Skip to comments.The Ultimate Preppers Ė They Were Preppers, But Didnít Know It
Posted on 06/16/2012 7:52:37 AM PDT by blam
The Ultimate Preppers They Were Preppers, But Didnt Know It
June 15th, 2012
(This article has been shared with the SHTFplan community by longtime contributor Norse Prepper.}
It always frustrates me when I turn on the television, read a newspaper or any other source of main stream media that is running a story on preppers. Invariably, with any television series or special, it is promoted with pictures of people with gas masks and AK 47s talking about how they intend to kill zombies when the golden horde arrives upon their doorsteps when the SHTF. The most popular of these shows is the Doomsday Preppers series that is running on the National Geographic channel.
I will admit, I watch every episode because there are always things I can learn when seeing what others have done to prepare for whatever they are preparing for and find the show to be very entertaining. In my opinion however, these extreme preppers are not a good representative of the vast majority of preppers.
Depending upon what any person is prepping for, be it an EMP attack with the long term loss of the power grid, a tornado/hurricane/flood, collapse of the financial system, nuclear war or any number of potential calamities that may come your way, there are always some basics that are universal across the board. These being food, water, defense of life and home and sustainability into an unknown future that will last as long as it does.
Outside of these staples of prepping, I have seen some of the extreme preppers having gas masks for the family, underground bunkers designed to ignite propane through hand rails to fry intruders in hallways leading to safe rooms and even homemade explosive devices. I can see why they do it and by having some of these things, they are probably more prepared than most. Having gas masks may be more common place in the prepping community and important for survival, but my point is that these are things that preppers typically take care of after the basics are complete.
Then there are the prepper want to bes of the world. These are people that if National Geographic wanted to do a special on them, would show up and see them overloaded on information and lacking on results. They do research, read books on survival skills and talk a good talk about whats coming and what they are planning on doing. It would be a very boring episode so you wont see these people on any upcoming episodes Im afraid. They are severely unprepared for whatever TEOTWAWKI situation arrives at their doorstep. Post collapse, they will be identified easily by listening to people in food lines and FEMA camps saying I knew it! and I just didnt have enough time to put it all together! They may own a bunch of guns, mostly never shot more than to sight them in. They probably havent actually grown a garden, but have some seeds. They probably have never harvested a deer or game and prepared it for a meal. They call themselves preppers, but will have a very rude awakening when the SHTF.
That covers the 5% on either side of the bell curve of preppers, so who would be classified as the 90% and what would describe them? The answer is simple and can be answered with a single word. Grandparents. I recall a story my grandmother told me regarding arriving on a boat in North America. Her birthday was on Christmas and she recalls her and her sisters had a beet that was given to them for their Christmas meal. The moral here is that when someone tells me it could never happen here, I am reminded by this story that I am only 2 generations removed from it actually happening here in this nation. Is it ludicrous to think that these times instilled within our grandparents a sense of responsibility to prepare for leaner times? Today, many consider this extreme and would label them fringe nut cases.
When I think of the ultimate preppers, the picture in my head is of my grandparents. Growing up they were always known as Farmer Gramma and Farmer Grampa. They lived in a small farm house in northeast North Dakota and throughout life worked hard and played hard. They were preppers, but didnt know it. When I was young, the farm seemed more like a playground, but in hindsight, they are what I believe all of us as preppers should aspire to become. They were hard working, self sufficient producers. The following is just a short list of things I remember that they had in place that would apply to preppers:
1. Rural setting far from any major city.
2. Community. Surrounding farms were either family or very close friends. They all provided for their own families and helped each other when it came to butchering, harvest or anything that would be of need. They knew everybody and were very valuable to each others well being.
3. Farmers with farm equipment along with the means, methods and knowledge to fix anything. If it broke, grandpa could weld it. He had a pole barn for a shop and it had every tool imaginable, many of them hand tools, some electric.
4. Animals lots and lots of animals. They had cattle for dairy as well as meat, hogs, chickens, horses and other occasional animals that were used to provide food and income to the family and a barn to house each of them complete with a hay loft that had a hook on the ceiling that could be used for transporting a hay bale from one side to the other or to turn a 6 year old into superman, flying over the countryside to eventually cannonball in to a pile of hay at the end of the barn. One main stay at the farm was a golden retriever named Goldie who would always let them know if someone was approaching or if there were unwanted animals like foxes, wolves or other predators. He was a great dog.
5. Fruit orchard. There were numerous apple trees and plum trees. My grandfather could actually take limbs from one species of apple trees and graft them on to a different variety of apple tree. Maybe this is something that is common, but to me it was a master at work.
6. Gardens. There was a fruit garden where you would find raspberries, strawberries and watermelon. The vegetable garden had, well, everything. Corn, peas, cucumbers, radishes, beans, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, beets and I could go on forever. From the eyes of a 6 year old I would estimate the vegetable garden to be over 2,500 acres, but in actuality it was probably about a half acre.
7. Food preparation. This is an overall generalization of hundreds of things that my grandparents did to preserve food for winter or leaner times ahead. All excess fruits and vegetables were sold, given away or canned. They had a cellar below the house where a room was filled with potatoes after harvest and there were hundreds of canned items lining every wall. Im guessing my grandmother could take a railroad spike and turn it in to a loaf of moist, perfect home cooked bread. Whats a microwave?
8. Water source. There were two ponds dug for cattle, the original hand pumped shallow well that provided water to the farm and later a new well was drilled with an electric pump.
9. Shelter belt. There was a perimeter line of woods about 40 feet wide surrounding the house and rear yard. This provided shelter from winds and drifting snow as well as provided free heat for the house.
10. The house. I spoke of the cellar which contained mostly food. It was a small, modest typical farm house that was constructed at the turn of the century. Centered in the house was a wood stove that always had a pot of hot water used for providing humidity to the house as well as warm water for dishes, baths and other things necessary. Directly above the stove was a grate that went through to the small upstairs which had two rooms. Heat would rise from the stove and provide a very warm and comfortable atmosphere where their 7 children who shared the two rooms slept.
11. Entertainment. Lets face it, grandpa had a radio and that was it until the television arrived. He learned to play the harmonica, piano, fiddle and guitar and was quite talented at all of them. They had a handmade wooden miniature pool table that had metal pegs sticking out of it. You would take the cue stick and hit wooden checkers along the table and each peg had behind it a hole that would represent different points.
12. A gun. You read that right, he had a gun. It was a .22 long rifle that was used to take a deer every now and then with uncle Nub back when you just decided it was a hunting weekend. They would take a deer and by nightfall it would be completely butchered and processed. The .22 was used during slaughter of the hogs and cattle, protected the farm from predators, provided entertainment in the way of target practice and was the only gun I ever remember seeing. It always was above the door, loaded and ready if needed. It wasnt ever thought of being needed to shoot people, it was a necessary tool. One of my earliest memories of the farm was grandpa would take us out to shoot barn swallows if we would hand in the plug we still had in our mouth. Today that would be considered illegal, back then it was babysitting.
13. Faith. Above all else, my grandparents had faith in God. They lived a sustainable life and believed that God honored their faith and efforts by providing, and at that He did in abundance. I dont remember the stern dad that I heard grandpa to be when mom was growing up. I remember that every meal started with a prayer and every day ended giving thanks to God for the blessings He gave our family. When grandpa was in a nursing home on his death bed he could still quote scripture word for word and his bible was littered with personal notes showing a lifelong journey walking with God. I encourage all of you blessed enough to still have their grandparents wisdom available to talk to them of what life was like when they were young. If you are like me and they have passed away, there is probably someone in a local nursing home with a story to tell if you would be so generous enough to take some time to use their stories to further your education. Believe me, they will be doing you a favor and it would make their day that someone would care enough to listen. Just a suggestion.
I could write a novel on the other million things I remember of Farmer Gramma and Farmer Grampa and their prepping retreat we called the farm. It saddens me to no end that today, in these United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave, that they would probably be labeled as suspected terrorists according to recent descriptions of what the government considers key indicators in a recently published document on what to look for when on the lookout for terrorists. They were hard working, God fearing patriots that loved their family and country. They were the ultimate preppers. You see, prepping wasnt a movement at that time. It was survival. It was providing for their family the best they could with what they had. It was life on a farm.
I think the writer doesn’t give enough credit to those who’ve thought about preparing but haven’t done much.
Someone who has at least thought about the eventuality and done some research is still miles ahead of someone who refuses to admit there are problems.
I’m lucky I grew up in a tiny town with my grandparents and great grandparents within a block or two. I knew what a victory garden was by the time I was 5 years old. I learned to fix things rather than throw them away. I learned to be frugal and to keep food on hand.
On a side note. Speaking of prepper shows on TV, the show about Mountain men is probably more helpful than the prepper shows. Those guys live it every day.
Thanks. Great post.
I dislike the expression “SHTF”, because if you think about it, it is just a small part of a very big list of scenarios from “just annoying”, through “pestiferous” and “expensive”, as well as “hazardous” and “dangerous”, to “evacuation and refugee” and “fight for your lives”.
Overlaying this is the “disaster timetable”, which can be from an unpleasant weekend to a couple of decades. Part of which is the problem being “chronic” or “acute”, “intermittent” or “constant”, “stick it out” or “beat feet”. And the ever popular “live with it and move on”.
To make things even more entertaining is the equation of the problem in itself + government + others in the same boat who are not helpful. Call them “multiplying factors in making the problem worse.”
Having a well that isn’t dependent on electricity is no small trick.
Want to try putting in a holding pond?
The EPA will kick you off of “their” new found “wetlands”.....
Grandpa was either a hell of a shot, was taking small deer, or was willing to stalk a bleeding out deer for days.
Well done. Thanks! Emailed it on.
However, you can put in a holding TANK and use gravity feed for the times when there is no electricity.
Fortunately I have water at just a couple of feet and you can buy a hand pump for under $100, and a good one for around $200
Good article - brings back memories and knowing many farmers up this way are still living frugally, with an eye to the future. I got a kick out of the comments where others mentioned, among other skills, how the old timers made Chow Chow relish. I have the recipe for that from my grandmother and it’s the BEST relish ever. Got to plan on making more this fall.
Original prepper (our grandparents) ping.
I posted this article then went for a two mile vigorous walk with my dogs (my Golden Retriever is named Goldie) and during that walk I thought of this article and remembered that the wife of the guy who owned the small dairy that my dad ran (We didn't call it managing then) would send my brother and I out into the countryside around the farm to pick wild herbs for the pickles that she made...I can remember only two of the four herbs that we picked, bay leaves and fennel. Those were the days...we ate our morning cereal with pure cream from the dairy and pecans from the orchard.
We grew most of the food for the cows and ourselves there on that farm. (It's a sub-division now, The Highlands or some such)
A few thoughts on items to stockpile.
Bars of soap. I know you can make soap from fat and lye. This is what made me think of stockpiling soap. Good to have, good trading material, the perfect gift for spouse or sweetheart if the emergency lasts a long time.
Canned salmon. Shelf life several years — check the date on the can.
Lumber. Some 2X4s, some larger dimension lumber. Nails, lag bolts. Some sheets of plywood. A roll of heavy plastic. Maybe sandbags. Obviously this depends on your living situation, storage space, whether you’re in hurricane country, whether you expect shelter-in-place or get-out-of-Dodge.
Check up on Eustis in North Carolina...He actually runs a school at his homesite. It is only a few miles outside of Boone, NC.
He has two BA’s from Appalachian State University and his family are Phd’s...He is definitely not destitute and has money to do as he pleases.
The show the other night showed him deer hunting and wounding an animal because as he said his rifle mis-fired....A mis-fire means the rifle did not discharge yet he wounded the animal. He said that his helper sighted the rifle in wrong. If this is true, he is a fool for hunting with a rifle that he himself did not properly sight-in.
This segment of the show is way over dramatized for entertainment purposes. The guy in Alaska is more realistic, yet even he isn’t in as deep trouble as the show predicates because there is a cameraman or crew with him at all times.
Mostly entertainment for those who haven’t experienced much of the outdoors.
“Grandpa was either a hell of a shot, was taking small deer, or was willing to stalk a bleeding out deer for days.” ........ Head shot. 50 yds. or less. No problem if you can sit still and be quiet.
At my age I’m not too concerned w/ surviving in order to procreate the human race.
OTHO we do have a stash of food, mostly canned, 30-40 gal, of water available. Much more with any prior warning. If electric stays, a freezer full.
Securitywise I’m in pretty good shape.
My kids and grandkids are many miles away so helping them would likely be problem.
I do watch the show, some good ideas. Some over the top.
Great article, wonderful memories.
That generation is dying off, and few are talking to them about how things really were.
I’m reminded of a quote from comedian Robin Williams: “When you get old, the first thing to go is your hearing, because people stop talking to you”.
I’m headed to that site now to thank the author.
I was going to say that. My grand dad had exactly two guns. One was a 39a in .22LR and the other was a bolt action J C Riggins 16 gauge shotgun.
The shotgun was for birds and rabbits. The .22 was for squirrels and deer. I still have both of those guns. That 39a is worth quote a sum now. I think grandpa paid about 20 dollars for it back in the day.
Last deer my brother shot was with a .223, normal round, black, scary rifle.... So much of the chest meat was blood-shot that he didn't want it. I wind up processing his kills. ;)
Waste not, want not... I made sausage out of it.
He has two BAs from Appalachian State University and his family are Phds...He is definitely not destitute and has money to do as he pleases.
Last night he got a notice that the gov was going to take his land for non payment of taxes (I'm guessing, property taxes) they sure dramatized that segment by strongly implying that he had to go out and cut and sell fire wood to pay those taxes.
The target is a high neck shot: a little high, you miss. Spot on and you shatter the spine, a little low takes out the blood vessels in the neck: a short track and an easy one. Most shots well under 100 yards. Farms have no shortage of food, nor places to hide near it and short range shots are fairly easy to come by, if you need meat.
I'm sorry now that my children couldn't have that experience. They'd be better fixed for what's coming.
That could be my grandparents who half raised me. Everything worth knowing, I learned from them.
About that well without electricity, you can thank the gub-mint and EPA wackdoodles. Our well used to be easily assesible but nooo, had to seal it. Same with the septic which “ran down hill” without electricity but nooo, had to buy property down the road several owners away to move it to and connect it to electricity to pump it up hill.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to run around like a 10 ear old again, but I know at my brother’s wedding I danced for 5 hours straight. Even when I was out of breath and my feet started to hurt, all I could think was that I’d been sitting down for 3 years, praise the Lord, I can dance!
All it takes is a few months on your back to make you really appreciate the blessings that you have.
Out of the accident also came a renewed relationship with my brother who helped me in a very physical way. I wake up early and when he woke up and walked by my room, he would help me sit up and stand so I could take that walk down the hall to the little NCO's room.
It's amazing how freeing it is to NOT need that help.
And they’ll soon be using drones and aerial mapping to look for them. If they don’t already on the latter.
See you ain't never hunt'd with that old one-ey'd dawg
I’m going to die.
Not immediately. Best make SOME plans.
I’d better camouflage the fish pond then.
Nope the sky's gonna fall first
Nope the sky's gonna fall first
You didn’t have the blessing of knowing MY Grandpa....
Some of us never totally left that life but stayed close to it, ready to go back at a moments notice.
They called us hillbillys back in the day.
Absolutely correct. In my own case I realized that the best thing I could do was ramp up my business and then use the extra income to prepare. It took me over a year to get ramped up, however now I can prepare in ways that I just couldn't before.
Also, the most important aspect of prepping is one that is free - which is adapting oneself physically for the difficult times ahead.
The value of knowledge is not to be understated, either. I'm hoping to get a solar-powered Kindle for Father's Day (if not, I'll be buying it for myself soon), and on that I'm going to store a treasure trove of prepper knowledge I've collected as PDF files.
Finally - and this is inspired by your mention of being in a wheelchair - there is one service that everyone, even folks in a wheel chair, can "bring to the table", and that service is "security". That is a service that, I'm afraid to say, may be very much in demand as things unfold.
“Want to try putting in a holding pond?”
My holding pond is a 25,000 gallon swimming pool, and we do not use chlorine to keep it safe. When in balance it is safe for drinking.
Now, about the EPA, bring ‘em on! :)
So am I. So is everybody, eventually.
I just say: not this year.
One thing grandma & grandpa had that was not mentioned in this article was a 32 volt Delco-light home electric plant in their basement. Big mysterious-looking glass batteries were charged by a generator, and would provide them enought electricity for several days. They still used it into the late 50's.
Of course in this area of the country we still live among thosands of eco-minded preppers. We call them the Amish ;-)