Bloom Where You’re Planted

A guest post by Karen

[This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win – First Prize a 10 Person Deluxe Family Survival Kit,  Second Prize an Herb Seed Bank or Third Prize a copy of Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat.  For complete rules and list of prizes see this post.]

A lot is written about the perfect retreat, that lovely cabin surrounded by the forest serenaded by a babbly creek with fresh cool water. A few chickens roam the securely fenced compound and a fence of screen wire keeps them out of the thriving vegetable patch, so verdant that it’s trying to creep underneath the fence.

For how many of us is that actually reality? If you can’t afford that dream, should you give up on prepping? Should all of your resources go towards getting out of the city? Should you give up a good job and relocate, hoping for the best?

Opinions differ, but I say “No.” Bloom where you’re planted is a phrase that I once cross-stitched on a pillow and it’s a phrase that has stuck in my head as I’ve moved around many times in my adult life. I look at that phrase a lot differently now that I’m a prepper, but it still holds true. Wherever you are, whatever your surroundings, you can still be more prepared that 95% of the sheeple around you.

I live in a medium-sized city. I have an apartment in the downtown residential area. While this is not ideal, it allows me to work at a profitable job and I am a quick walk from my office. My 10-year-old daughter is close enough to walk to school and can be home in 15 minutes if need be. It worries me that my 16-year-old attends a magnet school in another city but that is a risk that we have decided is worthwhile, as it will better prepare her for the future. I’m sure you can see the benefits of being very close to home should disaster strike. I’d much rather be able to jog home, abandoning my car and avoiding the snarl of traffic.

My second floor apartment is ideal for security purposes. There is only one entry on the main floor and that is a door that I have fortified to withstand all but the most determined invader. There are no ground floor windows to climb through, no glass to break – only one way to get in.

Getting out is a lot easier, because each bedroom and the kitchen are equipped with fire escape ladders – one way in, multiple ways out. We only have the stairway to defend if someone was to get in our house and we would have the advantage of being ready at the top of the stairs.

There are some lovely decorative items in the upstairs foyer that would greatly impede the ascent of someone determined to cause trouble. And don’t forget our large protective dog – she is very menacing in appearance and will be an excellent deterrent.

We have many preps set up for our apartment and have covered as many bases as possible. We have a month’s worth of drinking water stored in our attic in case the water was not working. I also have pool shock to purify water if need be. We have a small propane heater that does not have to be vented to the outside and a fire pit in the back yard for cooking. Another cooking option is a tiny little butane powered stove that can be used indoors.

Our pantry is stocked with enough food to last our family for three months without any additional trips to the store. We will NOT be the people out in the melee with the looters. We are also well stocked with candles, propane, crank flashlights and batteries.

In each room I have cut and duct taped heavy black plastic garbage bags to completely cover the windows, allowing no light whatsoever to be seen from the outside. Two people can quickly and easily run duct tape all the way around the perimeter of the window molding and it will look like the lights are out and nobody is home.

A curtain rod hangs at the ready to insulate the kitchen and living room from the rest of the house. I’ve sewn a rod pocket in the back of a heavy quilt so that in the event of a power outage we will only be heating those two rooms.

I have a well stocked medicine cabinet with 2 additional months of regular medications. The cabinet also contains 3 months of multivitamins for all of us, as well as analgesics, cold medicine and some veterinary antibiotics. In addition, I have a huge variety of herbal teas and dried herbs to help with whatever malady may occur.

If the SHTF in a more permanent way, heaven forbid, we have a small but productive garden in our fenced back yard. I am growing some sprouts in a sunny kitchen window and another window is host to fresh herbs. We have a rain barrel to harvest water from the roof and often take long walks with a field guide to help us learn to identify the edible plants in our area.

Is our situation ideal? Maybe not, but it’s the situation the good Lord has given us. We can either bury our heads in the sand or choose to make the best of it. We have chosen to bloom where we are planted and live happily and securely, knowing we are ready for whatever may come.

Comments

  1. Tom the Tinker says:

    Karen: Your post is short…. and it tells me more about the prepper culture than most others. Good work. Fresh writing. Good preps. Good Luck!

  2. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    I have a couple of questions please.
    The water in your attic for a month. Is that 1gl per person per day it looks like 3-4 people which would be about 120gls (720lbs) without laundry etc. or do you have more for toliets, laundry etc.? If it’s more how did you store it up there with the weight issue and distibute the weight on the roof beams?
    If I may add on, the duct tape for cutains, we had issues with the tape falling down after time so we also put in a box of push pins to stick into the sheetrock to help.
    Sounds like you have a plan. I would watch the other residents because they with their inexperience will be the ones who set the place on fire tring to cook or stay warm in an apartment.

    • Matt – the water is in 2 liter bottles with a drop of bleach added. Our attic has a proper floor, so the weight is not an issue. However, I don’t have them all stored together. I’ve got them lined up along the edges of the attic where the roof angles down to meet the walls. It distributes the weight evenly, and since I have boxes in front of them, makes them unnoticeable.

      Great idea about the pushpins!

    • Matt in Oklahoma says:

      your correct, thanks

  3. I live in an exurban area in the upstairs apartment of a 2-family. Not quite the suburbs. My little municipality has a small town feel, but it is right next to the city. In my area, it’s mostly white, blue collar, not too slummy, and before the crash it was gentrifying (and now it’s stagnant). However, I think there’s quite a few people on some kind of public assistance or other in my neighborhood.

    If TSHTF and these handouts stopped, there would be many hungry households near me. I do not think riots would spread to my immediate neighborhood, since it’s ethnically homogenous, not a commercial center, and not rich for looting; but in an extended famine/SHTF situation, we’d probably have a lot of break-ins.

    I just bought stuff to make bars for the couple windows I have that would be easier to access from the street, and I have plywood already cut to fit the two front door windows. I have many of the preps the author does, plus solar that I’m slowly installing. (too slowly!). I was considering also making window bar systems for the downstairs apartment and then just storing them until they might be needed. But I don’t want to freak out the tenants.

  4. KansasProud says:

    Karen,
    Nice article. I totally agree with doing the best you can with what situation you have. Although we live in the country, it won’t be easy to defend our home. At the same time, our home wouldn’t be easy to sneak up on either. So…We plan on staying put but I have made bags in case we have to go. Thanks for reminding me to get curtain rods to block doorways.

  5. Great post! Prepping to some of us just comes down to making the best of our situation before the situation deteriorates. Sounds like you’re doing a great job of that. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Great article!

  7. Great job, doing everything you can when bugging out is really not an option. We live in the ex-burbs as well. Our concern is the 3 million people who live south of us with only 3 or 4 main avenues to go north. We expect many to pass by on their way, even though we have water on two sides and only two ways out of the neighborhood via roads.

    I highly recommend some firearms, a pump action shotgun and a safe action pistol. There may be a need, we pray not, to confront some characters whom will trade your life or you kid’s for your 3 months of supply.

    Most people will get ugly the other side of a SHTF moment within a week or month.
    I am willing to bet that 90% or more of the people in our neighborhood of $350k to $600k homes are not prepared, and many are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

    Keep the alarm dog for sure, stock some food for him as well, and get a shotgun at least with 4 0r 5 hundred rounds of shells.
    My $.02 worth.

    • Survivordan says:

      Nice post. Nicely done on the preps. Like Prep Now’s add on. You have two children to protect. Get 2 shotguns. They’re cheap enough. Unless “decorative items’ means something else.

      • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

        I ass-u-med the “decorative items” were PPDs. At least I hope that’s what Karen meant, stated in an OpSec manner. :)

        • Unfortunately for my firearms ownership, I live in Canada. While I am able to get a gun legally here, when you own a gun of any type, you must allow the RCMP to search your home without a warrant or probable cause at any time. At this time, I feel the threat of having my weapons, and possibly my preps, confiscated, outweighs the benefits of owning guns. I’m very comfortable with them, having been raised in a hunting family, so it’s terribly disappointing.

          As for “decorative items” we have a lovely display of swords on the wall in the upper foyer. They are hung securely on brackets but are extremely easy to remove if needed. They look like a nice little Asian display, with some pretty fans thrown into the mix, but they are very real and very lethal. At the very top of the stairs is an extremely heavy, antique rolling office chair that would definitely cause an issue to anyone trying to ascend the stairs. A couple of Chinese urns on a slender table hold bear spray, which is like mace for bears. They are useful up to 10-15 feet and not only promise to deter a 600 pound grizzly, but also to dye him indeliably orange.

          • A rem 870 with 00 shot would be preferable to bear spray and swords though. Sometimes I pity the Canadians.They are some great people though.

  8. Bloom where you’re planted. Great advice. Beats quitting your job, moving to the styx, going broke, and estranging yourself from family, friends, and community.

  9. Short and to the point article.
    I have water bottles all over the place. I find that a great concern WATER.
    I also have to get somekind of material to make this place blackout ready.
    When something does happen I do not know what will go on in this small town I live in. But I had better prepare for the worst.
    I think I will become Johnson grass. Almost impossible to deal with.

  10. Thanks for the great article. Improvise, adapt and over come.

  11. Karen –
    We don’t know when or how, some people have expected things to go south since Clinton was elected. The economy is mostly in the cities and life must go on. You are well prepared for 3 months, slowly expand to 6 then 9 then…The only thing I see missing is provisions for waste disposal. Stay on good terms with close neighbors.

  12. Well said. I also agree that we should live and thrive where we are. If we prepare for the situation we are in already then things will not come as much of a shock to us as it will to most. I think that is the whole idea about being prepared in the first place. Great insight and it sounds like you have things pretty well under control in your home too.

  13. Karen;
    I agree about blooming where you are. I suspect most preppers will be surviving in place due to employment, familiarity with the area, health issues, age and net work of friends. Also the when TSHTF or TEOTWAWKI scenario one believes will occur plays a factor. Will it be a slow devolving (like the frog in water anaology) or will it be something as sudden as a EMP or straight out attack.

    We will be staying in place based on health, age (we are getting to be old codgers) and we are not up to pulling up stakes and heading off into the great unknown. Our area has hot summers, mild winters, a long growning season and with 60+ inches of rain a year, water and growning things is the least of our problems. This is going to be a come as you are situation and we plan on being as prepared as possible and see what develops.

    Again, a good article and good food for thought.

  14. The best thing I ever found for blocking light out of the house for sleeping during the day as a night worker was heavy cardboard cut to fit the window opening tightly.

    By closing the blinds and then putting the cardboard in place up against the blinds almost all light was excluded from the room (You could not develop film, but other than that!) and from the outside the house everything about the window looked exactly the same. Once you closed the curtains over the window everything looked the same inside as well only no light entered or left the window.

    My cutouts fit so tightly that I had to make a pull handle out of 550 cord to remove them.

    If I where using candles or lamps for light I would probably make two cardboard cutouts separated by a couple of inches one with holes cut in the top and the other with holes cut in the bottom to allow air to flow through the room from the open window so you would be less likely to kill yourself due to lack of 0^2

    SD

    :)

  15. templar knight says:

    Karen, I love the idea that you are prepping. Having a supply of food and water, along with the other supplies you’ve laid in will put you way ahead of most people, and you are certainly prepared for most short-term emergencies.

    However, you have two major things going against you. You didn’t say what city you lived in, but most large and medium-sized cities are not the place to be in almost all TEOTWAWKI scenarios. That’s bad enough, but living in an apartment is pretty close to suicide. Any fire, whether accidental or arson, could be deadly and would destroy your preps and make you a refugee. But let’s assume you don’t have a fire, after a very short period of time sanitation and water issues will force you to expose yourself to the zombies on a daily basis. You must have water, and you must depose of waste. You will be seen sooner or later.

    Then security becomes the major issue. You have an escape and security plan from one attacker, but the facts are that you are likely to be attacked by multiple zombies, with some covering every possible exit. I see no plausible way to defend against or to escape determined foes.

    Karen, I’m not telling you these things to discourage you in any way, just to make you think about possibilites. I lived in a medium-sized city, had a small business, pretty much raised a family there. But I came to the conclusion that things could go bad, really bad. So I moved to the Ozarks, have abundant natural water resources, some land for livestock and a garden, great neighbors, and a much simpler life. It was the best move I ever made. Good luck on your journey.

  16. Karen
    It sounds like you are doing well and thinking through your preps in a logical manner. One thing I have struggled with is OPSEC with my kids and or their friends. I’m always afraid they will open their mouths at the worst time. My preps are not in plain sight but you never know what the kids might find playing hide and seek.
    I live in the country with mostly like minded neighbors who are all on 5 ac or more. Living in close quarters with my neighbors would force me to pick their brains to see if they were like minded. It is always good to know where your neighbor’s heads are.
    Even though my brother has a place like you describe and I am welcome and encouraged to set up house there post event, it is still three hours away and I may not have the choice but to “bloom where I’m planted” Great motto which many others should adopt.

  17. Karen, I like your spirit! Survival books tell us that those who survive when others do not are the ones who are both physically and psychologically prepared; sounds like you are on top of it.

  18. Great advice Karen. For years I put off making expensive changes to make my home more safe,secure and defendable, because I had hopes of moving to the arkansas ozarks. With the housing market deflated,the fact that I already live 5 hours from my job in Houston combined with starting a new life st my age,has made me decide to bloom where I’m planted and make the changes to my home to make life safer and more livable should tshtf. My only advice in addition to yours is WATER WATER WATER!!!! Unless you have a continuous source of potable water that won’t be affected by any of the possible SHTF scenarios,you can’t store to much. Brad

  19. Great job Karen. Your story was succinct and shows you’ve given prepping a lot of thought. Thank you.

  20. Sounds like you have it sewed up pretty good. I am one that has moved out of the city but I feel I didn’t get far enough out. One thing I heard the other day made me worry when a miscreant on television who was apparently on federal and state aid said to the interviewer, “let them stop our checks, just let them try. We’ll burn this MF’ing city to the ground!” My mouth could have hit the floor when I heard that but really it shouldn’t surprise me with these flash mobs that are either stealing from department stores in mass numbers or in one case a saw a racial situation happen where a flash mob of 60 or so black teen went to the fair on foot and were looking into car to see what race the people were in the cars, the white folks got a few punches to the heads. Only Fox and Glenn Beck reported on this.

    Back to the point to you have a plan for fire prevention in a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI case for say a molotov cocktail being slammed into the side of your house? All I can picture is that kid saying, “we’ll burn it all down”. They may leave the house they’re receiving buckshot from or they may think it has something to hide.?? Fire scares the hell out of me, it’s another reason I asked.

    • The best I figure I can do for fire is have an extinguisher in every room. We have 3 of the really big heavy ones and 6 of the small light kitchen-sized ones. Fire terrifies me as well!

  21. Good article! I, too, am going to bloom where I’m planted. I plan to bug in here on the farm. Will be hard to defend as I am in wide open spaces, but also, I should see anybody coming. Have rifle, shotgun etc, but not enough ammo. Need to rectify that.
    Thanks for the all the tips.

  22. Annie Nonymous says:

    Nice article

    Just make sure you have extra propane. I just got a few more 5 gallon propane cans, and converters to run things like my lamp, stove, heater, etc. from it. I don’t trust those 1# cans not to leak once you’ve cracked the seal on them – also remember while propane is safer than liquid fuels, it will still produce CO, so you need venting!!!

    Other suggestion – we blacked out a couple windows to prevent nosy people from looking where they shouldn’t… the next morning, I looked – and it looked like a blacked out window – Really obvious. I made up a set of false curtains with some heavy material, and re-installed the blackout measures – now it just looks like a setof curtains, and still lightproof. Remember – the GH will be looking for clues as to what may be hidden EG valuable… if it looks like ratty curtains, then who’s gonna bother?

    Dont forget opsec. You don’t want to look like you’re anything other than just another bland target with nothing to hide.

    Like Caoimhin said above (funny, we just watched Heartbreak Ridge last week – you’re not watching me, are you?? –grins–) Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. Oh yeah – Survive.

    Annie

  23. Good article. So many other sites do not take in to account that a person can only do what they can do. The most important thing is to start. Then your thinking tends to discover even more things just because your mind set has changed. If everyone would do some provisions for even a month, the whole country would be better off. Good to be reminded about the black out window covering and using blankets/quilts to coserve warmth.

  24. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    Nice guest post, Karen, thank you for writing it. I like that slogan: “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” I may have to incorporate that into my conversations. I, too, intend to bug-in, if at all possible.

    Pam is correct, you’ll need to find a solution to your waste – both trash and bodily waste. Some heavy-duty contractor’s trash bags would be good for household trash that can’t be repurposed or used as compost. For bodily waste, you can use a portapotty – there are several different types, so you’ll have to determine which one works best for your family.

    You have a firepit, but do you have something to burn in it? You can roll up newspapers to form paper “logs.” or you can accumulate real firewood, or you could buy briquettes and store them in trash cans. As an alternative, you can build yourself a rocket stove and use that to cook meals. They are very efficient so they use very little fuel (sticks, twigs, branches).

    I hope you have a couple of good fire extinguishers at the ready. Fires could be a way to drive preppers from their apartments. Be safe, get a fire extinguisher or two.

    Karen, I truly hope none of us ever have to use our preps in a SHTF scenario. But if we do, I hope you and your family do just fine. God bless.

  25. I liked this article especially the idea of blooming where you are planted.
    Not everyone can build a weslyian complex in Idaho .Or want to for that matter. I just got back from Flagstaff arizona and I do not think that I would like to live in allot of that state iether. I live in a low rent part of n calif and I kinda worry about when the gobblins down the street do not get there free money from the goverment. I know that times will get tough but I have never been accused of being a ear ringed quiche eater So I think that I will be better prepared and have more resources to overcome adversaries. The local Obama supporters may go violent first but the first ones may also get the bird from me first. Steve

  26. Lynda from MA says:

    I do have that nice cabin in the woods with a stream or two. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m immune to anything even though I’m fairly isolated.

    Karen, great post and sentiment. “Bloom where you’re planted.”

  27. I, too, live in an apartment in a medium-sized city. While I would love to live in a secluded location in the woods somewhere, I am simply not able to do that right now. (In a bug out situation, however, I would simply GO!)
    Your prepping gave me a lot of ideas and benchmarks to strive for. Thanks for the article.

  28. Great post. I too am planning to stay in place if something happens. Since I am in Florida, I am gonna use my hurricane shutters to secure the windows. My problem though is that if I close off all the windows and have no power, the house will be HOT. I do have an artesian well that runs at 72 degrees, so I am trying to find some kind of way to cool the house down with it. I know how to make zeer pots, but other than that, does anybody have any clever ideas?

    The well is outside, so I will be lugging the water inside….so take that into account also. Any suggestions would be appreciated….

    • You might look into something like the “swamp coolers” that they use in the desert states. I’m not sure exactly how it works – something to do with evaporative cooling. I live in a cool climate so this is not something I’ve researched much. Google “swamp cooler” and “evaporative cooler”. Best of luck!

  29. A lot of folks have asked about getting rid of bodily waste. I have a few thoughts on that but they aren’t totally fleshed out. Here goes, anyway.

    I was reading on a forum recently and someone posted the idea of using plastic grocery bags as toilet liners. I thought – wow – great idea! But if you did that and only that, you’d only be able to “go” once or twice per bag – you would run out really quickly.

    I think that if you doubled the bags for strength – you don’t want one of those suckers breaking, and then you installed them inside your toilet bowl, that would be a good first step. You could secure them to the outside of the toilet using 2 pieces of good ole duct tape. Then put the seat down.

    Then, using cat owner mentality, you would want to use litter of some sort.

    In a short term water outage, you could likely get away with using kitty litter. Throw a handful in the bottom of the bag and then close the lid of the toilet. Each time someone goes to the bathroom, they would need to toss a little more litter in. When the bag is halfway full, you would need to dispose of it outdoors.

    In a longer term situation, you would want to dig a latrine of some sort outdoors in which you would put the bags of waste. It’s far from ideal, obviously. Kitty litter wouldn’t last that long but you could supplement with sawdust or finely shredded paper.

    This theory still needs some work – other ideas more than welcome!

    • Karen, I’ve heard that in Iraq and afgahnistan,the soldiers burn “the leftovers” by adding diesel fuel to the mix and lighting it afire. Would a 55 gallon (or metric equivalent ) drum be a good option for you?add contents plus something flammable and burn your troubles away. Just don’t cook weenies over the fire;)))