Originally written for, The Sabbath Herald, July 2016
Some of us live in rural areas. As we seek to Be Prepared, we must consider the range of possibilities that may occur. Maybe we have 2 acres, or 20, in a landscape of scattered houses. We work city jobs, or use the internet to facilitate home businesses. The phone is vital to business, church, and social communication. We get our water from a private well, instead of a municipality. We have a garden, a dog and cat, maybe a few chickens or goats or sheep. We can, dry and freeze fruit when it is in season, have wood stoves, have trees in the yard, and mow our own lawns.
It is a comfortable life. All is well while the paycheck keeps coming, the electricity is on, the phone and internet are working, the well-pump keeps running, and we still buy 80% of our calories while slashing the grocery bill by a similar figure. We still buy gas for the car, truck, tractor, chainsaw, etc. A number of electric appliances aid the home-maker, and make shop-work go fast. We can still buy parts, hire mechanics, go to the lumber yard, hardware store, Post Office, second-hand stores, and more. We can drive to the mountains to hike, camp, and cut firewood. There is less interference from trades unions, and fewer government regulations on small businesses.
We’re pretty well set–for one winter. But if we couldn’t drive to get wood, next winter could get cold!
We have an axe and chainsaw, splitting maul, wedges, and a wood-hauling truck. But is there enough forest within walking distance, to provide wood for us and the neighbors? Do we need to get a crosscut saw, and learn how to use and sharpen it? Do we need a good wagon, maybe a sled, to use in hauling the wood? Are our axes truly ready for efficient service? Do they have sheaths?
We’re OK for a while. L.E.D. headlamps, with a supply of batteries; hurricane lanterns with a supply of K1 Kerosene, or #2 fuel oil; floating lamp wicks that can be placed in a dish of cooking oil; candle-lanterns; the “bug,” a primitive candle-lantern, quickly fabricated from a tin can and wire–we have some, if not all.
We have the usual electric or propane range, with something to back up the electric. Maybe we have a wood cookstove. A portable propane high-output stove is a big help in canning season, keeping heat outdoors.
If we run out of propane, cooking takes more planning. In summer, the wood cookstove makes the house unbearably hot, so we’re wishing for an out-door chimney hook-up.
Water and Hygiene
As long as the well-pump works, we’re OK. Hopefully we have enough water for the garden. But, if we need to quadruple the garden’s size? Hmm. Is there a creek nearby? If the power is out, we might need it for everything from drinking (filtered or boiled, of course) to flushing the commode, to watering the garden. And our water might run in two buckets on two legs. Every extra yard in the trail to the water source is felt hundreds, if not thousands of times.
Rainwater–this could save a lot of steps. Water delivered to the door–if we have rain gutters!
The hand-pump. We really need one on the well, if it isn’t too deep. A solar pump could save us a lot of time and energy, and actually put the plumbing back to work!
Speaking of plumbing, if we need to let our house freeze, how hard is it to winterize the plumbing?
Irrigation is our biggest water-consumer, in many cases. If we must carry our water, it pays to carry our bathwater and laundry water out to the nearby garden. Plants love it!
How pure is our water? Is it being contaminated with ag chemicals, mining waste, or manure from feedlots? What about mineral concentrations (calcium, iron, sulfur, copper, heavy metals)?
Laundry– Do we have good washtubs, utility sinks, and scrub-boards? What about a concrete scrubbing table/tub? Is the washroom heated? Can we splash water around a bit, or will it ruin the floor and walls? What about squeezing, wringing, and spinning water out of the clothes? Indoor clotheslines? Outdoor clotheslines?
Toilet paper may be in short supply. Newspaper is another option. But if all else fails, we can bring in various leaves, grasses, and mosses that work nicely. Otherwise, it may be necessary to use (and wash) rags.
Bathing–cold showers? Bucket baths? If we can keep the plumbing in action, can we run it through the wood stove, or find another way to heat water without man-handling it? Maybe we can set a metal trough or barrel on something, and build a fire underneath, to heat more gallons? Or build a sauna? In summer, can we use a solar water heater?
We can easily go a week in winter, maybe a month, without visiting the grocery store. We might have a year’s supply of dry grains and beans on hand, and we use them daily. But our kitchen appliances don’t work without power, and we’ll have to get used to living without a refrigerator and freezer, unless we can keep an adequate alternative energy system running. Maybe we need to build a proper root cellar? A spring-box? An “outdoor fridge” (screened box covered with wet burlap, in the shade)? An ice house? Cooking will take more time if we can’t make multi-meal batches of things, and our fresh fruits and veggies will be in danger.
When the trucks stop running, where will we get enough grain? Can we grow our own? Can we get it threshed out clean enough? How do we do that? If we need to hand-grind it, what is the difference between flour corn, and flint corn? How much of our grain can be replaced with potatoes? Can we grow enough fresh greens through the winter? Do we need to make covered beds? Maybe a greenhouse? If we must go on a trip in the winter, will our jars of canned goods break if the house freezes?
Historically, farming districts have been the salvation of starving people. If we live in the country, and grow plenty of food to feed ourselves, we are in a position to help feed others in time of need. However, there are elements that do not appreciate the self-reliant farmer, and we need God’s wisdom and protection to navigate these dangers. Mobs of starving people could quickly strip us of what food we have stored, and we need wisdom in these encounters. It is better to lose our supplies than our family members, but then we’d be starving too. At least our land would still grow more crops, after the mob passes on–although we hope for the best for our fencing and irrigation systems and storage facilities. God promises that if we till our land, we will have plenty of bread (Proverbs 12:11, 28:19).
Rural areas offer far more wild edibles than the cities do, and much better opportunities for learning what these wild food-sources are, and how to use them.
A farmer’s life involves far more than raising food. It includes many other trades and businesses, arts and crafts. It includes marketing.
Most of the time, our air is fairly clean. How close are we to farmers that are spraying their crops with herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides? Will our heirloom varieties cross-pollinate with GMO crops? What about smoke from field burning and forest fires? Smog from nearby cities? Foul air from livestock factories? Dust from busy gravel roads?
Will the deer leave us anything to eat? Do we have enough area fenced? Can the rabbits get in? Squirrels? Mice? Gophers? Do the goats and chickens have a secure place to live?
How close are we to busy roads? Will kitty be wise enough to stay out of the way? Will Rover need to be tied up, or fenced in? Is one dog enough, or do we need two? If we can’t buy dog and cat food, what will they eat?
Dogs are wonderful in the rural setting. They warn of danger from both human and animal threats. They are the farmer’s doorbell. Be ready to go out–day and night–to investigate and help when they bark. Most farmers keep a good flashlight and some kind of firearm at hand for the purpose. 1 Samuel 17:32-40; Luke 11:21, 22.
Cats can be helpful in controlling mice, rats, gophers, squirrels, and even rabbits.
In most rural settings, police response is slow. If humans cause trouble, they rarely wait around long enough for the Sheriff to arrive.
Preparing Every Day
While rural living is not entirely independent of the world, it offers a good platform for true education, for evangelism, and for preparing for the next stage–primitive living. The education gained here is priceless. Those who have this education, and good health, cannot be poor, even if they are penniless. God will use this kind of life to prepare His people for any and every emergency. See Fundamentals of Christian Education, 35.2.
Fathers and mothers who possess a piece of land and a comfortable home are kings and queens, here and now! Fundamentals of Christian Education, 326.2.
Questions for the Readers:
1. What do you feel is your greatest challenge in preparing?
2. Is there a specific topic that you would like to see an article about?
3. Which skills do you most need hands-on help to learn?
Free Download– With Nature and With God – http://ctfischerknives.com/pdf_flash/wnawg_nonsda.pdf