Don had been in charge of posting entries in the Safecastle Freedom Awards writing contest, but he's been super-dooper busy lately so he forwarded the entries to me. We need to have all entries posted by the end of the year, then we'll submit the winner to the Safecastle folks. The rules for writing are posted here. The Safecastle website is here.
Just FYI, the contest prizes were modified due to poor economic conditions. You can see the modifications here.
But our prizes remain the same! To wit:
10 Rural Revolution laser-engraved tankards for the top 10 entries!
If you'd still like to send in your original essay or video on self-sufficiency, survivalism, or prepping -- there's still time!
Now to our next contestant...
Anyone Can Start Prepping Today by Lynette
If only I had been prepping those 15 years instead of just dreaming about it. Maybe then I wouldn’t have failed so miserably when I finally owned my own property. Now that I live the prepper’s life, I understand how much I could have been doing while I still lived in the city. So what can city people do to prep? Just about anything they want to.
The most important tool in prepping is knowledge followed closely by experience and equipment. In our society, we purchase everything but know little about how to provide these things for ourselves. Prepper’s have an inner need to learn all we can in providing for ourselves and to prepare for The End Of the World As We Know It. TEOWAWKI may never happen to the whole world at once, but it certainly happens on a small scale all the time. If your home burns down and everything familiar to you is gone, your world as you have known it to date has just ended. Major disasters can level whole neighborhoods creating TEOWAWKI to large groups of people.
If you find yourself in a position where you’ve lost everything, your knowledge is all you have left. No matter where you live you can gain knowledge. Once you’ve learned it, practice it. Experience takes you to a whole new level of understanding. Part of prepping is accepting you can’t do it all by yourself, it will take many people and skills to help in an emergency, so anything you contribute is valuable.
Prepping can be as simple as learning how to cook or bake without electricity, though, you will learn that ‘simple’ is a relative term. You can train yourself on open fires, Dutch ovens, solar ovens, a wood stove or an earthen stove. Then if your neighborhood is out of power, your family will still be able to enjoy a nice meal.
It’s never too early to learn how to grow your own food. Get yourself a flowerpot or dig up a corner of your yard and see what you can sprout. Gardening requires knowledge of the nutrients, light, temperature, soil and moisture needed for different types of plants. Even a small garden will provide you with a world of information. Sunflowers, for example, come in many sizes, are beautiful, fun to grow, a great food crop and easy to harvest and store.
Storing food is an amazing science. There are many methods to learn; cold house storage, root cellaring, canning, dehydrating, salting, pickling and even brewing alcohol. Some foods need to be stored in a warm dry area, and others need cold and damp.
When it comes to livestock, many cities allow small livestock in the back yard: rabbits, poultry and bees to name a few. You don’t need to move to a rural setting, many suburban areas have property zoned for livestock. Raising livestock in small quantities can teach you all the basics. Are you a horse lover? Do you realize how important horses will become if we don’t have gas for our tractors or transportation? By the way, learn how to compost that manure because it’s currency when dealing with gardeners and it’s great for your lawn too.
Hunting is a perfectly respectable sport no matter what you may hear otherwise. It’s also far more complex than it may first appear to a novice. You need to understand each species behavior in order to track them down with different weapons and ammunition required for different types of animals. Many hunters are also weapons collectors, which provides protection for your family. So you get four great benefits in one hobby - hunting, collecting, protection and food; seven benefits if you count butchering, meat storage and cooking. This is an excellent example of how everything you learn and every item you acquire adds on to the whole picture.
Nobody likes the idea of washing clothes by hand, but a washboard and clothes wringer are only meaningless until you need them, at which point they become priceless; as do items such as manual clocks, rain water collection containers, matches or lighters and pots for use on open fires.
Metal working? Sure. There’s always a need for metal tools and repairs. Learn how to work metal the old fashioned way with a forge. After 20 years as a metal smith, my husband still loves learning new techniques.
Pottery is fun, interesting and useful. You can learn how to dig up clay from the ground and use different types of soil. Build your own small outdoor kiln with earth and learn how to make beautiful pottery as our ancestors did.
Communication is something we take for granted today, but in an emergency when standard communications are down, we will all be flocking to those who do have it. Ham radio operators, old-fashioned CB radios, and even simple long-range walkie-talkies will be in big demand. Of course, you may need alternative sources of energy to operate these devices, so maybe there’s another avenue for you to investigate.
Own a boat? How is it powered? In some emergencies, boats are the only vehicle we can use to rescue people and to travel. Your boat can also help fisherman feed people (and you). Building a boat would be invaluable knowledge to have, and a fun hobby for a craftsman. Speaking of craftsmen, how many of you have non electric tools?
As you look into doing things on your own, the more you will understand how little you know. You could learn to sew without electricity. Learn how to identify different types of rocks and their uses. Extracting iron ore from a rock would be an impressive thing to see even in today’s modern setting. Learn to purify water, build your own tools, make your own glue, tan your own leather or weave your own baskets. You can buy raw wool and learn how to work it, you don’t need to own the livestock. Learn to identify or grow types of plants useful in the production of cloth and how to process each. Learn how to farm fish in a tank or small pond and feed your family in the process. What about first aid? Make your own medicinal oils and tonics from herbs. Did you know honey, sugar or salt can hold off an infection on an open wound? Are you catching on? Nobody can learn it all, we each have to pick and choose what to work on through our own interests, but all knowledge is useful.
Contrary to modern thought, recycling wasn’t invented by man, it’s been the norm since the dawn of our planet. Prepper’s are some of the best recyclers around because we are learning from past generations when recycling was necessary for survival. When butchering, use the fat of the animal for cooking, lighting or soap, the hooves for glue, and the bones as nutrients in the garden after the dogs are done with them. Nothing goes to waste. Gardening requires composting old plant matter to improve next year’s garden soil. We know the benefits of all types of manure in growing our food. Even paper trash can be used for heating or fed to the worms to make compost. Excess worms are fed to the chickens or used for fishing. The ash from our fires makes lye for our soap and yet even more garden nutrients.
Without electricity where will you get your light? Candles and oil lamps work great. Did you know cooking oil or lard can be used for light? What about making your own tin or glass lanterns? On top of that you could learn how to make wicks for each type. How about making your own glass from sand and even the forge to heat it?
Start with what interests you most, there’s no wrong direction. Anything you learn now will serve you and your loved ones in ways you can’t even imagine. You may even stumble upon a hobby that makes you some extra money in the process. The more you research, the more you’ll learn, so give it a try and see where it leads you. I guarantee you’ll never regret having the knowledge when you need it most.
If TEOWAWKI happens even on a small scale, there will be people needing all kinds of help and you won’t be the person panicking, you’ll be the one working on your area(s) of expertise to provide aid to others. Doing something when you feel like you have nothing helps you to feel a little bit more human and gives others hope. Even if you’ve lost everything, the knowledge you’ve gained will help you start over. If you know how to start a fire with sticks, no disaster can ever take that away from you. With prepper’s, knowledge is one of our greatest tools for survival. It’s also security, empowerment and a great way to make friends.