Prepping isn’t whacko

We’ve all heard the news immediately tag any news about someone hoarding weapons and ammunition and then doing something illegal with “survivalist” and “prepper”.  It’s no wonder that so many people have associated the act of emergency preparation with whacko.  It’s also something else that conspiracy theorists would say was the result of “They don’t want people to be prepared.”

I’m not a conspiracy theorist.  I’m actually a disabled grandma who lives in a small town.  I’m not a whacko, and I didn’t see Elvis down at the truck stop recently.  (Or ever, for that matter!)   Probably the craziest thing I have done recently was stopping to find out about a sewing machine that turned out to have a $13,000.00 price tag.  I still want it–but I am sane enough to realize that I probably will not have it under the Christmas tree this year.

I’m probably somewhere in the center of the “not crazy yet” scale, even if I have never seen it and don’t really think it exists.

But I’m a prepper.

I’m from a long line of preppers, too.

You see, what we call a prepper today is really what my grandparents called “being prepared for a rainy day.”  You didn’t count on anything in the future, so when you could, you stocked up.  On everything.

It’s not a bad way to live.  I’ve survived for a very long time off of what I had put aside for those rainy days without buying much, if anything, from a store.  Granted, it wasn’t due to the “end of the world” or anything resembling a huge disaster, but it would be the smaller disasters that strike.  Things like illness, unemployment, unexpected bills, income cuts, and injuries mostly.  It’s the same things that you may have also dealt with over the course of your lifetime, or will.

  • So start a plan to stock that pantry–it can save you a lot in the future, if you do it wisely.  It’s even better return than a savings account in the bank!  Compare actual inflation on food to your local bank’s annual interest rate.  I haven’t seen a bank yet that was offering anything over 10% or even close to 10% annual interest on a savings account.  In the grocery store, seeing inflation is nearly a weekly occurrence, and while the “official” reports on inflation do not agree with me, I know that I have seen some items’ prices jump by 50-300% in a single week, with a steady reduction in what we get for $100 to actually take home.  If that’s not inflation, then I’m completely ignorant of what inflation really is!
  • Items such as clothing, household supplies, and other goods of that nature don’t seem to have the same kind of inflation, at least yet.  That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have the same sort of “stocking up” in those categories though.  Some things, such as toilet paper, laundry soap, bar soap, shampoo, etc., have an indefinite shelf life, and purchases made now are going to remain usable for years, if need be.
  • We’re not young, and we’re not fashion followers, so we don’t need a lot of clothing.  At the same time, at our ages, we know about how many pairs of underwear, socks, etc. we wear out in the course of a year.  Typically, this type of stuff is purchased once a year, and I’ll admit…we’re cheap enough that it is often among our holiday gifts to each other.  We also tend to add to our wardrobe, mostly to replace worn out items, very sporadically.  We could comfortably go a year without purchasing anything new, even if I wasn’t able to sew.  If you have children though, that’s not the case.  When there are kids involved, having the next size up in the basics is a great idea, especially if you buy them on sale or close outs.  At a certain age, you can often predict what they size they will wear in 9-12 months, and buy close out items at the end of THIS season for the next year as well.  That’s a great way to cover basic core wardrobe needs, such as jeans, t-shirts, pajamas, socks, underwear, and even swimsuits.
  • Even gifts can be pre-planned and stocked up on.  I have a shelf in a closet that holds everything from toys to jewelry for gifts, which I pick up using coupons, discounts, and sales.  When the occasion arrives, I shop my shelf!  Now that I’m back in the swing of creating things, I may have to expand my shelf space to hold the creations too.

But the physical goods are not the only things to be prepared with.

In a real emergency, especially long term ones, skills may be far more important than a 50 lb. sack of sugar will be.  It’s the skills that cannot be damaged by flood, fire, wind, or rain because you will have them inside your head, no matter where you are or what else happens.  The key to skills is to have usable skills that can be adapted to changing circumstances, no matter what they are.

Skills are best acquired by doing, and that means hands on.  Some are expensive to learn and acquire the initial equipment to acquire.  Others are less so.  Some will appeal to one person, and another may turn up their nose at learning them.  That is okay–choose things that interest you.

So what are skills good for?

  • Maybe it can become an alternative career.  Learning to build things out of wood can mean you could become a furniture maker, a carpenter, or even build houses and other buildings.  Learning to sew might lead to a career involving sewing.  The same can be said of hundreds of different skill sets.
  • Skills can lead you to a new hobby, which can be very fulfilling if you cannot work either due to an accident (that’s me, folks!) or injury, illness, or unemployment.  It gives you something to do that makes you feel positive and productive, even if it isn’t exactly a money earning hobby.
  • Learning a new skill can connect you with other people, and this can be a very good thing.  Learning a new skill, just like teaching one of yours, can be very satisfying in a social sense, as you meet new people and make those new connections. This helps prevent social isolation, and that’s a great thing too.
  • Learning multiple skills, especially in activities that you enjoy, can mean that you have options, for everything from hobbies to employment, social connections to creation of your own prepper “tribe”.  In my case, it has meant that despite losing the physical ability to do many of the things I was passionate about before, I still have activities I enjoy, as well as the ability to teach others the ones that I cannot do anymore, in a less hands-on method than I would have used before.  All of those seemingly unrelated skills now come together in unique ways.

That doesn’t mean I’m off the hook for learning new ones either.

Learning new skills helps keep the brain active, which studies have shown will postpone the inevitable onset of cognitive decline.  Since I don’t want to start getting as “loopy” as my aging dog, this is important to me, as I’m on the north side of that half century mark now.

So how do we go about it?

Think about new skills that would be useful or necessary in a less-than-wonderful world.  It doesn’t have to be anything apocalyptic in nature–look at the devastation that has descended on places as a result of military invasion or civil uprisings for an example of tough living!  Choose 12 new skills for the upcoming year, and start learning them, whether by taking a class, using books and online tutorials, or finding someone to teach you.  Some common “prepper” type skills are listed below.

  1. Gardening
  2. Greenhouse gardening
  3. asexual reproduction of plants
  4. grafting (for fruit trees)
  5. plant breeding
  6. Canning
  7. Jams & Jellies & Preserves
  8. Dehydration
  9. Pickling
  10. Fermentation
  11. Beer/Wine Making
  12. Soapmaking
  13. Wood working
  14. Carving
  15. Furniture making
  16. Leather working
  17. saddle making
  18. tack making
  19. blacksmithing
  20. horse shoeing
  21. herding
  22. shoe making
  23. moccasin making
  24. Upholstery
  25. Quilting
  26. Sewing
  27. tailoring
  28. Pattern drafting
  29. Knitting
  30. Crocheting
  31. Auto repair
  32. Small engine repair
  33. Bicycle mechanics
  34. Welding
  35. Rope making
  36. Spinning
  37. Weaving
  38. Rug making
  39. Carpentry
  40. Construction
  41. Butchering
  42. Animal husbandry
  43. Curing/Smoking of Meats
  44. Sausage making
  45. dog training (herding, hunting, obedience, guard work)
  46. Hunting
  47. Fishing
  48. kayaking/canoeing
  49. boat building
  50. Camping
  51. backpacking
  52. trail running
  53. geocaching
  54. non-tent temporary shelter construction
  55. first aid
  56. first responder
  57. Morse code
  58. herbal medicine
  59. Outdoor skills
  60. Plant identification
  61. Edible plant identification
  62. building/maintaining solar/wind powered generator systems
  63. Ham radio licensing/operation
  64. CB radio operation
  65. physical fitness/training
  66. bicycling
  67. musical instrument (playing)
  68. musical instruments (building)
  69. masonry
  70. pottery
  71. outdoor oven construction & use
  72. cutting down trees safely
  73. milling wood to lumber
  74. cutting and splitting firewood
  75. horseback riding
  76. driving horses
  77. milking a cow
  78. building a fence
  79. goat milking
  80. cheesemaking
  81. tea making
  82. curing leather
  83. composting
  84. permaculture
  85. no till gardening
  86. pruning fruit trees
  87. making butter
  88. weaving baskets
  89. building carts and wagons
  90. off grid living skills

Shall I go on?  It’s nearly infinite!  There’s 90 different ideas listed there for you, and there are easily that many that I did not list.  Just choose twelve and work on learning them.  Or choose one and start on it.  The key is to just get started on something!

Currently, I’m working on recycling/upcycling skills to re-use things that would otherwise be discarded, as well as on refreshing sewing and quilting skills that have gotten a bit rusty.  I’m also working on pattern drafting skills–something I hadn’t done a lot with before, beyond kids’ toys, doll clothes, and dog clothes.  For over half of these skills listed, I have at least a basic level of proficiency, and most of those skills I’d actually assess myself at an “advanced beginner” level.  A handful are sufficiently practiced that I’d say I was at least an intermediate at.  That’s not bad, considering I’m still learning new ones.

I’d still be lost if you sent me a message in Morse code though!

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