Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to say, in the spirit of full disclosure, that we don’t consider myself to be Catholic preppers. If that’s strictly what you’re looking for then you might be better of checking here, although I think quite a bit of what I do and practice could be considered to be part of the “prepper” movement, and to a lot of people they might interpret what we are trying to accomplish as living the prepper lifestyle. In many ways they would be correct in that assumption, as I believe the homestead and prepper movements share many things in common. A spirit of independence, self-sufficiency, and an eye to an uncertain future are some common beliefs. So with the disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin the discussion of a few things that a catholic prepper should take into account when setting up their stash. I try to take a common sense approach to preparedness. I’ll talk about some of the most relevant preps anyone who is try to live a self-sufficient lifestyle should be thinking about, prepper or homesteader alike. I’ll cover your basic home preparedness items next.
First thing that comes to mind would be an adequate store of water. You should keep on hand at least a week’s worth of fresh water for your family, pets and livestock. A lot of people forget about their responsibility to provide for the safety and well being of our animal companions when times get tough. You should account for, at minimum, 4-5 quarts of water per day, per person. It would be a fair assumption to store about half amount for your pets. Livestock can be a different matter. If you don’t have access to large amounts of stored water for your animals to drink, well then you might want to look at having an impromptu slaughter and butchering party, with accompanying BBQ! In all seriousness, if you cannot properly care for your animals in a grid down scenario the most humane thing to do is butcher and process them for storage. We, as their caretakers, are charged with providing for their needs, few domesticated animals can do that on their own.
Next up is food storage. I go by the rule of thumb that you should, at minimum, store enough food to last through the winter/non-growing season, for one year per person plus a couple. So for example on our homestead we have a roughly 90 day growing season, or three months. That means that we should stockpile enough food to last nine months for our eight family members plus a couple more for safe harbor. This food store should consist of shelf stable items that you already use on a fairly common basis. That is, if you never eat rice and beans then don’t stockpile a giant stash of that stuff to be your food storage. Things will be rough enough as it is, no need to add to the stress by feeding everyone a bunch of stuff they don’t really want to eat. So with that in mind, you might want to start experimenting with recipes and introducing some of these relatively inexpensive staple food items into your everyday menu. You should consider a combination of long term storage items, like some dehydrated or other dried foods, along with canned items and storage crops (i.e. winter squash, cured meats). The same considerations should be taken here in regards to pets and livestock as before, remember we are responsible for their well being.
After food storage the next consideration should be made towards heat and shelter. I’m going to go with the assumption that your shelter will be in the same location as your food and water stash, so that will be covered. So with shelter out of the way we move onto heat. Provisions should be made to be able to keep you and your family warm and as comfortable as possible should you loose utility power or some other long term fuel shortage. We live in a wooded area, out in the countryside so our goto heating fuel is wood. Others may not have access to reliable firewood suppliers or may be prohibited from burning through government regulation. The concept is the same though, you should have at least enough fuel stored to provide heat for your home/shelter for at least as long as you have food stored for (i.e. 9 months on our homestead). A stockpile of fuel wood, propane, kerosene, stove fuel, whatever your heating method of choice is, should be maintained in good supply. As an aside you might want to think about being able to utilize this same heat source as a method for cooking and purifying water as well.
The next most important thing to keep a store of is barter items. No man is an island, and we should be looking to our neighbors and community for mutual support in a catastrophic event. You won’t last to long holed up in your basement surrounded by all your preps clinging to your assault riffle. People need each other, and beyond that if your neighbors are suffering and need to eat or get warm … well desperation will drive good people to do horrible things to each other. It’s better to have an ally in your neighbors than to have an enemy. Good barter items to have on hand are things like alcohol, ammunition, seeds, heating fuel, precious metals, extra food/water, and even livestock can be used to barter with. A good supply of barter items can be very important to keep on hand.
Now onto what I believe are the most important preparedness items to have… Knowledge and experience. You can stockpile all the food, water, what have you that you can lay your hands on and have room for, but eventually it will run out. You can even keep a gun safe full of garden seeds in case of emergency, but if you don’t know how to plant, grow, and harvest your own food you will fail eventually. The guy who knows how to grow enough food to feed himself and his family without reliance on the modern conveniences of tap water and bags of fertilizer will be a very important man in deed. With that being said there is no time like the present to get outside and start growing. Learn what crops will thrive in your area without extra inputs or pampering. Raise your own regionally adapted plant varieties, save the seed, and start growing your survival garden now! Go out into the wild areas around you and learn about the edible plants, wild harvest those things and start integrating them into your daily menu. Learn how to do these things and integrate new food items into your life now. If things get really bad, that is not the time you want to be figuring these things out. Knowledge and experience are things that no one can take away from you (short of death). If you have to flee from your stores, you can set up shop and rebuild somewhere else so long as you have the knowledge and experience to do so.
The last thing that you will want to make sure to have are devotional items. Keep a supply of Rosaries, Holy Cards, and Metals (all appropriately blessed of course!). Reading materials, and Relics are important to have on hand if you can access them, as well. Being able to find solace in the Lord when times are truly trying is of upmost importance. Keeping your faith, and growing in holiness, will sustain you and your family in times of scarcity and strife. Enduring and outlasting the trials and tribulations that befall you are as much about mindset as anything else. No one, no matter how physically prepared they are, will last long without the psychological preparation to endure suffering. We must look to the Lord and his Messenger for the strength, solace, and wisdom to make it through the hardest of times. Keep your faith and you will keep your life!
To me homesteading is a more enduring form of preparedness, when compared to the conventional prepper lifestyle. When you create a Catholic homestead, all of your preparedness is a matter of normal operations and your current way of life. Pepping tends to be waiting for some cataclysmic event to happen. When that event doesn’t happen when you expect then your preps fall by the wayside. Homesteading on the other hand is more of a return to the lifestyle of our grandparents, and great-grandparents. This is a life that is rewarding and enduring. There are struggles and hardships, but they make you stronger and increase in holiness. Homesteading isn’t for everyone. It is a special calling, and we need to be open to that.