I am not a prepper. I’m not interested in becoming one. I guess “prepper” has different meanings to different people, but I don’t consider myself one (even though some people might!). So, just take that for what it’s worth.
Still, homesteading and prepping tend to go hand in hand…at least to some extent. The homesteading and prepping communities are certainly close and a lot of cross-over happens. Many homesteaders are preppers, and many preppers are homesteaders. Not all, but many. Perhaps a venn diagram is the best way to visualize the two lifestyles:
As you can see from my highly sophisticated diagram, not all who homestead prep, and not all who prep homestead. Yet there is some overlap, and from a homesteading perspective overlap into prepping is almost unavoidable.
One of the very basic practices at the heart of homesteading is the act of growing and raising your own food. This results in having more food at time than one can possibly eat during harvest season. What we (homesteaders) do with the excess varies — we might give some away, feed some to pigs or chickens, or sell some — but some inevitably gets canned or frozen for our own future use.
Preserving our own food is healthy, thrifty, fun, and wise!
Another core value of homesteading is self-sufficiency. We become more self-sufficient intentionally and also as a byproduct of the lifestyle. We can’t let our hard work be ruined by various problems, and we can’t afford to hire help every time we turn around, so we learn to take care of problems ourselves. Our animals produce milk, meat, fiber, and eggs, so we learn to make dairy products, butcher, process fiber, and eat lots of eggs. Many of us also hunt and gather wild edibles. We provide as much as we can for ourselves, by our own effort.
Homesteaders also need and want to be economically and environmentally responsible. So we cook mostly from scratch and learn to make things for ourselves — soap, cleaning supplies, structures, fabric items, etc. Oftentimes money is tight, so we learn to get by on less. Most of us can’t run to town every time we need something, so we learn to keep things on hand. We almost never throw anything away, because we almost always need it later. We live by the mantra, “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
And all of these are good things. This is part of the reason homesteaders homestead — to take part in the making and doing of all these things for ourselves. We gather joy, satisfaction, and a sense of pride from this. In turn, our ever-growing knowledge and skill base make us more prepared than the average family for any number of circumstances.
This is good.
And if homesteaders or non-homesteaders want to intentionally increase their preparedness, that is good, too. I do believe in being prepared. I believe in being able to take care of yourself with minimal outside help. What if your power goes out for a month? What if your main water source suddenly becomes unsafe, like it did for people in Ohio earlier this week? What if there is a natural or man-made disaster?
Being prepared is wise. But sometimes…prepping goes too far.
I see the side-effects of over-prepping all the time. Fear mongering by those who wish to profit from the prepping movement. Living in fear by those who want to be prepared. Forgetting to live in the present. Constantly needing more, more, more preps. And maybe it’s true that you can never be over-prepared, but there has to be a line.
There is a huge difference between being prepared and being consumed by a need to prep.
We can only do what we can do, folks.
At some point we have to have a little faith. Faith in our ability to keep a clear head and use those skills we’ve honed if it ever becomes necessary. Faith that things really do work out for the best. Faith in God, who has our best interests at heart.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? […] So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matt 6:26-27;31-34
I do not say this as someone who is naturally free from worry. Oh, no. Worry is one of the things I struggle with the most. I am a worrier. I am speaking to myself here as well. We don’t control the universe. He does.
So when you’re putting away the fruits of your labor, enjoy it. Be proud of what you have done. Rest easy knowing that you’ll have food put up by your own hand to eat in the winter. Know that is is wise to work hard and be prepared, but also remember that your heavenly Father knows what you need.
Don’t forget to enjoy the good as it happens, or you may look back one day and realize that you were so focused on the winter that you missed the joyful harvest of fall.