This article has been written by Elizabeth D. for Survivopedia’s contest “My Prepper Story”. You can vote for this article until March 29, 2015 using the “Vote Up” box at the end of the article.
A process to self sufficiency
For me I saw the writing on the wall when the world was worried about Y2K. I started thinking about how our world would be without computers and electricity. I am a retired high school teacher who spent my working days surrounded by very liberal educated “idiots”. I tried at first to discuss my concerns over lunch in the faculty dining room only to be laughed at and scoffed as silly. Everyone around me was not concerned with the fragility of our society. So I went underground, I just stopped talking to others about my concerns and silently started looking for ways I could prepare.
I realized I was halfway there just by having a father who was a hunter and a mother who always thought outside the box. Even at first my husband wasn’t with me, and as I started to research and save things for “just in case”, he humored me. We don’t have much money and are always on a tight budget, but living on a farm was a big advantage.
I moved out here in 1983 when my former husband thought country living would be great. We bought 20 acres with a creek running through it. We are surrounded by large forest tracks of land and only 4 families living on our 4 mile dead end road. We planted 18,000 trees for a tree farm. We replaced all fencing, cleared up the old barn and shop, remodeled the house, made the daylight basement livable.
Then in 1993 he left and divorced me. Farm living was not for him! In the divorce, I got the farm, wondering if I could keep it, but I struggled, sacrificed and learned how to be alone. I was lonely but not willing to find another partner. I started going back to church, rediscovered my faith, and continued on. Life was a constant struggle, but in 1998 I had a blind date, we married in 2000, just as I was questioning Y2K. My husband is a man’s man, very physical, and a thinker of uncommon sense. We had so much in common, but many friends were concerned he hadn’t graduated from high school. His life was full of making do, critical thinking skills one cannot teach and hard living. We are a perfect match. He is a fearless hunter, excellent shot and a patient teacher to me. We work great together and enjoy our friendship and love of life.
I started going back to my roots. What I learned from my parents, who lived through the depression, became important. I started by learning how to be a better shooter, which of course hooked my husband! We took tactical pistol and rifle training, then created a pistol and rifle range on the farm to practice to keep our skills.
I never talked about this at school because my peers were so happy to not concern themselves about the “what ifs.” We got into cowboy action mounted shooting using our horses and having fun. We had to learn to reload because we were using so much ammunition. We spent weekends at the reloading bench together, experimenting with different loads, etc. This led to the need to get bullets, powder, primers, etc. So off to the gun shows around here. At a show I picked up “How to Survive the End of the World as We know It” by James W. Rawles. I read the whole book in about 6 hours and knew I needed to step up my preparations! My quest began in serious in 2009. I retired from teaching in 2008, so the time was right to educate myself to the world of preparing.
I didn’t know I was a prepper until someone said I was. I just thought of myself as a person who wanted to be self reliant and to be able to take care of herself. My husband was now into being prepared and supported my efforts. We had both been leather workers, so now we set about to collect tools, hides, supplies, and stains to be able to create a home business to help in bad times.
We started going to gun shows as a vendor of our custom holsters, knife sheaths, scabbards, belts, etc. We branched out into selling knives, ammo supplies, self sustainability items, etc. The money we earned we put back in to buying inventory. We now do all the shows and have so much fun, not to mention all the knowledge we are gaining. At one show a nice elderly gentleman and I got to talking and he mentioned I needed to start growing all my food. He gave me my first heirloom seeds, an acorn squash and Indian corn, and the gardening started. I now have three garden areas and a big herb garden. I have collected books on all the good ways to garden, store food, process it, fermentation, seed saving, etc. If the grid goes down I will still have my resources.
This is a slow process because I have to budget to get everything. But it is possible. I have a list of things needed and check them off as I am finally able to get them. I am saving now for a grain mill to be able to grind my own grain. I am growing a wheat plot this year!
We now have eleven horses who are trained to ride, pack, stand tied, five can be shot off of, and one can pull a wagon. We added chickens, 29 layers, 2 roosters and get plenty of eggs for ourselves and barter. We have geese, goats, cattle, cattle/guard dog, and of course Jack Russell dogs, the best mousers and rat killers. In 2009 we decided we would not plant anything that doesn’t bear something to eat. We have blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants, 11 varieties of eating grapes, sea berries, marion berries, and this year we will be planting 4 kiwis.
We also have apple, pear, cherry, plum, persimmon, hazelnut, and fig trees. I have three crab apples to make homemade pectin for canning and to increase tanin in the hard cider. I also learned how to make alcohol from my cider. I took a course in home brewing and learned so much. It has taken me 4 years to get all the supplies, but the hard cider is awesome and we barter it. Seven years ago I discovered some wild cherry trees in our upper acreage, I grafted apple scion on to them and they all took. I now have some very old varieties of apples that all the deer love. It keeps them away from the trees close to the barns! Also assures us of another food source.
Last year I saved enough out monthly to purchase two 300 gallon water storage tanks, a rototiller, and a chest freezer. The freezer is in the shop where our 13,500 kw generator is located. That way if the grid goes down we will be able to keep frozen food until it is all gone.
I am also now growing tobacco, for barter and for my husband who rolls his own. I was told in this area you couldn’t grow it, well I am. I sell the seeds at shows, tell everyone how to grow it, and I get people coming back who are thrilled. This year I am going to try and grow peanuts for their butter and oil. I grow sunflowers for oil, but thought peanut oil would be good too.
Life is learning and I am having fun in all this. We have done a couple of weekends with no power. That is a true reminder how dependent we are on electricity. It requires a person to really appreciate how our ancestors lived. I have managed to accumulate all sorts of alternative lighting, cooking over the two rocket stoves (a very good investment), and water filtration. All this is so we can survive and be comfortable.
I refuse to be a victim and I will not be re-educated and placed in a FEMA camp where I will have all decisions made by someone else. I am 66 years old and find preparing like this gives me a feeling of peace. Our preparedness gives us a sense of hope.
This past summer I went to a gathering of about 45 retired teachers from my high school. They all talked about traveling, their grandchildren, the recent books they read (not even close to my reading material!), their wines, and shopping. Not one of them even has given a thought to preparing. Two were doing a bit of gardening growing tomatoes! I felt so surrounded by ignorance and denial. I am truly aware I march to a different drum.
People now are wondering about me again, I speak English, am fluent in Spanish and French, speak a bit of Italian, and am now learning Russian. People ask why, and it is too hard to explain! Here in the Pacific Northwest it seems a logical choice to me.
“That’s my story and I am sticking to it.”
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