Updated: Jul 30, 2019
Recently I was reading an excellent article posted on JRW- Survival Blog site titled Capacity vs Capability. After reading through the information posed by the author, I was deep in thought to the points made. As I have shared before, reading is a large part of my preparedness at this point... making efforts smarter, not harder, I hope. In my book, Hope For Survival, classes I teach, and articles posted, I talk about being a "Preparer" vs a "Prepper." I ask, is there a difference? By the end of this article I hope you see the difference, from my perspective. I mention how the preparedness process is "evergreen" or a cycle we complete, evaluate, correct identified deficiencies, and then run a complete risk analysis again. Many "preppers" I talk and share with complete a task and move on. Like the article discusses, people buy food and then move on. Water and move on. Radio's and a ham license. Then what? To me, prepping is doing what I just stated above... run a check list, purchase goods, and move on. In preparedness we are building plans that includes the items mentioned above, and more. We can ask the question, "why are you prepping" and get two answers. 1. I am prepping for the big one (you can insert what the big one is for). 2. I built plans for different disaster scenarios and part of planning includes preparing these items. Prepping is for the big one while preparing is focusing on how the big one will directly impact us. You can't change the big one, but you can change your outcome to the best of your abilities. Self-reliance.
It is important to constantly review your plans and how you approach the many areas of preparedness. The most important part of your preparedness is you, your own psychological, spiritual, and physical wellness, and then risk analysis, food, water, shelter, security, communications, medical, route planning, emergency plans within your home and outside your home, team composition, skills, bartering items and techniques, the list seems endless at times.
In this article, I want to use food as the example. How I prepared my food plan and lessons I learned.
In the beginning of my preparedness efforts for food, I completed it at different speeds. The first six months I was on fire. I felt the urge to secure a six month to one year supply of food immediately. In the first 90 days of that period, I felt the #10 can of dehydrated food was a quick fix and once completed I could check the block. So, I started buying lots of #10's, and as I waiting on my #10's to arrive, I bought lots and lots of gallon and quart sized mason jars with lids. Some new jars and some from yard sales when available. I filled lots of pasta, beans, and rice in to the jars with oxygen absorbers. Soon after, I had wheat, sugar, and flour being stored. My food preparedness was coming along. I added store bought canned food, spices, and goodies to the mix. I was accumulating lots of stuff to my food plan. This was all good. After about 90 days of this process and through lots of information, dietary recommendations and blogs, I felt the need to add lots of seed collections. Then I started adding tuna, chicken, salmon, and later beef to our plan. At first my plan added protein items weekly over the year. Then accumulations allowed me to adjust to every three days and such. As time went on and we felt a foundation had been established under our feet, we expanded out to buying beef, chicken and pork and canning it in mason jars. This is all good and our food plan was getting better. One year, two years...
But, I was missing one essential need. Sustainability of my food plan.
Reading, learning, and doing the process helped me to build my food preparedness, learn better ways of doing things, and realize I must be able to build sustainability. Well, initially I thought I had sustainability with the seed banks. I could plant food seasonal and add quality vegetables to my food plan. Bingo. But, I had to grow the food, right? How many of you have never planted a garden and cared for it all season, pick as required, collect your seeds for the following year, and then pressure can your prizes? Can't be so hard, right? Of course not, dig a hole, plant the seed, water and watch it grow. To the mind, it is like having the best tool box available and waiting in your garage to fix a problem on your car. A year later, ten years, and further, the tool box remains in your garage unused because one never practiced or got training on how to use the tools.
As I talked about in my book and training classes, a plan is not a plan if you don't test it to ensure it is doable and you have all the required resources and skills to do it. I decided I would raise a garden a few years ago at my home away from home location. There was more to planting seeds, watering, and watching it grow. I had the southern Alabama summer heat and humidity, red clay, critters, floods, and dry weather, snakes, and thieves. All of these things mentioned impacted my desires and motivation. Not to mention the volume of vegetables being produced. The bottom line in my decision was this. If I couldn't grow a garden and produce vegetables, my ability to provide sustainability to my food plan would kill my long term plan.
Many like-minded individuals buy #10 cans of seeds. They explain how they will plant the seeds and then watch them grow. True. But how will you till the earth? Do you own a tiller? Tiller? Cultivator? Hoe? How will you turn the soil before you plant your seeds? What is your soil composition? What will you use for fertilizer? Horse manure? Mushroom compost? Or, whatever the local vendor says you should use? Do you plan to use chemicals to treat the unwanted critters that will invade your soil, plants, vines... or non-chemical sprays? How will you prevent this from happening? How will you water your garden during a dry season? If you are dependent on your veggies, how will you save and care for them during periods of heavy floods. Are you physically able to grow a garden? Do you know at what point to pick your vegetables? There's so many things to consider, purchase and do while growing a garden.
I was growing my garden on a spot that was part of a community garden. I fenced off my area, mainly to keep the deer and other critters out. I never considered I would need to post guards during the hours of darkness. (Smile) Just kidding. Sorta. I started noticing certain vegetables vanishing. Example, the week I planned to pick green beans to carry home that weekend to pressure can, they vanished during the night. Approximately 15 gallons of green beans wiped out. This would equate to approximately 1/3 of my green beans for the season. Additionally, squash, zucchini, and peppers vanished in smaller quantities. Someone was entering my garden, through my gate, and taking vegetables. This was a lesson learned and to consider for the future. At the time it happened I was initially ticked off but my resolve was maybe someone else was hungry and needed the food worse than we did. Yes, I was taking the veggies home and canning most of them, while sharing some with others and consuming some.
My main goal was to prove I could grow food and move the process through canning for the future. The biggest positive and negative in the lessons learned: Positive - the enjoyment I gained from working in the garden after a day at work. I found a peacefulness and degree of pride watching the vegetables grow. It was kind of like a kid going home with an A on the grade card. When I walked in the door and handed my wife a 5 gallon bucket of fresh vegetables. "Look hon, I dun good." The biggest negative was July - September in the hottest and most humid periods of the summer, it was brutal working in the garden more than two hours. The heat will require you to alter your gardening times from after work to early mornings. If you still work, this means weekends. If you aren't careful the weeds will overtake your efforts.
So, my recommendation to anyone who is stocking dehydrated, freeze dried, or any other long term food, if you buy #10 can seeds or any type of seeds for your long term survival, take the time now to learn how to grow the seeds. You may end up hoeing the land by hand when the fuel runs out, but until then, you may want to use the tiller to at least get your rows busted up and usable. If I had to use a hoe to bust up the red clay we have here I would still be hoeing the earth.
Till Next Time..... Keep Charging...