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Posted on December 14 2015

And most preppers forget them all…

by Jason Ross

Gear is critical to man’s survival. We come equipped by nature naked, weak and without natural weapons. Compared to every other animal, we suck.

But we do have gear and smarts, and that’s enough to dominate. Straight from the ReadyMan Plan2Survive, here are ten bad-ass preps that cost nothing but time. These ten preps will solidly up-the-ante in your quest to become a self-sufficient bad ass.

  1. Compost. Kitchen scraps plus lawn clippings plus dirt plus horse crap equals mighty fine compost. It’s the foundation of excellent gardening and a giant pile of compost when the SHTF gives you a big leg up. It’s one of the most solid preps around and it’s free. You can be harvesting edible stuff within a few weeks if the weather permits and if you have the right kind of compost ready-to-go. Awesome compost equals awesome fresh food. Fresh food equals improved morale. Improved morale equals higher survivability. Thinking ahead is what we do as ReadyMen and composting is a hallmark of a guy who thinks ahead.
  2. Chickens. Chickens almost feed themselves. They peck around the yard eating bugs and seeds. In addition to some kitchen scraps, they can pretty much handle their own feeding, given the right yard. Laying hens will produce about one egg every other day in the summer and they’ll do about the same during the winter if you give them a little artificial light. Plus, both chickens and rabbits turn kitchen scraps into fantastic, nitrogen-rich compost. Build the coop out of recycled junk. Chickens are super-easy to acquire in-trade for your redundant goods or services. Check out the Live Free or Die episode where Tony and Amelia build a bad-ass coop for nothing. Don’t blame me if you fall in love with Amelia.
  3. 50 Gallons of Water per Family Member. Water is the most-overlooked preparation of all. Keep all your plastic milk jugs, wash them carefully with soap and piping hot water, then refill them with tap water. If you have a family, you should store hundreds of these one-gallon kegs around the house and garage. Add about 1/8 teaspoon chlorine to each gallon so that they don’t grow floaters over time. Every year or so, refill and re-cholorinate them all. If you come into a few extra bucks, you can simplify the process by using 55 gallon drums. Or, it’s not that hard to talk local restaurants into giving you their extra cooking oil drums or totes.
  4. Rabbits. Like chickens, rabbits can be traded almost for nothing and they multiply quickly and easily. They eat most grasses and garden clippings. Raising rabbits teaches many survival skills. Among them is the harvest, process and storing of grasses. Also, rabbits can thrive on sprouted seeds, which is an awesome skill to develop for feeding your family. Breeding, butchering and processing the rabbits’ carcass and hide also provide other by-products beside the delicious meat. Rabbit guts are primo chicken food, rabbit pellets are solid gold for compost and rabbit meat is the most efficient protein you can grow. Rabbit meat requires one-quarter as much grass and feed as beef. It’s a ReadyMan’s livestock dream — and it’s delicious.
  5. Dry Practice — Handgun & Rifle. Live fire practice is expensive, but some of the best practice is actually dry practice — firing your handgun or rifle without rounds. If you want to develop perfect stance, grip, sight alignment and trigger press, dry practice (when performed safely) can be done for free, any time, in your home, and very few forms of practice will make you a better handgunner.  Also, all of your malfunction drills can be practiced dry as well — and they are rather tough to learn.
  6. Rain Water Catchment System (WikiHow) and/or Backyard Well (Drill Your Own Backyard Well. Depending on where you live, you can usually slap together one of these two free water systems. If there’s a meltdown in society, water will be ta big damn deal. It’s always the first thing to fly off the shelves when a bad storm hits. But, water isn’t as sexy as guns, so most preppers under-prepare their water storage. It’s really hard to store enough water for a year (one gallon per person per day = a shit load of water for one family.) Creating a renewable water storage system should be a top priority. In most places in the United States, this can be done for free. Where there is a high water table (Mid-West, South, some of the East) you can dig a backyard well ( with scavenged PVC parts and your garden hose. The water won’t be clean, but it’ll be wet.  In much of the West, the East and the South, a rainwater catchment system ( will periodically renew your water supply by catching the rain off your roof and storing it automatically. Again, build your water catchment system with scavenged stuff for an awesome backup water supply that costs you zero dollars.
  7. Huge Wood Pile. Probably, at about the same time water stops coming out of the faucet, gasoline (and propane, diesel, and kerosene) will vanish as well. You will need a lasting alternative to fossil fuels and, luckily, there’s an option that’s virtually free in the pre-apocalypse world:  wood. If you live in the city, there’s nothing stopping you from building a wood pile in your backyard. Every time you see someone cutting down trees or throwing out pallets, gather them up, cut them into 18 inch pieces and stack ‘em in your backyard. Even if the wood is green, grab it and stack it and, in a year or so, it’ll be decent firewood. If you live in the backwoods, grab downed trees and build your pile. Remember, you need WAY more wood than you might guess. To heat a small home, you’ll end up using about 4 cords of pine just for one winter. (That is a LOT of wood, BTW.) Gather lots and lots of this free resource, and you will be the most popular guy on your block, for better or worse.
  8. Grow ‘Taters. Many preppers keep a bag of heirloom seeds stored away in their ‘stash. Sadly, those seeds will do most of us very little good. Growing calories is a straight son-of-a-bitch, and the only way to figure that out (and to get better at it) is to practice growing calories in your own garden. For starters, almost everything in those heirloom seed kits, even if they do grow, won’t produce much in the way of calories. There are a few exceptions to this reality: squash, corn, beans and POTATOES. It’s no accident that the East Coast Native Americans were experts at these garden gems when the Pilgrims landed. Potatoes produce the most calories, the easiest. One potato plant will product as many as 10 or 15 potatoes (that’s around 1500 calories per plant), and they grow from a little potato “eye” (a small chunk of a potato.) You can grow potatoes almost anywhere, and one of the most effective ways, in my experience, is to grow them in old trashcans!
  9. Warm Blankets. Modern blankets are all crappy for survival. They are designed to exist in a world where we enjoy central heating and where we insist on beautiful aesthetics. Most of our blankets, quilts and sleeping bags will fail within weeks in the ‘pocalypse. They’re not tough enough, they’re not warm enough and they suck when wet. After all, the most efficient heater you’ve got is your own body. Anyone would prefer to keep warm under a heavy blanket rather than gather, store and burn fifteen cords of wood each winter. Heavy blankets ARE shelter. You, or your honey-pie, can make the highest quality, warmest blankets possible from scraps of wool, denim and flannel. They won’t be light, but they’ll be BOMBER. Gathering used-up, heavy fabric is a bit tricky, but ratty blankets, jeans and coats are donated to the homeless and to thrift stores in massive quantities — then thrown away because they’re not “nice” enough for homeless and thrift. Put it out to your church and neighborhood that you’ll take all their old clothes and YOU will deliver them to the homeless shelter or the thrift store. Then, pick out the heavy fabric that is worn out, and will be rejected by the thrift anyway. Keep that for yourself. Sew up as many blankets as you can from the bits of heavy denim, canvas and wool. Make extra blankets to use as trade goods — or give them to the homeless yourself. The homeless can tell you “what’s up” with awesome blankets. They know what makes a functional blanket for survival — heavy, tough and still-warm-when-wet.
  10. Repair Manuals and Spare Widgets for Every Firearm. Most of us have the wrong idea about guns. We take them to the range, on rare occasion, and we shoot through a handful of rounds. Then we go home and rack our guns, feeling good about being “combat ready.” For one thing, guns have FAR more problems when they’re used for daily training or survival. Just try shooting 1,500 round through your rifle over the course of two or three days. You will likely discover issues. Even with high-quality firearms, stuff will break and begin to malfunction. At very least, you’ll figure out what stuff is heavy and uncomfortable (such as your sling, sighting system and custom modifications.) When you work your guns hard, repair manuals and replacement parts (especially the cheap, little pins and stuff) become mission-critical. Talk your local gunsmith into “donating” a bit of his massive collection of pins, cotter pins, springs, roll pins, allen screws and the like to you. If you have an AR-15 or AK, he likely has a billion of these small parts. More importantly, download and print copies of the repair manuals of every gun you own or will own. Get the military version if possible. Then, organize them into a tidy system for a  rainy day. 

I’m going to stop here at number ten, just because there are so many free things you can do to prepare. All I did to make this list was to scan down the ReadyMan Plan2Survive from the top and collect the best, free preps from the first six categories of preparation. There are fourteen categories and I didn’t even go one-third down the first six categories. In other words, if you know what you’re looking for, there are shit-loads of free stuff that will not only improve your inventory, but that will improve your SKILLS. The ReadyMan Plan2Survive (free with the Level Two membership) makes this stuff easy and obvious. Plus, it helps you to spend every dime on the best gear your budget can handle.

The sad reality is that most peppers would rather spend money than expend effort. The preps on this list are powerful LEARNING TOOLS as much as anything. Doing them will teach you the ways of the primitive world and will attune your mind to how things actually work when the power goes off.

Plus, let’s be honest here. We’re obsessing on this stuff because it’s rewarding and fun. 

Keep on obsessing.


1 comment

  • james Ludera: December 15, 2015

    All good stuff ,and really ,the low cost no ideas can some times be the most important . Please keep up the great work !!!! Jim in Fla.

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