We’ve been living the prepper life this week. My wife baked bread. We ate split pea soup, which I think is an excellent prepper food, and earlier I had an MRE entrée over rice for dinner. We’ve been eating eggs laid by our chickens, drinking our own spring water, and using the woodstove to keep warm.
That made me think… I have six #10 cans of split peas. That’s 30 pounds, which sounds like a huge amount of split peas. If it is just the two of us, one pound will feed us four meals. That gives us 120 meals of split pea soup. If we have 8 people living here during an emergency, that’s only 1 meal per pound, or 30 meals for eight people. If we have 12 people, then the peas will go even more quickly.
And in a worst-case, slow-motion collapse that allows people time to travel, we are expecting 12 people. Four of whom will bring some of their food preps, but six won’t because they are young and don’t see the need to prep on their own.
I guess we’ll just feed them lentils and black beans once the peas run out. Until we run out of those. We’ll be able to eat eggs every other day during peak egg-laying season and maybe twice a week during the slow winter laying season, assuming we don’t use too many for baking.
It’s not Just Food
With 10 extra bodies here, we would run out of places to sleep. We have beds for five and a couple of inflatable mattresses, which I doubt will last forever. Unless we sleep in shifts and practice hot bunking, there are going to be people sleeping in hammocks.
Based on my calculations, we have enough toilet paper on hand to last us at least two years. Bump our household up to 12 people and that become two months’ worth, plus it would put significant stress on our septic system. We would need to dig a pit toilet pretty quickly and ration use of the flush toilets. I am too close to surface water to build a legal pit toilet, but if the time comes that we need to, I doubt the EPA is going to be showing up. I’m just glad no one is upstream from us.
We have less facial tissues than toilet paper, and even fewer paper towels. That’s because the latter are bulky and take up limited storage space, but I think we can substitute cloth rags. Even if you combine my stored cloth handkerchiefs and bandannas, I think managing a cold or flu season would strain our resources. Sure, I can buy more Kleenex, but that’s just a holding motion. We’re going to be down to practicing the old farmer’s nose blow pretty quickly.
Let me add as an aside that I am currently using a box of Kleenex brand facial tissue that was stored away in 2013 and unearthed when we moved a year ago. It appears to be just fine. Another box that dated back to 2002 was no longer very soft. So my take on this is to rotate your stored paper products at least once per decade.
Why Numbers Matter in Prepping
My wife and I are in decent shape to ride out a storm, inflation, or some short-term emergencies. In a lengthy collapse in which there are no utilities, we would prefer to have our family and/or close friends show up. That’s the plan, but it means they have to leave home while travel is still possible.
It would improve our defensive posture to have eight or more people on site, especially since most are comfortable wielding firearms and a couple are infantry vets. We would also benefit from the additional hands, as surviving on a homestead includes manual labor, especially when you have little or no gasoline.
The idea of family member bugging out to another family member with a more rural location and hunkering down together has a long history for good reason. Without the conveniences of modern life–like washing machines, electric kitchen appliances, refrigeration, gasoline powered small engines, local stores, and next-day delivery–it’s hard to survive out on your own. Add in threats of marauders, and having someone at your back makes sense.
How to Prep for Extra People
Other than stock more stuff, I don’t have a simple answer for how to prep for additional people. When we were in a prepper group, we knew that all the members had their own preps. Half the people showing up are young couples who don’t own their own home and haven’t yet become preppers. So we have to prep for them. We will provide big picture items (food, water and shelter) but they have to bring personalized items like clothing and footwear.
In my preps, I want to make sure we have plenty of things non-preppers would not think of, like flashlights, headlamps, radios. We also have guns that can be loaners and if you are helping defend us, we’ll provide the ammo. I also have a substantial library of books on a host of survival and homesteading topics, from animal husbandry to gardening to medical and tactical topics. Ideally, any long-term guest will take an interest and improve their knowledge.
What They Should Bring
My written instructions to the kids, which are provided with navigation directions (in case GPS goes down) even though they have all been here, say: Bring plenty of durable, comfortable clothing. Include outdoor gear, hunting clothing, and multiple pairs of shoes and boots. Bring bedding, pillows and linens, as we have a limited supply. Bring your prescription eyewear and if you wear contacts all your fluids and spare lenses. If you are on any prescription meds, bring them. Grab any personal care items from your bathroom, especially if you have a favorite shampoo or soap. Raid your pantry and cabinets for any canned or dried foods. Bring any personal electronics but don’t count on them working. Take your battery/rechargeable powered devices, including flashlights, radios and tools, including extra batteries. Bring your personal firearms, ammo and related gear. If you have room, bring gardening tools like shovels. Bring your favorite books and board games. Bring anything you cannot live without. If you have 5-gallon gas cans, add them to the back of your truck and fill them up as soon as possible.
The daughter that sews knows to bring her sewing equipment and cloth. The daughter that has a freezer knows to throw it in her husband’s pickup truck and bring the whole thing. People with young children now to bring anything they would need.
We also provide a list of the firearms and calibers we stockpile. This is to encourage people with multiple guns to bring those that we support. For example, if you have hunting rifles in .25-06 and a .308, bring the .308 because we have thousands of loaded .308 bullets and reloading equipment and supplies to support it, but no .25-06. Your 31 remaining rounds won’t last very long.
Overcoming Space Limitations
When we moved to the mountains, we purposely downsized to reduce our expenses and make upkeep easier. You could say we traded square feet for acres, because we have more land. The smaller indoor space, however, means significantly less storage space. That limits how much food, paper products and other goods we can store here.
Yes, we could rent a storage unit, build an outbuilding, bring in a 20-foot container or come up with another solution, but I don’t see that happening. If I was 100 percent positive the world was going to end in six months, I would haul a 20-foot container up the mountain and load it with 5-gallon pails of wheat, rice, beans, powdered milk, pasta, tomato powder, and yes, split peas. I’d build eight cages and bring in three does and two bucks and start my rabbit-raising operation. Then I’d invest in solar power. I would also double the number of chickens and build a few more raised beds. I’d plant more berry bushes and get a few 55-gallon drums to store gasoline. Finally, I’d install a gate. Then I’d get everyone here a few weeks early, and we’d make dozens or runs to Walmart, Sam’s Club, the general store, a lumber yard, and Tractor Supply to stock up on everything imaginable.
But I’m not positive, and I know my wife would hate to have a 20-foot container in our yard. So I’ll be sticking with what is in the garage and basement storeroom. Anyone who comes here for the end times will just have to be prepared to sleep in a hammock, get used to tightening their belt, and learn to poop in the woods.