Monday, May 31, 2010

Love and the Married Prepper

Hubby Dear and I have been together quite a while and we rarely disagree over much of consequence. My new preparedness "obsession", however, is another story.

I'll admit it - I can have a pretty anxious personality. I am a glass-is-half-full, anything-that-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong kind of gal. Hubby Dear thinks "prepping" is just another one of my neuroses and that I should just chill out and stop worrying.

The other facet of his argument is that we are working hard at becoming debt free. We have paid off something like $50,000 in the last year. Our only remaining debt is a lease we have on Hubby Dear's vehicle, and we are saving up the money to pay that off this fall. I agree that getting debt free is really important. Heck, that would count as financial preparedness, wouldn't it?

The problem is that Hubby Dear doesn't want to spend money that I thought we had budgeted for prepping. He'd rather put it towards paying off his vehicle. Here's how I see it: if we spend the money to prep, it will delay paying off his vehicle for a month at the most. If SHTF between now and then, however, those few months I was able to prepare might make the difference between survival and, well, not surviving.

Hubby Dear just doesn't think the SHTF will occur. I hope he's right. In the meantime, we'll be prepping. I used a little bit of wifely persuasion to help him see my way. After all, a happy wife equals a happy life! ;)

My Month One Preps, Part One: Data Backup

In a past entry I posted the list of items I selected to do/buy during my first month of prepping. I've accomplished most of these, but I still have a few odds and ends to clear up.
  1. Get Hubby Dear to back-up the computer
  • We have one desktop computer that has files from the last 12+ years. It would be heartbreaking to lose all of the photos we've taken of our children.
  • I have basic computer skills, but I've never backed-up a computer before. Since Hubby Dear doesn't feel the need to get prepared, I need to either ask him very nicely (perhaps with a bit more of that wifely persuasion!) or subscribe to an online backup service like Mozy. I could probably accomplish that on my own.

2. Create Emergency Binder and Preparedness Binder

  • Another form of data backup is my emergency and preparedness binders. We live in the country and have some strange sort of Internet service that frequently goes out in bad weather. If the power goes out or our Internet goes down, all those bookmarks I've collected are useless. I've started printing off useful survival information and placing it in my preparedness binder. Additionally, there is some information that is vital to have if you have to evacuate - SS #, family phone numbers, insurance information, etc. Having this readily at hand in an emergency could literally be a life-saver.


  • I used the information from Food Storage Made Easy to create my initial emergency binder. Signing up for their Baby Steps Checklist was one of the first things I did when I started thinking about preparedness.

  • Then I read this post from The Survival Mom on Grab and Go Binders. Her post is excellent! She has a very detailed list of items you need in an emergency binder.

  • Over the course of a couple of weekends, I gathered all the paperwork I needed and made photocopies. I inserted them into plastic page protectors and them stuck them into my binder. The binder is organized into financial, personal, and medical sections.


  • I didn't have an example to follow for this. I divided a binder into three sections: Food Storage/Preparedness Stocking Plans, Food Storage Information and Emergency/Disaster Information.
  • My Prepping Plan

  • A list of our frequently eaten meals and then all of the ingredients I need for those. (This is used for our 3 month meal supply - the subject of a future post.)

  • A print-off of the results of this food storage calculator

  • Print-offs of the Food Storage Made Easy Baby Steps Checklists

  • Some other food storage information from other websites.


  • I have printed off a bunch of information about water purification, the shelf lifes of various foods, etc.


  • This section includes print-offs on what to do in case of a nuclear disaster, chemical spill, etc.

I'll give more information and links to the various resources I've collected in future posts.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Month One Preps

As I discussed in my previous post, I prioritized the purchases our family needed to make and created a 12 month plan and budget. Here are our Month One Preps:

My Month One Preps
  1. Get Hubby Dear to back-up the computer
  2. Create emergency kits for both vehicles
  3. Make Bug Out Bags for our family
  4. Buy a large box of N-95 Masks
  5. Buy a crank flashlight/cell phone charger
  6. Create Emergency Binder and Preparedness Binder
  7. Stock up on 3 Month Food Supply items
  8. Start saving cash and add to Bug Out Bags

Over the next few posts I am going to give details about what I did to fulfill every item on this list.

With so much to prepare for, where do I start?

When I decided that I needed to take our family's preparedness seriously, I began to get overwhelmed. When you think of all that can go wrong and how much stuff you need to get ready for every scenario, it really is quite intimidating.

Then I read a great post on the Survival Cache blog. You can read it here, and I suggest that you do, but the gist of it is that you should divide your preparedness planning into phases. First prepare for emergencies that are of short duration. An example of that is a chemical spill near your house that requires you to quickly evacuate your family until the danger is past. Or maybe there is a heavy snow storm and you have to make do with what you have on hand for a few days. Once you have that taken care of, you should gradually move on to preparing for emergencies of longer and longer duration until you are prepared for true long-term survival. The Survival Cache guys came up with this clever visual illustration of the concept like the food pyramid:

With this in mind (and some tweeking of my own), I have made a tentative plan for the next year. I've budgeted about $300 towards each month's preparedness purchases. This will take us a long way towards my goal of preparing our family for whatever may come.

Go visit The Survival Cache site! It's got tons of great information that even a newbie like myself can understand.

Coming Soon: My Month One Preps

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Prepping and History

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

- George Santayana

I don't know who George Santayana is or was, but he sure gets quoted often. The reason for that, of course is that George Santayana was right.

I think history is fascinating and have studied it much of my life but it wasn't until recently that I started thinking about the implications of history when it comes to prepping.

One thing I've been ruminating on is the fact that there is not one civilization that has managed to prosper throughout the entire scope of human history. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Egyptians, Romans? All Gone. Every other ancient or even more recent civilization or empire that you ever learned about in history class? Toast. Parts of the cultures may remain, but through wars (international or civil), famine, plague, natural disaster, social strife or whatnot, there is not one civilization that remains unscathed. You maybe could make a case for the Chinese, who have many years of history. Chairman Mao and the Communist Revolution created enough upheaval, however, that I think you can count them out as well.

Our own country is young. Our 200+ years of history still qualifies us as the new kid on the block. For the moment we are dominant, but how long will that last? I am not arrogant enough to assume that the fate that befell those who came before us will not happen to us.

Today I was flipping through the channels and stopped at a show called "The Plague" on the History Channel. It was about the bubonic plague that ravaged much of the known world during the 1300s. Not only did it kill off a huge number of people (I've read estimates of anywhere between 25-50% of the population of Europe died), but it also had a lingering effect on the people who lived through it. Tremendous social upheaval followed. Because of the scarcity of workers, many former upper crust people - nobles, clergy and the like - were forced to work their own fields. Predictable pitiful results followed. Some turned away from agriculture and instead decided to make their living by stealing from others, which was always a popular pastime in the Middle Ages.

Hundreds of years may have passed since The Plague, but our society remains vulnerable to a similar situation. Today we are so dependent on technology and removed from making our living off the land that if we had to start our civilization back over at zero, most of us would not make it. The average American simply does not have the skill set needed to survive. If we listen to the lesson of history, we'll recognize we need to change.

It's not a matter of IF it will happen. It's a matter of WHAT will happen WHEN.

Questions from a child

We got a delivery from Fed-Ex this morning that included many of the elements that are going into our bug out bags (more on those in a future post). My oldest child, The Thinker, was confused.

"Mom, if you and Dad have been married such a long time, why are you just now getting this emergency stuff? Shouldn't you have all of this already?"

I had to answer honestly - we hadn't really thought about being prepared for emergencies until recently. Hopefully prepping will become such an ingrained part of our family culture that when our children go off on their own they will naturally do it. They shouldn't be married for over a decade before they get their act together.

Off to make our bug out bags...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What is Prepping?

Prepping is taking the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared" and running with it. The ultimate prepper is one who will be able to respond to and survive in any of a number of situations - earthquake, hurricane, economic meltdown, terrorist attack, etc. In other words, when the you-know-what hits the fan (SHTF, an acronym you'll see a lot on Prepper sites. Also, TEOTWAWKI - the end of the world as we know it), Preppers will be prepared. Everybody else will have to rely on the Federal government. Ask the people of New Orleans how well that works out.

A prepper should not just have a bunch of camping equipment "just in case". Most preppers that I have read about think that survival knowledge is just as important as the having right kind of gear.

How is this different from being a "survivalist"? My understanding of the difference has to do with the extreme measures survivalists usually take. Whereas most preppers blend into society, survivalists tend to make preparedness their complete lifestyle with living off the grid the goal. I'm sure that is pretty simplistic and a matter of debate, but that's how I understand the difference.

Why am I prepping?

I hadn't really thought much about emergency preparedness until late in my fourth pregnancy when I felt the urge to prepare my family for... something. Nothing in particular sparked my concern, I just felt the nudge to prepare. Maybe it was pregnancy hormones, but I tend to think it was the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I have a family that I love dearly and four little souls that depend entirely upon the care that Hubby Dear and I give them. My house and vehicles are valuable, therefore I insure them. It is unlikely that my house will be consumed in a fire or that my car will be totalled in an accident, but I have the insurance on standby so that I can replace them if the unthinkable occurs. How much more precious are the lives of my children? Why would I not do all that I can to insure those lives?

Preparedness seems daunting and there is a lot I have to learn, but I am slowly taking the measures I need to prepare my family for what the future may hold.

Who is "The Harried Homemaker"?

Who am I?

My name is Emily. I live in the Midwest with Hubby Dear and four children ranging in age from early elementary school to infant. I have earned the title "harried" the hard way. I not only take care of the business of our home, but I also homeschool our children, one of whom has special needs.

I started this blog because I recently started "prepping" and want to blog about it. (Duh!) ;)

I already have another blog where I discuss the events going on in my crazy family, but I decided to start this anonymous one just about prepping. Why is that, you might ask? Well, one good reason is that many more experienced preppers say it is best not to advertise the fact that you prepare to the public at large. I think that is wise advice. If there is ever a situation where SHTF (more about that later), the low-life scum who know you have a large amount of survival goods might decide to come and forcibly take it away from you. If you don't think that will happen in a SHTF scenario, where have you been recently?

The other reason I have chosen to remain anonymous on this blog is because when it comes to matters of survival, I am completely helpless. Those near and dear to me are very aware of that and would be in complete disbelief that I have decided to get into prepping. Quite honestly, I don't care to hear their opinions on the subject.

I am more known for my academic bent rather than my physical prowess. My midsection closely resembles a marshmallow. I've given birth to four children, don'tcha know! I freak out at the thought of having a mouse, much less a deadly weapon like a shotgun, in my house. I also think air conditioning and Diet Coke are necessities of life. But I'm determined to change my wimpiness and this blog will chronicle the journey.

Exactly what is "Prepping" and why am I doing it?

That is the subject for my next entry.