A few weeks ago a guest author on a popular preparation blog discussed the value of gardening as a resource. He put forth the opinion that while he enjoys gardening as a pastime, the decision as to whether to engage in it should be based solely around time and cost. Citing the inability to move a garden in an emergency and the amount of labor required to get to harvest, he concluded that it is better to save your seeds for a bug-out and expend today’s efforts and money on a trip to the grocery store. “It’s all about time,” he says, “not a skill or desire.”
While I agree that one’s first priority regarding food storage should be an inclusive, multiple-year, regularly-rotated supply, I believe that there are several things that he has overlooked. Glass jars, mylar bags, and ten pound cans might be more mobile than a garden but not by much. There’s only so much you can carry—especially if you need to get out in a hurry. Second, if you were to encounter an emergency, which would you rather eat? Dehydrated or fresh strawberries? And last, what happens when you get to your bug-out location and are ready to plant or the emergency draws long and your stores run out? If you have only prepared by storing ingredients, equipment, and tools, you are going to get awfully hungry trying to figure out how to turn a seed into a potato.
This post is not intended to be about gardening specifically; it is about skills. I believe that we as preppers are too often focused on equipment and look over skills that are an aid to comfort and crucial for survival. Perhaps there are some that have sufficient monetary assets that they will be able to acquire a shelter and supplies in great enough quantity and security that it will sustain them indefinitely, but I am not so fortunate. I also like fresh tomatoes.
So as you inventory your storage this Spring, noting which things need to be rotated and replaced, I invite you to look beyond the supplies and consider what you are going to do with it. Many preppers are getting good at using their storage as a pantry and learning how to effectively cook with and rotate their food, but that is done in a controlled environment of their modernized kitchens that is very unlikely to be available in the emergencies we plan for. Walk through scenarios in your mind, read and research methods, test them, try them, try them again another way, and then practice. Break your tools in. Read the instructions. Verify that you have the necessary adapters, cables, fuel, utensils, or ingredients. Try throwing the breakers on your home and living through a mock disaster for a week. Go on the Utah Preppers 72-hour kit camp-out.
You must take action. Agreeing with preparedness, reading about preparedness, and getting excited about preparedness isn’t going to help in an emergency. You are going to need to have skills and that takes time. You must start today. It usually requires trial and error. You are going to have to spend a lot of hours at the range before you’ll be able to hit a target. It’ll take several years of failure before you can raise a healthy crop without over watered, burned, or infected plants. Learn what you like, learn what you hate, learn what you’re good at, and learn what you should avoid. Become familiar with your surroundings and plan escape routes. Prepare for the worst and you will never have to see it.
There is no better way to ensure that your preparations are complete than using what you have stored and developing the skills you will need. With knowledge and experience you will be able to sleep peacefully through any storm knowing that you are prepared. With a strong set of skills you will be able to protect and provide for your family.