For the last twenty years, I have been studying and researching the basic necessities for survival. I had no idea what I was doing at first, it really started with my first marriage and my first home. My next door neighbor, Tina, was one of the smartest people I had ever met, and she was the one who put the tiny bug in me regarding sowing, growing and preserving my own food. I had gardened in the past, mainly with my father and one of my grandfathers, Leon, when I was little. I even had a toy house my father built for me when I was very young, where I would play “house” and keep silly things like linens and wood, old plates and glasses in there, in case I was in need of them. Who knew these tiny little things would one day become integral in my adult life. Sure, it sounds simple, if not a little silly to talk about such things, but our children today have NOT a clue about these things. In fact, the school district where my children go to high school do not even have a Home Economics class in their curriculum. No, it is actually called “Smart Consumerism”, which I later found most school districts in the country have. Most have not a clue how to sew, cook, clean, or budget. They only know how to make money and how to consume it. My sons actually had ONE cooking class, where they learned to make mini pizzas with mini bagels. No learning of preserving foods, growing them and harvesting them, and our town is actually listed as a rural area! This is what society is today. We have been taught not how to fend for ourselves, but that others do it for us, and we just pay them for their services.
A subculture decades ago started forming, many of which would be called “Preppers”. Those not in that frey joke and call them alt-right wing conservatives, gun toting born again fundies who live off grid and wait for the apocalypse to arrive. Sure, I am sure there are those who meet those characteristics, but the majority of these preppers are just individuals and families who have been quietly preparing themselves in the event an event would come about that would cause us to revert back to a more rustic way of living.
I am one of those people.
I dove into the world of survivalism many years ago, and with the state of our society today, I’m all the more glad for it. Even though I’m not the greatest gardener, not the greatest cook, not the greatest organizer, I DO know that if our world comes to a halt, we’re going to be okay for a bit. Deep in the recess of my mind, I think I really wasn’t expecting this outbreak of the COVID-19 to happen. Well, at least, not of this magnitude. Our country has come to a halt, and because of this, many who do not know these skills were forced to spend most of their money to buy supplies, causing the supermarket to become bare of these supplies. People hoarded these supplies, taken over by greed and fear, price gouging others who didn’t get there quick enough. When in a state of fear, we revert to animal instincts. What happens, though, when our instincts have gone to the back recesses of our mind because society taught us these instincts were useless?
Survival skills are not on most of our societies’ minds today. This is precisely what should have been instilled in our children at a young age, a proactive approach to preparing themselves so that in times like this current crisis, chaos and fear would not be the leading emotion in our society.
We have to be better than this.
We have to be smarter than this.
We have to stop blaming others for what’s happening and take accountability for our behaviors, and learn from this.
We have to stop expecting someone else to take care of the issue because we were not prepared for it in the first place.
We live in an age of amazing technology, where so many resources are at the palm of our hands. Videos, articles, books, seminars, they are everywhere. Yet, most people turn a blind eye. I cannot necessarily blame them, many were brought up in the age of consumerism, where the free market has given us a way to live a life of privilege. And guys, let’s face it, most of us live in a privileged society. We have the privilege of buying what we need when we need it. From something simple like a candy bar to a case of bottled water.
Sooner or later, though, time was eventually going to be used up and we would eventually have to fend for ourselves. I believe this pandemic we have been facing is just the tip of the iceberg. If anything, maybe it is God telling us to stop playing around and get ourselves in order.
I want to tell you some of the things I have been doing over the last several years to prepare for these types of times that will be eventually coming to pass.
Wealth to me is more than money. It’s a fully loaded pantry, it’s a bountiful garden, it’s the knowledge I gave myself when others thought I was crazy for learning it. No degree will give you these skills, and no one can take them away once you acquire them.
When my Mom-Mom was alive, she lived with us for the last 6 years of her life. And every Christmas, she would request the largest bags of flour and sugar imaginable so we could bake our yearly cookies, cakes, pies and other desserts. I remember many years ago thinking how nice it was we had so much of these ingredients, because it resulted in less frequent trips to the grocery store. And we all know with the holidays, trips to the market can be tedious and overwhelming.
So, I started buying large quantities of flour, sugar, oats and rice. These four ingredients can make a multitude of things from breads, cakes, pie crusts, cereals, granolas, puddings, etc. I also started buying spices in bulk. If it was a dry good, I was buying a lot of it.
I also started collecting mason jars and canning pots. I began with a simple recipe, sauerkraut. But I have also learned how to pickle everything I could possibly pickle. Fermenting foods are not just good economically, but in health as well.
We also invested in a chest freezer, to keep meats and other goods preserved, so we could buy these things in bulk.
Did you know that cloth and beeswax can actually do away with tin foil and plastic wrap? And cloth without the beeswax are great alternatives to paper towels and napkins. Can you only imagine how simple it is to get a piece of fabric, scissors and a needle and some thread? The possibilities are endless and you aren’t contributing to the excess waste that is killing our world.
I just informed my husband that my main project for this year is creating and building a cob oven for outside. It’s not a necessity, mainly because we have a charcoal grill that can easily be used with wood. But economically speaking, imagine how low your gas or electric bill would drop if you spent more time cooking outdoors? We have a chiminea and a fire pit, so no matter what, cooking will always be an easy task for us. To make a cob oven, all you need are bricks, glass bottles, soil, sand, clay and water. Most have all this already at your disposal.
Gardening and Foraging
I don’t think anyone needs to be an expert to understand the necessity of gardening. Sadly, we have grown weak in the mind from the daily convenience of going to the grocery store and getting whatever produce we need. I feel I need to tell you, things are gearing up to change in this world, and the current pandemic is just a slice of what’s to come. I know plenty of people who have no desire in the world to garden, but I implore you, you will NEED to know this very thing in order to survive. Right now, imports are being put on hold, so many of our tropical fruits and vegetables will be less available, if any at all soon enough. What happens if grocery stores close? How will you feed yourself and your family?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Convenience has made us a very lazy society. We want what we want when we want it, and all we need to do is click on something from a smart device, or jump into a vehicle and go somewhere who has it made already for me. What will you do if these conveniences were no longer available?
Think about this – Look at our domesticated animals. Especially the new “toy” breeds that are out there. For society’s own self-interests we created these beautiful little beings. But if humans were no longer here, what group do you think will be the first to die from the feral population or just lack of supervision? We create things out of convenience and sometimes selfish desires, and we forget the consequences if something bad were to happen. It was easy before to look away from this possibility, but seeing where we are now, we can no longer ignore what’s staring right in front of us.
Now, many of my friends have poked fun of me in the past for this conversation starter, but I will remain steadfast in my interest in composting. Composting is simply a form of waste disposal where organic waste decomposes naturally under oxygen-rich conditions. (https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-composting-definition-and-examples.html)
So, whether its food waste, plant waste, human/pet waste, almost everything that is wasteful can be composted one way or another.
What would happen if water was no longer available? Meaning, the water company no longer worked and there was no water in the pipes for disbursing…What would you do? Did you know flushing toilets didn’t come until 1596 but honestly didn’t even become mainstream until the late 1800’s. Think about that. How did people go to the bathroom? Currently, many people living off grid/camping, etc use a tool called composting toilets. There is NO smell, and actually more hygienic than flush toilets. Unfortunately, our convenience-based minds cannot understand this concept because flushing toilets means that flush makes it go away from you. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Seriously, all you need is a bucket, toilet seat, toilet paper and saw dust, and you’re all set. Sure, it’s not pretty, but it works and it’s a lot more hygienic than water flush toilets.
There are so many home products you can make on your own with just a few ingredients you may already have in your home. From detergent, toothpaste, soap, hand sanitizer, lotions, salves, balms, you name it, you can most likely make it.
At the end of the day, you HAVE the ability to make life easier for yourself and your family by knowing these skills:
Light a fire
Tying a Knot
Also, look into the concept of Bug Out Bags. These are emergency bags used for just that: Emergencies. I am in the middle of creating one bag but I need 4 for each member of my family. It’s just a simple backpack with clothes, food, first aid, and survival tools like a compass, batteries, solar chargers, knives, cooking equipment that can fit together if the need to vacate your home arises.
At the end of the day, these skills WILL get you through tough times. No, we are not at The Walking Dead level yet, but if we continue to turn a blind eye and continue to make ourselves believe everything will still be at the tip of a finger/delivered to you when and where you want, you will be like the toy breed animals who will be naturally selected first. You’re better than that! So go learn these skills! Like I said above, NO ONE can EVER take that away from you!
Be safe and God Bless!
The Homesteading Hobbit