While I was in the military, I had many conversations with many people from many different backgrounds, most of them never intended for the written forum. However, a common topic I heard often was “If you could only have 5-10 items ….zombie apocalypse...” - but I have yet to see or hear a solid list from anyone regarding what the average OFF GRIDDER should have before starting out. So I thought I’d give it a try.
This list is based on personal experience in running a small homestead, fixing just about everything entailed with the homestead, and hunting wild game.
- Tools. If you have not started building a collection of tools to fix everything and anything that is on your homestead, start now. DO NOT purchase junk. Yes, it is cheaper, but no, it does not last. While it’s romantic to live OFF GRID and do everything with hand tools, we personally like to take advantage of modern technology and use power tools to our advantage! We use power tools for almost every project and having access to them is invaluable. They save our bacon time and time again. I cannot stress the importance of tools for the homestead.
- A good sewing kit. Just as a good carpenter needs the right tools to build a well-constructed house, a good seamstress need the right implements to make a seam or repair or to make a well-constructed garment. Without the right tools in your basic sewing kit to do your project, you will be lost.
- Firearms, bows, or crossbows. Tools, of course, are devices that help men and women do work. And a firearm is a tool that’s uniquely suited to three specific jobs: protecting people, protecting crops and livestock, and putting food on the table. Any seasoned hunter will have a crossbow in their arsenal, for not only is it easy to use, it also has great hunting benefits. Compared to firearms, it requires little or no practice to handle a crossbow. Firearm shots are quite loud compared to crossbows. When you fire a rifle and miss your shot, chances are the target will escape. A hunter using a crossbow, on the other hand, has the advantage of stealth. An arrow from a crossbow will not alert the target of your presence, and in the unlikely event that it does, the other game in that area would not notice. Crossbows are also more accurate than rifles, create less damage, causing little to no mess when it hits a target.
- Solar energy or generators. It isn’t as easy as slapping a few solar panels on the roof and calling it good; when it comes to generating OFF GRID power, there are a handful of methods that can combine to generate all the energy you’ll need to live comfortably OFF GRID.
- Chainsaw. You will need an axe. But try clearing a lot of brush or trees by yourself with your trusty felling axe. You’ll wish you had a chainsaw - and you’ll wish you were dead. A chainsaw speeds up work, and can allow one person to perform the task it would take three with just axes. There is a learning curve to the proper use of a saw - don’t go at it without knowing how to take down a tree properly.
- Rain water collection and filtration. Catching rain water seems pretty straightforward, right? Just set something up for rain to land on and let it drain into a container, right? At its most simple, you would be correct - but the full picture is a little more complicated than that. Since you likely intend on consuming the water you catch, you need to consider the filtering and storage of the water too.
- A productive garden. A beginner vegetable garden is a key piece of your self-sufficiency plan, and having one sets you free in so many ways – if you do it right. Do it wrong, and you won’t be all that excited about trying it again next year. Sadly, I know that from experience...
- Quality knives. You always need a blade. Cutting rope, opening seed bags or slicing meat they all require a blade. A quality knife (or better, multiple knives) with good steel is paramount. You don’t want to sharpen a knife every day, and you don’t want a blade that breaks easily or chips. Buck (especially their USA-made line), Case, Ka-Bar, Gerber, Columbia River Knife & Tool are all knives I’ve owned, used and trust with my life.
- Fire or gas stove. Looking around our home and outside on our homestead, we have nine different ways of cooking. None of them require electricity! I recently counted them all when I was getting ready to write this article and I was surprised at the number. Wow! Most of them use wood (readily available on our wooded OFF GRID property). A couple use the energy from the sun. And our kitchen stove uses propane. All of them require absolutely no connection to the electrical grid.
- A sense of humor. Farming and homesteading can often lead to frustration. At times, even tears. Having a sense of humor can lighten the atmosphere for you and your family. Learn to find the joy even in the midst of hardship. A man who cuts the wood warms himself twice.