Good Day, All! Been pondering a topic lately that I’ve seen some debate about online. There is the school of thought that you are either a homesteader or a “prepper”, and that one is better than the other in some way. A prepper is someone who basically prepares for circumstances beyond their control with being prepared for those circumstances to arrive. Unforseen situations, if you will. Some believe it will be nuclear war, some natural disasters, some grid meltdown, others solar flares, the list for reasons goes on and on.
Now, having grown up in New England, we learned to have things ready for those unexpected ice storms or blizzards. Even now, when there is a snowstorm headed our way, the milk, bread and bottled water flies off the grocery store shelves in advance of its arrival. Growing up, my parents weren’t preppers to the max or anything, but we did always have water stored, a filled pantry and a nice pile of wood going into winter. As an adult, I take that to a larger extreme because I have not only my family depending on me, but also animals. So, I do keep animal feed on hand, dog food, extra chicken layer pellets, bottles of water for them and such. I also put a lot of effort into filling our canning larder with enough food so that we have weeks/months worth of food should we need it in an emergency situation. This is food we eat through out the winter, and jars that are replenished through my hard work every summer and fall when fresh produce is abundant. I keep a bit of a stockpile of flour, sugar, beans, rice, lentils and other dry staples, which I rotate when I need to. I also make sure we have plenty of bottled water on hand should the power go out. When you live on well water, you need to plan for that so that the animals and people in your care have what they need.
I think the inherent difference between preppers and homesteaders may be merely perception. Homesteading takes a lot of prepping to begin with. Homesteaders strive to be as self-sufficient as possible, and some preppers are possibly more dependent on getting the stuff from stores and storing it all. I don’t need the grocery store, or the 10 years worth of dried goods stored away if I know how to grow a garden and raise chickens for meat. Those will regenerate themselves.
My brand of prepping is more about making sure I’m buying heirloom seeds so that I can save my seeds from year to year and be able to grow my food without the need for anywhere to purchase those things after the initial purchase. My hens lay eggs (we are in need of a rooster again to make the new chicks happen) and I will have chicken and eggs when I need them for food rather than depending on cans of dried powdered eggs or cans of chicken meat. We would also depend on the farmers in our area for milk, at least until our future does are producing their own. Knowing where to get the things you don’t produce is important, too. Get to know your community, see who is doing what, so you know who can help and whom you can help out in an emergency situation. I don’t think either homesteading or prepping is necessarily any better than the other, being prepared is a good way to go as far as I’m concerned, however you chose to get there. But the skills and knowledge to get the food back on the table long after the “preps” run out is important to me, and so that’s just the route our family takes.
We also make sure that we keep emergency supplies other than just food and water on hand as well. We keep an emergency “kit” ready with lanterns, batteries, propane tanks, a propane heater, fire starting supplies, wood pile, sleeping bags, propane camp stove and grill, gas in the gas cans, a generator…the list goes on. Did you know that you can use birch bark as a wonderful fire starter in a pinch? It works great, even when damp. Having a home with two boy scouts and a leader, we definitely have the training to be prepared. When the grid is down, and power is out we try to keep the things we would need handy to keep our family warm, safe and comfortable.
None of it is foolproof, but we have put a lot of energy into being sure we would be okay in an emergency. The ways in which you could do this could literally fill its own blog (and in the case of many other bloggers, it actually does). I’m not here to debate the logistics of how you could be more prepared, what makes a person a prepper or homesteader, what the absolute best way to do that is…mostly because all of that is so subjective and would differ with each person. What one family needs may not be important to another, so I would say you need to do what makes your situation work for you. But I do say, that being a homesteader and a prepper are, in many cases, the same thing. So much of homesteading is being prepared for what comes your way. How you get there is your own decision, but I do feel its important to get there, one way or the other.