Homesteading, Prepping

Homesteader? How to Tweak the Way You Do Things to Prepare for SHTF

boy wearing camouflage clothes

If you’re a homesteader, chances are you have already discovered the joy that comes with being able to produce at least some of what you need to survive. Many people decide to homestead to get out of the busy, rat race of the city life. Some people homestead to be closer to nature, get back to simple basics of our ancestors, or out of a love for animals.

As a homesteader you realize that there will be periods during each year where produce and meat are scarce. To plan for lean times, homesteaders have learned about long term storage and how to home can or otherwise preserve excess food to sustain the family during the leaner winter months each year. Sometimes as a homesteader it can feel like every day is about putting out one “fire” after another. But most homesteaders understand that every skill learned moves one closer to self-reliance and that living frugally reserves limited budget and resources for future projects.

But homesteading is very hard work. If you get sick or injured, the work on the homestead falls behind and an extended period of down time could cause you to lose your garden, your livestock, or even your home. And the other downside to homesteading is that you are putting literally all your effort, money, and resources (eggs) into one basket.

  • Could you really survive a full year on just your stockpile if you lost your crops this year? Can you survive for months or even longer without access to a grocery store, public utilities, and other societal amenities if SHTF?
  • If a disaster occurs that forces you to leave your homestead, what would you do?
  • Are you prepared to leave with your family on very short notice?

Are you ready to get more prepared for SHTF events? One way to be a more prepared homesteader is to take a lesson from the preppers. Sure there are some preppers who go to extremes but let’s focus on lessons from the more moderate preppers. Here’s how to tweak the way you do things to prepare for SHTF if you’re a homesteader so you can be even more prepared.

hatchet inside a survival bag

Ramp Up Your Emergency Planning

If you’re a homesteader, you are certainly no stranger to emergencies. In fact, some days it may feel like all you do is “put out fires” on your homestead when things go awry. Being able to handle whatever life throws at you in the moment on the homestead is a great skill to have and one that will serve you well when SHTF.

But preppers focus on analyzing potential threats so they are well equipped for an emergency event in advance and they plan ahead for emergencies which could require them to defend their home to the death or abandon their home and retreat to a safer location.

When you think about the types of emergencies or things that have gone wrong over the last several months or years on your homestead, is there any pattern?

  • Do you find yourself fixing the same section of fence every Fall or Spring?
  • Is there a section of property or even part of your home that floods frequently? Can you reroute that water to use for garden irrigation or watering animals and prevent the flooding before it happens?
  • Are there any events that come up again and again that you could prevent or handle with less stress if you prepared ahead?
  • What kinds of natural disasters are prevalent in your local area? Is your property protected against wildfires? Hurricanes? Earthquakes?
  • Do you and your family have a safety plan in place for each of these types of emergencies?

This kind of reflection and planning is something preppers do well and it’s something you can do to tweak the way you do things to prepare for SHTF.

Extend and Expand Your Stockpile

As a homesteader, you’re probably used to having to stockpile food and supplies to get through the lean winter months each year. If all goes well, you can replenish your winter stockpile from each year’s harvest.

Preppers as a whole stockpile gear and supplies in an attempt to prepare for whatever might happen, no matter when it comes. For many preppers, the focus is on stockpiling supplies such as food, water, first aid, communications equipment, firearms and ammunition.

Preppers know that when SHTF, grocery stores and other public services will be the first to shutdown and in a serious grid down situation it could take time to rebuild. To prepare for this, some of them have food and supplies to last their family a year or several years.

One of the ways to tweak the way you do things to prepare for SHTF is to extend your stockpile gradually. Make sure your stockpile includes store bought staples such as flour, salt, sugar, beans, and rice. Include items you might use to make all natural cleaning solutions such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, or essential oils.

Plan for Renewable Resources

One of the things many experienced preppers do is to plan for renewable resources in the event of a SHTF situation where the power grid and other public services are shut down. As a homesteader, you may already be heating with a woodstove or using a well for water but modifying your woodstove to heat hot water for personal hygiene needs and obtaining a solar powered or hand pump for your well is a good idea.

Also consider adding solar power as a backup if the electric grid goes down or a rainwater catchment, a greywater drainage system, and composting toilet or outhouse. To expand your ability to cook and preserve food, build an outdoor brick oven, rocket stove, traditional spring house, or smokehouse.

barbed wire fencing staples

Beef Up Your Homestead Security

For preppers, a large part of the focus is on being able to defend their property to the death. Homesteaders are used to defending against animal predators and the occasional four wheeling or hunting trespasser but are you prepared to fight if attacked? If an intruder or a group of intruders come looking to take your food and supplies, your family will suffer if you aren’t prepared to fight. The best defense of course is to keep them off your property for as long as possible and avoid confrontation.

Analyze potential options for additional passive security around the perimeter to deter intruders. But when SHTF, some intruders will be persistent. You can take a lesson from preppers if you stockpile firearms, other weapons, and ammunition and plan to team up with trusted neighbors or relatives that will help you protect your homestead from an aggressive attack.

Prepare to Get Mobile

Many preppers also place a big emphasis on bugging out when needed to an alternate location. As a homesteader, one of the ways to tweak the way you do things to prepare for SHTF is to have a bug out plan. It’s also a good idea to identify ways to make your garden portable or at least on how to store and transport seeds to an alternate location.

Scout for an alternative location that would keep your family safe if you did have to leave your homestead. Learn knot tying, animal tracking and hunting, and how to build shelters from natural materials or scavenged materials so you can feed and shelter your family in a temporary location if needed.

As a homesteader, you are already in a great position. You are likely at least partly self sufficient and can withstand short periods of lean times on your homestead already. Many of the skills preppers know are needed for a SHTF situation, you are already practicing everyday on your homestead.

Things such as cutting and splitting firewood, making simple meals from food on hand, repairing a fence or fixing a tractor, and learning to plan meals according to what’s in season are second nature to you as a homesteader.

By stealing a few tweaks from preppers, you can turn your homestead into an impenetrable fortress with renewable resources which will help your family survive and thrive following a SHTF event.

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Megan Stewart

About Megan Stewart

A mother of four and grandmother of six, Megan is living the lifestyle any prepper would want. Gardening, homesteading and constantly planning for emergencies big and small, she's a beacon of knowledge in the prepping community.
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5 thoughts on “Homesteader? How to Tweak the Way You Do Things to Prepare for SHTF

  1. Megan,
    I’ll be commenting further; but, have to admit that I was a survivalist / prepper / self reliant individual long before I was a homesteader and quite often think of these as synonymous. I grew up in a location that was the edge of a town, with all amenities within walking distance and hundreds of acres of wooded hillside only two blocks away. As the oldest of 4, my parents were frugal out of necessity as were most of the families in our neighborhood. By today’s standards we would have all been called preppers; but, cooking from scratch, purchasing beef by the quarter, pork by the half, and bread and other baked goods from the outlet store was in part how the family survived. I grew up knowing nothing different and it in part made me who I am today, with a deep skill set and the ability to try nearly anything from wiring to plumbing and carpentry.
    That same attitude also applies to the food I’ll eat, and in a pinch I’ll eat things others won’t and that can make a big difference in the long run.
    I suspect I’ve eaten things in my survival training that many wouldn’t, including most of those taking the training.

  2. Megan,

    you have already discovered the joy that comes with being able to produce at least some of what you need to survive. Many people decide to homestead to get out of the busy, rat race of the city life. Some people homestead to be closer to nature, get back to simple basics of our ancestors, or out of a love for animals.

    We do this for all of those reasons; but, still did the rat race of the city life for a job from 1984 until 2008, driving anywhere from 25 to 40 miles one way; but, the jobs paid extremely well and living here on our own property was more than worth the trip. In 1997 we were able to pay off the mortgage and that is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.

    As a homesteader you realize that there will be periods during each year where produce and meat are scarce. To plan for lean times, homesteaders have learned about long term storage and how to home can or otherwise preserve excess food to sustain the family during the leaner winter months each year.

    Canning & freezing are our first and easiest methods of preserving; but, we also do some freeze drying and dehydrating, and my plan for this upcoming year is to start using my new smoker.
    We have a multiyear supply of beef in one of the freezers since we purchased half of an angus steer last April.

    Sometimes as a homesteader it can feel like every day is about putting out one “fire” after another.

    Having owned and renovated a house before this one, it’s not the homesteading; but, the home ownership that causes these continuous fires with no landlord to call to fix the problem; but, eventually no rent to pay either.

    But homesteading is very hard work. If you get sick or injured, the work on the homestead falls behind and an extended period of down time could cause you to lose your garden, your livestock, or even your home. And the other downside to homesteading is that you are putting literally all your effort, money, and resources (eggs) into one basket.

    We have lost a few gardens and a few animals; but, long term we finally have this place paid off and unlikely to be lost to anything but a fire or tornado, which is why we have insurance.

    Could you really survive a full year on just your stockpile if you lost your crops this year? Can you survive for months or even longer without access to a grocery store, public utilities, and other societal amenities if SHTF?

    Absolutely. We have enough propane stored on site for heating, cooking, and generator operation, as well as some minimal solar to keep batteries charged and both lighting and communications operational.
    We can heat with propane without electricity available and have alternative ways to heat using wood and propane space heaters.
    With only the DW & I here, we can close down the place pretty small and bundle up with tons of cold weather gear we keep on hand from years of camping. We also have room to accommodate neighbors in a pinch, and some of them have great skills to complement our own.

    If a disaster occurs that forces you to leave your homestead, what would you do?
    Are you prepared to leave with your family on very short notice?

    The only things in that category would be a direct Tornado strike or a house fire, and in both cases we could bug out quickly; but, probably only to a neighbor or a hotel for the short run.

    Are you ready to get more prepared for SHTF events? One way to be a more prepared homesteader is to take a lesson from the preppers.

    As I stated before, I was a survivalist / prepper, long before I could afford to be a homesteader; but, homesteading and prepping are seemingly just made for each other as two sides of the same coin.

    Ramp Up Your Emergency Planning
    I’ve done this for more than 40 years, with an Amateur radio (ham radio) license and lots of communications equipment & experience using it. I have volunteered with my county EMA (Emergency Management Agency) for 20 years and the training and networking I get there is also part of the plan.

    When you think about the types of emergencies or things that have gone wrong over the last several months or years on your homestead, is there any pattern?
    We did have some minor problems with the propane that were quickly corrected, and living in a house that’s between 55 & 98 years old, there are always small things that need patched or repaired, so you keep the tools and parts you need to do those repairs on hand.
    We have no flooding, no wildfires and the only earthquakes we’ve had in Ohio were so small I missed both of them.

    Do you and your family have a safety plan in place for each of these types of emergencies?

    Tornados would be one of several shelter areas; but, the biggest thing for these are the NOAA weather radios with EAS SAME (Emergency Alert System / Specific Area Message Encoding)

    A house fire would be the other one; but, we keep fire extinguishers on hand, smoke and C.O, detectors up to date with current batteries, and occasionally practice EDITH or “Exit Drills In The Home.” We have a land line telephone that will be operating long after the cell tower stop working and several cell phones with their own numbers.
    Extend and Expand Your Stockpile
    WE almost continuously take inventory and do can copying, meaning when you use that can of beans, you buy more than the one replacement and even more when on sale, and over time you get a very full pantry.

    Preppers as a whole stockpile gear and supplies in an attempt to prepare for whatever might happen, no matter when it comes. For many preppers, the focus is on stockpiling supplies such as food, water, first aid, communications equipment, firearms and ammunition.

    This is us and many of our neighbors, most of which would not call themselves preppers, just rural farm folk.

    Plan for Renewable Resources
    One of the things many experienced preppers do is to plan for renewable resources in the event of a SHTF situation where the power grid and other public services are shut down. As a homesteader, you may already be heating with a woodstove or using a well for water but modifying your woodstove to heat hot water for personal hygiene needs and obtaining a solar powered or hand pump for your well is a good idea.
    We have a well & septic; but, also a creek and numerous ponds in the area. Most people who homestead probably already live in an area where they can burn a campfire that can easily be used to heat water or cook.
    In our case, there is also a large Amish population in the area that could be a great resource in a crisis.

    Also consider adding solar power as a backup if the electric grid goes down or a rainwater catchment, a greywater drainage system, and composting toilet or outhouse. To expand your ability to cook and preserve food, build an outdoor brick oven, rocket stove, traditional spring house, or smokehouse.

    We have some limited solar we’re working on over time; but, a well and septic means no composting toilet is required.
    Beef Up Your Homestead Security
    Remote motion sensors are inexpensive as are security cameras. Our sensors are wireless; but, I recommend wired cameras, since their constant output signal is too easy to detect and block / jam.

    Analyze potential options for additional passive security around the perimeter to deter intruders. But when SHTF, some intruders will be persistent. You can take a lesson from preppers if you stockpile firearms, other weapons, and ammunition and plan to team up with trusted neighbors or relatives that will help you protect your homestead from an aggressive attack.

    I have firearms and have been a trainer for nearly 30 years, helping to train neighbors, some of whom are welcome here come SHTF.
    Prepare to Get Mobile
    This is not an option for us short of a tornado or house fire. We’re both getting to old to run and hide.

    Things such as cutting and splitting firewood, making simple meals from food on hand, repairing a fence or fixing a tractor, and learning to plan meals according to what’s in season are second nature to you as a homesteader.

    You also need to add planning meals from your stored food, some of which like grains may need more than average preparation, like grinding it into flour. We currently have three ways to grind grain, one electric and two by hand. A manual can opener can go a long way for store bought foods; but, many long term items require thought and practice prior to needing them.

  3. I got into ‘prepping’ in a big way about a dozen years ago, but had already been brought up in that mindset, with grandparents who survived the Great Depression. I soon got ‘burned out’ on the ‘prepping’ side of things, realizing I would never have enough of the ‘latest/greatest’, and the overall demeanor of the ‘prepping community’. I gravitated more towards the ‘homesteading community’, where I found a much more relaxed and welcoming attitude. I ‘dumped’ most of the prepping groups I had previously been involved in (obviously with the exception of The Pack) in favor of homesteading groups and bloggers. And found that the two are not mutually exclusive! Homesteaders are preppers and a lot of preppers are homesteaders. It’s not just a ‘label’ thing, it’s an attitude thing. ‘Preppers’ have and endgame, something in particular they are planning for. ‘Homesteaders’ do it just because it’s what they need to do to get by day to day. I think that’s the major difference. I finally decided there wasn’t and end game for me, other than to learn to be as self sufficient as I can be, not because I expect the apocalypse, but because I want clean food to feed my family, I don’t want to be reliant on ‘the system’and I want to be part of a community that is like minded and we can be mutually assistive to each other in good times and bad.

    Off my soapbox (the prepper vs homesteader debate is very near and dear to my heart), and you raise some good points. But again, homesteaders are preppers by nature. That said, homesteaders can certainly learn from preppers and vice versa.

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