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Prepping For SHTF

Access To Land and Water For Surviving SHTF

While watching Doomsday Preppers last week, I observed one major difference in the various plans, and that was if the plan included access to land and water.

Its one thing to stockpile 2 – 3 years of canned goods, food in mylar bags, freeze dried food, have a rainwater collection  system, small backyard garden.

Its another thing to have access to several acres of land, able to have chickens, a nice sized garden for a variety of fresh veggies, various types of fruit trees, access to fresh running water and access to land to hunt on.  Maybe even have access to water to fish in.

Two of the main differences I see between the various long term SHTF survival plans, is access to fresh food and access to fresh water.  People may argue there are lots of other differences, but for this article I wanted to talk about two main topics – water and fresh food.


Everything needs water in some form or fashion.  Humans can live several weeks without food, but only a couple of days without water.  We should all know how important water is, so there is no need into going into all the little details.  Because water is so important, we are going to discuss water before food.

water well for SHTF survival

I see a lot of urban preppers doing two things – trying to stockpile water and/or developing rainwater collection systems.  There is nothing wrong with either system.  If you want to stockpile water, that is fine; if you want to build a rainwater collection system, that is great.  The problem is both systems have a chance of running out sooner or later.

Its impossible to stockpile enough water.  You and your family will “have” to have a way to replenish your water supplies.

During times of drought, rainwater may not be reliable.  During the 2011 drought across the southern part of the US, some areas got less then 12 inches of rain for the whole year of 2011.  If your plans were to reply on rainwater, you were out of luck for a whole year.  During the first three months of 2012, those same areas received more rain then the whole year of 2011.

There are several solutions for safe drinking water during a long term SHTF survival situation – water well, water filter and slow sand filter.

Water Well

My grandparents had a hand dug water well that they got water out of.  The well was on the porch just outside the kitchen.  On top of the well was a pulley with a rope and bucket.  My grandmother would drop the bucket down the well, let the bucket fill with water, then use the rope and pulley to pull the bucket back up.  30+ years, I still remember how good that water tasted, it was probably the best tasting water I have ever drank.

My mom and dad have a well at their house, but instead of being hand dug, its a piece of pipe that was driven into the ground.  On top of the pipe sits a pitcher pump.  If the city water supply was disrupted, my mom and dad have an almost unlimited water supply.

Water Filtration

Part of my plans includes a Royal Berkey.  The drawback to water filtration / water purification, is sooner or later the filters will need to be replaced. Two black Berkey filters are supposed to filter around 6,000 gallons, depending on water quality. Four filters should be good for around 12,000 gallons.


6,000 and 12,000 gallons is a lot of water, but sooner or later those filters will reach their end of life. When the filters reach their end of life, what then?

Chemical treatment – unless you have testing supplies to make sure the chemical treatment is within a safety range, I would stay away from chemical treatment.

Slow Sand Filter

In order to build a low sand filter during a long term SHTF survival situation, you need to already have the parts in stock.

Plastic drum safe for potable water
Pipe-to-PVC connections
PVC elbows
PVC glue
Sections of 1 or 2 inch PVC pipe – for whatever size your Pipe-to-PVC connectors are
Hole saw to drill hole in drum – this is for the Pipe-to-PVC connector
Some type of drill to drill a hole in the drum for the Pipe-to-PVC connector. A hand powered drill might be best.
Access to clean sand

If you plan on using a slow sand filter, plan on the filter taking around 2 – 3 weeks to develop its biofilm layer on top of the sand. Slow sand filters work through the formation of a biofilm layer on top of the sand.

While the slow sand filter is maturing and developing its biofilm layer, you are going to need an alternate source of safe drinking water. That is unless you already have a slow sand filter in place.  If nothing else, build your slow sand filter and put it in storage until its needed. If you pre-fab a slow sand filter, be sure to stock some spare parts, such as spare pipe, spare elbows, some PVC glue,,,,. It would really suck if you were moving the slow sand filter and the outlet pipe broke off.

In order for a water filter and slow sand filter to work, you have to have a source of fresh water.  Living in an urban situation, some people might be miles from the nearest lake, river or stream.

Fresh Food

Some things to consider:

  • Food fatigue
  • Nutrition content, Vitamin & mineral deficiencies
  • Sodium content
  • Sources of fat and protein

Food Fatigue

If your long term teotwawki survival plans include living out of a can or mylar bag, you might want to reconsider. There is this little thing called “Food Fatigue” that you might want to think about.

potatoes survivalist garden

Digging Potatoes

Several months ago my son, my daughter and myself spent a weekend at the camp. After eating ravioli for 2 days, I was burnt out. When I opened that 3rd can of ravioli, it was everything I do to get that last piece down. If your primary food prep is canned goods, you better have a wide variety of canned foods to help ward off food fatigue.

If someone has access to land where they can plant a garden, or have chickens for eggs and meat, or even goats for fresh milk.  Having the ability to grow your own food can hopefully ward off food fatigue.

Nutrition Content, Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies

One of the problems with stockpiling can goods, #10 can, and storing food in mylar bags, is proper nutrition, vitamin and mineral meal planning. A lot of people focus on calories, and overlook important vitamins and minerals.

Looking at my can good stockpile, I have green beans, mixed veggies, corn, ravioli, tamales, ranch style beans, pinto beans, peaches, pears, mixed fruit, diced tomatoes, pork and beans, peanut butter,,, only to name a few. In my can good preps, I tried to include a balance of protein, fruits and veggies.

Meal planning should be more then “I have a ton of rice and beans stored in mylar bags, what more do I need”.

One of the big differences between urban and rural survivalist, is that rural survivalist may have access to land in order to plant fruit trees and plant a garden on. Being able to grow your own food can provide sources of important nutrients. If you find out that your stockpile of canned foods is lacking in a certain nutrient, the rural survivalist can plant a garden, and grow his own food to supplement any nutritional requirements.

Bushel basket for laying box

Bushel basket for laying box

My grandfather tried to have a garden wherever he lived.  A couple of years before they passed away, my grandfather and grandmother moved into the city to be close to medical assistance.  In their backyard my grandfather stacked some railroad cross ties on top of each other to make a raised bed.  this raised bed is where he planted his garden.

Nobody is saying you “have” to have access to several acres to plant a garden, its all about being able to utilize the land you have on hand.  If nothing else, do some research into square foot gardening.

In this video we pick some snap beans and harvest some potatoes.

But in order to grow your own food, you have to have an assortment of seeds stockpiled.

Sodium Content

Does anyone in your family have high blood pressure?  If so, planning on living off can goods, food in #10 cans, MREs,,, may not be good for your health.

Examples of sodium content:

Hormel Tamales, beef in chili sauce – 15 ounce can, number of servings per container 3 , sodium per serving 710mg. If you eat the whole can, that is about 2,130mg of sodium.

Hill country fare cut green beans – 14.5 ounce can, number of servings per container about 3.5, sodium per serving 400mg. If you eat the whole can, that is about 1,400mg of sodium.

Great value mixed vegetables – 14.5 ounce can, number of servings container about 3.5, sodium per serving 360mg. If you eat the whole can, that is about 1,260mg of sodium.

Chef boyardee mini ravioli – 15 ounce can, servings per container about 2.5, sodium per serving 700mg. If you eat the whole can, that is about 1,400mg of sodium.

Great value golden sweet whole kernel corn – 15.25 ounce can, servings per container about 3.5, sodium per serving 310mg. If you eat the whole can, that is about 1,085mg of sodium.

Great value sliced pears – 15.25 ounce can, servings per container about 3.5, sodium per serving 10mg. If you eat the whole can that is about 35mg of sodium.

Great value no sugar added sliced peaches – 15 ounce can, servings per container about 3.5, sodium per serving 25mg. If you eat the whole can that is about 87.5mg of sodium.

Great value triple cherry fruit mix – 15 ounce can, servings per container about 3.5, sodium per serving 10mg. If you eat the whole can that is about 35mg of sodium.

If you want vegetables after SHTF without the sodium, you are going to have to grow your own, and in order to grow your own food, you are going to need access to some kind of land. Its not that you need a lot of land, its all about managing what you have to work with and growing the right types of crops. Having a backyard to work with is better then living in an apartment and having a couple of pots to work with.

Sources Of Fat And Protein

One important topic hat people like to talk about is sources of fat and protein after SHTF / TEOTWAWKI.

Hunting – people that live in urban situations will have limited hunting opportunities. I would imagine that people in the city would be limited to birds, rodents and animals like raccoons. Before long those sources of meat will be depleted.

People that live in a rural setting and that have access to land will have more options, such as small game, birds, squirrels, deer and hogs.

Livestock – its just about impossible for an apartment dweller to raise livestock. They could probably raise some rabbits, or even guinea pigs, things that do not require a lot of space and do not make a lot of noise.

Apartment dwellers – good luck raising chickens, goats or pigs.

Urban dwellers – lots of people raise chickens in their backyards.

Rural dwellers with land – raising chickens, goats, pigs and maybe even cattle may not be an issue, depending on how much land is available.

Access To Resources

I am not suggesting that people buy several acres of land in a rural area.  Its all about managing the land that you have on hand.  If you have a nice sized backyard, does the city you live in have restrictions on raising chickens?  What about a small backyard garden?  Can you drill your own water well in the backyard?

Do you have a friend that lives outside the city limits that you can coordinate with?  Maybe team up with some friends and family members to build a chicken coop, maybe plant a community garden at a friend house.



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