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How has your prepping evolved?

I remember the exact moment my prepping took an evolutionary jump.

I was listening to CBC news at work when the news broke on September 11, 2001 that our friends and neighbours to the South had been attacked. As news spread through our office, people stopped work, many of us wept, mostly, we were in shock.

When I arrived home, my Mom who lived with me after Dad died, was watching the news on TV. She had been crying, too. We exchanged looks and I knew exactly what she was thinking.

“The world has changed Mom. Be ready at 5. We’re going shopping.”

When I picked her up after work, Mom had a list ready. She survived the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands along with 12 siblings. She knew what was important.

We shopped that night to increase our supplies and expand our preps. My ex-husband and I, along with Mom, made emergency plans. If he was out of town, we knew where we would initially meet up and that I would get Mom.

Despite being raised to be prepared, I had at various times in my life drifted away from it. I always had a large pantry and some items, but there were times that I lost the mind set and focus to be better prepared. I wasn’t practising certain skill sets.

Life happens and sometimes we get distracted or diverted from what is important to us.

Sometimes, it takes events in other people’s lives to bring us back to what is important.

We began to practice preparedness at various points in time and for a variety of reasons.

How has your prepping evolved? Have your reasons for prepping changed during the time you have prepped? How have your planned responses in various scenarios changed, if at all?
Do you feel it has become simpler with time or more complicated?

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  • Comments (15)

    • 2

      oops – edited to correct last sentence:

      Has preparedness become more simple for you over time or more complex?

    • 3

      Prepping can be a journey.  For most it simply starts by having a little extra food/water on hand, so that you can weather a short term event… say a winter storm where you can’t get out for days or possibly the effects of a hurricane.  I imagine after Covid & this winter storm, more folks have been added to the list of preppers.  I think however most people stop their journey there.  They feel safe in thinking government will eventually step in & fix everything… which is generally always true.

      But then there is a smaller group of folks that expands on this.  They store more food for more people or for longer term events.  This happened to me after my wife read One Second After, and she said that we needed more food in storage.  Didn’t take me long to increase our stored food to provide enough for our family for a year.  But then, when you start thinking about a crisis lasting a year, you realize in such an event, there is so much more to consider than just food.  There are just so many extra problems that need solving, such as security, fuels, long term water, self sufficiency, etc.

      So for me thru the years I have just addressed each issue that comes up.  Examples would be say for fuel.  We have lots of trees in this area & specifically on my property.  We have two wood burning fireplaces in the house.  I also have numerous wood burning rocket stoves and the plans to build an earth oven.  To fuel these, over the years I have purchased all sorts of cutting implements, such as gas & battery chain saws, hatchets, felling axe, bow saws with many spare blades etc.  Another example would be for water.  I have a home well that runs on AC.  I also have numerous water filters, such as Sawyer Minis as well as bulk activated charcoal for filtration for my pond water.  To access my well water when the grid is down I gained the knowledge & tools to pull my well pump.  Then I purchased a well bucket with associated pulleys & gear to manually access drinking water.  Later I purchased a Grundfos flex well pump and associated solar panels & gear to get much more water directly from solar power.

      My journey has just been a continual process of addressing issues that could impact my ability to become self sufficient… and it never ends.  This year, I am testing growing upland rice.

      • 2

        Your journey sounds similar to how my husband and I have slowly worked our way through our preparedness.

        It’s like putting together a puzzle where the final picture isn’t clear, but you know how the pieces should fit.

        I must read One Second After. So many people here have mentioned it.

        We are working on tools as well. My husband has a good sense of what we need tool wise and last night stressed the importance of having an assortment of fasteners on hand, such as self-tapping and self-tightening screws, etc. I told him about the Sawyer Minis and he was very interested in that. (He would be on here in person, but is a terrible typist – he provides input vicariously).

        Part of the change I have experienced in prepping is that it has become more than just “getting things in place, just in case…” 

        Prepping is now a way to experience the world in a different way. 

        For example, I have experimented with gardening and through that discovered a love for bees. Aside from pollinating our gardens, they are the most amazing creatures to observe! 

        The last two years I have planted vanilla marigolds (they smell like honey and are beautiful plants – one strain is not as aromatic, however). The bees go wild for them.

        This year I am expanding the vanilla marigolds from my seeds saved, but also adding 4 beneficial insect/butterfly (including Monarch) and hummingbird “meadows” in raised bed areas. It will work with our town lot.

        I read about your plans for upland rice on another thread and researched it. Very interesting – I had no idea rice could grow that way. Thank you also for the info on another thread regarding Linden. We were looking for another type of tree for landscaping and this works for our 3a zone.

      • 2

        I too am fascinated by bees and much of what I grow is for them and for them to pollinate for me.  Sometimes I can find hundreds on an individual peach or apple tree.  I grow much extra basil because they love those blooms so much.  Now my blueberries have a very insignificant flower, at least to my eyes, but they love them more than anything.  I came real close to raising them for honey but bailed out at the last minute.  I just don’t have the time or energy for such a project however I still have two horizontal hives in storage… just in case.  My neighbor has a couple of hives.

        I have all sorts of bees with plenty of honeybees around, however my best bees are the bumblebees.  I have huge numbers of them and they are much better pollinators than honeybees.  They are so curious but I’ve never been stung by one even when reaching into squash with them on the same plant.  Only time they are dangerous is when they protect their nest.

      • 2

        Yes! I grow extra basil and also lavendar. My flowering plants are designed to be bee friendly and this year I am trying new flowers again: Calendula, Cosmo, Verbena, Milkweek, Borage, Anise Hysop, Heliotrope, Bachelors Buttons, Yarrow, Goldenrod, Coneflower, Zinnias (and more…)

        I use food grade buckets to grow my flowers with holes drilled in the bottom using a hole saw. I also put terra cotta saucers with stones in them as safe water sources for them.

        They love Serviceberry trees or bushes. We call the fruit Saskatoons here and use it for preserves, fresh eating and pies or cobblers. Very tasty for the bees and us.

        I want to make houses for the mason bees. My husband has a plan to make some this year. I would love to have hives, but in town with some people using chemicals, it is not advised by the beekeeper organization who helps people install hives and steward the bees in safe conditions.

        I have never been stung either.

        One beautiful summer day last year, I was working on container plants and herbs lining the south side of our house. I had the most incredible moment: I stopped and realized that all around me were a variety of bees, dragonflies, butterflies and a hummingbird. The air had almost a golden look to it because of the sunlight. These precious creatures were all around me feeding, stopping for a bit of water, some resting for a moment and there I was in the middle of it all. I believe it was one of the great moments in my life and I will never forget it.

      • 2

        What is super sad is that many cities have become biological deserts because of all the chemicals sprayed on lawns, etc.  My sister used to live right outside Memphis, in the suburbs, and loved to garden.  She almost never saw bees and butterflies.  She of course sprayed her lawn and was thrilled to have nothing but burmudagrass in her yard.  Me, I’m thrilled to have all sorts of grasses, clovers & weeds in my yard, orchard & pastures.  Certain times of the year, the bees spend most of their time in the clovers.  

      • 2

        The chemicals kill off the beneficial insects. My husband and I both hand weed our lawn if necessary. Many “weeds” were not always thought of as a problem.

        Some people have mocked our methods, but I am happy to report that many people have also stopped to comment on how nice our lawn looks (it looks natural but not preternatural) and what kind of tools we use.

        Manitoba Eco Network used to have a clover based lawn seed, however the link had changed. I will have to see if it still being made here as I wanted to order some for this year.

        However, I did add Wildflower Farm. These folks have done such nice job of creating an environment based on meadows and water conserving lawn.

        Wildflower Farm

    • 4

      My prepping evolved with my socio-politico environment.  Growing up in the Cold War had me as a Cub Scout dusting off Geiger Counters at an armory.  Much later on, when working overseas, the fallout shelter environment changed to the “safe room” in house for protection against terrorist threats.  Today, in retirement, my socio-politico environment concerns the dangerous diseases and biowarfare (Daughter went through the anthrax scare).

      No, my prepper reasons are about the same: self-sufficiency, “Be prepared” as per Boy Scouts, help community.

      Yes, planned responses changed.  I can no longer plan to shelter in place. This area is now overbuilt and overpopulated. A vehicle evacuation, without precision timing, realistically cannot occur.  The country roads, even in “good” times, are neglected and over crowded. One change in case of fire, explosion or terrorism, is a boat evac into Bay for a bloc of time if allowed by authorities.

      I feel it is simpler now.  My focus is emergency health care and the critical aspects are easy to focus on such as taking pertinent courses, getting RX prescriptions for needed pharma, BOB for this material to include the BOB configuration. This is simpler than learning the survival basics such as land navigation, inventory controls and best socks.

      • 2

        I’m of the cold war generation also.  Still remember the duck & cover drills in elementary school.  Then after college, I became a Minuteman Missile Combat Crew Commander, with my 10 missiles targeted at Russia.  Mighty glad those days are gone.

      • 2

        Oh, yes, the duck and cover drills.  During this training there was always one of the guys saying “This desk isn’t going to protect me against an atomic bomb”.  

      • 3

        Bob, I remember those days, too. Mom in tears in the kitchen on the farm – terrified she was going to go through another war. Dad holding her and saying we’ll be safe. I remember the look on his face. He knew the threat of that terrible time was more than his old Enfield and .303 could handle, but he would have crawled on hot coals before ever letting her know that.

         I can’t imagine the anthrax – how frightening for her and you. Emerging diseases is part of what I monitor. Nipah virus is another one that is looking very dangerous, particularly because it is carried by bats that frequent tourist markets.

        I think prepping teaches us flexibility and sharpens our ability to adapt. My focus with time has been to ensure that if my husband or I pass, that we are able to carry on independently with the resources and methodologies we have chosen.

        You also make an excellent point about being realistic. Thank you.

      • 3

        Ubique, I grew up learning one basic truth: the World War II stories were true.

        Even with all my travels and experience – was in 3 wars – everything is molded and governed by remembering from everyone I trusted that the World War II stories were true. 

      • 2

        They were true, indeed. Wise preppers who didn’t have the benefit of that teaching and those stories first hand, study history carefully. There is much to be learned about survival from them.

        3 wars is a heavy load. Welcome home, Bob and thank you for your service.

    • 3

      Good question. My parents had been internally displaced refugees—Okies, and their parents had been homesteaders on the Cherokee Strip, so putting by and making do was second nature to me growing up. I worked construction when I was young so stocking up for when things slowed down was common sense. And finally I’m kind of a later day back-to-the-lander by inclination so I feel like the ultimate prep is to — as my dad said about the depression— not really notice anything changed.

      As I said my first preps were basically paycheck insurance, so money in the bank and beans in the cellar.

      Later when married with children we played with lots of gardening, small animals, preserving, etc on a suburban lot.

      Still later we had a small farm where I tried to do all the things.

      You mentioned 9/11. For me that was also a turning point. I took it as a signal that the commodity price “supercycle” was actually indicating the point of diminishing returns, a la Limits To Growth. So we sort of withdrew from the race for about 15 years and practiced at crude self-sufficiency. By crude, I mean the small income “make do or do without” kind as opposed to the “big easy paycheck and buy stuff” kind.

      The advent of fracking postponed high oil price, so we moved around some and flipped a couple of old houses. Not the easiest prep situation, moving buckets of grain around the country, LOL.

      But “things” seem increasingly unsettled. If peak oil demand doesn’t kick in soon, I fear supply constraints will. And the unlimited printing of money and low interest rates plus COVID bailouts have produced a hoard of zombie businesses and a vast overhang of mortgages and rents. And regardless, the “market” is waaay, historically overpriced. How the post-plague plays out is anyone’s guess…

      So i’m contemplating a return to the sticks, smaller this time, tight house, some PV, garden, chooks, etc.

      Uh oh, long as usual, LOL

      • 2

        Hi Pops,

        I really like your story about how your prepping evolved. Your comment about the ultimate prep as it related to what your dad said about the depression is “not really notice anything changed” is perfect. If there is a crisis and we don’t notice too much, we’re doing ok.

        You did everything in such a sensible and organized way. You took your time to build a solid foundation as you prepped. What a great experience, too, for your family during the years that you did lots of gardening, had small animals and preserved, etc. This experience was a great way to instill skills and a respect for where our food comes from.

        And from there to go on to farming. What a great way to do it.

        I think 9/11 was an awakening for many people. The crude self-sufficiency is also what my husband and I did as well. We knuckled right down in order to achieve certain goals.

        Ugh -fracking! Do you know that they can set their water on fire in parts of Alberta?

        I have nightmares of having to move our preps – I feel for you.

        I agree that the bubble has to burst sooner or later. This current trajectory just isn’t sustainable. People can’t afford to rent or buy a home. And the “low interest rates” are a fist in a velvet glove.

        Then there were the people who had homes that suddenly skyrocketed in value. They used their homes like ATM’s. In the city I used to live, there were Hummers, boats, and other toys everywhere.

        John Kenneth Galbraith’s book on The Great Depression touches on the housing bubble during that era. It is a good read.

        We’re in a small town right now and maximizing what we can do on a town lot, but I dream of acreage. If it’s meant to be fine, otherwise, I’m grateful for what we have now.

        Sorry for delay in response, I was trying to coax some more storage space out my house. That’s when the migraine came on. LOL

        Don’t worry about being long, Pops. I enjoy your writing and what you have to say. Your patient and steady approach is inspirational for preppers.

        Thank you very much for replying.