by Pam Baker
A prepper bucket list doesn’t usually include Slicing the carotid artery of a chicken. Neither was harvesting grain by hand or mucking out a poultry coop. I grew up in suburbia, the great sprawling suburban/metropolis of the New York and Boston corridor. I am the child of hardworking folks who valued education and hoped I would follow suit. My father was an Air Force mechanic and instilled in me many habits and ideas, the least of which is being ready for emergencies. My mother was an industrial engineer and implanted the tenets of planning, persistence, and perseverance. On my own path, I learned much from hiking and backpacking with the American Youth Hostels and Appalachian Mountain Club. First and foremost, never enter the woods unprepared.
More experience and education were acquired in my own military experience in the US Army; valuable medical training and later orienteering and survival. I became an expert marksman with the M16A1 rifle. I now know, some 30 years later, that although I could hit a target 300 yards away with great accuracy, I did not and still do not possess a working knowledge of using the weapon. That IS on my prepper bucket list.
Beginnings of My Prepper Bucket List
I’d like to add that I grew up watching “The Waltons”. I did not realize until some 20 odd years later how much that show impacted my psyche. As I married and moved into adult life, I longed for a large house with a porch, chickens and for my in-laws to move in. My love for old trucks was obvious even then.
I tried to garden, which is hard to do in the high mountain desert of Colorado. I wanted six kids. Okay, I didn’t want to birth six kids, but I wanted a large family. This was not to be. We lived our lives and had some food in the garage for emergencies but without any contingency plan. It was a JIT (Just-In-Time) lifestyle. We were mostly happy.
Nineteen years later, my husband and four dogs and three cats decided to move closer to family back east. We found ourselves in southern Vermont and after a few months, ended up on in a rental that happened to be on 122 acres of forested and pasture land. Suddenly, having chickens and cows and a big garden was something possible. My prepper bucket list was being realized!
Just A Little Stubborn Checking Off the Bucket List
Our neighbor will tell you how pig-headed I am about doing things myself. So will some of my closest friends. I don’t like to ask for help. I like to be self-sufficient. So, in the last 5 years on this land, we have had big gardens, learned to can food, process our own meat chickens and meat turkeys, grow grain, store food, and gather firewood to heat the home. This process exposed us to many new thinking processes and overhauled our lifestyle. Leisure activities now involve hard work, sweat, dirt, poop, and a bountiful pantry. Our favorite saying now is: “A crappy day at farm chores is better than any day at a job.”
Our learning curve has been steep. I was a generation removed from homesteading skills. So I went on-line to learn and discovered my natural penchant to “always be prepared” and being self-sufficient led me to the prepping world and lifestyle. I did fall into the doom and gloom mode for some time but have come to the realization that when you study history, civilizations rise and fall and economies boom and deflate. Natural disasters occur all the time everywhere. Worrying about it doesn’t make it go away, come faster or make you better prepared. It just takes years off your life. So I keep a toe or two in the water of the prepping world and another foot in homesteading/modern pioneering and continue with my prepper bucket list.
Lessons to Learn
We lost our first breeding trio of heritage turkeys the first year to an unknown predator one cold February morning. Lesson learned-although heritage turkeys do quite well without a structure to roost in, they cannot be protected from predators without one…build a coop.
A massive tree landed on the garden early one June morning the next year. Lesson learned-examine the trees surrounding your structures and cull them as soon as weakness is discovered.
The large cabinet incubator LED panel failed and so did over 90 of our turkey eggs. Lesson learned-sometimes buying stuff off Craigslist saves you money upfront, but costs you more in the end…be more cautious.
Half an acre of grain can be relatively easy to grow but difficult to harvest. Lesson learned-be better prepared.
These lessons are why I call our blog The Homestead Experiment (website is no longer active). It may only be semantics to call it an experiment, but it’s my coping mechanism for those hard lessons to learn.
There is so much more to learn and to do. Here are a few of our to-do’s or bucket list or whatever you may call it:
Even More Lessons
- Build a proper barn
- Get draft horses (took a local workshop last year and LOVE driving horses.)
- Get cows, both milking and beef
- Learn to handle milk and other dairy products safely and meet all our dairy needs
- Grow and harvest all our grain and produce needs from our land for ourselves and our livestock
- Learn to card and spin wool and flax
- Increase our maple syrup production
- Put in a proper herb (medicinal and culinary) garden
- Learn to harvest ice
- Improve weapon handling and self defense
- Learn more permaculture methods
We have a ways to go to be self-sufficient. Understandably, you cannot be completely self-sufficient without living a nomadic or highly primitive lifestyle. There are things we cannot make for ourselves and so building a community is also one of our goals.
Our journey is just that…a journey. We will succeed and fail at many things on our prepper bucket list and hopefully, some of our experiences will inspire or help someone else in their journey.
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