • 4

        Well, I don’t really want to eat them either, but it is good to know. Maybe if they were disguised in a burger 🙂

        I absolutely agree with keeping a spectrum of products to protect one’s garden. I think organic gardening is a bit of a myth. We have air pollution, contaminants from the rain, wind, and via the water and how it travels including the water table.

        I think it is almost impossible now to grow food completely free of any contamination unless it was in a biodome with a clean water source and state of the art air filtration.

        It’s nice to use organic methods and I intend to learn more about them. But really, our ancestors used these methods because they had nothing else and we forget the years that they experienced crop failures or bad yields.

        I am finding that some of the companion planting recommended is not working for aphids the way it is touted. Perhaps it works to a point, but not with the level of infestation we are experiencing?

        Irrigation is wonderful providing your water source doesn’t run dry as it is in some areas here. I am looking at the water tanks used in Australia. They strap them to their homes. I would put some on the garage when it is built if I can.

        While I was planting part of my vegetable beds today, I reflected on gardening. Here’s what I came up with:

        As a drill of sorts, I think we need to treat every garden we plant as if it is our only source of food for the coming year. Pioneers had to do this because they knew if their garden failed, they went hungry or starved. There were no options, regardless of weather conditions or insects.

        I told my husband that if we didn’t have access to the products we were able to get to treat the aphid problem, we would have lost our garden this year. An infestation of that size would have been impossible to hand pick off the plants (as is also touted in organic gardening).

        As a prepping reality check, I intend to treat my gardening as if it is the only vegetables we will have access to. I think it is too easy right now to not have that same edge to this experience. I believe we need to develop that mind set so we can consider weak areas in our garden preps.

        For example, you keep lots of seed, which I think is a very wise part of your plans. However, what if your seed failed? I’ve had bad seed before. So, if I were treating this as if it were the only food, then I would make testing all the seed every season a part of prepping to ensure that the seed is indeed viable.

        Or what if the seed was good and some other catastophe, like swarms of insects kept destroying your crops? I know how much product I have gone through in the last two days to save my plants and it is a lot, because the aphids keep coming. If I were relying on this crop for food, I would probably run out of insecticide. So, now I consider is there a way to prevent a heavy year of insects from destroying crops? Instead of spray, would tenting and fumigation work better?

        If we treat our gardens as our only source of food, we can find the flaws that can trip us up when it could be our only source of food. I think this could be a good way to work our prepping plans for the worst of times.

      • 2

        However, what if your seed failed? I’ve had bad seed before. So, if I were treating this as if it were the only food, then I would make testing all the seed every season a part of prepping to ensure that the seed is indeed viable.

        Well each year, I add to the seed stores, so each year is a different batch of seed.  I ordered another pound of collard & amaranth seed this past week.  It will go in the freezer with prior years.  Soon I will fill a 6 gallon pail with field corn, pole beans, more collards & winter squash seed.  I do this every year.  So yes, the seed that is 5 years old might not be very viable but most of the newer seed will be.  I will remove the seed heads from this years amaranth & likewise store in a 6 gallon pail.  I will replace every year.

      • 5

        As I work and consider the variables that can destroy food production, I am mapping out a new method for how I approach gardening.

        Like other aspects of prepping, the evolution to adapt to environmental changes will need to be spread over multiple approaches.

        Seed testing of each batch is one step. I want to grow each test batch to life cycle completion to check for viability. It’s not enough to sprout the seed. I want to know if the plant can survive. From what I understand, seed and the resulting plant can become weaker with time, which could be a problem in the case of long term survival.

        Rodent proof seed storage is another. If insects can suddenly multiple in a drought, then other pests can be affected as well.

        I have been concerned about the impact of the new garbage system we just got out here. It is those big plastic bins and the automated truck. Prior to that, people had garbage cans in the back lanes. The stray cats, mice and rats fed off of the garbage.

        Now their food sources are reduced outside, so there is a good chance that the rodents will begin to forage inside people’s homes. 

        Rats can chew through cement. I’ve seen it. They actually tunnelled through it. I think the most sensible step would be to house the seed containers inside insulated metal container(s).

        Insulation for seed is important because storing seed is like storing canned goods. Every degree above a certain temperature will detract life from  canned good products. Some people store their seed in chilled environments, but I would be concerned about humidity.

        You store your seed in a freezer. Have you ever had problems with humidity? Do you use oxy-absorbers in the containers?

        My seed is stored inside separate containers, and then all of it stored inside insulated coolers. The coolers are on my basement floor which keeps the seed cool year round. Dehumidifer keeps the humidity controlled.

        This still leaves the issue of climate variability or change or whatever is happening. I have to pull some statistics and understand exactly how much change is actually happening. Or is this a simple cycle of nature?

        My grandmother and great-grandmother always referred to “seven years of feast and seven years of famine”. It was the instruction to put away in the good years and beware the lean “famine” years.

        Water, sunlight and temperature. Length of growing season. There has to be ways of compensating for these essential features of plant growth.

        Water can be retained by mulching around the plants. The plastic wrap I put over the tomato and basil seed buckets is working really well to retain moisture and give a greenhouse effect.

        One of the soil mixtures I use contains gel particles that are supposed to help retain moisture. That could help conserve water.

        Perhaps another way to conserve moisture is to use plastic sheeting, in the way of water acquisition during a survival situation, but have the water directed to the plants?

        Change of crop may be necessary. You experiment with different types of crops, have you ever grown soy? It is high protein. You can make tofu out of it, which can be stored. I think (not sure) it can be cooked and ground into burgers (like bean burgers). There is some sort of connection to breast cancer in women, but I’m not sure if that is still a factor or if it has changed. Will have to check that one.

        I am going to start watching for other changes in the environment as I work outdoors. Nature is a great teacher.

        Thank you for the feedback. It is really helping me to figure this out.

      • 3

        I have not grown soybeans but this is a major growing area for them. I’d say more soybean is grown here than any commercial crop.  Seed is easy to find.  It is just a bean and around here, in our climate, any bean grows well.  I’ve tried many & Rattlesnake pole bean is my favorite.  It is an old bean & always delivers.  Problem with soybeans is they grow a compact plant & aren’t pole beans.  Pole beans will always outproduce bush beans, as they are huge & keep bearing as long as you keep picking, all the way till frost.

        The garden seed that goes into the freezer would be mostly limited to collards & amaranth, as they are so tiny & 1 lb could feed my family plus many others.  They go inside a small Mylar bag with desiccant. These two varieties are critical for my survival plans, thus I store them two ways (freezer & pails).  These two varieties provide high nutrition, a single pound contains an immense quantity of seed, the whole plants are edible, as you pick they put out new growth, plus between the two they cover the entire growing season… from start to finish.  Compare that to say corn, which grows a huge plant but all you eat is one or two ears.  That corn plant consumes a huge amount of resources (water/nutrients) for such a small amount of food.

        The other seed I store myself are the three sisters.  They go inside a larger Mylar bag with desiccants and oxygen absorbers, then inside 6 gallon pails.  These pails are stored in my prepper closet which never gets above 65 and the AC unit helps keep the room humidity down.

        Every few years I purchase a commercial product, the Homestead Seed Vault from Heirloom Organics.  That is just to give me more variety.


        Since I store so much food, at the onset of a crisis, I would not head to the food stores, like everyone else.  I would go to the local Coop & load up the truck with seed, fertilizer, whatever.  Wouldn’t expect a crowd there.

      • 3

        I made a note on the Rattlesnake Pole bean.  It sound like a good producer and can maximize growing season by producing until frost.

        I am growing Deseronto Potato Bean, a Mohawk heirloom bush bean


        GaGa Hut Pinto Bean from the Seneca people. This will be one of my three sisters beans.

        http://goodmindseeds.org/looking-back/ (you just need to scroll down a bit for it)

        Hidatsa Shield Figure bean which will be another three sisters bean


        Some indigenous people grew their beans up their tipis. That is such an ingenious and practical way of growing something by using an existing item.

        Plus I have some older beans as I said in another post and I am going to attempt growth with them. If it works I will update with the length of storage before germination and viability of the plant. I don’t have the list handy, but there are different varieties of old beans mostly grown by indigenous people.

        Collards and amaranth definitely sound like a better ROI versus corn. I finally found seeds for both plants and am ordering some for next year (and storage now).

        So, when you store your three sisters seed, do you mean you group the squash, corn and bean seeds together? That would be an excellent way to stay organized with your seeds. I kept my seed organized by planter this year, but that sounds like a better way to group seed for storage.

        We have Canadian versions of the commercial variety in buckets. It doesn’t hurt to diversify and store extra commercial seed.

        A very good point that in a crisis people are heading to the store for groceries instead of the garden centre for sustainable food. 

        Covid shopping behavior was a good indicator of what to expect. One can’t eat toilet paper. 

      • 4

        Yes, since the three sisters are companion plants & will be planted together, I store them in the same container.  I usually add a pound of collards as they take up so little room.  One 6 gallon pail would go a long way toward feeding my family.  Having multiple other pails, progressively older could be used for neighbors.  Having hundreds of thousands of amaranth & collard seed could also be used for neighbors.

        To summarize, my food production strategy during a crisis is to have nutritious greens growing almost year round, with collards in the spring & fall & amaranth growing in the summer.  Amaranth seed can also be ground into flour & used as a hearty, nutritious, breakfast porridge.  During the summer, I will grow the three sisters… along with other items I pick up at the Coop or have in the seed vault.

        A few weeks ago I purchased a set of stackable sifting pans, of various mesh sizes.  What is cool is that they are designed to fit on top of 5 & 6 gallon plastic pails, which most preppers possess.  They are tough as they are used for sifting soil in the hunt for gold.  They will be used to clean & separate the amaranth seed from the chaff.  

      • 5

        After today’s update on the other thread, I am definitely getting a pile of collard and amaranth seed in addition to other seed. I like that amaranth can be ground up for cereal like flax (flax has to be ground to get the nutrition out of it) I use flax in my whole grain bread, and amaranth should work as well.

        I really like those stackable sifting pans that fit on the 5 & 6 gallon pails! Definitely getting some of those. They could come in handy for cleaning other saved seeds also, plus other sifting tasks.

        It is a really good point about how much room various seed takes up. I keep going back to that in my head and considering the smaller seed often seems to hold the most nutritional value.

        In a crisis, it does come down to nutrition and the right crops are going to make or break that aspect of survival.

        Thank you.

      • 6

        You are welcome.  It is amazing to think how much food you can get from a tiny amaranth or collard seed.  That tiny amaranth seed can grow a plant larger than a corn plant.  The key is you eat the whole plant & as you cut the plant or pull its leaves… they grow new ones.  Cut the top half off a corn plant & all you get is a short corn plant that will not make ears.  Cut a similar sized amaranth plant, to eat all those nutritious leaves, and within a week you will have inches of new growth & new leaves.  With collards, you pick the larger outer leaves and leave the smaller inside leaves.  You keep doing this until too warm & they bolt or till a very heavy frost kills them.  I’ve had my plants survive the teens.

        Worried about neighbors starving & becoming a threat?  Set aside a pound of each of these varieties aside for them.  They will stay fed and stay busy tending them.  Remember, a pound of amaranth seed is hundreds of thousands of seeds.  The link below is supposed to have the best tasting leaves.  I’ll be planting some this week.  And remember amaranth is classified as a weed in some settings.  It acts like one.  Cut it down & it comes back up.  You think weeds die in dry weather?  Nope they don’t and amaranth doesn’t either.  Corn is a heavy feeder & does poorly without fertilization of virgin soil.  Amaranth needs nothing.  A side benefit is the plants look like weeds too.  Doesn’t look like “normal” garden crops, so you can grow stealthily.   A whole field of mature amaranth looks like a field of weeds.


      • 5

        The amaranth and collard greens act like the Fordhook Giant Chard I grow. You can keep harvesting the outside leaves or larger leaves and it continues to grow. It is the only chard where the stem is completely edible.

        It is a plus that it doesn’t require fertilizers or additives in conditions where there may be none available.

        I really like the drought tolerant aspect of it.

        The stealth aspect is one that I am trying to develop and this also fits the bill for that consideration. People could walk right by it and think it was a field of weeds.

        Plus the seeds could help keep hungry neighbors busy learning how to become self sufficient and fed by their own hand.

        I really like the volume of seed it creates. Even in a tough year, I imagine that one could acquire a good number of seeds for saving.

        Thank you for the seed link. I have it bookmarked.

      • 5

        These are cool! Will check out, many uses I can think of….thanks for sharing!

      • 4

        So do you implement a FIFO (first in first out) strategy with seeds?

      • 2

        No.  These seed are for crisis use only… if nothing else available.  I store much, much more seed than I currently use, as for now I just supplement our food with produce from the garden.  This seed stays sealed up & in cool storage.

        In a crisis it will be last in first out, as they will be the most viable.  We would have to do germination tests to see how viable each older variety is, and plant accordingly.  I store my seed in almost ideal conditions so they might stay viable longer than expected.  In a year or two I plan on opening up my oldest seed & testing it out.

      • 5

        Good morning Ubique,

        As a drill, yes in treating a garden as only source of food.

        Some pioneers did factor in having other food sources besides the garden. The most sought locations for a cabin or house … in US, the log cabin came after the wooden house in pioneer history …. was a growing area next to a river or lake. A hunting trip could be a year-long excursion.

        I know how to fish to include net use but all this has changed with the current population size and densities. Retriving a net load is happy hour for those watching and waiting.

        A group is needed whether family or trusted others.

      • 4

        Good morning Bob,

        I didn’t know that the log cabin came after the wooden house in pioneer history in the USA. I am going to check and see if Canada did the same thing.

        Being situated next to a river or lake was huge (and still is for many). My ancestors moved away from the area I currently lived in and pushed North East to settle around the South Eastern tip of Lake Manitoba. 

        The soil was excellent, a huge lake full of fish, plentiful game and fowl and excellent water. There is a photo of an uncle using both hands to hoist up a massive cauliflower in order to pose with it.

        I met a family in Ontario with seven children. He was an American who moved to Canada and met his wife here. They found a property by a river. He built a sawmill which was powered by the river. He built a lovely log cabin and every building on his property was of log construction.

        In the winter, he cut ice and stored it in his log ice house. His power cost was $7.00 per year for some propane. His sawmill provided an income for his large family.

        Looking back, I think they were probably the happiest people I ever met. 

        There are indeed lean hunting years. I remember them in the days that we relied on hunting. Many hunter/fisherer/gatherer societies experienced famines and hardship.

        Net fishing with an audience is definitely not an ideal situation. Are there any pockets (inlets?) of privacy or other accessible areas where you can fish undetected?

        I wish I could figure out how to create/find a group out here. The general mentality here is woefully ignorant with an unwillingness to learn. “But we’ve always done it this way.”

        People don’t age well here. There is a premature, cookie cutter approach to getting older. They equate getting older with giving up. Try making a group out of that. (There’s my head softly banging against a wall.)

        I am determined to find a way to move out of this bizarre dystopia. It is achievable and I am one senior who is not giving up. Ever.

        As an aside, during convalesence from the sunstroke, I watched a documentary on George Company and the incredible ordeal they went through during the 11 mile gauntlet they traveled through to make it to Hagaru-ri during the Korean War. 

        I was riveted to this story as it unfolded. It is possibly the most brave and determined group of soldiers I have ever heard of. We never got this in our history in school, so I have been learning about it now.

      • 4

        Good morning Ubique,

        The first houses in colonial Jamestown and nearby settlements did not have log houses.  Only when the Germanic and Nordic settlers arrive did log cabins appear.

        Speaking of pleantiful … fowl … the Labrador goose gun is a topic discussed at this area’s history meetings.

        There are many inlets and coves here but, as of recently, no activity goes undetected. There are 2 reasons: the place is overpopulated with unsupportable population densities and because of the terrorist events such as Mir Amal Kasi, anthrax and the beltway snipers. Entire area is monitored by authorities.

        Developing a group is perhaps the most difficult aspect of prepping I’ve encountered. Here, besides ignorance and unwillingness to learn, is a specific trait – very visable – and it’s agnorance.  This is common among young guys who just got out of the military after a couple to few years of service. 

        Concur: never give up.

        Here,also, the Korean War not a subject in the public schools. A main reason, I place magnified emphasis on warm socks and gloves due to father being a Korean War veteran after WWII service in Asia. I grew up in household where nothing was purchased other than basic home economics stuff EXCEPT for warm socks and warm gloves.

        Foot Note: At some of the colonial sites of eastern Virginia, there are spinning wheel demonstrations performed by real historians wearing colonial era clothing.

      • 3

        Good afternoon Bob,

        I just read about Jamestown to familiarize myself with it.

        To think that in 1607 a small group of English men and boys arrived to found a colony and then that colony survived for almost 100 years as the capital of the Virginia colony despite danger, hardship, disease and death is a testimony to the determination of a a group of people to survive.

        It makes sense that the Nordic and Germanic people would bring their traditional building skills with them and introduce the log cabin. 

        A Labrador could be a good hunting companion for fowl. They are excellent dogs for retrieving and could do so quietly. 

        I drifted off into word association and started thinking about the Labrador CFB Goose Bay air force base that was shared for many years by the Canadian and American air force from 1942 to 1976.

        Subsequently many other countries like England and The Netherlands came there for training. Their countries didn’t offer the low level expanse of air space.

        Those incidents were horrible and it is no wonder that the area is monitored so closely. It is unthinkable that Kasi got his idea to target FBI employees because his courier route took him near the area and he knew that two of the turnoffs on the highway went past their building.

        I concur on building community being the most difficult aspect of prepping. “Agnorance” – yes, we have them here also. A delightful combination of clueless and arrogance. Some days it is like performance art. 

        It shouldn’t be that hard to build community. There is a common goal: surivival. Value placed upon self-reliance, creativity, tenacity and living a realistic sustainable life. For ageing preppers, that means not dying with an inch of dust upon you.

        I don’t get why it’s so hard. Perhaps it comes down to their motive(s) for prepping? Are they willing to make problem solving, team work, and community survival part of their preparedness?

        With both areas of service, in Korea and Asia, under his belt, no wonder your Dad valued warm feet and hands. He understood how awful and dangerous it could become if your hands and feet were exposed to cold or frostbite. Those were brutal theatres of service. Did your Dad teach you about survival, too?

        I love historical demonstrations and renactments. How nice that they do the spinning demonstations in Eastern Virginia. 

        They have some similar demonstrations in Manitoba in Steinbach with Mennonite pioneer days. They have a huge grist mill there.

        In lower Fort Garry, there is the Governor’s house and various outbuildings that can be toured. Everyone wears clothing from that era, and it is a lot of fun. They even have the prison there (which is the only sad part – people were chained up in irons like livestock.)

      • 2

        Good evening Ubique,

        Arriving in what was named Jamestown of Lord Fairfax’s colony, in 1607, with the dangers, disease and deaths, must be compared to what their situation would have been if they stayed in England.

        I didn’t write clearly.  Was mentioning the famous gun that could down high-flying fowl.

        Down here, especially south of me at the Naval Station, Goose Bay is well known.  So is the airport/field at Gander. Circa the late 1980s – I forgot the specifics – some US paratroopers were on a USAF chartered (actually a civilian reserve aircraft of Arrow Air fleet) returning from a Middle East assignment to Ft Knox, Kentucky.  The aircraft stopped at Gander. The crash with loss of life was initially attributed to ice on wings ( a first time event in Gander ?!) until the bomb reports went public.

        A main reason difficult to build a group is the experience that the government will provide emergency shelter, cooked meals, medical care, etc. Why prepare for anything when this would be interference with one’s social life ? 

        Yes, my Dad taught me much survival. So, too, his older brothers – my uncles.One of my uncles was a WWII Vietnam Veteran.  He flew a P-40 from Kunming, China over areas of French Indochina. My uncles taught me survival stuff still not published.

      • 2

        Good evening Bob,

        Agreed re Jamestown. In that era, it must have been comparable to their standard of living in England. Perhaps a bit more harsh to acquire food, but still very difficult conditions in either location.

        Actually, you were very clear – I had heard of the gun and wanted to familiarize myself with it (I had a vague image in my memory of it). However, when I searched for it, all that came up were picture of or articles about Labrador hunting dogs. I’m still chuckling over it. I thought I was losing it re my memory of the gun. I feel better knowing I was correct that there was a Goose Gun. My search engine on the computer appears to be unfamiliar with it however.

        I found the info on the Gander crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285. It is an interesting article. Pentagon and Canadian officials rejected the claim of the anonymous telephone caller who claimed it was the work of a jihadist group.


        A terrible tragedy and and a very sad loss of many lives. 248 servicemen and 8 crew members perished. 

        The Canadian government was not confident in the work of the CASB and in 1990, dismantled the CASB (Canadian Aviation Safety Board) and replaced it with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. 

        They also changed the de-icing procedures. In 1989, another plane, Air Ontario Flight 1363 crashed in Canada.

        Re building community: The perception of government rescue in the event of a disaster definitely impedes the formation of community. Some solid community self-management would go a long way to reducing crime and other peripheral impacts of a disaster. Most of them are avoidable if people would only work together and prepare as best they can.

        I find it strange that some people never consider that the government can become overwhelmed if the situation is dire enough.

        Do you remember in the Avian pandemic when (I believe it was Dr Michael Osterholm?) went from state to state to tell them that if the numbers got that bad, they would be on their own? He wasn’t fooling around. He made it clear that every state was responsible for their own pandemic problems.

        Wow! Your uncle was a WWII Vietnam veteran. He flew some dangerous territory. You have multiple family members who served. So do I.

        My Dad, and three uncles were in WWII. My paternal lineage were military from Scotland and originally Normandy. They came to Canada because there was a war happening and they would receive land in exchange for their service. They served in the 1812 War and then went back to their peacetime livelihood of horse training and breeding prize Clydesdale horses.

        I gave the photos to my nephew, but I had one of my great-grandfather holding his prize Clydesdale stallion.

        There is much to learn from people like your Dad and uncles about survival. You are very lucky to have received their lessons. People of their era and experience understood team work and community.

      • 3

        Good morning Ubique,

        So true; local area groups substantially help reduce crime and related spin-offs of natural disaster perils. 

        Yes, indeed, I remember the Avian flu – but not Dr Osterholm … wasn’t here at time … I had the earlier SARS (2002-03 era) and got many antibodies out of infection.  

        Just about the entire American middle class participated in the efforts of WWII.  This participation continued until the scandals of the Vietnam War. We’ve already lost the broad knowledge-base of the WWII generation – all sides. It can take 4 generations to recover. At least we’re trying to accelerate efforts.

      • 2

        Good morning Bob,

        “No man is an island.” (John Donne) 

        It popped into my head after I read your reply. Community is the force that keeps our societies in balance. We have too many “islands” today, everyone inhabits their own world and looks inward. Are we becoming narcissistic?

        SARS was a tough one and you are lucky to have survived.

        There was so little group support after WWII. War was something no one wanted but if it happened, people supported their troops during the conflict and when they returned home.

        People wrote letters to servicemen and sent parcels. They honored them when they came home and thanked them for their service. People used to be compassionate and empathic for the toll that war took on the soldiers who returned home. People were grateful for their service and sacrifice.

        When service to one’s country became unfashionable, we lost a huge knowledge base about survival and what it takes to continue in the face of adversity.

        As you said, we have already lost most of the Veterans of WWII and the knowledge they acquired from their experiences.

        We still have the Veterans of Korea, Vietnam and every war and conflict subsequent to them. There is still time to learn from them.

      • 2

        Good afternoon Ubique,

        So true re the famous line by John Donne.

        Narcissism is definitely present.

        Won’t elaborate so as to keep all this non-political but see if info about cancelled monument in Nelson, BC, Canada. It related to Vietnam War. I didn’t care about one’s actions but understood monuments can be lightning rods within the figurative sense.

        Part of WWII was a national unity theme developed as a mobilization requirement. Some “unity” was artificial but program overall did work.

        Groups are critical is real disaster situations. In a few weeks, if/when a hurricane here, a tree or telephone pole can arrive at one’s house wall at 50 MPH. Roads are closed, the responder community is thin – very thin.

        Preparedness determines much – and this requires a small assembled group.

      • 3

        Good evening Bob,

        Wow, I had no idea that happened in Nelson. That location is probably due to the historical settlers there who were pacifists (Dukohbors from Russia).

        It is so hard to imagine what it is like to live in an area that is prone to hurricanes. It must be like being in a state of high alert or on edge?

        If I think of what is like in an empathic sense, it would feel like the unsettled feeling during a polar vortex when you hope the furnace won’t fail. But even that doesn’t feel like is comes close to a tree or telephone pole rocketing into your house at 50 MPH.

        A thin responder community is not good going into this season.

        You have good skills and preparations going for you Bob. You and your group can get through this. 

        Is there anything I or others here can do to help you get through this? Are there any preps you need or couldn’t source?

      • 4

        Good morning Ubique,

        In reply; 

        The large population residing in Hurricane Alley is starting to thin out. Costs to live here are increasing … not rapidly just yet, but ready to. Already announced are the pending tax and insurance increased costs. 

        Yes, just help with efforts to keep the land mass ready for the specific area natural perils such as deep freezes … the Texans know about this now … , flooding. 

      • 3

        Good morning Bob,

        A reduced population will help from what you have described in the area.

        Costs never go down, do they? Our vehicle insurance goes down when accidents or claims are down. We got two premium rebate cheques last year.

        I will follow the relief efforts and help as I hope others here will also do as they are able to.

        How long do the flood waters last? And you also get deep freezes as well?

      • 2

        Good afternoon Ubique,

        Ref flood waters’ duration.  This is a “It depends” matter. Heavy rains in  central part of state can arrive here and combine with the local area heavy rains.

        As the term is usually used, no deep freezes here. Over the last decade we did have a couple of nights at zero degrees F. Most real cold weather here is just freezing….like the song line “frosty morn”.

      • 2

        Good morning Ubique,

        In reply; 

        The large population residing in Hurricane Alley is starting to thin out. Costs to live here are increasing … not rapidly just yet, but ready to. Already announced are the pending tax and insurance increased costs. 

        Yes, just help with efforts to keep the land mass ready for the specific area natural perils such as deep freezes … the Texans know about this now … , flooding. 

      • 3

        Good evening Ubique,

        Arriving in what was named Jamestown of Lord Fairfax’s colony, in 1607, with the dangers, disease and deaths, must be compared to what their situation would have been if they stayed in England.

        I didn’t write clearly.  Was mentioning the famous gun that could down high-flying fowl.

        Down here, especially south of me at the Naval Station, Goose Bay is well known.  So is the airport/field at Gander. Circa the late 1980s – I forgot the specifics – some US paratroopers were on a USAF chartered (actually a civilian reserve aircraft of Arrow Air fleet) returning from a Middle East assignment to Ft Knox, Kentucky.  The aircraft stopped at Gander. The crash with loss of life was initially attributed to ice on wings ( a first time event in Gander ?!) until the bomb reports went public.

        A main reason difficult to build a group is the experience that the government will provide emergency shelter, cooked meals, medical care, etc. Why prepare for anything when this would be interference with one’s social life ? 

        Yes, my Dad taught me much survival. So, too, his older brothers – my uncles.One of my uncles was a WWII Vietnam Veteran.  He flew a P-40 from Kunming, China over areas of French Indochina. My uncles taught me survival stuff still not published.

      • 5

        Didn’t know you could eat ants and aphids. 

      • 4


        They do have protein and are eaten in other countries. I guess if it was a survival situation and I had crop failure or poor hunting or fishing, they might begin to look pretty good (I would still hope for condiments to get them down- ketchup maybe?)

        I just replied to Redneck about how I am going to view my gardening now, if you’d like to read it. I am going to treat every season as if it is the only food I will have and learn from that perspective. I think it’s too easy to know that we really don’t need to have that garden produce because we can buy it from the store.

        I think it might put a whole other spin on gardening and prepping and maybe I can catch any flaws in my planning that could affect things adversely in a disaster.

    • 4

      Ollas. For areas that have very limited rainfall, burying ollas will maximise the water you have. I read that it can reduce water use by up to 70%.

      Feeding soil is important. Adding biochar to your gardens will increase the soils ability to retain water. Hugelture (?) Is also an option, but I think the biochar will be easier.

      • 2


        Awesome info! 

        I had never heard of using Ollas before, but I just did a quick read and this ancient method could really work well and not be expensive to set up.

        I also have bio char on my list and did a quick read on it as well.

        Both methods sound like what I am looking for to build in fail safes and expand the methods I am currently using to garden.

        I checked out Hugekultur also and kept it bookmarked for future reference. It wouldn’t work where I am currently living, but I could see it for other places like an acreage. I agree that the biochar will be easier also, but the other method is good to know about.

        Thank you so much for all this great info! Much appreciated LBV!

      • 6

        Biochar needs to be activated, so not just plain charcoal. My friend makes it. It is so biologically active it creates an unusual problem. He has to use plastic. He tried compostable ‘plastic’ but the biochar composted it so quickly it wasn’t viable. Bags made of natural material suffered the same fate. However, just imagine what it would do for your garden.

        Also, a bonus use – odour remover. I live in a temperate climate and winters can get quite wet. Certain areas, like entrance to chook house would get a little smelly. Raking biochar got rid of the smell really effectively.

      • 1

        Wonderful info LBV and thank you for the additional tips on biochar.

        I am definitely interested in it. It would be a wonderful addition to a garden.

        I also like the odour remover aspect of it. That could come in handy at any time.

        Thank you very much.

      • 5

        I’ve never heard of an ollas before either, but I have some old pots that I should try this out with. 

      • 2

        It’s a really neat idea isn’t it? I am going to try it too once I get the pots.

    • 4

      Maybe some rain headed your way.

      • 3

        Iowa guy, 

        Our local forecast isn’t calling for a lot of rain, except for one day where we are supposed to get 15 mm of rain. I checked this morning and most days are less than 1 mm or below 5 mm. I hope that changes for the better.

        The farmers need days of heavy rains to turn this around. The beef farmers won’t have much longer before they have to make tough choices. In years past, during disasters, the ranchers from Alberta came to Manitoba and took in the cattle to help the livestock here survive. Then they hauled the cattle back when it was over. It was a long, hard drive for them and a great act of kindness.

        This time, in this drought, Alberta is in trouble too and we can’t even return the kindness because we are all in the same situation.

        It’s an eerie feeling to look around at the fields and the topsoil blowing away in that ceaseless prairie wind. I keep thinking of the Great Depression and how people here who lived through it remembered the frustration of trying to keep the dirt out of their homes and off themselves. It covered everything and piled up like snow.

        We take water for granted. The well won’t run dry. The dug out won’t dry up. The lake won’t evaporate. It’s happening now.

        We had frost and snow predicted for Friday. There is a big swath of cold air coming. It now looks like it is going to split off and head northeast. We’ll be getting the edge of it. 

        The Turtle Mountains to the west of me, deflect a lot of weather. Now, usually that keeps some of the nasty stuff away from us. We’ve only had one close tornado since I moved here.

        Everything is upside down. The western coast of Canada is dealing with low temperatures and drought also, while here in Manitoba, we are looking again at a 30 degree celsius day.

      • 7

        I hope things improve for folks up north. NW Iowa is on the edge of this drought it looks like… We were quite dry last year. I could just feel a dry year coming in 2020 (been at it a while)….. too soon to tell here for this year, but from your information, It’s much more of a problem up north. Media coverage has been poor on this issue.

      • 4

        Iowa guy,

        My apologies for not getting to your post sooner. I just realized I missed this one.

        Thank you for the kind thoughts and my hopes for you in Iowa that you will be spared this drought.

        The weather forecast is so erratic. While we joke about our weather forecasters, this level of unpredictability is out of whack even for them.

        The humidity was up early this morning around five a.m. and you could smell rain in the air, but nothing came of it.

        We also have 19 wildfires burning in Manitoba and that is only adding to the stress. Here is some info and news for you:


        The purple icon fire off by itself on the bottom of the map is around a hour north from where I am. North Dakota has a fire just below here. I’m about 20 miles off the border.

        I just found out in this next clip that people from another part of the province where I was raised are dealing with fires also.

        The article talks about highways that have closed. This is important information in case of bug out. I’m going to be keeping an eye on that map fire map.

        With Covid we can’t detour through the USA like we used to if needed. I don’t think this kind of evacuation would change anything on those rules given the seriousness of the pandemic. So, will need to find different routes out of here and watch the winds.


        The province next door to our west is Saskatchewan and they are fighting wildfires also with high winds.


        A nice thing about having people from different places here is that we learn about each other’s countries and states/provinces. I’ve learned a lot about Mississippi from Redneck’s posts. I had no idea they had that kind of climate there.

        While there are differences, we also share many of the same struggles with climate, and prepping in general.

        I meant to tell you how much I enjoyed reading about how you have set up your homestead and preps. I was on the run for those days and unable to sit for long. But, well done and thank you for sharing how you approached things with everyone. It was very helpful.

      • 4

        Hope that you folks stay safe up north.

        With warmer temps here, I’m outside more instead of at my computer.

        If I don’t reply right way…. I will soon

      • 4

        Thank you Iowa guy.

        I have also been on the run and doing work outdoors. 

        There has been rain here, although this area is still on the fringe of the heavy downpours. This is actually a good thing because the way it has rained has allowed for the moisture to soak into the parched land rather than run off in deluge type downpours.

        It has helped with the forest fire situation here and the one North of me is under control now.

        Yesterday I tented my garden as the temperature dropped to 1 degree celsius and forecast is -1 (below freezing) tomorrow. Thursday will be the last day of low temps. If the forecast holds, I will plant May 31.

        Interesting note: I seeded some of my garden during the warmer days. Some of the seeds germinated during low temps and are doing well.

    • 2

      Very intrusting information. Thank you

      • 4

        Hi methews,

        Glad you enjoyed the information and you are very welcome.

        Do you ever get drought in Ireland?

    • 3

      Drip irrigation is a recommended route of water conservation. 


      • 3


        Thank you for the link.

        The drip irrigation certainly works if there is a water source. 

        One of the communities not far from where I live has no water because their water resevoir dried up. We have had a bit of rain today and there is some more predicted over the next few days. It will help, especially with the wildfires, but may be too little too late for our farmers.

        We are on water restrictions now.