As you are more likely aware, the best way to ensure one’s survival after TSHTF is to move to a rural area, this is why so many city preppers have a dwelling outside the city limits.
Indeed, many of these dwellings have been optimized to turn into self-sustaining farms. While it is true that owning a farm may already further your chances of survival, it still needs to be prepared.
There is no such a thing as being over-prepared, and while your food and grain stocks may be great already, they will be useless if the place you keep them in is unsafe.
In order to prepare you farm for SHTF you will need to be thinking long-term most of the time, the goal is to create a self-sustaining farm that will be able to keep you and yours safe for a long time, this means that short-term solutions –though appealing at first glance– are likely to create problems.
This is the first piece of advice on the article: always think long-term. The second piece of advice is: always think in terms of the worst-case scenario.
This is probably one of the most controversial subjects in farm preparedness. Exactly how much space will I need? There are many things to consider when thinking about this, you will need to find the right balance of the work you will be able to handle and the space requirement for crops, storage and animals, not to mention security.
The lowest estimate is 2 acres of land (although you can farm on a quarter acre if that’s all you have) but the estimate can go up to 200 acres if the right conditions are met.
As a starting point, consider the following estimates, these were calculated taking into account the bare minimum for a family of four:
Energy — 375 sq. ft.
This is the first thing to consider, in a total breakdown of the economy you will want your source of energy to be separated and be able to provide you with the amount you need. The estimate for the space required was therefore calculated with solar panels of average efficiency in mind, assuming that the house is facing south and there is 7 hours of sunlight.
An average family in the US will consume 11.040 kWh a year, this means around 25 solar panels which will need 375 square feet of roof space.
Of course, after TSHTF the energy consumption will likely go down but it pays to be prepared and having a little extra will not hurt.
Fruits and Vegetables — 76,666 sq. ft.
The average person needs around 2300 calories per day, which means that per person you will need .44 acres. This is only taking into account fruits and vegetables that are going to be consumed by the family.
In the ideal land, you will be able to grow your own fruit trees and keep your diet varied and nutritious. This means that you will need at least 76,666 square feet to meet the caloric requirements all year round.
Wheat — 12,012 sq. ft.
This is an important part of the diet. The average person will consume 1.5 pounds of wheat in a week, this means that in order to meet that requirement you will need 3,003 square feet per person, bringing up the total to 12,012 square feet.
Meat — 207 sq. ft.
Since leading a vegetarian lifestyle might not be the most advisable thing to do in a post-SHTF scenario, you also need to consider keeping at least three pigs –this many pigs will not guarantee the next generation of pigs which you will definitely need to take into account. You need to allow 9 square feet per piglet if you want to ensure the next generation.
If you want to ensure the next you will need 3 pairs of pigs from distinct bloodlines –to avoid interbreeding–, so 9 pigs, which brings the total square feet up to 621.
Dairy — 100 sq. ft.
Don’t get a cow. It is not at all land-efficient, especially if you are trying to live off the minimum amount of space. A goat may produce around 1,844 lbs. of milk a year so they are the best option. Keep in mind that you will need to get at least two goats –not taking into account reproduction– since goats are social animals.
Now, if you want to breed the goats –which you will need to do eventually– you will need at least 12 goats. So make the total 12,000 square feet.
Eggs — 65 sq. ft.
A hen can lay anywhere from 80 to 310 eggs in one year, the average family eats around 1000 eggs per year, this means that you will need at least 13 birds to meet the family’s needs. This means 65 square feet in total.
Remember that you will need to breed the hens too and double purpose hens do not lay as many eggs so add three more hens and two roosters which means 25 square feet more plus 16 more for the separate living quarters and the future chicks. Bringing up the total to 106 square feet.
Corn — 2,640 sq. ft.
Corn is not land efficient but it is necessary if you are planning to keep animals. To meet the dietary needs of both a family of four and the animals we mentioned before, you will need at the very least 2,640 square feet. It will be cheaper to buy your corn but if the economy collapses you will not have this option.
Taking into account the next generation of animals: 105,378 sq. ft. or 2.4 acres
Without taking into account the next generation: 92,065 sq. ft. or 2.1 acres.
What matters is that you take into consideration how much of this land you can actually manage, it will not do to have acres of land if you cannot secure it or maintain it. Unless you are prepping with a large group then you will need to do everything yourself.
Now, this is probably one of the first things people think about when prepping their farm for SHTF. Security and food fight for the top spot in any prepping guide, this is because it does not matter how safe your compound is if you cannot ensure your access to food and it does not matter how much food you have access to if it is not secured.
It is thinking about security that we need to heed the first two pieces of advice at the beginning of this article.
Thinking long-term means that you will need to be able to keep up the security standards after SHTF, and thinking of the worst-case scenario will allow you to be ready for anything the world decides to throw at you.
When looking at guides about how to keep your farm safe you will find that most “experts” recommend alarm systems, cameras, motion sensors and other kinds of state of the art equipment that is designed to keep you safe; what these experts are failing to do is thinking in the long-term and planning for the worst, after all are you able to fix that motion sensor yourself?
What about that electric lock? So, if you want to invest in this sort of equipment, you will need to know how to fix it in a world where microchips and sensors are impossible to find. Not ideal.
Before you start thinking about fences and trip wires, you need to take in your surroundings. Knowing where you stand will help you decide on which security measures you will want to have.
It is very likely that you already know the land surrounding your farm but there is one aspect of it that most people forget: the people surrounding your farm.
In an ideal world, just being friendly with your neighbors would be enough to keep you safe; however, we live in a world where that is simply not enough. In this day and age –and after TEOTWAWKI– you need to really know your neighbors. Here are some things you will have to learn about them:
- How many?
- How far are they?
- Do they own guns?
- Do they have vehicles?
One of your main concerns after SHTF will be zombies coming after your stored goods and for all you know your neighbors could easily become zombies if need arises. This is why knowing all of the above will help you keep your property safe.
It probably goes without saying but it seems like a good idea to remind people of this basic security tip: Do not advertise that you are a prepper, if you go around telling people that you have a cellar filled with food, where do you think people will go when the economy collapses and their children are hungry? Keep it to yourself.
If your property is small enough you might want to consider fencing the perimeter. A fence serves two purposes: first, it makes the property look intimidating which will deter most hostiles; second, it makes it hard for anyone to get near your property.
Now, without a doubt the most intimidating kind of fencing is razor wire, there are regulations regarding this so make sure to check for local laws before investing on it. With larger properties, you will need to prioritize, selective fencing will allow you to secure your most valuable resources.
Another piece of advice for large properties is to not underestimate the power of natural barriers, after all the best kind of fence is one that does not look like a fence.
Plant thorny trees and bushes and do not trim them often, make sure that these spread out horizontally rather than grow vertically. Natural barriers will also work on predators and they are cheap and easy to maintain. If your farm is at the bottom of a hill, then you have a problem.
People will be able to see and access your property without putting much work into it; think about putting up a large, thick bamboo barrier to cover the highest ground.
Here are some of the best plants for a natural barrier:
- Poison Ivy and Oak: These are ideally placed in front of thorn barriers to deter trespassers.
- Poison sumac: Perfect for areas where the ground does not perk well.
- Nettles and sticker burrs: These work better as secondary barriers, combining them with poison ivy and oak in front of a thorn barrier will make sure that anyone trying to go through will have a bad time of it.
- Cacti: Large cacti suck as Prickly Pear make for good deterrents. Perfect for blind spots or even underneath windows.
- Bamboo Stands: These are great, they grow quickly and are generally low maintenance. They make for great defensive walls and screens.
- Firethorn Bushes (Pyracanthas): These work excellently as primary outer barriers. Plant them thick, at least 6 ft. or more.
- Osage Orange Bushes: Like the Firethorn Bush, this will make for an excellent primary outer barrier.
- Hawthorn Trees (Thornapple Tree): This is another great primary outer barrier.
- Elaeagnus Bushes: This bush has a history of being used as a people and animal barrier, it works great as a primary outer barrier.
Mix and match these elements and you will have a perfectly good barrier to work both as deterrent and protection.
Since you are probably providing your own energy and are off the grid, then electric fences might be a good choice. However, you should know that we have no idea whether or not solar panels – or, more accurately, the batteries required– can survive an EMP event.
You may also consider traps such as signs, punji traps, trip wires, deadfall traps and more.
Get One or More Dogs
For regular thieves even getting some big-dog toys might be enough; however, in dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, the toys will not really do you any good. Getting a dog is always a good idea, they are loyal and will protect their territory at all costs, they will also provide you with companionship which should never be underrated in a SHTF scenario.
Choosing your guard dog may be hard and there are some things you will need to know before getting one.
For instance, you will need to know how to train the dog, even though you can pay for someone to do it for you, how exactly are you expecting to know what to do with the next generation?
If you have a family with small children, you will need to make sure that the dog is child-friendly, there are certain breeds that are not good with children and even though you might think that you can keep them separate, consider that at some point they will have to work together.
Here are the most advisable breeds to choose from:
- Bullmastiff: These dogs are loyal and affectionate but also brave which means that they will always have your back.
- Doberman Pinscher: These are beautiful dogs, alert, loyal and fearless. Highly trainable. These are not that great with children though.
- German Shepherd: Like the Doberman, these dogs are incredibly smart and courageous; however, they work better with children and may learn to be affectionate with them.
- Rottweiler: Possibly the most famous guard dog. They are affectionate with their family and distrustful of strangers. Not as easy to train as a German Shepherd or a Doberman but still quite good.
Locks and Doors
It is very likely that the locks on your farm are inadequate for long term protection. Most locks sold commercially are susceptible to “bumping” –the most common lock-picking technique–, even those expensive security locks only take a few more seconds of work before they open. Here is where you might be tempted to go electronic and find yourself some electronic or magnetic locks.
The problem with that idea is that these locks may not withstand an EMP event. This means that you will either be locked out, locked in, or left completely vulnerable.
Unless you are certain that you can repair a magnetic lock, then you should be thinking more in terms of deadbolts and barricade bars.
Reinforcing doors and windows is always a good option, and to make it even more secure you may also use multiple locks on the same door, this way it will take whoever is trying to get in much longer; thus, giving you more time to prepare your defense.
Having access to guns is an integral part of security after SHTF and having them ready beforehand will greatly increase your chances of survival. The kind of weapons that you choose to store are entirely up to you; however, the best kind of weapon is one that adapts to both your capabilities and your surroundings.
There are three kinds of guns that are the most popular amongst preppers, these are: rifles, handguns and shotguns. The reason behind these preferences are ammo availability after SHTF and other factors such as weight, weapon maintenance, and functionality.
First we are going to talk about rifles. Taking into account the factors listed above, the rifle is possibly the most useful gun available on the market, it can be used as a hunting device as well as in a defensive scenario. Here are the three best ranked rifles for TEOTWAWKI in no particular order:
ArmaLite AR-15: This rifle is a classic for many good reasons; first, it is durable, easy to use and easily available; second, it is very common so finding parts for it is not hard; third, its design allows for easy maintenance; fourth, if you have an AR-15 chambered in 5.56, you will be able to shoot both 5.56 rounds and .223 rounds, making it one of the most versatile rifles out there.
Ruger 10/22 Takedown: This is a long rifle that uses .22 ammunition, both the ammo and the rifle itself are lightweight. It can be used for hunting small game. The ammunition is cheap and readily available, which makes stockpiling it easy. The rifle itself is semiautomatic with a 10-round magazine.
Mosin-Nagant: This rifle is a larger caliber than the ones previously listed. It is excellent to hunt big game, as it packs quite a big punch; it fires a 7.62×54 round. It is quite easy to find and the ammo is quite common; while it is not particularly versatile, this rifle could fill in for a sniper rifle if needs be.
Now, we must discuss handguns as they are also quite common choices. Handguns are used for personal protection since it is unlikely that you would want to hunt with one, this is why you should be aware that you will most likely be using a handgun against a human being, it sounds ridiculous but you should not carry a weapon that you are not prepared to use; if you can’t see yourself using it to its full extent then do not get a handgun as it could easily be turned against you.
Glock 17: This one is possibly the most useful handgun for SHTF, it has a magazine capacity of 17 9mm rounds and since it is one of the most widely used handguns the parts and ammo are easy to find. It also happens to be the handgun of choice for law-enforcement officers worldwide, meaning that it is very reliable.
Smith and Wesson 586: As you are probably aware, the Smith and Wesson 586 is one of the most reliable revolvers available. It is easy to load and clean, relatively light-weight with ammo and parts easily available.
The only disadvantage may be the fact that its ammo capacity leaves a bit to be desired (6 or 7 rounds); however, it makes up for it by being very versatile as it can fire both .357 and .38 special rounds.
Colt M1311: The Colt is also quite a popular choice for a handgun, it is slim and lightweight while having the stopping power of a .45 round. It is readily available and quite durable.
Now, onto shotguns. While they are excellent, versatile guns, the weight of the ammo they require and their limited range make them less desirable after TSHTF. However, they are still a good choice.
H&R Single Shot 12 Gauge: Using a single shot shotgun has its disadvantages; however, the H&R Single Shot 12 Gauge is incredibly versatile because you can use a wide variety of adapters that will allow you to use practically any kind of ammo that comes your way.
Mossberg 500 12 Gauge: Being easy to use and maintain, the Mossberg 500 12 gauge is an excellent survival shotgun. The 12 gauge allows for customization and its pump-action allows for quick and effective delivery.
It goes without saying that you will need ammunition and a lot of it. The kind of guns and ammo that you decide to use is completely up to you, the thing is that you will also need to protect it, and not just from the elements. The government tends to get a little nervous about people being able to defend themselves, now imagine how they will get when SHTF.
First things first, you will need to make your ammo invisible. Despite the advances in surveillance technology, this is surprisingly easy to do. The first step towards making your ammo invisible is to make it impossible for anyone to trace it to you, this means that you will need to pay cash every time you buy ammo, never buy it from a single store.
This will be enough to keep people around you from becoming suspicious of you and when TSHTF they will not know that you have an ammo stockpile.
Pack your ammo into small cases, either made out of aluminum or steel. This will allow you to hide your ammo in many different spots (which is always good) and make it harder for scanners to pick up on their signal.
If you have aluminum or steel scraps (i.e. pipes) you can store them with your ammo and it will make it seem like it is just scrap metal. Confusing a scanner is easier to confuse a person.
If at all possible, you should avoid keeping your ammo in rectangular cases; it looks suspicious in a scanner. You can use a polymer and just cover the outside with rocks and bits of metal, it will scramble the signal.
You can try to jam the signal with a scrambler but it may draw unwanted attention if the scanners keep failing around your property.
Now for the second part of keeping your ammo stockpile safe. Remember to always think of the worst-case scenario and protect your ammo from indirect damage from an EMP or a nuclear blast. Of course, a nuclear or EMP event will not make primers go off but EMPs could fires, meaning your ammo cans could blow up.
The best way to protect ammo from secondary damage in these cases is to store it underground. If you do not have an underground bunker, you may want to consider one.
However, you should also keep it away from wires, metal pipes or anything that can conduct electricity. If there is only a plaster wall between the wires and room ,then you should also keep it away from there.
Keeping the Farm Functional After TEOTWAWKI
This is something that not many people mention when talking about farm prepping, mostly because most people focus on the security of the farm itself; however, it will do you no good to have a secure farm if you cannot use the land to survive.
Modern farming relies heavily on machinery and equipment that will be in very short-supply after TSHTF. It is very likely that you know how to fix your tractor and the basic equipment but, can you do it without spare parts? If you can’t then you will either need to stockpile spare parts, or learn to farm without advanced equipment.
Now, we are not saying that you should forgo all kinds of technology, only that you should know how to adapt it. Making your equipment multi-functional will also go a long way towards keeping your farm functional.
If you stop relying on chemical pesticides and fertilizers to keep your crops alive then your chances of survival increase exponentially. Learn how to make functional fertilizers with the things available, use nature as your pesticide.
Chances are that you will not be able to get chemical pesticides after TSHTF and because the land takes a while to recuperate from the use of chemicals, you may have a perfectly useless plot of land in your hands.
Start now, get used to farming without the help of chemicals and you will not regret it. Produce your own compost, learn to use your animal’s manure as well as green manure.
Humans have been living off the land without chemicals for a very long time, it is possible to go back to those old ways without harming your chances of survival, in fact, it will increase them.
Consider Getting a Generator
Living without electricity is quite possible, in fact it is likely that you already know how to reduce your power needs; however, given how much we rely on electricity for simple survival tasks, getting a generator might be a good idea.
The first piece of advice we can give regarding generators is that you are able to run it on as many fuels as possible since you do not know what will be at your disposal once SHTF.
Now, before we delve into the world of generators you should first know what running and starting watts are. Running watts are the constant wattage needed to keep a piece of equipment going.
Starting watts are the additional watts needed to start it up, usually an appliance with a motor will need extra power to start, usually the starting power is three times the amount of power needed to run it.
The size of generator that you will need will depend on the number of watts your equipment requires.
For instance, a small portable generator will produce anywhere from 3000 to 4000 watts, which can power: A microwave oven (1500 watts), a fridge (600 watts), a sump pump (600 watts), a T.V (200 watts), and lighting with combined wattage up to 400 watts.
The first choice you will have to make is whether you want a portable generator, an inline generator or a stationary one. A portable generator is pretty self-explanatory, the stationary generator can technically be moved but it requires some effort, while an inline generator is basically attached to your home.
As we have said before, what you get will depend on your needs; however, generally speaking and thinking of the worst-case scenario, we advise that you avoid getting an inline generator since it is unlikely to survive an EMP event.
Another point to consider is the fact that, unless you can make your own fuel or are stockpiling enormous amounts of gas, you will run out of it eventually. Learning to prioritize your needs and acting accordingly will go a long way, but you should not consider a generator as a viable long-term choice.
With that in mind, it would be advisable that you choose an alternative energy source (solar or wind) and learn everything you need to know about them in order to be able to utilize them after TSHTF.
Keep Your Tractor Functional
This is one of the most challenging parts, since you will have to learn absolutely everything about your tractor in order to be able to use it as widely as possible.
Get all the manuals for all the parts and learn to repair everything. There are many resources online, use them, you might not get a chance to google something after SHTF.
Buy the attachments that you think will be useful, your tractor can work as a forklift and a log dragger if you have the right attachment. Before you get any of those, you should get a steel enclosure, it will keep you safe and allow you to use the tractor in different weather conditions.
Convert your tractor so that you can use multiple fuels. It is likely that it already runs on diesel, adapt it so that you can also use biodiesel, methane and wood burning to power it.
Fuel will be in short supply so the more options you have, the better off you will be. Consider converting your tractor’s engine to a steam engine so that you can burn pretty much anything and still get the energy you need.
There are some very neat kits to run your tractor on water through hydrolysis (separating oxygen and hydrogen in water). Using the hydrogen in water is not just cleaner, but it guarantees your tractor’s functionality. You will want to get the kind that can work without a commercial electricity supplier.
There are incredible designs online that show you how to make a pedal-powered tractor, it is not comfortable or ideal but in the worst-case scenario you will still be able to farm your land and ensure your survival.
Look for ways to build your own low-tech farming equipment, remember that not all countries are nearly as advanced in their agricultural methods, looking to third-world countries for ideas on low-tech farming is good advice.
When preparing for TEOTWAWKI on a farm, it may seem like there are far too many things to take into account, it may seem complex. At the very least, keep a checklist and prioritize.
Remember that all people can offer is advice, needs change depending on a variety of factors and only you truly understand your situation, but these guidelines are an excellent place to start.
All that is left to say is, best of luck!
My name is Teresa Fikes. I am a Homesteader, survivalist, prepper, historian, and writer plus much more all in one package deal. I was raised on a small family farm were I was taught at an early age to survive off the land without the help of modern conveniences. I am a writer by profession and a Homesteader by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.