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Salt And Prepper

Been reading a lot about prepping lately, and naturally, I have a bit of a different take on it.

Before I launch, I should help those not familiar with "prepping" to catch up, which includes most of the world outside the US.  Prepping is the practice of storing food, medicine, water, and tools in preparation for large-scale disasters.  Over the past 25 years, it has gone from a fringe obsession to mainstream chic, with reality shows and so on.

Preppers do everything from store up months-worth of survival rations, to hundreds of gallons of diesel/gasoline, equal amounts of water and filters, and some even go so far as to install elaborate solar and wind electrical systems.

It has become a hobby for many and it can be as simple or expensive as you want, as most hobbies are.  A one-year supply of MREs (meals ready to eat) can set you back more than $5,000.  A good water filter, like the Big Berkey, runs just shy of $300.  Fuel supplies obviously get rather pricey and have limited storage life, even with optional preservatives and extenders, which also are not cheap.

The part where I think everyone goes wrong is the idea that they want to hunker down in one spot, usually at home.  They spend outrageous amounts of money on things that can not be carried easily, and no matter how much you store up, it will run out eventually.

Sure, I have a generator, but I don't anticipate it being useful for more than a month, at most.  At some point, I will run out of gasoline and motor oil.  It is very handy for blackouts and other temporary situations, but as a long-term solution to electricity needs that is portable, it is worthless.

In the world envisioned by preppers, most of what they prep will only extend the inevitable a few days, weeks or months.  If we are talking about the total collapse of society for a decade or more, all the underground bunkers and generators and food supplies will soon become useless.

Having given considerable thought to prepping, and having been through various disasters to test my theories, I have come up with a number of ideas that make a lot of sense.

First of all, I start with the premise that I do not want to be stationary.  That is completely contrary to most preppers thinking.  I assume that I will want to move around due to weather, mobs and other regional problems and advantages.  For instance, it might be nice to be in the mountains during the summer and further south in the winter.  In my case, I live on the equator where it's always high of 90F and low of 75F, with predictable rain and dry seasons.  I have a house in the mountains and one in the city, with some good farm land.

The next problem was food.  Yes, we have a small store of canned foods and such, but only enough to cover the time from planting to harvest, roughly three months.  Instead of storing food, I am storing seeds.  I can put an entire acre of food in my pocket if need be.  I also grow a lot of food now and carefully seed plants that are superior for the next round.

The most important thing in my prepper's arsenal is what's in my head.  I have spent years building up carpentry skills, knowledge on how to build everything from lean-tos to brick houses, and even how to build carts and wagons.  The things I have stored in my head require no extra baggage, are fully portable, and can create necessary items from whatever materials are most widely available wherever I happen to be.

To go with that information, I have collected hand tools.  Saws, planes, augers, and the like would be without price if everything went to hell tomorrow.  They don't need electricity.  One thing I have learned from Indonesians is how to make these tools from found materials, as well.  If I can, then I will carry the tools I have.  If that's not an option, I can make them when I get somewhere I can settle down.

I've even thought about entertainment, and by extension, transferring culture.  I have identified three books that I can't live without.  First is the abridged edition of the Tripitaka.  Second is the collected works of t. s. eliot, and third is Alice in Wonderland.  I chose these volumes because the first is one of the oldest books on spiritualism in the world, the second is some of the finest poetry that uses several European languages, and the last is a fine example of why the world collapsed in an entertaining format.  Together, they cover body, mind and soul in the least amount of space possible.  If electricity is an option, then I have a massive library of film, audio, books, and images spanning the past three millennia, and it's all on a single disk about 3" by 5".

I listen to all the folks talk about prepping, and most of what they say depends on life returning to some sort of normal withing months of a major global meltdown.  I figure if the world gets slapped that bad, we shouldn't be thinking in terms of months, but decades.  Furthermore, we shouldn't be thinking of locking ourselves down in one place, but be prepared to move around quite a bit as events warrant.

My idea of prepping is to get as much into my head and a single, large pack that I can carry on my back.  Sure I've got the sport Berkey filter, but in my head, I have detailed plans for building a sand and charcoal water filter anywhere I go.  I also know how to find water in the desert and get both drinkable water and salt from the sea, solving both thirst and long-term preservation of meat.  I have seeds for medicinal herbs and I know how to prepare a lot of different medicines from them.  And my food supply goes wherever I go with no more effort than carrying a book.

A lot of folks might laugh to see my entire survival kit packed up, since it fits in one and a half cubic meters.  But I will stake my long-term survival on what I have versus a lot of what I see and hear out there.

When I give prepping advice, it is this: stuff as much as you can in your head.  It doesn't weigh anything, requires no extra space to store and pack, and has its own electrical supply built in.  Beyond that, learn how to make what you need from the world around you, and more importantly, be very sparing on what you need.  What you want is a whole different issue.

I don't look like you average prepper because I don't have entire rooms stuffed with things.  What I have fits mostly in my brain and the rest is easily portable.  I'm willing to bet my life that my prepping will go a lot further than a thousand MREs and three drums of diesel.