For many of us it is back to work or school today. No more days of sleeping in and staying up too late for me. It’s funny how easily I can ignore the dawn when I don’t really have to get out of bed but the alarm clock and a return to normality this morning put an end to all of that. The dog even looked at me strange as she too had become accustomed to sleeping in way past our normal rising time, when I opened her kennel this morning. It will take a few days of getting back into the swing of things but everything will be back to normal soon.
Hopefully the blog will be back to normal as well. I have had the wonderful privilege of some excellent guest writers over the Christmas and New Year’s break who contributed some really amazing articles to the Prepper Journal. These guest articles were a blessing as I was on the road for 4 whole days during that time and like a lot of you, wanted to spend some quality time with family. I admit the posting schedule lapsed a few times but the guest articles were much appreciated and helped to cover for my inability to post as usual. Thank you!
Since we are getting back into the swing of things with other aspects of our lives I thought it might be good to take stock on our prepping supplies as well as set out a plan for this new year. I have found that I really need to analyze what I have and what I think is all squared away from time to time to make sure I am not in for any rude surprises when we can least afford them. It is with that frame of mind that I turned my attention to my own arc of preparedness to see where I am at according to my own goals but more importantly, to double-check the supplies I already have. It might make sense for you to try some of these ideas on this simple prepper to do list.
Rotate your supplies
This is one thing that a lot of people neglect to do but it can cost you a lot of money at best, or your life at worst. When I think of rotating my supplies I am primarily concerned with those that will go bad. For this article I will focus on food and water.
Rotate your food – For me anyway, buying a lot of food was the easy part. Not because I have a ton of money, but I would buy food, fill the pantry and step back with pride and smile at all of the jars of sauce and cans of veggies neatly arranged in my pantry only to forget about them pretty quickly after that. I wrote an article a while back about how knowing what you have is more important that buying new stuff and when it comes to food you don’t want to buy food from the grocery store and simply forget about it. Food can last a long time, but ideally you want to rotate out older food for your fresh cans to maintain the freshest food possible. Nobody wants to go through a winter storm, reach into the pantry and find spaghetti sauce that is 3 years past its expiration date. I know that the food would probably be OK, but I would rather have fresh foods for a lot of obvious reasons.
Take stock on what you have in your pantry or closet and push those old cans to the front and the newer items to the back. Depending on how bad off your supplies are, this might take you a little while, but you will be glad you did it. Same thing with my stored water. I have water stored in plastic 5 gallon containers that sit quietly sealed all year, but I still refresh them with good water each year just to do the same thing as with my food. It is better to have a year’s worth of fresh food and water than a year of 3 year old food and water.
Plan for Spring Gardening and Canning
It’s almost time to play in the dirt again but it’s not too early to start planning your garden this year. My wife has already scoped out the next seed swap where we plan on getting a ton of local heirloom seeds for our garden this year. Even if you don’t have a seed swap nearby that shouldn’t stop you. You can purchase organic seeds online from places like Seed Savers Exchange. Better do it while you can because they are already planning on putting a stop to this practice.
Along with planning what we are going to grow, we need to figure on when to start seeds and for that Mother Earth News has a handy online Garden Planner that makes starting your garden easy. You can enter your zip code and the program helps you pick the right vegetables and tells you when to start them, when to harvest and other information if you are looking for some helpful tips.
If you prefer something printed, I also have and recommend a copy of the nearly famous Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. Along with planting Carla’s fabulous resource covers a cornucopia of other items like butchering, building chicken coops, cooking on a wood stove and so much more. The book has over 900 pages of great information.
Weapons maintenance and firearms practice
In a post I wrote last week on the Best Prepper Gun List, one of our readers very correctly pointed out that it is better to be deadly accurate with a single firearm than to have several you don’t know how to use. When was the last time you went to the range to shoot your firearms? Did you clean and oil your weapon properly the last time you put it away? Do you even know how to take your weapon apart and have the proper materials to clean it? Do you have enough to last if the grid goes down?
I frequently mention that I consider firearms an important part of my survival plan. Their value in my eyes only increases as the effects of any potential disaster worsen so it makes sense to pay special attention to these tools myself, and others claim to be so important.
By bag maintenance, I mean all of your various ‘bags’ that you have worried over and compiled over the years. When was the last time you inventoried your Bug Out Bag to make sure the food was fresh, that stove you packed was still in there and the First Aid supplies hadn’t disappeared because of the last camping trip? Your Get Home Bag should be checked too for fresh water and food and to ensure you still have the supplies in there that are most appropriate for your get home plan. Has your career changed forcing you to reevaluate your get home plan because it is significantly further or in a different direction now than it was?
Knife maintenance is fairly straight forward. A clean, sharp and oiled blade is pretty simple but knives get neglected sometimes too. I recently bought a Work Sharp Tool and Knife Sharpener that is just about the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. I had been looking at one of these for a couple of reasons. The first is the expert at our local gun show always uses one of these to put a wicked sharp edge on the knives he sells. The second reason is that no matter how hard I try, I seem to always have mixed results with a sharpening stone and chalk my poor results up to technique. I know that if I spent enough time I could sharpen my knives better, but that never seems to happen. I can get a nice edge on them, but nothing that I could shave with like in the Western movies of my childhood. Lastly, my wife asked me if I knew anyone who could sharpen her scissors. As soon as she asked me that a little light went on in my head and I knew I now had enough excuses to make this purchase. I did and couldn’t be happier. Now I have a house full of insanely sharp knives and I might write a review on the Work Sharp later.
No matter if you have a stone or something simple (and much cheaper) but effective like the Lansky BladeMedic or a band sharpener, spend some time with your knives to make sure they are in the best shape they can be. You will appreciate this if you ever need to call on one of them to save your life.
Review Your Plan
Life has a way of changing and with it our plans for survival in a SHTF situation might need tweaking from time to time. My prepper plan when I first started prepping back in 2007 is not the same as the plan I have now. I have learned a lot of things and gained a different perspective on life and my part in it so my plans have evolved. Take some time this week to figure out where you stand with your own personal prepping plan and see where you might need to adjust or tweak to fit your new parameters of life. You may find that something you thought was an absolute is not necessarily even a factor anymore. The opposite may be true and plans you didn’t think were necessary last year might need to morph with changes in your local areal or even national news.
Even if your family survival plans stay exactly the same, it is a good idea to review them and recommit them to the memory of yourself and family. You might find an area of your preps that needs special attention again.
What is on your prepper to do list this month?