Dirty Little Prepping Secrets The Crap You Don’t Hear About

Fergus Mason
By Fergus Mason December 14, 2018 07:31

Dirty Little Prepping Secrets The Crap You Don’t Hear About

I love prepping. I love being self-sufficient enough to produce most of what I need on a daily basis, and to know I can carry that on if there’s a crisis that disrupts food supplies.

I love the feeling of independence, of competence, of preserving and developing skills that so many people have lost. There’s huge satisfaction in looking at every problem from the angle of how I can solve it myself, and keep on solving it while the world is falling apart around me.

Let’s not pretend that everything in the prepping garden is rosy, though. Yes, it’s satisfying – but it can also be frustrating, expensive and hard work.

Running a homestead is probably the most challenging part of prepping, if you’ve taken that step, but the rest of it can have its share of problems too. Here are some of the things most prepper sites won’t tell you when you’re getting started.

Prepping Can Be Expensive

A lot of people get into prepping – and specifically homesteading – because they think it’s going to save them money. After all, if you go off grid you’re going to get out of paying all those bills, right?

Well, eventually that’s probably going to be true – but not right away. In fact, at the beginning it’s probably going to cost you more.

There’s likely to be a lot of stuff you need to buy. Seeds, livestock, animal pens, feed, generators, food supplies, tools – prepping can lead to a lot of expenses at first.

Later on you will start to save money, and in the long term those savings can be huge. Just be prepared for it to take a while before you see the benefits. In the meantime you’ll be investing in preparedness.

Related: The 5 Seeds That You Need to Stockpile in Your Pantry

It Can Be Lonely

We all dream of getting off the grid. The problem we find when we actually try it us that the grid is also where much of our social life happens. Becoming self-sufficient and prepared also often means spending more time at home working, and that can leave you on your own a lot.

Avoid loneliness by connecting with people like yourself. You can do that online, or through local groups. Look out for gardening groups and similar – you’ll often meet like-minded people there.

Mistakes Happen

When you learn new skills it doesn’t always go smoothly. You’re going to make mistakes as you get started. Probably you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. You’ll break things. You’ll put up other things that fall down again as soon as the wind blows. Your ambitious solar generating system won’t work and your first batch of home-canned corn will turn purple and hallucinogenic.

Don’t let mistakes discourage you. Sure, they’re annoying, but treat them as learning experiences. Work out what went wrong, and avoid it the next time. All preppers get things wrong at first, so don’t worry too much when you do.

Related: 12 Pioneer Skills We Can’t Afford to Lose

It’s Physical Work

If you’ve spent the last few years at a desk and in front of the TV, prepping is going to be a bit of a shock to your muscles – and if you’re growing your own produce or raising livestock, that goes at least double.

Spend a day preparing the soil for planting, putting up fencing or shifting animal feed and you’ll have a good collection of aches and pains by the time you’re done. The good news is that pretty soon you’ll be in much better shape, without the cost of a gym membership.

It Can Be Dirty Physical Work

Start messing with running a smallholding and you’re going to get dirtier than you’ve been in your life. Animals produce manure that has to be cleared up and either disposed of or repurposed as fertilizer, and then of course there’s plain old dirt. You’re going to be messy a lot. Don’t worry about it; it washes off.

You Can’t Get Away From It

As soon as you start working on crops and livestock you’re going to find yourself tied to your land on a pretty short leash. For a start there’s no such thing as a day off. Your animals are going to need care every day, so even on a Sunday expect to have a list of chores to get through. Once you’re used to it and know all the tips and tricks you’ll probably be able to get them done pretty quickly, but you do need to get them done.

As for vacations, that’s a real challenge. You might be able to find another homesteader nearby who can keep things running while you’re gone, but don’t assume it’s going to be easy. For most people looking after their own land is plenty; you’ll have to be pretty persuasive to get them to take on yours too.

It’s a Gamble

Some things are always going to pay off. Growing your own vegetables is a perfect example. So is having a steady supply of fresh eggs from your own hens. But a lot of prepping is a kind of insurance policy – putting time, effort and money into preparing for things that you hope will never happen.

Some preps can be used in daily life, like your supply of canned food – just rotate it constantly and use the oldest cans for daily meals.

Other stuff, like a fallout shelter, isn’t going to do you much good unless there actually is a nuclear war. Just remember that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Yes, it’s an insurance policy – but the payout if you have to claim on it is your survival.

Hopefully this article won’t put you off prepping – that certainly wasn’t my aim! All I want to do is make sure people have a realistic idea of what they’re getting into, so when something is harder or more time-consuming than they expected they’ll know they’re not alone.

Prepping is like anything else that’s worth doing – you have to work at it. I hope now you’ll be prepared for some of the bumps along the way, so they won’t discourage you when you hit them.

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Fergus Mason
By Fergus Mason December 14, 2018 07:31
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  1. Graywolf12 December 14, 15:42

    There is a group of people that will read a part of this true article and stop. They see work, that is for mothers and other suckers. Dirty and physical work, no way that will ruin my expensive manicure and my designer cloths. “YOU” will make mistakes. NOT ME111 others make mistakes but not us. If a mistake is made it is YOUR fault,

    Reply to this comment
  2. Tom December 14, 15:55

    Everyone should be a little bit independent…I too love the feeling that I am somewhat prepared..extra propane for the grill..a source of Water…extra food..tools…guns ….stocked up powdered milk and seeds

    Reply to this comment
    • lattelady9 December 16, 16:09

      Tom, Just know if you use a grill for cooking others will smell that food and come, and get it, and YOU!! Be careful, use the propane for energy, light etc. Just saying, Pat

      Reply to this comment
      • bert December 3, 00:24

        You are right. Grilling meat is awesome but deadly in a famine situation.
        Use a small pressure cooker sized to fit your group. If you are lucky enough to have meat use an inch of water with salt and pepper to cook the meat. Seal the lid and watch it closely as it cooks. When the weight starts to barely vent cut the heat back. The trick is to not allow any steam to escape. No steam equals no smell. No smell equals no zombies. Plus you use less fuel and a raw roast will turn to roast beef in twenty minuets. To add beans or rice simply add more water. This trick is also useful in bear country.
        Hawkins makes pressure cookers small enough to backpack.
        One other trick is use the cooker to process a roll of bandages. Cook the bandages in the pressure cooker under pressure for 30 minuits and you have sterile bandages,surgical thread, needles or instruments.
        Thank You Mr. Claude for all the great info !

        Reply to this comment
  3. Publius December 14, 15:58

    As to ‘vacations’ (which may include things like leaving for a few days for a family funeral, wedding, etc.), past experience on the farm is the time honored tradition of trading work. Just remember, either offer to take care during others absences first, or know that you will need to reciprocate.

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  4. Just Me December 14, 16:09

    The learning curve with livestock is the biggie. A veterinarian isn’t always available to come out. Have at least two you can call, and emergency visits are expensive! Learn from your vet, write down medications given for what ailment, what to do when, for what. Even with the assistance of a vet, modern medicine, an animal can and on occasion, die. You’ll blame yourself, question yourself and be frustrated that you didn’t or couldn’t do more. The learning never stops. Arm yourself with books and researching different web resources. The Storey’s books about livestock (breed specific), are a big help and common to pet/feed stores. Merck’s veterinary manual is another great resource.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck December 14, 18:59

      Thanks for the book references. For those of us who have been long gone from caring for livestock and small barnyard animals, it is helpful to know which books one can acquire to refresh knowledge buried deep in our memory banks or written over with newer knowledge.

      I know I can research the titles and probably find the books you have reference to, it would shorten my research time considerably if you could post the full titles.

      Reply to this comment
    • RC December 15, 11:23

      Of course that is assuming that the internet is up and running and the solar generator to create electricity is up and working.

      Reply to this comment
      • Just Me December 15, 15:16

        RC, you’re correct! Any specific info I look for on the web is generally copied and placed in a binder to expand my hard resource base. I do this with many topics and PDF manuals.

        Reply to this comment
  5. Wannabe December 14, 16:32

    Nothing is a bed of roses. Glad to see reality shared. And for the most part I think most articles published here are reality based as far as not sugar coating anything, unless you are making donuts. It’s always good to know the truth and reality. Better to deal with that than surprises.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Prepper In Training December 14, 18:01

    Just a small suggestion. If you can afford it, talk to your local ag/FFA teacher. You may be able to hire a student to assist in some of the farm jobs. Not only do you get a strong back, but also someone that will be eager to make suggestions on farm work.

    You will have access to information that you didn’t know you needed. The student may also be able to save you money by having contact with other farmers/preppers.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Old Indiana Farmboy Bill December 14, 19:56

    In the words of the incomparable Paul Harvey, “Then God made a farmer.”. Everything you described as a potential buzz-kill for others about prepping is what a farmer, farmer’s wife and farmer’s kids embrace as a pretty-much given factor in their every single day life — a life they love and wouldn’t trade for anything from anyone at anytime . . . . (except maybe when they are nearly knee-deep in the manure they are shoveling out of the nearly fully-loaded manure spreader to get down to where they can work on and “McGiver” a temporary fix of the broken drag chain link(s) of the now non-working manure spreader’s unloading system, when just about any other choice of work would seem VERY appealing!). They have a saying in Texas, and elsewhere, “All hat, No cattle”, that describes cattle ranchers who don’t have weathered faces, rough, calloused hands and are NEVER seen ANYWHERE with as much as a speck of dirt on themselves . . . . or their Stetson 100X El Presidente Silverbelly Fur Felt Cowboy Hats. I’m not implying that all farmers spend their entire lives looking like the “Peanuts” comic strip character “Pig Pen” (just saying the name brings to mind very vivid images in everyone’s minds’ eyes). They clean up pretty well for Sunday School and Church, local Farm Bureau or Grange meetings and all of the community events (many of which they are leading, presiding over, helping direct, or just doing some volunteer work). But if a neighbor has a problem that prevents him from being able to get his work done when it needs to be done, farmers will pitch in, without needing to be asked, and get that neighbor’s work done, then go home and do their own work that needs to be done, just as much as their neighbor’s did, even if it means working well into the night. It’s just what farmers do. It’s in their blood, in their genetics, and it what makes them love the life they’ve chosen , , , , farming. And to close in Paul Harvey’s signature style, “And now you know the rest of the story.”.

    Reply to this comment
    • COMSEUR October 9, 19:02

      Old Indiana Farmboy Bill:
      How I miss Paul Harvey! I remember listening to him on AFN all the time. Good Times! 🙂 And to the “Rest of the Story”…
      (and I can still hear his (very distinguished) voice in my head as if it where yesterday!) 🙂 …even all these years, I stand amazed, giggle.

      Thank you for bringing this up!
      Stay safe, huh?

      Reply to this comment
  8. Grumpy Old Cattleman December 14, 20:47

    The key to all this is MOTIVATION. If you are motivated to do the hard work, it soon will not be hard. The rewards will become self-evident, and that will justify the effort. I’m a 77 years young retired rancher, and used to hard work. Knowing my family can and will survive almost any crisis is all the motivation I need.

    Reply to this comment
    • NOBODY December 18, 02:09

      I respect you sir. I am a nobody who will perish when the SHTF. Nobody feel bad for me…..I had the chance to learn and wasted the time away. Take care.

      Reply to this comment
      • willbe December 31, 17:22

        Never, Never and I mean NEVER to late. It’s up to you. You wanna be a sheep or a WOLF? Change your name fro wannabe to CANBE. YES YOU CAN IF YOU WANT TO.

        Reply to this comment
  9. Random5499 December 15, 01:16

    My Uncle was a farmer, I spent a lot of time there, wish I’d spent a whole lot more. When I was about 6 I was “helping” him deliver a couple of sheep, he was leading one up the ramp into the trailer when it absolutely bombarded his leg and boots with sheep poop. He didn’t even notice, it was just more poop. I have to say, my Uncle and his wife and 2 sons had 500 acres, kept cattle and chickens, sheep and goats, and raised grain and it was a lot of work, but I’ve seen a lot of people since in the trades and the business world work even harder. I’d have traded my life of hard work with theirs and come out ahead. I used to think I was sophisticated because I grew up in the big city, 25 years of country living have now taught me city life just makes you a fool. I have a much better education than most Americans, tell you what, I spent 8 hours today out in the blustery drizzly 40 degree weather we call winter in Texas digging up and repairing a copper water line that was dang near 4 feet deep, you can tell I have book learning cause when I cuss it all comes out grammatically correct. Hard Scrabble, by John Graves, is a great book about buying a worn out piece of land, the way you change it, the way it changes you.

    Reply to this comment
  10. red December 15, 02:02

    Go with the fallout shelter. If anyone asks. it’s a root cellar. For that matter, when we get ours dug, that’s what it’ll be used for.

    Our garden soil is sand, adobe clay, and caliche. Mix them together, add water, pour in forms, and it dries to concrete. IN fact, Portland Cement Co. loves caliche so much, they have 3 mines. It’s used in 3rd world countries (desert nations) for road surfacing. It makes crappy garden soil, tho the clay is rich with nutrients, roots will not go thru seams of caliche, so, Trenches 3 feet deep, remove all caliche and use to to repair the ally where monsoon storms wrecked them. In the trenches, fill with logs and brush, grass clippings, anything that can be used (plenty of each, and dead palms, as well). It creates humus, which can take decades, even centuries to decay,and holds any moisture that comes its way.

    If interested, it’s called hugelkultur and has been around for centuries, used by Native Americans and Celtic Germans when they were forced into the Alps by Vikings.

    More, if you have a Starbucks around, ask for used coffee grounds. That builds garden soil fast and prevents crusting.

    Anyone living in the south-central counties of Arizona is invited to free produce! http://www.borderlandsproducerescue.org was created to keep produce out of the landfills. It’s good, usually fresh,and free ($12.00 donation to help defray costs, please). Most of it has a scar or speck, usually on one two tomatoes or watermelons and is rejected by groceries because it can’t be sold for a premium price. they don’t care if you show up in a BMW in a mink coat in July or ride a bike with two bad wheels. This is community helping folks by stopping waste. Niio.

    Reply to this comment
    • Lisa December 2, 18:09

      Red, discovered POWWOW, last year. Been there this year, finally getting around to dehydrating for soup the excess. Figure your weekend is busy with caning, etc. Great food.

      Reply to this comment
      • red December 3, 09:42

        Nope, trying to figger out how to get things done with the adobe soaked with rain 🙂 I did go last month, but they had very little (but all was good, clean and healthy looking) and the manager refused to give me extra for the neighbors. They like cucumbers, paste tomatoes, and summer squash, I don’t. No matter, she would have sold it to me for 6 bucks a case, which is against their regs.

        Garden! I have the place ready, almost, for an apple (Dorsett), and a dancy tangerine. I need to get a few peaches in, but have to put up wind breaks before I do. If you live in the area, you must have garbanzo beans ready to plant next month, turnips, and so on. I got a nice shock; all the kohlrabi that I let go to seed last summer lived and are growing new bulbs, some of them a half-dozen at a time. The black radishes are up and making greens. I wish I could say that for the carrots. Nothing from them. Too much of the garlic and potato onions still aren’t up. Sow bugs, I suppose, but thrashers will steal some things, as well. At least no ants now, thanks to cornflour and a small dose of borax with sugar. niio!

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  11. Emanon December 16, 15:22

    Not to mention some areas you can’t build or fortify in. I have a house I lease with 1 acre of land. My rental agreement states I can’t build in the property or make any changes to the property. If I do I’m kicked out.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck December 3, 00:36

      Emanon: That is a general catch-all clause in almost every lease or rental agreement. They can always be changed with agreement of both parties. If you really want to dig a root cellar, draw up plans or have them drawn up. The approach your landlord and show him the plans. Realize that any improvements you make to the leasehold will belong to the landlord. That is part of the Universal Business Code. Any improvements attached to the land or buildings remain with the property unless specifically excluded by agreement.

      Remember to act as reasonably as possible. Perhaps make the structure you want a little nicer than you might if you were putting it on your own property. There are ways to grease the axle. BUT ALWAYS GET WRITTEN PERMISSION FIRST. If it is in writing, then it is reasonably concrete. Pay a lawyer to review it before you sign it. If you are paying $10,000 for an improvement isn’t it worth $300 to have a lawyer make sure you aren’t screwing yourself?
      Don’t rely on yourself to act as your lawyer. The dictum in the court business is: The man who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client.

      Reply to this comment
  12. ArizonaDave February 2, 08:23

    Off topic a bit, I wanted to point out pre-packaged kits or meals might not be what you eat on a daily basis. Why is that important? I’ll give you an example: 8 years ago, I bought 4 buckets of wheat, thinking we’d grind our own for bread. I just found out 4 years ago I’m gluten intolerant. Another thing that bothers me is the selection out there isn’t good for meal planning. you’d probably have to open 10 cans to make one meal. I’m wondering if someone has opened these, made a complete meal, and resealed it again, or a different idea.

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  13. red February 3, 05:07

    Don’t I know it. I heard of that scam before and have a little experience suffering it. WalMart has a bad rep for doing that.

    As for gluten, do you buy guar gum? You can get it cheaper at ameriherb than the stores. When we make noodles, 1/3 starch in the dough (oats, amaranth, corn and so on) makes it stick together when it cooks. Guar gum is used in baked things. Use the wheat for the chickens. I don’t know where you are, but my planting zone is 9B. Grow amaranth (it likes AZ summers) for greens and grain with cowpeas, and in late fall, plant oats or rye for grain, and sow chickpeas in late winter (here, that’s January) with the turnips. Niio.

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  14. red March 22, 19:28

    I lived it most of my life and never realized I was a prepper 🙂 niio

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