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Reading Darlene's Continuing on thread got me thinking about the different way that I try to be prepared and I thought I'd share it with you in case any of this might work for you. 


Contingency Preps


An alternative way to be prepared.


With the exception of a couple years lived in a small town, for over fifty years we have lived a homesteading lifestyle.   A few years ago age and disability took its toll and the homestead lifestyle faded as infirmity took its place.  Now the animals and livestock have gone, the barn and small outbuildings are gone or have fallen into disrepair, and the pasture and orchard are gradually returning to nature along with the rest of the property.  This saddened me but I was able to accept and adapt with the exception of my ability to be prepared for self sufficiency. 


We have always been ‘Preppers” and have weathered many storms because of it.  We have relied on our stored supplies many times in the past and again just this last year with Covid and its resulting lockdowns and shortages.  Now with Covid still among us, the state of the governments of the world, not to mention our own government’s failings, I knew that was one thing we needed to retain. And we do have supplies stored. 


I felt, however, that a store of food and supplies alone would not sustain us in the long run without a means to replace what we used if those were to become unavailable as many things have in the last year or so. In the past I would have just raised, grown, or wild harvested enough of our own food, made my own supplies, and generally could make do enough that we would have been able to do without a lot of outside input.


Now there was that problem of age and inability and I knew we were incapable of being as self-reliant as we had in the past.  At first I was ready to give up and just plan on living as long as we could on our preps and then hope the kids would take care of us from there. But my life long habits of self-sufficiency and my stubborn nature wouldn’t settle for that. I made an attitude adjustment and I began to come up with what I now call my “Contingency Preps”. 


Now all of us preppers technically have contingency preps.  We stock pile for ‘What If’.  But the Contingency Preps I had in mind were different.  They were the plans and means for us two elderly, decrepit people to do what we might have to do if TEOTWAWKI did come while taking into consideration that we could not do what we’d done in the past.  These Contingency Preps or Plans `give me (almost) that same feeling of security that our homesteading lifestyle used to without having to actually live that way now while food and supplies are still available.   


It wasn’t easy to begin with.  I had to ask myself a LOT of questions and face some tough answers but once I gave up my old and preconceived notions of what the prepping lifestyle should be I began to see the possibilities for even us infirm and disabled seniors.  The following posts contain a few of my Contingency Preps/Plans. 

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Food and food production was one of the first things that came to mind. Food was a big issue for me because that was an area that took the biggest hit when we could no longer produce it in an ongoing way and certainly not in a way that would sustain us as in the past.  
Stockpiling more was the first solution I came up with but because we eat differently now than we did when doing the work involved with raising our own I had to do a lot of refiguring.  Not only did I have to reassess the amounts but also the types.  Escalating allergies and illnesses had us eating special diets and I had to take that into consideration in my plans. 

I ran into a snag almost right away.  What would we do if food and supplies really were no longer available? What if we were forced to provide our own food?  Our needs didn’t match our resources and energies to produce it.  Because of celiac and other needs I eat gluten free and mostly grain free and because DH has cognitive and arthritis issues he has chosen to do the same. To stay even minutely mobile we follow an anti-inflammatory eating pattern that is as free from additives and preservatives as possible.  That means we use alternative flours when we do bake and those like coconut, almond, cassava, and the occasional rice, even if they were able to be grown here, would be beyond our ability to grow and harvest.  We do, rarely use oats and that is readily available in the Midwest now. The problem with that was not knowing if it would be available if TSHTF.  My Contingency Prep for this issue was to learn to make and enjoy non-flour type foods.  It isn’t that we do without them now, while they are available. As long as they ARE available we continue to enjoy them but we have found, and continue to find, a lot of alternatives foods, ones we could produce, to take their places.  I continue to stock up on them to the extent they will reasonably keep, often in their whole form, and have made sure I have the means on hand to more easily process them when needed.  I have food processors, mills, grinders, and blenders (and more) both electric and twelve volt on hand to do the job.  I refer to them as my Contingency Appliances. In a pinch I also have mortar and pestles of all different sizes. 
The next snag was fresh fruit and vegetables. Our property has a wealth of wild fruits and there are still a couple apple and pear trees producing in the old orchard but the work, even just gathering in the orchard, is beyond our capabilities. But the idea that we might have people come in and harvest the fruits for us having a share became a Contingency Plan. The raised beds and its watering system are still in the side yard and could easily be made usable again if necessary, by someone. Again perhaps with a share for us.  We keep the tubs and beds well mulched and the water lines stored nearby but that is all. They have now become Contingency Preps with a Plan if needed.

But I really missed being around and working with the plants so a few years ago, when we remodeled our home for handicapped accessibility, I had a small solarium/greenhouse added to a corner of our living room.  It is an 8’x10’ area that is open to the living room but has windows to the south and west with a clear polycarbonate roof.  It is not a perfect growing space but with some trial and error I’ve found it is adequate and I thoroughly enjoy working in it.  The small size makes it good for me to “garden” from my wheelchair but it does limit the amount of food grown.  I’ve learned to be selective of the seed I grow there (and store), choosing greenhouse or patio sized plants where possible. It works quite well for me. 

I’ve also learned to ‘greenhouse garden’ in different ways.  Though we do not have the system set up and operational at the current time, we have a small but easily used hydroponic system. We have used it for a few years so understand the process and we know it can be used in front of a bright window or under grow lights.  We have all that is needed to have it set up in less than an hour’s time.  This includes the trays, hoses, pump, solution and the knowledge to make a solution from nature if needed. Right now the whole system, as a Contingency Prep (or just for when we feel like ‘playing’ with it again) is stored on brackets above the windows where DH can easily access it when needed but otherwise unobtrusive.

Another growing modality we do have set up and use (or will when the repairs to the leaking roof are finished) is a small aquaponics system.  It is based on a large aquarium with fish providing the fertile growing medium.  Right now it is only gold fish but it could easily be used to raise small food fish. While they would probably not grow to edible size they would grow big enough to release into our small farm pond for more growth.  With our proximity to the river that might not be needed, especially as fishing is one thing DH can still do and enjoys.  Still, it’s another of those Contingency Prep thing I’ve been working on and one I can enjoy now. As a Contingency Prep it is set up to add grow areas to it and the necessary supplies to do that are neatly stored away.   Even as it is the aquaponics system can produce a lot of food for its small size when I feel up to doing it.  Both these systems use electricity but with a 12 volt pump they can be worked with our small solar system and can also be maintained manually. That is more work intensive but we have done it so know we can in an emergency.


We also have a very old but still functional Aero Garden. It is automated and would be harder to maintain without electricity but possible and we enjoy its ease of production enough that we are contemplating getting a bigger one. The greenhouse area is already equipped with adjustable hanging grow-lights for times when we have electricity and choose to boost the growth of a plant. We use them now mostly for seedlings. But 12 volt LED grow lights are on the list of needed Contingency supplies.  

The realities are that the area is not large enough to grow enough food to sustain us, at least without some work, but we have proven it can produce an awful lot of food when needed. In the meantime it is a wonderful place to “garden” as little or as much as I want.  It is, however, not the only means of easily raising food here.  I’ve experimented with plants in various containers and positions around the house and have learned there are many more “gardening” resources than is often believed possible.  IF a person cares to do it or needs to do it.

One area is window sill growing.  We are lucky enough to have some windows with deep window sills.  As an experiment, and now as a back-up Contingency Prep, I had DH and DGS make ‘planters’ from gutters that fit nicely in those sills.  I’ve used them both as drip trays for small pots and filled with rock drainage in the bottom with dirt on top as growing beds.  While not deep they were adequate for growing even climbing beans and peas, not to mention a great place for growing herbs, microgreens and shoots.  These deep windows all have grow-lights suspended in them on chains that can be raised and lowered for when we have electricity or feel we want to use it. Other windows are not as deep or convenient for growing but as those windows face south and east we simply place wire shelves or plants on stands in front of them and enjoy watching the plants grow.  I especially enjoy growing lettuce and other water loving plants just in jars of fertilized water in those places.  It’s another form of hydroponics (there are several) that is extremely easy care and yet productive.  Microgreens, peas, and sunflower shoots grow quite well there also and it’s fun to go to a window and pick a fresh salad.

The window above the kitchen sink usually has something growing in it.  It is one of the deep ones and holds a gutter planter but mostly is used for ‘re-growing’ various vegetables.  It’s easy to keep several small containers to hold water and to pop in the root end of all sorts of things from celery, my favorite, to such things as onions, cabbage, carrots, and so much more.  It’s also our usual place to have a sweet potato growing vines in a jar of water.  They are vigorous growers and can produce a lot of edible leaves, (yes SWEET potato leaves are edible and tasty) not to mention how pretty they look growing there.  


Another very easy way we grow is sprouting.  Sprouts can be grown just in a jar with something on top to strain the water.  They take only two or three daily water rinses, require no sun or light and no soil, and most are ready to eat in less than a week. 

In the summer or during temperate weather we can garden outside our door or on the deck.  We have planters on railings within reach and pots of all sizes ready most of the time to pop in some seeds or a plant.  As a Contingency Prep we have bags of soil (and worm castings, fish emulsion, and other natural fertilizers along with some not so natural ones) ready for use for any growing area.  They are stored in accessible areas for quick use and in an outbuilding for one of the family members to help us with.

These certainly are not the only ways to garden for us old and infirm or disabled people.  An online search showed almost as many ways and means to garden as there are people to do them. I am looking forward to trying a few more ways in the future. This is a great way to ‘garden’.  I do as much or as little as I feel up to or desire.  I don’t feel pressured to do more so I can really enjoy the process but having these Contingency growing Preps in place allows me to please myself now yet know I could easily (within our capabilities and energy) produce a lot food if needed.  Would these foods sustain us in the long run?  I believe given the right set up and situation it could but if not it would at least extend our stored food considerably and with a LOT of nutrition that stored foods alone would not give us. 

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That brings me to another component of nutrition.  Protein.  As a homesteader my views have always been towards raising meat.  It seemed a natural part of the cycle of a homestead to do so but I’ve always known that it was not particularly necessary to a healthy diet.   Vegetarian and vegan diets, given the right combinations of foods, can be very healing and I have been on both as well as a plant strong diet that included meat. Unfortunately grain is usually one component of those combinations and between allergies and inflammation we eat very little grain. We have enough meat in our freezers, dehydrated, and canned to last us more than a year as half our meals now consist of non-meat proteins.  That seems to be working for us but once gone with no more available then what? 

While I have no plans to raise our meat protein now I still wanted to have that Contingency Prep ready to go if we needed it. Yet producing meat protein seemed beyond our abilities, at least in a conventional way.  Here’s where I asked myself a few more questions. 

I miss the interaction with all the animals.  I miss the antics of a flock of chickens or other poultry when I threw them feed and even the rooster’s alarm clock in the mornings.    I miss being able to toss my scraps into the pens and having them miraculously turn into protein. I miss the fresh-from-the-nest eggs.  But I do not miss all the work of hauling in feed, filling water troughs, repairing fences, or cleaning out pens and coop (especially in freezing weather or blistering heat).  I miss our meat and milk animals but not the daily or twice daily dependence they have on us.  And though I do miss the fresh milk and dairy products I produced in my own kitchen we don’t use them nearly as much now as we did before and have learned to do without them.  

DH has always been a hunter and he still occasionally goes out with the DGS but to do it enough to consistently produce game protein for us would be difficult for him if not impossible even if we didn’t butcher it ourselves, which we have always done in the past. And in a SHTF situation I have to wonder how much game would be available with everyone having the same idea of hunting them.  So as a Contingency Prep I began to research ways and means to raise some of our own meat if we absolutely had to even with our age and infirmities; just in case.  In taking inventory I realized we had retained all the equipment to care for livestock again but something else I realized was that we’d never be able to do it as we had when younger and healthier. I looked at alternatives like quail and doves, and smaller livestock like rabbits and maybe even Cavies, all of which we’ve raised and used in the past.  Still, the smaller livestock didn’t seem to come with less work, just different work and even that was daunting.  

One idea kept nagging at me and that was how to make it possible to raise our meat protein without the excess work.  One answer seemed to be in automation.  I could envision feed dropping into feeders automatically and water being available full time much like they do in ‘factory’ farming but on a much smaller scale.  That, of course, brought up the problem of electricity.  What if we had none?  That brought me back to having to do it manually but in a way that was consistent with our abilities. And there was still the problem of feed, both the getting of it and the hauling it.

Again, I went back to the question.  What did we really need if TSHTF?  I knew we could get along on plant based proteins but calorie to calorie the work involved to grow enough protein dense plants to sustain us could easily take as much work, though a different type, than raising some of our own meat.  Like the wild fruit and vegetables, we have a host of wild plant based proteins on our property (acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts, and much more) but it would all necessitate gathering in areas that might no longer be accessible to us and the work is difficult.  Just as with hunting, it could be a great back up and variety to our diets, if we were able to get them, but in our situation it would be much better to have a protein source outside our door and easily obtained.  

If I had to choose one animal to raise I decided I’d make it chickens. They produce both eggs and meat, make great ‘composters’, and given the right breed are thrifty in their eating habits.  I’ve long had this idea for a ‘possible’ chicken coop that might be easier to handle for us.  This one would be a sort of permaculture type for only a few chickens and perhaps a couple of rabbits in a system with worms, automatic clean out, seeded runs and growing areas, mostly self-watering and feeding, easily accessible egg gathering, and could be operated and maintained from a wheel chair.   A dream perhaps but I believe it’s possible and I have some ideas how it might work.  I will continue to work on the idea and perhaps share it later.

For now my Contingency Plan for meat protein is varied.   First I store more canned meats than normal as they keep well. The freezers are full of meat, both domestic and wild and I have enough canning equipment and supplies on hand to process it in a pinch, hopefully with the help of family if available.  I have dehydrators aplenty both electric and non-electric to process some that way.    We also have a generator set up to run the freezers until we can get the food in them processed.  I have stores of powdered eggs and cheese and protein powders of various types in the freezer to supplement with. We keep our weapons clean and the ammo for them available and have animal traps on hand with the hopes there will be enough game to hunt or trap.  We have fishing tackle ready to go and we keep plenty of seed on hand to grow what plant protein we can in the greenhouse.  The last Contingency Prep is to rely on our family to help supply us if that becomes necessary.

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Heating and cooking


Another area we have Contingency Preps for is heating and cooking.  We have two wood heat stoves already installed in the house along with several extra stoves stored in outbuildings.  One stored stove is a very nice wood cook stove that could be substituted but I have all the equipment, knowledge, and experience I need to cook on either of the stoves already installed.  There is plenty of wood outside the door and close to the house. DH can still haul wood but it is becoming very difficult for him and it would be extremely difficult for me beyond bringing in a few pieces at a time from the back porch.  We do have wagons, canvas carriers, and etc. to help with the hauling but it is still difficult work and replacing the wood could prove impossible for us without help.  That means alternatives even to wood heat.

On sunny days the greenhouse becomes a source of heat and the water and soil in it would serve as a storage for it.  Though they are not up now I have insulated curtains to fit the windows at night to retain the heat better and I have a supply of bubble wrap to help insulate other windows.  We have winter clothing and warm socks, gloves, hats, and etc. and would, of course, dress appropriately.  

For sleeping we have several insulated blankets, foil emergency blankets, and sleeping bags. We also have a couple of tents (one fits inside the other for added insulation) that we could sleep in to conserve our own body heat.  The tents could easily be preheated with only a candle or oil lantern but though I have a large supply of both they won’t last forever.  We don’t have bees so would not have wax so replacing them would need to be with something more primitive, like wood torches and that could be not only dangerous but as difficult finding them in the wild as hauling in wood. I believe it would be an early to bed and a late to rise for us.  

Cooking takes fuel of some sort but we have a variety of cooking methods we could use.  We have a gas stove top connected to the large propane tank that runs the furnace and we see that is filled often.  The stove lights with a spark or match and if we weren’t using the furnace the gas would last a couple of years for the stove alone.  More so if we use our insulated cooker or a similar method with cooking.  That takes only bringing the food to a boil and allowing it to cook in an insulated container for several hours, similar to a crock pot. I use it often now just to save fuel and for experimentation and fun. 


I also have several old fashioned ovens. a nice steamer oven, and camp ovens that fit over the gas burners or the top of wood stoves, turning the stoves into an effective baking areas.  We also have a couple of 12 volt cooking appliances but we’d have to be careful of battery storage as they take a considerable amount of electricity to run.  I especially like the small crockpot and it seems to be the easiest on the charge.

We have numerous small cooking stoves of all sorts including a newspaper stove, alcohol ones, butane, camp stoves, multi fuel ones, rocket stove, gas grill, charcoal grill, lanterns with cooking surfaces, and the list is probably longer than that. It has been fun learning how to cook on each various one and in most instances are small enough to be easily stored.  I have dozens of cast iron pots and pans for heavier cooking as well as light weight ones for quick cooking. I’ve cooked on, and even taught, open fire cooking and have a nice fire ring and stocked camp kitchen so am prepared to do even that.  Though the work involved might be difficult with me being handicapped I do it often now for fun and know things are set in place to make it possible. Any time we have our franklin fireplace going I try to cook something for us.  


The one appliance I do not have and would like is a solar cooker/oven.  I have cooked with makeshift solar ovens in the past but can see where a commercial one would have an advantage. It’s on the list of Contingency Preps I still want to purchase, and play around with. I’m curious to see if one would work with the sun in the greenhouse. 

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Lighting and Water


If the small solar system we had installed is operational it would supply lights and water pumping for our grow systems.  It could also run any chargers we might need and could be used for radios and even a small 12 volt TV if needed. If we are careful it will run our small 12 volt crock pot and frypan. It wouldn’t run the whole house but is at least a renewable source of electricity for some things.

Additionally we have dozens of solar path lights that would be ideal for charging during the day and using at night. We also have a solar light outside our door and two solar shed lights mounted inside the house that are easy enough to switch on and off at night and recharge during the day automatically.  Their storage system is not great but enough to be able to use them for several days without sun if needed. There are, of course the dozens of lamps, lanterns, candles, and cooking oil lamps as more lighting Contingency Preps but they do take fuel.  I have a lot stored but would still be very frugal with them.    

Water is one of our hardest preps.  While the well head is right outside our front door we have only a couple of Contingency Preps to have access.  One is a small hand pump set up with a pvc pipe.  We try to make sure the leathers on the pump stay usable and have an extra set in case. Another is a pvc pipe with hose fittings and a check valve installed on it.  It works by syphoning action but in either case it’s a lot of work to get water out of the well by hand. Not to mention hauling it inside for use.  We have been looking at 12 volt water pumps and have one on our list and we are contemplating having a water tank installed in the attic to be used with the 12 volt pump for a gravity feed water supply. We also do have a few springs on the property, a small pond, and an old quarry with a deep pool of water nearby that we COULD get water from but it would be a lot of work for DH and improbable for me. I store a lot of water at all times. One Contingency Prep that is also on the list is a generator large enough to run the well pump and perhaps the water heater.  A whole house generator would solve a lot of problems but would take considerable more fuel and be more noticeable than running smaller generators only when we need them or when we felt it was safe to do so.

As for water related Contingency Preps we have a primitive system for showers that works with a bucket of warm water and a small 12 volt pump, with an on/off switch, set up with a hose and a shower head. Heating and hauling the water might be a daunting task but the shower is not far from the wood burning stoves and it’s possible a hose could be run directly from the stove to the shower making it possible to only haul water once.

Laundry would be extremely difficult for us but we do have wringer buckets and plungers stored.  I have been looking for a non-electric counter top washer like is used in campers but haven’t settled on one yet that I feel would be within our capabilities to handle and I still have to justify the cost for something that might just be stored.   We also have a big tub that we could bathe or do laundry in.  Wringing the wet clothes would be one of the hardest tasks for us.  If we have our generator available we could still use our automatic washer on the spin cycle to remove excess water.   I have a really nice pulley clothes line set up right outside the back door to hang clothes to dry.  I do it now all the time as I love the smell when I bring them in. These might not be the best options for laundry Contingency Plans and Preps but they are at least possibilities.

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Medical and Defense


Our medical Contingency Preps are fairly secure.  I have managed to have an extra supply of all the medicines we take and rotate them continuously.  I have natural alternatives for each of them and have experimented with their use.  I believe with what meds I have ahead I would be able to transition into the natural ones slowly. One area of concern is my pacemaker.  It is a medical necessity for me.  I’ve been told I have about four years left on the battery and am actually looking forward to having it replaced as I would then have no worries about it.  Another area is the fact that I am in an electric wheel chair or scooter much of the time and without a means to recharge it I would need to use a manual one.  We do have two of them stored as Contingency Preps but I have not been using them and could have difficulties with that at first. We are looking into being able to charge the electric ones via our 12 volt system and hope to have that ability as soon as we can decide what is needed. We are hoping it can be done from a simple inverter as that is also on our list of needs. Barring that, we have charged the wheel chair using the generator. 

I have a considerable medical kit that allows me to do a lot of things from sutures to setting bones and have some experience in using the things in it.  I store a variety of OTC medicines and try to rotate them often. I also have a moderate amount of essential oils and homeopathic medicines on hand. I have experience with using them but also have several manuals for information as well as a good first aid book.  I am well versed in the use of herbs for healing but also have dozens of books on their uses.  I keep a large variety of different medicinal ones in storage and also have many growing near the house and in the surrounding areas.  It would be difficult now for me to gather those wild plants but with help could get to the ones in our yard. The one medical prep area I want to address is having them all organized and easily accessible for when I might be the one who is ill.  I do have a small supply of antibiotics on hand for more serious illnesses but as I react adversely to many of them I am very cautious.  I would use alternatives first.

Defense is an area I need to readdress.  We have numerous guns and the ammo to go with them. We can both handle guns but even with only partial use of one of his hands DH is much more proficient than I am.  Until I regain more use in my hand I am unable to load a gun easily though I can still shoot fairly accurately depending on the weapon I choose.  In the past I could use bows and arrows, sling shots, and other, more primitive, weapons but that is extremely difficult or impossible for me now.  Still, between us DH and I would be able to hold off an intrusion if it was not a mob.  What I AM concerned about is the lack of defensibility of our property.  With its surge of wild grow in the last few years an attacker would have more advantage than we would.  As we can do nothing physically to change that other than hiring it done, we will need to rely on our home defense to keep an intruder out.  

That brought me to thoughts of what defense might consist of.  It isn’t just being able to shoot at someone.  It’s about many different things.  The first that came to mind was living so that the casual observer would not know we are here.  Here was something that would truly need Contingency Preps.  

The first was a removable mailbox.  We live back in a long lane on a very short, little traveled, country road and only the mailbox gives an indication that the lane is not just a field entrance.  Being able to ascertain when it was time to remove it would be difficult but at least it’s quickly done if needed. 

The next was visual signs of there being someone living here.  Because of our long lane the house is situated between roads with cornfields or wooded areas but certain things would still draw attention to us being here.  One would be lights.  It is very dark in the countryside and even a small light could be noticed.  While we don’t have black-out curtains I’ve considered having them on hand along with the brackets installed to use them if needed simply as a Contingency Prep. They could also help with insulation in the winter.  A roll of black plastic and heavy duty tape might be equally effective, both of which we have on hand. The simple act of not using lights in rooms with windows would also be effective but we’d have to be extremely careful about opening and closing doors to those rooms when the lights were being used. Flashes of light would be more noticeable even than a steady glow might.  

Smoke or even the smell of it draws attention for quite a distance.  Heating or cooking with wood would be a certain giveaway.  There would be certain conditions where smoke might not be a problem in any given area though knowing those conditions ahead of time is important. Barometric pressure and winds from certain directions could keep the smoke down or going into tree studded areas where it would be dispersed. Or making sure it was blowing in a direction where there were no houses or roads where people could observe it. Dakota fire holes are notorious for producing little smoke that is low to the ground or can be deflected by brush and etc.  The timing of fires might also make a difference.  Smoke might not be seen at night as easily as during the day though the smell would still be there. 

Cooking is another area of concern for smell.  Even if alternative cooking methods would eliminate the smoke issue there is still the smell of cooking foods.  Those smells carry a long way and would definitely attract hungry people.  Even a solar cooker used outside would perhaps give off a smell when it’s opened.  One way to ease that would to be to cook in covered pans, inside and outside, and not open the pan or pot until it is in an area that could contain the smell.  A closet, closed in porch, outbuilding, or interior room in a house would work but if nothing else a small area of brush and trees to deflect the smell.  Even opening an outside door when cooking inside the house could emit the smell of food cooking. 

While I was on the subject of smell it brought to mind other smells.  If we were raising animals their smell could easily attract notice of someone nearby or down wind. Some animals have a more distinctive smell that carries farther than others. Then there are people smells. Especially if an outside toilet or latrine is used. Smell is the one area of Contingency that calls more for plans rather than preps.  We have a portable outhouse but it is one that needs emptying when it’s full so would not be ideal in a SHTF situation.  It could, however, have the bottom removed and be used over a hole like an outhouse and I keep a lot of baking soda on hand to use as deodorizers in that situation. We would also have wood ashes if we were heating or cooking with wood.  I am also careful to use only unscented products like cleaners, dish and laundry soap and shampoo.  I do this because of allergies but they make a great Contingency Prep as well.    

Another area of concern is sound. Animal noises would give us away. Crowing roosters, honking geese, mooing cows, blatting goats, and even a dog barking would do that easily. Those sounds carry a long way and usually indicate people. But so does the sound of a chain saw, or an axe.  The sound of a hammer and even the closing of a door or the dropping of a lid on a garbage can.   We don’t have animals so our Contingency Preps are few but if we were to need them we have rubber feed pans and waterers, cages with rubber buffers on the doors, oil for gates to keep them quieter.  While working on my Contingency Plans for having chickens and/or rabbits outside our back door I will have to incorporate some of those issues.  

While some Contingency Preps are more difficult or costly most are easy to think through and have ready ahead of time. They will be different for each individual or family.  As most of them are simple knowledge they take up little room and give security. Contingency Preps allow me to thoroughly enjoy life easily while having the peace of mind of being prepared. I hope these few posts have helped someone to begin to look at their preps in different terms than just having an infinite supply of food on hand.  Survival is as much about knowledge of survival as it is supplies. 


Now lets hear your ideas of Alternative Prepping.  :grouphug: 

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Mother, you have given me a lot of ideas and things to think about. I have been studying up on the Dakota fire holes for a while and was thinking about a small building, but a dirt floor. No windows and a small door that is only big enough to get through that is not like opening a full size door.  I could build a Dakota fire hole deeper than is really needed and cook soups and stews in there. It would not be seen and no light other than a solar flash light that would only be used with door closed and turned off before opening door to leave the building. I was thinking about this to keep the smell of foods down as the smell would not be blowing with the wind to give it away. Not sure if it would work or not. I do know I would need some type of ventilation as well but haven't figured it all out yet. This is one of the things I am working on.  We can have chickens but nothing else. Don't think they will allow us to have rabbits though there are wild rabbits running all through our neighborhood.  I am doing the gardens and working on the raised beds. I have butane stoves, solar oven and camp stoves including one that Dh made from an old gas stove many years ago that runs on propane 

I have lots of yard solar lights that I learned you can put in a jar and put on a sunny window seal and it will charge that way. So if you cannot go outside to get it in the evening, you have it right there already in house. Just have to remember to take out of window before dusk as you don't want them to come on while in the window. 

Meats have been my main concern as being diabetic, you do need a certain amount of protein.  I have plenty of dried beans which serve as a protein source. But for meats, I am canning that and just bought 2 turkeys I will be canning shortly. Also have bought the 25 year canned meats for long term storage. I have about 60 one pound cans of beef, chicken, hamburger and turkey and hoping to be able to buy more. I would rather can my own meats but I can't let that get to far ahead of me as it will only last but so long. Though I have some beef that I canned from 2016 I am using now and it is still good. But that was all canned with the old type of canning lids. These now that they say only last for 18 months, I would be afraid to keep any food for longer than that now. Meds and first aid I have already secured and working on ways for my Synthroid. Right now I have about a 6 month supply but not sure of any alterative for that one yet.  I do have a lot of medical books and herbal books that I have been reading up on. Though I am a retired medical assistant, you do loose what you don't use and so I read up on things to make sure I don't forget my medical learning.  I have a way to get firewood for at least 3 to 4 years but after that I am not sure. I would have to either buy it or hoping that I will have moved by that time closer to DD and her DH and my grandchildren whom could help with a lot of these issues.  One of my granddaughter's is very into the herbs but she for now is living in Washington State. I am hoping her Dh will get transferred back to where we are now. She would be a big help in so many things. 

You have done very well with the disabilities you and your Dh have.  I just hope I can follow the things you have done to help me to be able to find new ways to do things that I know I can't do now or might not be able to do in future as I get even older. 

Mother you are a blessing to be able to find ways to keep prepping with limited abilities and let us know how you are doing it.  It really has made me think about things I still need to be doing. 

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Thanks, Little Sister.  You are making pretty good preps too. 

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This is all very valuable information because there is no "right" way to prepare. There are, as you shared, so many variables and it fascinating to 'see' how you have pondered and figured a few things out that have become a Plan B by necessity.


Thank you so much for sharing all this. I know it took quite a while to write because there is so much good information and sparks a few thoughts for me and my unique situation. 



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I think that depending on where we all live will also play a part in how we prep. I live in N. Suffolk and lots of neighborhoods. I live in one of the older neighborhoods. It has never been any issues around here, but so many of our older neighbors have either passed on or now in nursing homes and houses have been sold.  Lots of young people have moved in again and now a new crop of children again. For a long time we hardly had any children in neighborhood as they all grew up and moved on. The Northern area has grown up so much with lots of new stores, apts. and more houses being built all the time. It is a bottleneck if there are wrecks around here. One of the reasons I will be thinking of moving in the next 2 or 3 years. At my age, I am thinking I should be near DD or GD if anything happens that I can no longer drive or if I get down to where I can't take care of myself any longer. Praying that doesn't happen, but mother nature does play on age.  Military and shipyards all around here as well.  I can have a garden and chickens, and though I have been thinking about a privacy fence. I really don't want to put the money into it if I plan on moving. So still thinking about that. Yes, Kappy and Chainsaw Mary has it all together and have adapted will with their heath issues.  They are a great example of what we need to do as well as others on here. Hard to be able to do certain things when you live in a neighborhood. And I have been thinking about when I start getting my wood pile delivered as to how to hide it from anyone that wants to try to steal it.  I am thinking when the natural gas, electric and propane really starts to double in price, people will start looking to steal any firewood they can. I think with the one shed where it is, I might be able to hide it from the street side. So hoping that will work to keep it out of site. Need to make a Lowe's or Home Depot trip for larger tarps to cover the wood with. Been going to the stores that have the newspaper boxes outside of store and grabbing the free papers that are out of date. Will need that to help start fires as well as for the firepit. I have lots of lint and tp and paper towel rolls to get fires started as well. I have a bucket in garage that I have been putting the fire starters I am making in. Going next weekend to gather pine cones from the woods down the street. 

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Here's a few more Contingency Preps:


Home industry and Entertainment 

These two things might be the same thing in a SHTF situation.  By home industry I mean the ability to produce other things besides food that we might need. I’m sure there would be a good trade eventually in used clothes and such if they weren’t being manufactured but it would be useful to have several contingency skill sets to be able to replace what might not be available.  There are several that comes to mind that we have here that I also consider enjoyable.  

Fiber arts comes to mind first.  There are so many different skills in fiber arts that each one I learn I consider a contingency skill.  Socks, mittens, gloves, blankets, sweaters, family pads even, and so much more could be necessary to that way of life. 
 Loom weaving, Peg weaving, spool weaving, primitive weaving and so much more are all easy to learn as the basics are Warp, Weft, Over, and Under.  Once the basics are learned you can weave on almost anything that will hold the warp, including your fingers, and primitive looms are easy to make and use. 

Knitting, crocheting, and the like are all a learned skill, but things like board knitting and spool weaving are simple enough for even a child to do.  In fact, I’ve seen variations of those in kit form in the toy sections.  Again, once the basics are learned that knowledge becomes a contingency prep. 
What isn’t so easy is the supplies needed like yarn and thread.  They can be made from nature but the effort it takes is just as daunting as gathering food from nature and would be difficult for me to do but I at least have the knowledge and books as a backup and really enjoy practicing with alternatives materials. In the meantime I have a nice stash of yarn and thread to keep me busy for a long time. 

Knowledge of wood working, whittling, fabricating, carpenter work and building skills, blacksmithing skills, mechanic skills, sewing, quilting, cooking, and so much more all become contingency preps along with being enjoyable to a lot of people. And they are all skills that might be needed. 

As for pure entertainment we have several contingency options here. Non electric dependent musical instruments are one of them.  Though not proficient at any of them we enjoy playing them. Another are instructions for playing various games like board games and cards.  We have many different ones stored but the instructions allows us to use our ingenuity to manufacture whatever we might need from found items and takes up a whole lot less space.  Puzzles are another entertainment we find especially fun.  We always have several on hand that come from the thrift stores (and go back there when we are done with them).  It’s also fun to make puzzles from a lot of different items including pieces of wood, and small pieces of material formed to make pictures. Word and number puzzles, cross words puzzles, mind benders, and the like fit in this category.

It goes without saying here that we’d have books.  Not only do we have books but the family are all readers and if possible we’d be exchanging them left and right.  But I also enjoy writing books and it just takes paper and pencil to do that and if we didn’t have those I’d probably just write them in my mind.

Crafts of all sorts are part of my preps. They are part of my enjoyment now.  I have lots of supplies for those but my contingency preps for crafts are lists of ideas and instructions that utilize ‘found’ items to complete.  Craft skills also can become necessary skills if those crafts are useful as well as fun.  

Home industry and entertainment are often fun and enjoyable but can also be considered a prep. There must be a whole lot I’ve missed. 


What others can you think of that might be fun and useful?

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Also, crayons, coloring books, colored pencils and such for small children. 

Right now I have board games, crayons, colored pencils and such for the kids and much more. I like doing puzzles when I have the time, so I do have a few of those as well. I saved all the jeans from both myself and all of Dh's to make jean quilts with. Decided to keep all of DH's clothes as grandsons might need clothes if things get really bad. They are packed up and put away in one of the sheds for now. Still wanting to make the memory quilt also but have not had the time yet.  Quilting will be a great skill to learn as well as those also could make great bartering items. 

Mother, you have listed a lot of great ideas for prepping as we will need to have things to keep us busy as well as those skills other than producing food. I am going to try to get back into making clothes again. It has been a long time and one of the reasons I wanted some flannel. I also see that JoAnn fabrics is having a sell and I need to get there to buy some more material as well as thread. I am trying to buy up a lot of thread as it might become hard to get in future. I did buy up a lot of material for making baby blankets, etc. when the old fabric shop went out of business as well as a lot of thread then as well. Another skill to teach the younger ones is how to make their own clothes.  

Shoes and how to make them is another skill that might come in handy. Or to even repair them would be a good skill.  I don't think we have anymore shoe repair places around here that I am aware of now. The last one we used closed up. 

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Great suggestions and ideas, Little Sister.  I also have crayons and books, all kinds of paints, drawing supplies, and much more but I’d forgotten to add them.  I’m glad contingency preps are not all physical though.  My house isn’t big enough to hold all I might consider. :grinning-smiley-044:

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Excellent thread Mother.  Lots of top notch info. 


When it comes to protein supplies, while I could be happy with the vegetarian beans-rice and the like, Mary cannot handle those at all.  Nor does she like fish, which is plentiful here and a skill we have.  However a couple years back we took a correspondence course on trapping from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  It cost $40 at the time and we learned an astonishing amount about animals, habitat, tracking, identification from scat, best ways to trap, and so on.  We have several live traps, and they have the advantage of being silent, and once camoflaged for trapping, reasonably unbotrusive to spying eyes.  Even so, most theives (and others) would not know the creatures uses, including eating, fur, leather, etc.  All of which are very low tech skills, and reasonably easy to learn.  I have an EXTENSIVE assortment of critter recipes, so would have no issue on eating such game; and if one targets the smaller critters there is less physical ability needed to process.  Also in case of energy disruption, the smaller game can be eaten/canned quickly, removing the necessity of refrigeration.  Marys military survival training has been a wonderful resource, as it makes her adept at thinking outside the box.  Ditto with foraging plants. 


I have decided during the winter months to acquire and put in thorny (stock and game proof) medicinal and food plants.  Again, not something thieves would be likely to mess with, when they can go elsewhere much more easily.  I have also zeroled in on wild plants native to this area, and rather than stumble around searching for them I will plant them in scattered patches for our use.  They will make a good addition to our muscakdine grapes and southern apple trees.  Wild plums, barberry, hawthorne, etcSo we are trying to adapt to include the little known or little used foods.  (Although I must admit I am getting some resistance from Mary abouyt eating armadillos or snakes, LOL.  She said she ate them in survival training, and they were NOT gourmet fare by a long shot.  So I am also adding perrennial herbs slowly to my permanent plantings.  Scattered plants an the woods' edge are less noticeable than nice neat rows on a terraced hillside, and much less work, too.  Unless I make a thorny front hedge for birds of course.  


Water:  we are in between two lakes, less than 1/4 mile each way.  When I bought my 7 speed trike, I made sure I got one with a heavy duty basket in back to hold water cubes or 5 gal buckets.  Access has already been granted by amenable neighbors; there is also a public boat launch.  Ride out, get water, ride back, run thru berkey.  I am still trying to figure out how to put in a hand pump well.  Most drillers I have talked to seemed not too eager to put one in, but I could sure like a small shed "wash-house" with a hand well and a sink or two.  Dreams aside, a water cachement system is much more practical, as it rains here a LOT much of the year.  A rack with a coiuple pieces of metal roofing, set at an incline with a piece of gutter at the bottom to funnel water into a holding area would not be all that hard for us to make and set back in our  meadow area.  One of our homesteader friends is a welder, he could help us with finding parts and putting them together.  (I always wanted to learn welding, LOL) It would save us having to travel off our property to get water very often.








Edited by kappydell
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Great great preps, Kappy.  You and Mary are doing such wonderful work there.  I really admire your self sufficiency and self reliance, not to mention your forethought.  

Between the two of us DH and I have/had most of those skills and knowledge.  With the exception of armadillos I have eaten most critters and I would try the armadillos if we had them :grinning-smiley-044:.  The Wisconsin DNR training sounds super. That knowledge is in itself is a wonderful contingency prep.  In the past I’ve worked with the Illinois DNR to help teach some of those animal skills and in turn learned about foraging from the other educators. 


We have been here over twenty years and I have a ton of resources both natural and those herbs, bushes, trees, and etc that we’ve planted throughout the property over the years.  My problem is I am now mostly in a wheelchair and though the house is fairly wheelchair friendly the yard is not. I was warned many years ago that I very possibly would be in a wheelchair but in my infinite stubbornness I believed I could beat those odds.  And I did for a whole lot longer than expected which gave me a false sense of my continuing abilities.  I had not properly prepared the land for that probability.   God is good though.   While I lacked in physical ability He blessed me with determination. Hence the necessity of the contingency preps and house bound survival if needed.   

Oh, and Kappy. My father ran a welding shop for over thirty years, my brothers, my DH, my sons, most of my grandsons, and several others in my family are welders.  Even my daughter can if needed. I’ve done a bit of it myself.  You will like it!!!  :008Laughing:


Thanks so much for your addition to this thread. It helped my remember preps I hadn’t thought about, like the wild herbs in the timber right at the edge of the back yard.  I’m sure it will encourage others to rethink their resources.  :bighug2:

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It took me some time to read, then, ponder….


 I am impressed with everyone’s contingency plans, and the resources you have available around you.


I have hesitated to write anything, because, our main ‘short-term’ contingency plan, is, saving as much money we can, to keep the vehicles serviced and gassed.  With MIL’s fall in her back yard, not being able to get up, and laying there until a neighbor found her, then, getting pneumonia and ending up in the hospital by ambulance, we have to be able to leave, at a moment’s notice.  Every thing else has to wait.  That includes getting any more chickens.  Finding someone willing to take care of them, when we are gone, has been a task.


Living in the desert SW, has many disadvantages.


Water:  A limited source.  Lakes and rivers are 60+ miles away.  A cemented in and fenced waterway is about 10 miles away.  That would be overcrowded, as soon as SHTF.  There is a River, about 3 miles away…however, it rarely has water, most of its water, goes into farming canals.  We have spent a lot of time, locating farming well pumps, all work off of electricity.  In a SHTF situation, they would be useless.  Any vacant house, looks like the desert within a year.  Even the pine trees die.

We do store a lot of bottled water, but, that is completely dependent upon deliveries.  Rain catchment is completely out, because we rarely get rain here, however, I do collect it, when it does, rarely I’ll get an inch of water in my containers combined.  And, we have ‘grey’ water stored.

Gardening, is dependent upon water, even the trees.  We have a mesquite tree, the beans can be ground into flour.  One of the few trees that grows naturally around here.  The pods with red streaks are sweet, and make a nice sweet bread.  I allow weeds like purslane and other edibles grow, but, they are seasonal, and completely dependent upon whether it rains.  I try to keep the garden growing, during the fall, winter and spring.  OUr garden definitely would not sustain us.  The only plants, I have found, that survive the heat are carrots and beets.  Even they loose their foliage, in the summer, but, if I keep them watered, the regrow, once the weather cools down.  Some desert cactus are edible, if you’re willing to deal with the spines.  We have tried several varieties.  The native Indians used to eat them, but, even the Hohokam Indians moved out of this area, up into the mountains.  I’ve made jelly out a few of their fruits.  SHTF, I wouldn’t waste my time, energy or sugar, doing it.

Heating:  The temperature here rarely gets below 25°F at night, therefore, it isn’t a major issue.  We have a lot of clothing and blankets we can use.  

Cooling:  With the average temperatures in the spring, summer and fall, being over 100°F, air conditioning is vital.  We have a generator large enough to run the AC and keep the freezers running.  However, that is limited to the amount of fuel we can store.  In theory, you could fill the tub with water & use wet towels to try to cool off.  The ultimate thing to do, would be to ‘bug out’ to a cooler climate… but, then, all the population in our state would be doing the same thing.  

We have spent a lot of years collecting and storing items for barter and trade.  I have stocked up on materials for crocheting, quilting, making clothes, arts and crafts.  We have a variety of games and puzzles saved and a LOT of books.


Mobility and Ability:  Like you, Mother, I face the probability of being unable to walk.  Unfortunately, I don’t like facing that or planning for it.  I have had to use my walking sticks, more often than I care to admit.  With that, always nagging me, I have spent decades, learning how to do things and get things done using the limited tools available to me.  I had to overcome my vanity, and begin asking for help getting some of the heavy things at the stores, like 50 lbs. of dog food, every 2 weeks.  I have boxes in my vehicle, for groceries.  I slide the box out onto a hand truck, bring it to the back door & then, empty it one bag at a time.  Fulcrums & pivots, are my best friends.  Even cleaning the house, is problematic.  My solution has been using a small garbage can 1/2 full of water, and sliding around on my hands & knees, washing the floors with a wash rag.  I change the water once or twice for each room, depending upon how much dirt the dogs bring in. Sounds silly, but, using a mop or broom leaves me hurting for days.  DH has issues also, which leaves us constantly trying to find different contingency plans….  Including prayers… lots of prayers and trusting God will provide solutions.





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Going to live with MIL is an absolute “NO!”  I am not going to live in the middle of a big city, less than 5 miles from the Mexican border, in a city, predominantly Hispanic.  Sorry, I am definitely white.  You can only imagine the strife & stress I have had to endure living there.  Plus, DH absolutely refuses to  to live there.  Mil keeps the temp in her house above 80°. Which is stifling.  Shopping is nice, most within 5 miles or less, but still, it’s a huge city.


Then, she will not come here to live in our “tiny” town, because we don’t have the amenities her area has.  Doctors, hospitals, shopping centers etc.  She “visits” in the spring, for a month or two, but that’s all she can tolerate.  

That’s why she calls me a “hoarder”. We have supplies, stocked in every corner, crevice and space, I can manage to fill, that irritates her.  

Every time I go to her house, I buy double the products she uses daily, and, she shakes her head, saying, she can always go and get more… (not if SHTF!)

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Annarchy, those are all good preps considering what you are dealing with.  You mention the natives in the area going to the mountains but did they live part time nearby?  How did they exist?  Water and food?  It’s good you have eaten the cactus before you needed to. You will know what to expect.  Are there any other wild foods?  Game?  I’m pretty sure that, like here, if people are hungry the game will disappear real fast. 

Bugging out.  We would hope to ‘bug-in’ but because we live near a nuclear plant and a chemical one the chances are high we could be required to evacuate. We have made extensive plans and preps for that possibility.  We have family whom we have made plans for several of us to shelter  with.  We would be using our camper van as a BOV and at any given time it is ready with bedding, blankets, towels, clothing and other supplies. There is a wide variety of dried foods stored in there and because canned goods would freeze or get too hot in our changing weather we have totes packed with supplies and water in the house to grab and go.  We rotate those items regularly.  Many of our canned goods are stored in totes that, if given time, we would load into our car and would take both vehicles.   

It is only about 20 miles but we have alternative routes mapped out in case of crowds blocking the main routes.  These routes are set up to avoid bridges. Bridges would be the perfect place to accost travelers or to keep people from passing through. One of the alternative routes is through fields.  Difficult and probably impossible during winter but still a plan in case.  

Bugging out does seem as if it might be a necessity for you. Do you have a location in mind?  I know you have a lot of preps but how much would you be able to take with you?  Do you have that ready to grab and go?  Would it be possible for you to have dehydrated or long term storage foods ready to go?   What about food for your dogs.?  

 Camping near a river maybe though that might not be physically feasible.   With family?  I find my BO contingency preps/plans give me a feeling of security and anything I might have ready would still be usable in BI.  And because they are all part of our regular supplies they aren’t taking up extra space. I do have a list of what to grab and where each is stored and try to keep things organized but…….   

I know these things are what we preppers have discussed for years but I like that once the lists, maps, organizing, etc is done I can pretty much forget it except for my once a year reviewing.  I have, however, thought about doing a trial run, a sort of drill, using the alternative routes so we know what to expect. :shrug:  

Edited by Mother
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13 hours ago, Mother said:

Annarchy, those are all good preps considering what you are dealing with.  You mention the natives in the area going to the mountains but did they live part time nearby?  How did they exist?  Water and food?  It’s good you have eaten the cactus before you needed to. You will know what to expect.  Are there any other wild foods?  Game?  I’m pretty sure that, like here, if people are hungry the game will disappear real fast. 

Here’s the history of the local Indians…



Game in our area is sparse.  Some deer migrate out of the mountains, during the winter, but, usually do not come this far down.  Then, there is Javalina, if you’re willing to pit barbecue with a LOT of seasoning.  Mt. Lions, bob cats, coyote, rodents, rats, snakes, and skunks are around.  :yuk: Other than that, we do have a lot of birds.  I keep water dishes full, which attract the dove.  We have 2 wild hawthorn bushes in the yard, I’ve harvested about an half cup once a year.  

Having lived here most my life, I’m acutely familiar with the resources available.  

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My prepping right now will be on hold for a while. I do have enough to sustain us for about a year and lots of candles, batteries, flashlights and oil for lamps to last a couple of years or more. So right now, I am holding off on anything else as far as buying anything. Just going to keep things topped off as best I can till things calm down around here. There will be some small things I will be working on of things I need to do for my preps but otherwise I have no way or time to do anything else right now. So will just continue to downsize the house and find a place to put GD and her DH's things. They will only be here at this point for 6 months and they plan on helping me to get the raised beds done and other things that I will need help doing. They will be a big help and I consider them being a big help in the prepping area for all the things I can't do myself while they are here. 

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4 hours ago, Annarchy said:

Here’s the history of the local Indians…


That was interesting and surprisingly similar to our local Mounds Builders.  There are burial mounds all over the Midwest which are believed to have lived in the same time frame as your Hohokam’s. They are generally considered  the Hopewell culture which is connected with a distinctive style of pottery and their extensive trade routes.  

I have eaten snake and it really isn’t bad tasting.  They eat rats in Many countries but I believe I would have to be starving.  I would not hesitate at most birds or their fresh eggs but even in doves there is not much meat.  Broth, if water was available would be a great addition to the diet though.  

Do you believe it would be possible for you to survive where you are?  

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Little Sister.  It sure sounds like you are staying prepped while getting set up to be more self reliant.  Having the grands to help will get you there easier and faster.  👍

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3 hours ago, Mother said:

Do you believe it would be possible for you to survive where you are?  

If SHTF, with no electricity, absolutely not, we would not be able to survive, where we live right now.


Long term contingency plans… when, mom passes, and we no longer need to go to TX every month…we hope to purchase property in No. AZ, with a well, solar, and enough property to have some type of livestock… chickens, maybe a cow or two for milk, beef, cheese, etc.  Living up there, right now, would add 3-4 more hours of driving to TX,  if we were to do it before.  But, that’s in Gods hands.  It freezes up there, has ground water for wells, but, doesn’t get the terrible high temperatures, we deal with here.  I am planning to bring much of the edibles, we have here, … either way, it’s still in Gods hands.  

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