I Don’t Want To Be A Wanderer Forever…

incredients 4       As many of you are aware I started prepping as a natural progression of wanting to be self-sufficient. That change was spurred not only by what I watched unfolding economically and politically but also by my personal spiritual walk. I want to exhort each of you to prepare not only physically but also mentally and spiritually for the challenges we will face. Although all of you are not necessarily of a Judeo-Christian based faith, that should not stop this preparation for you.

If any talk of religion offends you, simply speed read through this post to the main points that apply. No offence taken. However I want to share an important spiritual parallel to the concept of prepping. Sometimes we stagnate, we fail to do anything because we feel so overwhelmed and we begin to give in to the feelings of fear and being unable to sort though our feelings and the roadblocks we face. Hiding our heads in the sand doesn’t just make us sheeple. It also puts us in the desert places like the Jews fleeing from the Egyptians. Think for a moment about the Old Testament Jews who were enslaved to Pharoah and how they prayed for deliverance. God heard their cries and sent Moses.

Moses     As God sent plague after plague, the Jews would cry out to God each time questioning. Once in the desert, they still fought back against everything Moses tried to explain. They literally begged to return to the “safety” of Pharaoh and the old status-quo of being slaves so they did not have to face hardships of freedom. All God was requesting was their faith in Him and they chose to instead seek the golden idols and a return to slavery.

Freedom isn’t free is a common enough expression but this is true not only in a militaristic sense but also spiritually. We pay a price for our liberty. Like Pharaoh’s slaves we can’t ignore that price. Moses wasn’t a dictator telling the Jews what to do – they had a choice. He did express anger at the ones who refused to accept a choice of freedom. It’s easier to complain than to actually help one’s self. He knew the security of being enslaved under Pharaoh wasn’t really a place of safety. Not only would they be subject to his whims but also to his need for them to serve his purposes. Even their food would be through him only. Through Moses leading them to the Promised Land, they had a chance at true freedom but instead turned to those golden idols and the lure of lies of slavery. Talk about an entitlement crowd – they were the original ones! They were in a prison of their own making for all those 42 years. This post isn’t meant to be simply a bible lesson though.

Noah025     So now take this and think about where we are as a nation. Freedom exacts a price – not only one of our lives in a military sense though. We’ve all joked often about Noah building an ark in the desert. Little is mentioned about what it cost his family in terms of livelihood, friendships with his community (no matter how far-fetched the boundaries of this community), and the toll it took about him spiritually. How often did Noah go to his Lord in prayer? “Lord, am I really supposed to be doing this? “ Or how about, “Lord I been at this a year or two now – am I wrong to want something to happen to vindicate me in front of the neighbors? They’re all laughing at me Lord?”  “Lord, my kids think I’m nuts here – what do I tell them now – they’d rather go buy a few more goats or sheep for the herd?” “Lord, I’m not getting any younger here – I have grown kids and they’re not too happy about this right now with me – it’s a lot of work hauling this wood after we cut it down.” Just imagine the ridicule this man and his family faced. I wonder what his wife had to say about spending his time and money on this project too. I’m also pretty certain it wasn’t easy to hide this big old ark in the middle of his land – talk about OPS failure! So instead we all complain how hard it is to find enough money to store those extra bags or rice and beans. We get overwhelmed worrying about where to stash it all. How about that sore back from mucking out the barn or chicken coop? Really? Or as I am prone to complain about – I’m not twenty something either – that garden is pretty rough on my tired old body too! Especially when the weeds grow better than the vegetables lately!

We can have lots of excuses and just as many valid reasons why we find ourselves not wanting to push ourselves out our comfort zones. We not only feel overwhelmed – we walk in fear of leaving our safe spot. We owe Him our faith in Him to break free of that bondage. To fail to do so is to wander in our own desert place. For most of us the price of a “Bug out location” is another house mortgage we can’t afford. Few of us can afford to buy 2 – 3 years worth of food for long term storage for twenty or so of our closest family members. Realistically most of us cannot hope to easily pay off house mortgages, car loans, and or student loans anytime soon either. Believe me, I am one of those so hampered also!  But all of us can take those first tentative steps out of bondage towards that “promised land”. We can focus on freedom from fear stepping away from our personal “Egypt”.

I dread thinking our country is changing so radically into something I am not sure I recognize any longer. I find it hard to believe that all we believed in is slipping away. I also think about other countries where free peoples witnessed their own country slide away from what they loved. Those lands slid into socialism, Nazism, fascism or worse seemingly overnight. Yet life continued for these folks – day after day, step after step. They still went to work, they ate, they laughed, cried, fell in love, married, raised family. Some of them never saw the changes because they were so far removed from where the changes took place, living out in the wilderness. Others ignored what was happening around them because it was easier, safer even, to ignore it. Others believed what they were told, that this would be a better world for them, for their families, because of those changes. They bought into the deception because the desert and the journey they would have to face otherwise was a scarier one than the bondage they knew already. Still others were like Moses trying to make them understand how short that journey through the desert could have been. He knew it shouldn’t have taken 42 years of wandering – that place of refuge, of freedom was so much closer if they only took those steps in strength together. Some of us will be put in that position. Some of us are already there – crying out for deliverance, crying out for others to follow us on the path already being offered. Some will even be called to pay more difficult prices – but we each can take a few steps now towards that place – by preparing now in whatever small ways we can, means a chance for the next generation to make it to that place of freedom and maybe ourselves too.

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Work Work Work – In Other Words, No Fun at the Homestead

kitchen        One of the things no one talks about is how much work it is to be self-sustaining. Maybe that’s because somewhere along the way we have lost our work ethic. Or maybe it is because this new life style of being prepared is supposed to be so superior, so glamorous. After all some of the biggest names in the “prepping” world run big splashy blogs and sell branded items with their logos and write books too. They have Face book pages devoted to their lives and thousands follow every word faithfully. How many TV shows are now devoted to the movement? And it’s not only an American phenomenon! You can read blogs from around the world now talking about the same things.

The reality is that running a self sustaining homestead of any size is hard work and lots of it. There is nothing glamorous about it either! Chicken coops need to be cleaned out – and chicken poop smells! When it rains (like it seems to do constantly lately   in many parts of the land), the poop smells horrible. Yes, do not waste your time telling me a clean coop does not smell. I know that and I clean constantly – more often than most probably because I do not want neighbors upset with us. I use herbs to freshen their nest boxes and I use coop compost deodorizers too.

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Rain helps to breed flies and that is another issue few folks talk about. The chickens enjoy eating bugs but even they cannot keep up with bug patrol without my help. Whether it rains or not, the animals need to be fed. And winter months it snows. They still eat.

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Now let’s talk about the rabbit hutches. There’s another smelly messy yucky job! The manure makes great fertilizer just like chicken manure does. But most of us do not live on huge farms or homesteads where we can have piles of this stuff sitting waiting to be used. We have gardens to use it in but can only use so much at a time. I share with everyone I know but not everyone wants any. For some reason many folks think buying their fertilizer in neat little bags that have less smell and muss is a better choice?

So then I have to raise the next messy smelly and not fun issue. We raise our rabbits for a food source. That means butchering and cleaning up afterwards. Someone has to do this job too! It is not a clean job and it is time consuming to boot. Again living in a neighborhood, I am not going to be leaving this around for animals and flies and smell to take over. That means more work to dispose of the leftovers properly. How that is done depends on where you live and those local ordinances too.

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Having a garden that yields enough food to feed your family takes a lot of back-breaking work. The gardens you see on those web sites are beautiful and it is exciting to break ground to start a garden. There are lots of tips and hints out there to encourage you on the journey. Planting a seed and watching it grow is a wonderful experience for the children. But how many of you were made to help weed gardens (even a flower garden) when young? Rain makes plants grow but it makes weeds flourish and outgrow the veggies! Trying to fight those squash beetles without using nasty chemicals is a challenge and takes work. That home grown fertilizer is now going to smell at that end of your yard too! Weeding is a never ending task no matter how much you mulch.

Does all this mean it isn’t worth it? Does it mean it’s a waste of time? Several of you would rather buy convenient no fuss MREs. They can have a place in some prepper situations but one important point to remember is that sooner or later that food source may not be available. Why exactly do you want to prep, to store food, and/or be self-sustaining? Are you preparing for the apocalypse or simply want to control what your family eats? Are you an environalist or simply wanting a more simple lifestyle? I personally am a little bit of all of the above. That however also brings challenges of its own to the plate.

I am not well to do. I don’t have enough money to buy the huge plot of land far from the rest of the civilization. It’s doubtful to say the least that I could afford to live way out there anyway. I certainly can’t afford a separate “bug out” location secondary to my home.  I have to work a full time job to support my family. That means the homestead has to fit around other obligations in my life. Most of the work falls to me. Yes, I do have some help in the form of feeding the animals or penning them up at night away from predators. But the more physical aspects are usually my job. Occasionally I can afford to pay for additional help to work in the garden but that is not the norm for us either. My days off from my full time work are not days of rest. Lazy days are few and far between. And this was reality for most folks only fifty or sixty years ago. Women worked from sun up to sun down on the farms. They took care of kitchen gardens and small animals as well as cooked, cleaned, did laundry, made soap, sewed clothes, and so on. That list went on and on! It was second nature to most of them and few thought twice about it. There were harvest festivals to celebrate the end of one season of work before starting the next. Barn raisings and slaughter days were social events built around helping each other accomplish some of those necessary chores everyone had to accomplish!

If (and I accept it is a big IF) any of the scenarios we fear do come true, our young folks will have a shock adjusting. I suspect many of us will have a shock, even those who thought they were prepping and prepared. Back in the Great Depression stories abounded about those who could not accept what happened and committed suicide or lost it emotionally and mentally. We have a lot more population to contend with who will not have a clue how to survive or where to even begin. Does this mean that we shouldn’t bother with any of this? Does it mean that we not enjoy life and the conveniences or perks we have now? I enjoy having my nails done and wearing my high heels and going out to eat, being waited on too. I like my silks as well as my jeans. I enjoy shopping at Publix (such a clean store with beautiful produce and fresh meat) as well as eating a tomato from my garden! I love shopping the deli as well as opening one of jars of home canned foods. There is pleasure in both and there is no sin in admitting it. Just as it is not an unspeakable sin to speak the truth about the yuck factors of being a prepper or homesteader! Surviving is more than just stock piling food and weapons. It means being prepared in body, mind, and soul for all of the challenges that we face! Be honest in sharing the reality with others because not knowing and suddenly being thrust into it will be stressful – too stressful for most. Having to face the realities shouldn’t scare anyone away. It means rather that we are honest with ourselves about the work and less and worse involved and that we face those challenges honestly. There is pleasure and sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done. Those eggs taste better for many reasons! The pantry is pretty because of the colors but also because of the work that went into filling it. The peace of a good night’s sleep from the work is a sweet sleep indeed. Sitting out on the patio in the wee hours of the morning watching the sun rise while sipping coffee and listening to the sounds of the chickens is great feeling… no matter how much work it takes, this is the mornings I live for.

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Being Prepared Mind, Body, and Soul

100_1773      Haven’t we all heard this admonition before? It has never been more true than now. I believe it is a word meant for our times more than ever. Needless to say all of us should be preparing our bodies. Being healthy and physically fit is something we should be doing irregardless of what we believe the future holds. Making sure our minds are prepared also is an important step for us to undertake. Being sure we make ourselves as well informed and educated as possible so that we have the right information to persist is a necessary decision for all of us. After all we cannot think we will have access to the Internet and all of the information we need in an emergency. This then brings us to being prepared spiritually.

I have spent the last few weeks in reflection and in meditation, rethinking if you will why it is that I am called to prepare and IF in fact, I am called to prepare.  There are so many conflicting reports and opinions out there that it can be confusing and disheartening for all of us. I have been called uneducated (I have my MBA), foolish, uninformed, and even told I am crazy or a hoarder.  But the worst I have been called is one who doesn’t walk in faith, who is a hypocrite. So it has been a time for me to step back and really consider what it is I am doing and why. This is an important step for all preppers, all survivalists, anyone who is unsure or not.  Central to this time of reflection is that one should realize that spiritual preparedness is perhaps one of the most important points of clarification and grounding for us.

I have stated before that I do not wish to impose my beliefs on anyone else. I realize that many of you reading this do not necessarily believe in Judeo-Christian faiths – many of you are atheists.  It doesn’t matter what your particular beliefs are spiritually (although I personally do believe my faith is important to me and for everyone) but it is important that you have prepared yourself spiritually for whatever it is you believe is coming at us in the near future.

Men – you are called by religions and by human nature to be head of your household. Not that this means your wives have no say or no opinions but rather that you must be ready to step up and lead. How you lead will have huge ramifications and consequences for your family not just now but for always. Reams have been written on the psychological damage done to families by overbearing, demanding, and mentally challenged men as well as that of absentee fathers on their sons and daughters. Spousal abuse certainly gets plenty of attention also so I don’t need to rehash all of that for you. Suffice it to say here that you men need to step up and teach your children what being prepared means. Give them a strong foundation of faith and knowledge to lean on in their lives. Teach them what true patriotism, true loyalty, true strength means.

Women – most of you know what women are called to do and to be. Many of you of the Judeo-Christian faiths have learned of the Proverbial Woman of Proverbs 31. You understand leading the younger women to the Lord, to strong faith, to be a wise woman in her home. But this isn’t merely for those of a particular faith – it is a lesson we women should impart to all women. That Proverbial Woman was a strong woman who led her household and her business staff wisely. She guarded her finances. She not only provided for her family and staff, she used wisdom in helping others to do the same. She clothed her family and she filled her larder. We as women need to understand our roles in taking a place of leadership in the prepping community. We like the men need to instill in the younger ones the need to prepare not just for a zombie apocalypse but for anything coming at us.

None of the goals of being prepared are meant to instill fear and confusion. Rather if one has one’s own spiritual house in order, it should impart peace for the family and those around us.  For me it means knowing that I can fall back on those religious tenets that I was raised to believe in, to center myself on what is important in my life. It was written many eons ago that man does not live by bread alone.  All of us need to be strong enough in what we know to be true, what we know to be just, to know what the consequences of our failures will be. When we are strong of mind, body, and soul, only then can we find the strength and courage to follow through on what we must do. If we believe that we have been called to this time to be prepared and to help others, we cannot falter or fail in this. It is up to us now to teach others and to be ready to help them survive as well as only our own small group. We are our brother’s keepers and it is up to us to lead them through.   100_1425

What Now?

Untitled 1                      It’s the end – that disaster you have feared has come to be reality. You’re praying you’re ready but not feeling very happy or even very secure about how prepared you are to take care of your family. Yet, you also know you are more prepared than most folks you know. Then you get that awful sinking feeling… you know the one that wakes you up in the dead of the first night… the one where you realize that you spent a lot of time trying to warn others and trying to make them understand the importance of putting at least something, anything aside for just such an emergency. That sinking feeling is because you KNOW most of them did not listen to or give any credence to anything you tried to tell them. So now what?

Untitled2                                      How many of those folks will be showing up at your door? Will you open the door or do you yell from behind a closed door to go away? Did you tell them about everything you had so they will not leave without you giving them at least some of your preps? Or worse… are they the type who will take it violently forcibly from you? Maybe like my husband you have a soft heart and can’t refuse to feed hungry children. Yet even this gentle man has stated that his own family will come first before he takes in more. Now the question is at what point do we harden our hearts to feeding others, helping them. Have you thought ahead about any of this? Have you planned any rules for those you don’t want or can’t turn away? More importantly, when would you discuss any of those rules? Most would need to be discussed ahead of time so that there were no surprises later for anyone.

Basic rules should include for everyone to empty whatever stores or food and cleansers they have and bring them along with clothing and beddings. Seems pretty basic but not all people think logically. Prescriptions and personal clothing and bedding can be kept personal but once they enter your home, everything else would need to be considered payment for taking them in. Obviously this won’t be a rental situation but as much as are mostly loathe to a socialistic society, there will have to be a realization that we will all need to share equally. So that brings us to the next rule.

Everyone will need to help out, to work together. Chores will need to be divided as to each person’s strengths and weaknesses. Cleaning will be very important in order to not have a bacteria Petri dish situation. That means clean kitchen and clean bathroom facilities too. Laundry would probably not be a daily occurrence so it will need lots of helpers too. In our situation, we have animals and chickens to care for also in addition to very large garden that would need lots of helpers! Naturally those small children will need supervision and education depending on how life is being lived at the moment. Hopefully someone steps up as a worthy spiritual leader too.

No one wants to think in terms of zombies at the door or other monsters but what if? If the situation has gotten to the point of rioting or looting, then security will become a major issue too. How you choose to handle that will be a major point of discussion left to others to debate with you. I am not a weapons expert and certainly have never been in a combat situation o I am not one to debate those issues here.

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Up to now I have been relying on my husband and four sons (adults) to do much of the physical heavy stuff such as building hutches and coops. I do most of the cleaning and I so most of the gardening work with my husband’s guidance and experience talking me through what I haven’t done before. Both of us do kitchen work of all type including the cleaning and the cooking and shopping for supplies. My sons and my husband also fish and hunt to provide additional food for the family. My sons have come a great distance in learning what items will be needed if any emergency arises so they scout wisely at auctions, garage sales, and thrift stores. Finally everyone has realized that there has to be one main boss – in our patriarchal family, that’s the dad. It cannot be a democracy because I guarantee there would be too many disagreements, especially within non-family members. Fortunately for our family everyone pretty much agrees with one another on main points so we will survive without the additional headaches that some of you may face. We have already decided on helping certain extended family and even a few close friends who are aware that we will help them. They also understand what we expect of them, what we expect them to contribute to our plan. Because of our personal circumstances we will most likely stay in our home with no plan to “bug out” to elsewhere. For us there is no other place unless our situation and finances change drastically. Our plans mean adapting to whatever comes our way here at home. For others of you, you may fear something worse and are able to have another place to go to. That should and would affect the decisions you should be making now facing helping others or turning them away. But make no mistake – now is the time to think it through and make plans – not after things have fallen apart. Then will be too late – and the idea here is to plan in order to not make more stress than you need to deal with later!

Being Stress-Free and United

Today I want to talk about a topic that many want to discuss, often think they are discussing … but usually end up avoiding or changing the subject.  I personally happen to be a Christian – I have a strong personal belief and personal commitment but do not want to use this blog to convert anyone per se. Do I think everyone should have a personal relationship with the Lord? Yes, of course! Am I willing to discuss my personal beliefs? Also a big yes – and for anyone who has questions, email me and we can open a dialogue – BUT – I am aware that many folks have their own personal beliefs and doctrines they hold true to. Some of you may also be agnostic or atheists.  That’s fine too. However being prepared is more than simply buying lots of weapons or buying lots of camping supplies or food. More important than all of this is to be prepared spiritually and psychologically for what will be happening. Therefore it is important to know that you are doing your best to be preparing spiritually. If in fact this will be TEOTWAWKI, then it is reality that not all of us will survive either due to starvation or to war or to disease. Are you ready to die physically if you have not prepared spiritually? In my opinion the spiritual aspect is too important to be ignored. But it is not the only angle to be concerned about. We also need to address any phobias or psychological issues with prepping too.

It has been said that man is a social creature, that no one can survive alone. We all seem to seek out that someone special or at least a good companion. Not all relationships are sexual in nature. Having someone you know personally to share with, to laugh or cry with, to talk about deepest feelings and fears as well as joys with, is an important part of our nature. When one is left adrift with no one else, some of those emotions can begin to tip off kilter into dangerous emotions. We begin to see those folks writing manifestos or acting strangely or perhaps breaking mentally completely. Most of our known psychological conditions involve how we relate to others.  Talking to likeminded folks on the internet is not enough. In certain scenarios, there won’t be an internet access later. Life won’t go on if there are no couples and families later. It takes two is a truism here! It means we need to give serious thought and time to those relationships around us. For those of us who prep or want to be more self-sustainable in our own lives, we know that having a relationship with another person takes work and time. Lust is a wonderful thing but long term relationships need to be based on many areas of mutual attraction and agreements. I realize those relationships change over time and we all hope and pray that they mature into a more loving and self-satisfying one. This sadly is often not the case so when one begins to prep, one had best be at a point of understanding those important people in your life. If a husband decides that for whatever reason he wants to move to outer where ever and his wife is a downtown city gal, this may not work! That means the two of you need to reach a comfortable point of agreement and compromise or the relationship will probably not survive!

On many forums we often read that one of the couple wants to prep, wants to store food or learn weapons, or buy more of everything – but the other half of that partnership is totally opposed. It amazes me how many couples are not on the same page. They seem to be at the point of not being able to even compromise on any of it. That makes me worry about how they approach many other issues in their relationship as a whole but I am not a marriage counselor by any means. Having a firm spiritual base is helpful for any couple. Having mutual beliefs and being able to then find areas of compromise will make all the difference in the world in any catastrophe. During a bad storm, it is not helpful for one half a couple to be frozen in place screaming or terrified while the other is attempting to save each other, other family members, and possessions. When the water is rising, it helps to have someone to hand things or children to who is standing on slightly higher ground. This holds true for mental preparedness. Couples should be able to share weaknesses and strengths. No one can do all the “heavy lifting” all of the time and feel at peace. The point of prepping or being self-sustaining is to find a place of peace in our lives, a place where we know that we are doing our best to care for ourselves and those closest to us.  It is not supposed to cause us more stress and more fear. It certainly shouldn’t be causing us personal wars or battlefields in our own home. Deciding to ignore what the other half of our relationship doesn’t agree to and instead look to outsiders in the form of prepping or survivalist forums or groups is not a recipe for peace and contentment. For this reason I want to impress the importance of any couple to find that common ground they can agree on while prepping. If your wife is not on board, it may be that she is trying to be a voice of reason. The same is also true if the husband is telling the wife no. One of the biggest areas of discontent or dissension is in the realm of finances and budget. Trying to prep on a limited budget can be extremely challenging in the best of times so adding the stress of over shopping for prepping is not the wisest decision. Neither is buying that cute goat or those rabbits when you can afford the feed and the hutches or anything else needed to take care of them. Let’s not even get into which of you is going to get stuck with the care of them!

Most religions emphasize to be in agreement with your partner in all spiritual matters. If you can pray together, you can usually manage to find that place of agreement and compromise in other areas of your relationship. It should be the same for prepping and being self-sustaining. Find a comfortable place for both of you – be united in your efforts, not arguing. If it causes that much dissension, dial it back until the two of you are again at peace with one another. Being prepared, being self-sustaining is all about eliminating stress.