Small-Scale Farming is Better Than Prepping

Prepping has become incredibly popular over the last decade, but it is a difficult and expensive route to take. Is there a better way to spend your time and money? I would suggest that building a small farm is a much better approach that will cause you less stress in the short run and long run.

Please let me explain: There are several really big categories of prepping, mostly based on ‘scenarios’…economic collapse, natural disaster, EMP, martial law, etc. In each of these big categories the prepper generally makes a decision of if they will ‘bug out’ or ‘shelter in place’. This can quickly spiral into an obsession of purchasing and preparing for every possible eventuality. That is a lot of work that I’ve seen have a detrimental effect on relationships, work performance and life savings.

I went down the ‘Prepper Rabbit Hole’ for a few years. After only a few months I had rejected the idea of storing several years of MRE’s, hundreds of batteries or maintaining a huge cache of drinking water. It became clear that the “Amish Prepper” model was a better fit for my personality. Even with that less wasteful approach and the ability to cover it all with the label of ‘homesteading,’ eventually I had to ask myself some questions:

What will I do with all this stuff if nothing happens? If something does happen, do I have enough to get through a really bad situation? Can I ever have enough to feel secure? Would I really have the heart to turn away people who hadn’t prepared for trouble? What is the long-term effect of dwelling in this ‘lack and fear’ mindset?

The Prepper mindset had been an alarming call to action at first that gave me the motivation to break free from my consumerism mindset. Unfortunately, the thought process quickly began draining my energy and scattering my attention. After rejecting the task of ‘prepping’ I spent about a year researching and planning out a ‘Homesteading’ plan, which was not fear based. However, the wide range of possibilities can still stifle progress. I won’t rehash that, feel free to read my article on homesteading here.

How does a very small farm correct these shortfalls? Quite simply, a very small farm gives you the benefit of the Pareto Principle, better known as the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the benefits you seek are met with just 20% of the work you put in. Instead of having to become Bear Gryles, and an organic gardener, and a dairy goat expert, and an Herbalist…you can choose just one thing. Choose the one thing you enjoy. Pursuing one thing will cause you to purchase tools and stock (livestock or seeds) that you might have piled up with regular prepping, but it allows for focused attention and energy to gain the head knowledge and skills it takes to actually make something work.

Lots of business people believe there is a Pareto Principle of the Pareto Principle. Or, in other words, there is an 80/20 inside the 80/20 rule. That means that 64% of the results you want come from 4% of the effort you put in! If you don’t mind, I’d like to give you my opinion on what that might be for the average prepper or person looking for an alternative to prepping.

The number one thing would be real paper books written as tested how-to guides. Not a digital copy…actual paper books. If you can only start with one I recommend this one, but there are so many you can get to create an at your fingertips library. That would be the tippy-top of 4% effort. You don’t even have to read them right away….just have them.

The number two thing I would recommend is spend time only on what is the most likely scenario for your geographic or economic situation, and then walk away from prepping thinking before it drains you dry. Where I live tornadoes are a big concern. Our area lost 250+ homes to tornadoes in 2013, so our family’s buildings must have basements, we keep digital backups of photos off site, crucial documents are stored in a firesafe in the basement, and any tornado warning means everyone dresses in good shoes and weather appropriate clothing and hangs out in the basement together (a little praying doesn’t hurt!). Took a little time to set that up, but we increased our chances of surviving and bouncing back. And I don’t worry as long as all my babies are home when the warning goes out. Decades ago we lived an hour from the coast. In that home hurricane shutters came standard when we bought the house, and our emergency plan was to be the first mini-van to evacuate if a hurricane was called for. Depends on where you live and where your extended family/support is located.

The number three thing I would recommend is part of the original 80/20 rule. The effort for #3 might be beyond a 4% investment if you live inside the city limits, but it certainly falls within a 20% framework. We are talking chickens. If you have your heart set on a different kind of livestock and you are able to bring them home this week then fine. If you have had chickens in the past and hated them then okay. However, let me challenge you to name any other single agriculture option out there that gives you 6-7 grams of protein per day, keeps producing even when it’s cold, known as the farm’s garbage disposal, will forage her own food if allowed, raise 5 new babies each year (more if you use her as a foster mom instead of incubator) and provide a family-sized portion of meat if absolutely necessary. Not every neighborhood lets you, I know….just give thought to how much faster you can be up and running with laying hens than any other livestock or even a garden.

If those two things sound like more than 4%, it’s really not very much compared to full-on prepping. You order the one book, maybe two more that look interesting. Next you decide what your most likely emergency could be and you take a few common steps that your neighbors also know about. The third, a few hens, may be a problem if you live in a subdivision, but gifts of eggs and kindness smooth over a world of potential ruffled feathers. Give it some thought. Once you’ve taken those three steps, you can relax a bit, or you can pursue a small farm knowing you’ve got your basics covered. In my humble opinion, those three steps get you 64% there.

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