In any type of grid-down event, there will be the struggle to survive initially. Suppose you do make it through the stages of a PA event and you are building your community, maybe extending your family by taking in orphans or entire families, and violence has subsided enough that you can barter with your neighbors. Have you thought of the finer details of living years without electricity, transportation, grocery stores, and factories? For the Prepper Journal’s Writing Contest, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on thriving during those years.
25 Tips for Post Apocalyptic Needs
1. I know I won’t ever get used to the smell of perspiration odor. There is no use in stockpiling anti-antiperspirants and deodorants—they lose their effectiveness in as little as three months in storage. Go to this wonderful web site and discover effective ways to prevent perspiration odor.
2. Kleenex ran out a long time ago. Unless you like snotty sleeves, you should stockpile a lot of bandannas and handkerchiefs.
3. Dislike flies on your food? Buy some good fly swatters, the kind with the leather flap that won’t tear up like the plastic things in the grocery stores now.
4. If you will be putting in a large garden and will have a number of people assigned to work in it, be sure you have enough hoes and other tools for several people to work at the same time. Most people only have one axe, one hoe, one rake, one pitch fork, etc. Need to plan on multiples. Also prepare to care for those people who will be working in the garden. Have lots of leather gloves in all sizes, gardening hats for men and women, thermal water bottles to keep water cool, and those chilly towels you wet and throw across the neck or head to stay as cool as possible. Provide sunscreen (make your own, commercial sunscreen loses its effectiveness after 1-2 years) and sunglasses for everyone. Also, do you have twine for tying up beans and twisty ties for tying tomatoes to stakes? Do you even have stakes or cages?
5. Just make life easy on yourself and stockpile fertilizer for the garden so you don’t have to rely solely on compost and manure. You may not have enough livestock to provide the manure you need and you will probably feed your food scraps to the pigs and chickens, so you won’t have much compost. Store fertilizer in an enclosed shed, away from sunlight so the plastic bags don’t crack open. The soil at our bug out location is overly sandy, so I am having multiple dump truck loads of loamy top soil brought in from another county to be tilled in. I’m doing everything to prepare now.
6. In the south, we will be growing corn as our staple food for people and animals. After the fresh corn is canned for people, the remainder will dry on the stalk for livestock usage. Do you have a corn sheller or two to take the kernels off? A great job for kids. Do you have burlap bags to put the kernels in and large needles with twine to sew the bags closed? In any place grain is stored, there will be mice. Do you have a large supply of D-con and mouse/rat traps?
7. So your tractor is not a 1960 Massey Ferguson. Your new John Deere tractor won’t work in an EMP scenario. How will the garden get prepared? Do you have a plow? Any animals and the harness to pull it? Plenty of people have horses but not the full accompaniment of harness for horses to plow or hitch up to a wagon. If you don’t have a large farm wagon to bring your crops in from the field (I’m thinking BIG field of corn), or from your fruit orchard, then you better buy a lot of those nice garden wagons from Tractor Supply that can be pulled by hand.
8. If your jeans get holes in the knees or tears anyplace else, do you have iron-on patches for them? Available at Walmart and JoAnn Fabrics. I use JoAnn Fabrics coupons to get 50% off any one item and every month I drop in and buy more patches, buttons, needles, elastic, Velcro, thread, and fleece material to make pajamas for those who may show up without any.
9. Wash day is not pleasant for anyone, but especially for someone with arthritis in the hands. Wringing clothes could be almost unbearable. Invest in large wash and rinse tubs, plunger type agitators and especially a good wringer (Lehmans.com). I also purchased long cuffed plastic gloves to protect hands from hot water (cracked hands may lead to infection).
10. I save empty wine bottles to put syrup and honey in. I also bought several bags of new corks from Amazon for them. Our group has friends who produce both syrup and honey but they wouldn’t have anywhere to buy bottles from. I can barter for honey and cane syrup with my bottles or maybe a piglet or another chicken.
11. Grinders will be important to have. From chunks of meat to apples for applesauce, you need some good kitchen turn-crank food grinders.
12. In even two years’ time, someone’s eyesight can deteriorate. Have a dozen or more pairs of magnifying reading glasses on hand in all strengths. Get some eyeglass repair kits, too, for those who already wear glasses. If you can afford it, get an extra pair of your current prescription glasses.
13. New shoes and clothes for children will be needed for every year of their lives. They are the only ones who cannot wear their same clothes for 2 or 3 years. Buy your children and grandchildren tennis shoes, boots, and clothes in each size for 5 years from now and each year add to that. I buy clothes and shoes in all sizes at outlet stores and plan to use the extras to barter or share with other families.
14. If you take in people who arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs, you have to provide clothes, shoes, and bedding for them. The clothing and shoes I have. I have also bought foam mattresses with regular mattress ticking covers from Overstock.com. They come compressed and rolled into a short box. When it is time to use one, you just take it out of the box and it plumps up in a few hours with no plastic smell. I buy the 7-inch twin bed mattresses that cost about $100 each for a platform bed. (Put two side by side for a double.) We can make our beds from our lumber and plywood supplies. Shop for sheets, pillows and comforters during white sales that occur twice a year.
15. Even in a post-apocalyptic world, unless she is in starvation mode, a woman is still likely to get pregnant. For men and women who know that they don’t want any more children, go ahead and have a permanent sterilization procedure. Don’t let the end of the world as we know it come and not have taken care of this issue. Same goes for the tooth that has been bothering you, that thing you think might be skin cancer, and cataracts. Get all the surgeries you need now, while you can.
16. If the wife isn’t into prepping, tell her she needs to tend to this one thing: feminine hygiene items. If she doesn’t, she is liable to be using rags during her period. Feminine napkins can be opened and put into space-saving vacuum bags, compressing them for storage. (By the way, that is also how I store toilet tissue–compression.)
17. Men and women will probably relax their standards on shaving just because bathing will be more of an ordeal. Buy some quite affordable straight razors (Smokey Mountain Knife Works), strops, shaving brushes (Lehmans) and shaving soap for times you want to spruce up a bit. I can’t afford to buy five years’ worth of those razors that cost $6.99 a package. One straight razor lasts forever.
18. Don’t think your current pots, pans, and silverware are going to work out well in the after period. A solar oven will replace your crock pot. Large soup and stock pots will be needed because you will probably be cooking for a crowd and possibly on fewer burners. Restaurant sized, long-handled ladles and spoons will also be needed, as well as larger casserole dishes. Get a large Dutch oven, too. You will need more pot holders than you have now if you cook on a wood stove or open fire. Buy some heavy loaf pans for bread. You might make six or eight loaves a day so bread can be a filler for lunch and dinner meals. Bread boxes won’t hold that many loaves, so I save my plastic bread bags, fold them neatly, and store them away, along with the plastic closure tabs.
19. Canning food is going to be the standard for preservation. I am constantly amazed at the PA fiction books that say they use canning jars they already had or those Grandma had in the basement. Trust me, Grandma didn’t have enough jars or lids to prepare for feeding a large family through the PA years. Sit down and think how many will be in the group, figure how many days out of the year, primarily winter and spring, that you will need to eat your canned food. I figured 4 quart jars twice a day for 5 months (in the south). That makes 1,224 quart jars, not counting the smaller pints for jams, jellies, relishes, and preserves. Everyone in the group needs to be buying canning jars (wide mouth are a lot easier to use) each time they go to Walmart. For my group, I planned on canning jar lids for six years, which would be 660 dozen lids. Go ahead and purchase new shuttle cocks and rubbers for your pressure cookers, so you will have a backup if one breaks. You need those really large pressure cookers that will hold 8-12 jars at a time. They cost just over $100. You can’t get the food processed quickly enough before it spoils if you use anything smaller….we have two large ones for our group. Buy the Ball Blue Book and memorize it.
20. How will you mow your yard with no mower or cut hay with no tractor? Buy a scythe and a sling. The sling will take out the weeds and grasses (and the stinging nettles and sand spurs that will grow without regular mowing), but you will want the scythe to cut hay for your livestock. If you want your children to be safe from snakes, you need to keep your yard from becoming overgrown, or do like the pioneers and get rid of grass all around the house for a good distance to keep snakes and fire from coming too close.
21. When the ketchup runs out, the children are likely to go into a blue funk. Go online now, while you have time and download HOW TO articles such as how to make ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. Don’t stop there…look up how to make mosquito repellent, sun screen, an antibiotic cream, cough syrup, head lice remedy, and a million other things. I have two bug out 3 ring notebooks with recipes using the foods I have in storage in one and the HOW TO things in the other, all in plastic sleeves. Check out Homestead-and-Survival.com for these items.
22. Look in antique shops for one of those solid irons people used as late as the 1940s. You set it near the fire to heat up and iron until it cools down. You will need one of these for ironing on jeans patches, but it may also be used to cauterize a wound.
23. Of course, buy a million matches, but also buy a lighter for everyone in the group, children included. At a tobacco shop, you can purchase flints and extra wicks, and there is usually Zippo or Ronsonol lighter fluid in the check-out lane at Walmart. I don’t recommend butane lighters because I have already experienced how the butane evaporates and the lighter is empty when you need it. The same will happen with a Zippo, but it takes a lot longer and you can refill it.
24. We don’t have much livestock at our location now, but we plan to barter with trusted neighbors for pigs, goats, and a few cows. I have purchased collars/halters for all of the larger animals so we can handle them and bring them into the barn at night to reduce the chance of someone stealing them. I also bought tie-down stakes so we can put the goats on a line and move them around to graze different spots without having to fence them in.
25. Did you know that My Patriot Supply now has coffee with a long shelf life? I can hardly face the day without coffee, so it will be one of my next large purchases. I have my non-electric, sit-on-the burner percolator and 500 pounds of sugar. What a way to wake up to a new world every day.