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The end of the world is nigh. OK, not really, but it never hurts to be prepared, right? The key to making it out alive in a survival situation is becoming self-sustainable. If everything hits the fan, you won’t be able to drive to the store for groceries or to your local hardware store for lumber and tools. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started on the path to self-reliance.
Grow Your Food
Where are you going to get your food if you can’t drive to the grocery store? You don’t have to rely on foraging seasonal foods from the forest if you’ve established a garden with fruits and vegetables. If you’re not sure you’ve got a green thumb, start small. Set up an herb box in your kitchen or a raised bed in your yard so you can get a feel for things like seasons, soil nutrients and watering schedules.
Focus on heirloom species of produce. They are bred to grow from the seeds you collect at the end of the season. If these seeds are properly dried, you should be able to plant them at the beginning of the next planting season, giving you a renewable supply of produce. This will become invaluable if you aren’t able to buy seeds at the store when you need them.
Learn to Preserve Food
When you have a productive garden, you might find yourself with more food than you know what to do with. You can trade some of it to other people in exchange for items you might not have, but that doesn’t leave you with anything for the fall or winter seasons when you won’t be harvesting as much. Learning to can, pickle or otherwise preserve food can ensure you have plenty to eat, even if the grocery store shuts down and the power goes out.
Choose Green Energy
If the power grid goes down, how are you going to charge your phone? While you don’t have to go entirely off the network to be self-sustainable, having some green energy options like solar or wind power available can make your home more comfortable and sustainable if the worst happens. Take a look at the green energy options available in your area and see what you can utilize and what you can afford.
Learn Some New Skills
When something breaks, your first action is probably to reach for the phone and call a maintenance specialist or head out to the store to buy a replacement. In a survival situation, this won’t be possible. What will you do if a piece of furniture breaks and you can’t swing by Ikea to get a new one? Learning basic repair skills, as well as artisans skills like carpentry, can be a lifesaver in a situation like that — and it’s also one more thing you can trade for supplies from other survivors and preppers. Start by collecting some tools — both power and hand tools — and getting familiar with both. Just keep in mind that if the power grid fails, you won’t be able to utilize those power tools.
It’s a running joke: You don’t have to be the fastest runner, just faster than the slowest person you’re with — or be willing to trip them to feed them to the bear/zombie/etc. that is chasing you. If you spend most of your days in front of a computer or television, start exercising. Stamina will be a literal lifesaver in situations like these, so don’t wait to start lifting weights or going on runs.
If you have space, start raising animals. Chickens can provide you with meat, eggs and even feathers to stuff your pillows or make warm coats. Cows, goats and pigs are also good meat providers, and their manure can be used to fertilize your crops.
You don’t have to stick with traditional farm animals, either. Bees can provide honey and pollinate your crops during the spring. In addition to being a tasty sweetener, honey is also naturally antibacterial and can be used to prevent infections in wounds. Ducks and quail can both provide eggs and meat if chickens aren’t an option.
First, make sure that it’s legal in your state to collect rainwater, and in your county and in your zoning district and in your city. While this won’t matter much in a survival situation, if you’re planning to collect rainwater as part of your prepping, it is an important step to take. Some states have made it illegal to collect rainwater, requiring residents to be dependent on the municipal water system or their wells.
Spend Some Time Outdoors
You’re not going to be spending your time indoors in the air conditioning if things hit the fan. Get used to spending time outdoors, before everything goes wrong, so you can get used to it and start to learn how to survive in the wilderness. Take some time to go primitive camping — with no campsites, no running water, no restrooms and no showers to bring you the comforts of home.
If you’re not sheltering in place or staying home, you won’t be able to take everything with you. Transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle can make it quicker and easier for you to pack up and go if the situation calls for it. Start small by eliminating clutter and getting rid of things you no longer want or need. You don’t have to do this all at once, but it should be a steady forward process.
Once you’ve gotten rid of clutter, make it a point to avoid bringing in more things that could fill up your home and ruin your minimalist lifestyle. The goal is to treasure memories, not things. The fewer things you have, the less items you have to box up if you need to evacuate or relocate.
The end of the world might not be upon us, but it never hurts to be prepared. These steps can help you become more self-sustainable, so you’ll be ready no matter what happens.
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