Lessons Learned in Hardship

One family reflects on how their lifestyle has helped them prepare for uncertainty, and shares some lessons learned along the way.

| November/December 2020

 Photo by Adobe Stock/KHBlack

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year to remember. The whole world has been affected in one way or another, and the list of tragedies seems to grow longer each passing day. As I write this, there are still a few months to go before 2020 blows out, and I can only imagine what’s still in store. However, as difficult as this year has been, our family has had revelations and learned lessons along the way. Here are a few of the most significant things we’ve encountered so far, which we’re already using to better prepare for the next wave of uncertainties. 

Self-Sufficiency Provides Security

Perhaps the hardest lesson for many of us this year has been losing our illusions of safety. While security looks different for each person, many of us can probably say that before COVID-19, we believed that certain safety nets — jobs, college degrees, housing, reliable transportation, medical insurance, etc.­ — would shelter us from serious harm. Uncertainties, however, often necessitate the ability to look outside the box to provide security for our families. Savings accounts, while extremely important, do run out, and commerce can and does shut down. This realization seems to have led to a broader growth in the self-reliance movement, which I hope will continue.

My husband and I prepared for uncertainties nearly 10 years ago when we made the move from two solid incomes to one so we could home-school our kids. To do this, we sold our custom-built home and 50 acres, moved to another state, and bought a smaller tract of land and a smaller, more humble home. We learned to live on one income while I built a part-time, home-based business to pay for extra things we enjoy but don’t need. Over the years, we’ve learned to grow, raise, and hunt as much of our own food as possible. We’ve gained countless self-reliance skills, ranging from seed saving to raising and processing our own meat. We can prepare food in nearly any environment or weather condition, both with and without electricity and running water. I’ve become familiar with herbal remedies for many conditions, and I’ve stocked my garden and pantries with the herbs we need in order to avoid depending on outside sources.

How has our self-reliance served us in 2020? Quite well so far. We knew from the start that we could cut many items out of our budget if we lost our main source of income and still be able to pay our mortgage, utilities, and vehicle. We didn’t have to find child care when the schools shut down, and our kids’ education continued undisturbed. And while we aren’t what many would consider “preppers,” we’re definitely able to sustain our family without relying on grocery stores and other businesses — for the most part. When stores shut down and grocery shelves went bare overnight, I distinctly remember taking inventory of our family’s resources, and I knew without a doubt that we had enough frozen and preserved food to last at least six months. That didn’t mean we’d enjoy everything we ate at every single meal, but we certainly wouldn’t go hungry.

Our biggest weakness is our dependence on the grid — a clear sign we’re not die-hard preppers. However, we have the skills necessary to quickly preserve any frozen foods we have, should we experience long-term power outages.

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