A lot of people out in the country think they will hunt, trap, fish, and scavenge their way
through SHTF. If you think this way but you’re not currently doing it, you’re lying to yourself.
Hunting, fishing, and scavenging are very useful skills, but they alone will NOT sustain your
family through a crisis. During the Great Depression, for some families, hunting could provide a
decent amount of the meat consumed (forget about the entire diet). Unfortunately, the
widespread hunting came at an increasingly great cost to the overall availability of prey as
hunted animal populations dwindled. During the crisis of 2020, it was reported that illegal
scavenging was destroying fragile coastline ecosystems as impoverished people over-hunted the
shores. What do you think those who came after the first waves of sea scavengers found?
Stored, calorically dense foods that last for many years are the mainstay of survival. They
are security, and they are convenience. A pound of rice and beans that can be cooked on the spot
means more than potential game to be had later, and it is something to eat when a hailstorm
destroys the spring garden. You should be able to get the bulk of your caloric needs from your
stored staples: rice, wheat, corn, beans, and the like.
Yes, dry stores are absolutely necessary, but even they are not the whole picture,
especially for long-term survival situations. Really, you also need your own food in the ground
and preferably also “on the hoof,” and for this you will need some measure of land. Even 1/3 of
an acre could provide a large percentage of your needs, especially on a vegetarian diet, but you
would really need about two acres of land to grow enough food to sustain a large, omnivorous
Regardless of the amount of space you have, it is important to remember that there is
always a point of diminishing returns. For example, you wouldn’t plant sugar cane no matter
how large a parcel you have to grow it on, because even if it grows well in your area, it requires
far too much labor for a product that is dirt cheap to buy and store now. Spend your time on
other things that offer a higher return on your labor. (Think squash—a source of energy, flavor,
and nutrition that is easy to store, prepare, and save seed from—or chickens—easy to handle, cheap to feed, no need for elaborate storage for huge quantities of meat, and daily egg breakfasts
are a no-brainer.)
This leads to the next important point. Working the land is just that—work. Where
population density is low, you could have more land that needs working than you have people to
work it! To sustain adequate production, especially in the event of a natural disaster or a
devastating injury, you will need continuity of community after crisis arrives at your door.
“Many hands make light work,” and no homestead is an exception.
Interdependent communities help each other, give to each other, and support each other.
When your neighbor needs help rounding up his cattle, be there—and when you need help baling
your hay, call him. A road lined with watchful neighbors means more than a cellar full of the
latest military gadgets, and the most independent person is only made stronger by joining with
other independent people.