This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest by Kim B.
Many years ago, my family knew a gentleman in his late fifties whom was living off-the-grid. He had his own garden to supplement his grocery bill, used lanterns for lighting his home and outhouse, heated his home and cooked all of his food with a wood stove and even caught fish once or twice a week right from his own back yard setup.
In all the time that we knew him, normally running into one another at our local post office, we had visited his residence only once as we had not received an invitation until one special day in which he wanted us to see what he had just installed onto his land.
Taking him up on his invite, we drove to his house and upon arrival we received a smile and an outstretched hand. After a bit of conversation and explanation about how he was living he excitedly began to tell us that he turned a pickup canopy upside down and filled it with water which he let warm up for a few weeks before putting several Gold Fish in. He explained that he set it up so that if the fish were to die then he would know that the water was not safe to drink.
Although we have never seen him since, I have never forgotten him and I still think that his creativity was unique and interesting even though it may not have been a foolproof means of ensuring the safety of that water. Personally, I would not use a canopy because it is made of metal that may not be good for ingestion but I think that if he had lined it with the right materials he would have had something there.
Currently, I am preparing to return to an off-the-grid lifestyle on five acres and planning for a live food supply. To save myself some money, time and labor, I have decided to build a few four-foot long by four-foot wide, two-and-a-half to three-foot high, wooden frames in the style of boxes with the corners reinforced with two-by-two’s, line the bottom with several inches of sand and the interior with a thick food-grade plastic. To not only clean up the exterior but to give the walls a little extra support, which I know is not necessary as I have already built and used an identical tank for years, I will use some small concrete blocks all the way around.
Because there may be little to no usage of the grid for many people and stores may no longer have fish and other “cold” or “frozen” foods available, I have planned to fill a few tanks with Gold Fish of different ages so that when I want a fish dinner I can go to the tank, slide open a lightweight one-fourth inch Carpenter cloth-covered top frame that will help to keep vipers and other creatures out, and catch and supplement my diet with the oldest of them. Unless I have enormous tanks with hundreds of adults and babies in them, the supply will not be for eating from on a daily basis but will be there when truly needed.
Fish are cheap to feed, easy to care for and have quite a few offspring when the time comes due and, with proper quarantine, I should be able to keep many of the babies from being eaten by their grandparents and thus a food supply going and ready for another day.
When Winter comes along, an unprotected tank will freeze over pretty good and I was taught by my mother, which also has an outdoor tank, to set a pan of hot water on the hard ice at one of the corners to help melt, or soften, the surface so that a hole can be cleared to let out any built up gases. If at first she does not succeed she will refill the pan and continue the process until she does.
I do not want to have a supply of fish that I cannot get to in the Winter so I will park each tank against or very near to the walls of my house, on the shady side for the purpose of keeping it cooler in Summer, and place a tarp over the wire-covered frame with six to eight inches of materials over it to help insulate the water from the cold. I know of several ways to protect the water from freezing and one that I have chosen, secondarily, is to lean a sheet of plywood from the outer edge of the tanks to against the wall, to sit at an angle, and protect the open ends with several layers of tarp which should insulate them enough and allow me easy access.
Even a space-limited prepper, if they have a few extra feet of space and something that will support the weight of a tank’s water, can have Gold Fish for the future. For the land and indoor limited preppers, they might do better to use a glass tank because when a wooden one leaks the locations can be difficult or impossible to detect . I would like to note that with a glass version, the only areas that will spring forth are where the edges are glued or cracks have been made. Relining a wooden type is generally the only option and will therefore require that the occupants are relocated to holding tanks with a proper saltwater solution to help with the stress of the moves from and to their home, the interior fully emptied of the few hundred gallons that it holds, completely relined, filled with cold water and left devoid of life until the correct temperature has been reached which is entirely dependant upon when the process is undertaken.
Some people raise fish as pets and their minds and hearts form attachments to them. Anyone that intends to kill and eat what they obtain for future meals, especially if they have a soft spot in their heart, should avoid talking to or interacting with them too much because when the time comes to sever their heads and slit their bellies to open and clean them, they may not be able to do it. The truth is that fish were not meant to be kept as pets but they have been marketed, like all animals for sale are, for the financial rewards that they can bring.
To watch fish in their natural environments it would become evident that one fish will eat another and they are a nutrition supply for other animals as well. For the soft-hearted to survive, they are going to have to look at the facts pertaining to fish which may not be very easy to digest when what they have learned has been distorted mostly by money hungry or other soft hearted individuals.
This is not to say that having a heart is bad or wrong nor that to love another living creature is either but there may come a time when a choice has to be made and it will be to either eat the fish or go to bed with a painfully hungered stomach.
Every person’s survival will depend upon having as many resources available as they can possibly have and fish, that can be raised cheaply and easily at home, are no exception.
This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:
- First Prize) Winner will receive a gift certificate for $170 worth of Winchester Ammo donated by Lucky Gunner. A Smith & Wesson Heat Treated Collapsible 21″ Baton and a copy of my book Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat.
- Second Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Food Storage meat bucket and 3 dozen Tattler Reusable Canning Lids donated by LPC Survival.
- Third Prize) Winner will receive a LifeStraw water filter system donated by Eartheasy and a copy of the Wolf Pack Cookbook.