When it comes to being a prepper, as in someone who is prepared for emergencies of many types, there seems to be a bad stigma attached to it, mainly from the mainstream media. This makes it a challenge for those of us who still have to function in society, whether it is due to work, due to family, or due to any other factors that force us to be involved on a daily basis with those we often refer to as sheeple.
When I used to live in a major city it was much more difficult to be a prepper than it is living out in the middle of nowhere. My life as a prepper in a major city resulted in more stored food rather than renewable resources of food such as a garden or livestock. I still had a garden, but it was smaller, and I still had chickens, but city ordinances prohibited roosters, so I was dependent on purchasing new chickens from others. My biggest problem was space. You can only hide so many boxes of freeze dried foods before your house starts to look a little crowded.
I became very creative in hiding emergency supplies. Under the couch, under the bed, in closets, spare bedrooms that were off limits to guests, but eventually you get to a point, where you just can’t fit it all and still look like a traditional home. So I started to make excuses. “Oh, hubby is working from home, can’t bother him, let’s go to your place instead” or something of that nature.
That still didn’t stop our nosey neighbors from snooping in every now and then, and the UPS delivery driver getting awfully curious about what we do with all our purchased goods. His comments about how heavy a small box can be resulted in us finding other ways to get things we needed, especially things like ammunition. But paying with cash in major stores didn’t always go over well either, as articles by others have documented:
A few items I kept very secret, such as having a concealed carry weapon (and permit). Some things are best left unsaid, and I prefer the element of surprise with potential attackers. I did admit to some of my female friends that I carry concealed. That was a tough decision to make, but my argument for it could never be rebutted. I simply said “so what you’re saying is, that I shouldn’t carry a gun, because little 120 lb me can defend myself against a 250 lb man?” That would generally lead to a discussion about whether or not I knew how to use my weapon and if I could use it in such a situation. This would then allow me the opportunity to invite my female friends out to the shooting range so we could all learn or practice shooting skills. If I timed my invitation right around a time when a major rape/murder case was discussed on TV it made it that much easier.
Moving out to the middle of nowhere simplified things. A private mailbox solved the nosey UPS driver problem, and rural living solved the problem of livestock and limited space. Most people here have some type of livestock, and if not, they want livestock. While most folks in the major city were disgusted by the idea that I would use chicken manure for my garden, and had never even heard the word “compost” before, out in the country such practices are expected.
Another expectation out in rural areas, where snow plows are what your neighbor puts on the front end of his pickup truck, is that often times in the winter you can get stuck for up to a month, and therefore you have to be prepared for that. Even the poorest individual finds a way to stock up at least a month worth of food to get them through those winter weather situations. Burning wood to stay warm is both commonplace and essential, and having stored water for when the well doesn’t work due to a power outage or frozen well plumbing is normal.
But I think the best part of rural living is the creative ways you must solve problems. Situations where funds don’t allow for fancy equipment to turn a difficult project into a piece of cake. Situations where your neighbors offer up ideas to solve your problem. And rather than laugh at you for using recycled materials to build something, they are impressed that you built something from nothing. So the community teaches each other ways to survive, not because we are “preppers,” but because out in rural country, that’s how you survive. That is just a way of life. I would call many of my neighbors preppers, and yet many of them have never even heard of the term.
So that is what I have strived to achieve. I am no longer a “prepper” by the city folks’ standards; this is my way of life.
Out here, food doesn’t come from the grocery store, it comes from our animals, and from the ground. Water is essential, and is used carefully. Food is stored away for times when we are stuck and can’t get to town. The canning and dehydrating equipment is regularly in use when extra food is produced to make up for the lack of production in the off season. The backup generator is ready for when the power lines go out and the power company estimates a week to fix it. The shotguns are always ready as you never know when a predator will try to attack your livestock. Plenty of wood is cut and split ready to keep the home warm in the cold winter. Homesteading instruction books are plentiful for when the internet is down. The sewing machine is always ready to mend a hole because the cost of buying new clothes has to include the fuel cost of driving into town. Lists are made for trips to town so as not to forget anything. Gasoline and diesel are stored for the same reason as food. Extra medical supplies are on hand as you never know when you’ll stupidly injure yourself while working the land. One has to be prepared for medical emergencies when the nearest hospital is over an hour away, even if you’re speeding.
So, this is a way of life. I’m not some weirdo that the mainstream media has made out to be a kook. I’m not some crazy person prepping for the end of the world. I am a normal person like anyone else, except that I acknowledge reality and prepare for dealing with that reality. As the saying goes, $#!+ happens, so prepare for it. To me it seems that the crazy and kooky people are the Pollyannas who ignore reality and do nothing to prepare for dealing with it. As the Ayn Rand quote goes, “We can ignore reality, but we can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” So I prepare for dealing with reality to the best of my ability.
That is what we should all strive for as a civilization. To be prepared for basic emergencies. To know how to produce our own food and to preserve the excess. To be independent of those who have no interest in our well being yet try to sell us things they claim we need. To hold knowledge of how the earth works and what role humans play upon it. To know how to build our own shelter, and produce many of our own goods. And to know how to work with your community so you can exchange knowledge, labor, and laughter. Heinlein was right: specialization is for insects, humans should be able to do many things well. All of these traits seem to be lost during times when civilizations fail. To preserve our civilization, our way of life, we must relearn these things.
While it was much more difficult to live such a lifestyle in a major city, it was not impossible. It became a matter of how I talked to people about my life. Keeping it a secret was half the battle, as people tend to be curious about people who seem different than everyone else. So I told people I had a garden, but I called it a hobby garden and made it a point to throw in a hint about transplanting tomatoes or such. I made myself appear to be so passionate about gardening that I couldn’t live without it. I told people I had chickens, and offered them eggs so they could taste what a real egg tastes like. I then would throw in a story of how commercial egg producers process the eggs, and thus the flavor was so off from fresh ones. Again, I made myself out to be passionate about my “hobby”.
When someone inquired about my gear (get home bag, etc.) in the back of my car, I told them a story of how I got stranded on top of a mountain one time. When they commented about having stored water, I would tell them about how the water was out for a whole week once due to a contaminated pipe. If they saw my freeze dried food, I would just say “Red cross recommends you keep a week’s worth of food for weather or earthquake emergencies, so I do that, a week’s worth, don’t you?” When someone noticed my large collection of toilet paper stashed in a closet, I would brag that there was a great sale and I got it practically for free. I always looked to see what my house told about me, and made sure I had a story to match. The best part about it was, other than the actual amount of what I had for preps, I wasn’t lying to anyone when I told these stories. Life itself, allowed me to tell the truth, as emergencies like these do happen on a regular basis.
Being able to blend my real way of life as a prepper with the accepted ideas and hobbies of what most Americans believe “normal” life should be like made my life much simpler. I wasn’t an isolated prepper weirdo who dashed into my home and closed my blinds for fear that someone would see my preps. No, I was very normal, and still am.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being prepared in mind and practice. There is absolutely nothing weird about stashing away supplies for “rainy day” emergencies. One reason that “preppers” are concerned about what “average” people think is because of how the mainstream media portrays quite normal people like us, and tries to twist the realities of how people should live. In itself this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. I mean, who cares what supposed “average” people think? However a more serious and dangerous reason for being concerned is that Federal agencies and their propaganda outlets are targeting so-called “preppers”. This has been covered by other authors in several other articles.
Suffice it to say here that any civilization or government (not the same thing) that deems people who prepare for emergencies (of whatever type) as supposed “potential domestic terrorists” is very sick, and immoral, and one whose values and ideas about “normalcy” should be seriously questioned.
I feel much more normal spending extra cash on storage food or tools or equipment than I would feel buying the latest igadget which the NSA would use to spy on me. I feel much more normal when I flip my compost on the weekends than watching television shows that consist of idiotic characters living unrealistic lives. I feel much more normal eating food that I know was produced in a healthy and sustainable manner, than eating “food” that traveled half way across the country (or globe), produced using synthetic chemicals and/or genetic engineering.