Pennsif’s Progress #613 – Medical Preps 01 – Keeping Fit and Healthy

As I mentioned in my previous post the starting point for any medical prepping is keeping as fit and healthy as possible in the here and now.

In a comment in that post @cecicastor put it very neatly :

People have a tendency to forget about looking after the mind and the body when prepping. They are not something you can buy extra in a can and have it waiting for when you need it.

Unfortunately for most people, me included, good health and fitness is something you have to work at.

Diet, exercise, sleep are the three big ones that underpin physical wellbeing. But getting them all right, all of the time can often be mighty difficult.


This is probably the easiest for me.

I am what I eat. I eat what I believe in.

My marker words on the food front are organic, local, fresh, raw, fruit, vegetable…

Luckily sweets (candy) and cake really don’t tempt my palate at all.

I love fruit and I could probably just eat that all day if I had a plentiful enough supply.

And I am big on salads, raw food is a bit of a fetish of mine.

The big change for me diet-wise this year was moving from omnivore to vegetarian en route to almost vegan.

I had always been a low meat eater, primarily consuming what we raised ourselves, but after a couple of vegan episodes of The Alternative Lifestyle Show I began to cut out animal products from my diet.

Veganism and prepping is a very interesting topic – and one I will return to in a separate post as it is too complex to cover in a quick paragraph here.

In terms of prepping the key factor is having a good diet that keeps you at a good weight and BMI, and in a healthy state.


This one is trickier for me. My job is desk based, and when I finish my daily work, steem ties me to my office chair way longer than it should.

I don’t have a gym membership – in fact I don’t have a gym anywhere near me.

I’ve only got nature’s gym – working in the garden and around the homestead is my main form of exercise.

But I have to admit I can see a big ‘Must do better’ on my report card for this one.

Switch off the computer, and feel the soil between your toes…



I run on IST now – and that can really mess up sleep patterns.

IST, in case you didn’t catch it, is International Steem Time.

I’m in the UK, most of the people I deal with are at 5 or 6 hours behind me.

I stay up way too late. I sleep way too little.

Tonight is going to be different, I promise…

Regular checkups are super important

Like cars, regular service checks are important for the body too.

We aim for dental checkups and hygienist visits every six months.

For eyes it is every 12 or 24 months with the opticians.

Keep a diary or spreadsheet for all the family, make sure you hit those appointments on time.

If you have any other particular health issues, asthma for example, make sure you attend any check up clinics as regular as needed.

Now is the time to get healthy, tomorrow is the time to stay healthy

There is always some excuse to put off changing diet, or to start exercising, or to begin a better sleep routine.

Excuses won’t cut it. The world could collapse tomorrow.

Start now and stick at it.

Monitor and record if that helps. Set up a spreadsheet recording your weight and your BMI.

Keep a note of how long it takes to walk a mile, or better run.

Set some targets and see you how far you get in 6 months.

I will leave the last word on this post to @sir-thrive who commented some wise words on my last post :

I love preaching health and fitness. Especially to the newbies who are hell-bent on packing massive BOBs. It is incredibly hard to hike 3 miles if you’re out of shape. It’s impossible with 100lbs on your back and elevated stress levels.

Get fit now. You will be glad you did when the zombies are after you.

You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

[ dentist image from pixabay – Creative Commons CC0   //  book cover from Hesperian ]

Pennsif’s Progress #616 – Medical Preps – in 3 or 4 easy stages

Today I got a letter from my opticians informing me of my next appointment. I also received a phone call from my dentist.

Keeping up to date with regular checkups at the dentists, opticians and at the doctors for any medical conditions is a key part of our health and medical prepping.

We’ve all seen the post-apoc film or TV show when someone has toothache – it always end painfully !

I’m not a wild fan of the dentists but I would definitely prefer to have that filling sorted now than when the bad times come and the anesthetic has run dry.

Medical Prepping in three easy stages

Medical Prepping is a big, big part of any prepper’s planning.

Outside of the core preps of food, water and shelter I spend more time on our health and medical preps than any other area.

There are many layers to health and medical prepping, for me these include :

  • Current health and fitness
  • Training and skill acquisition
  • Equipment and supplies

Of all the areas of prepping medical prepping is also the one that really needs most participation from the whole family.

Everyone needs to keep as fit and healthy as they can, everyone needs to learn some basic skills.

A Spoonful of Medicine

My adult life began with a year at medical school. I have a post way back that tells why I didn’t continue.

Although I didn’t continue to become a doctor it did give me a certain level of basic knowledge that has certainly been of help in my medical prepping over the years.

I have done first aid courses, studied herbal medicine and accumulated quite a healthy collection of medical related books.

Collecting paper books is one of my prepper passions. I am definitely not an ebook Kindle sort of guy. Despite Amazon’s best attempts to lure me electronic books just don’t cut it in my prepping setup.

I will do a separate post about my medical library but one book that has been with me through various editions over the years is ‘Where There Is No Doctor‘ – primarily targeting developing countries but still a must-have in my collection.

If you buy Where There Is No Doctor, along with its sister book Where There Is No Dentist, direct from Hesperian who produce the books you can help their charitable work around the world. The Doctor book is $26.95 and the Dentist book is $16.95.

As Medical Prepping is such a big and critical area I am going to expand this into a number of separate posts.

But picking up on yesterday’s 10 Mile Radius Project post I would highlight the point of getting to know where all your local doctors, clinics, pharmacies, veterinary practices are.

If things go bad medical supplies are going to become valuable, and vital, commodities.

For now get fit, stay healthy, plan for the worse…

And if you have a bit of viewing time to spare check out the YouTube channels of Skinny Medic and Dr Bones & Nurse Amy :


You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

[ dentist image from pixabay – Creative Commons CC0   //  book cover from Hesperian ]

Pennsif’s Progress #617 – The 10 Mile Radius Project – levelling up for scavengers

When you watch any good post-apocalyptic movie or TV show a big part of the life of the survivors is scavenging.

They are always hunting for food, or petrol, or medical supplies … and usually get into some sort of tricky situation in the process.

I am sure you know the story, seen the movie and got the T-shirt.

Prepping in real life is not all about the post-apocalyptic scenario. We would have needed to hit a Level 4 or 5 event on Pennsif’s Personal SHTF Scale to be treading that path.

But as I said in my previous Pennsif’s Progress post I endeavour to prep for all eventualities and levels of uncertainty.

So prepping for a scavenging scenario is a go in my book…

Scavenging v Theft – when does the needle flick over?

Before I get into my idea on how to prep for scavenging I want to back up a bit and just take a reality check.

I am an honest citizen, so I have to take a mindcheck on when I would consider it appropriate to start scavenging.

Scavenging too early would really just be another term for theft or looting.

On my Personal SHTF Scale that I published in my last Pennsif’s Progress post I am pretty sure I would be looking for a Level 4 or Level 5 event to be totally comfortable with taking other people’s stuff without permission.

Thinking further on this, and taking into consideration the needs of family and the likely lack of available law and order (WROL anyone?), I might see even a Level 3 event as my morally acceptable entry point into active scavenging.

The line for me would though still be whether the owner of what I was wanting to take was alive… and present, or likely to be returning anytime soon.

Pow – there’s a big puff of greyness shot up there.  How would I know if they might be returning to claim possession in the near future?

And what if it was a matter of live or death for my family?  Vital medicines for example? Water, food…

The 10 Mile Radius Project

I live on a homestead where I plan to stay. Bugging-out would be a super last resort.

On the homestead we are stockpiling and building as much resilience and self-sufficiency as we can.  But if those high level bad times do come a-calling I am also making plans to be as effective as possible in scavenging the local area for additional supplies.

Learning from the movies, the key to successful scavenging is knowing where to go as quickly as possible.

You need to know where the supplies you want are located and how to get there and back with maximum speed.

The key to all this is knowing your local area.

To help with this I have started my ‘Ten Mile Radius Project‘ to systematically search and document the useful resources potentially available within a 10 mile (16 km) radius of our homestead.

The choice of 10 miles as the radius is calculated as the distance I could comfortably walk there and back, laden on the return journey, in one day at any time of the year. This assumes the worst case of having no other means of transport.

Ten miles radius gives over 300 square miles of territory to search and document.

My starting point is the local Ordnance Survey map and a piece of string to mark out an approximate 10 mile radius centered on our homestead.

I use this as a basis for searching and recording useful resources.

If you haven’t got a paper map to hand, check out this great online radius drawing tool to get an idea of the area included in 10 miles around where you live :

The 10 Mile Radius Project – what am I looking for

I am using a mix of ways to search the area – on the ground visits, paper map examination, Google Earth maps and satellite images, local directories, local newspapers and an array of other online sources.

Most of what I am looking for, and recording, is quite obvious :

  1. Gun shops
  2. Hospitals, doctor surgeries, veterinary practices, pharmacies
  3. Petrol stations
  4. Agricultural suppliers, hardware stores and anywhere that might stock generators and batteries

All of these are top level resources that will be early, prime targets that would likely be picked clean very quickly.

I haven’t even mentioned supermarkets and other food stores as they will be emptied within a day or two – even in lower level emergency event scenarios.

If you want to take this project concept a stage further you can turn it up a notch or two and hover on the edge of just plain stalker-mode.

When you level up to Elite Stalker Prepper you might start to …

  • Find out where all local doctors live – they might keep some emergency medical supplies at home. Likewise community nurses and vets.
  • Check out local gun clubs and clay pigeon shooting clubs. Can you find out where the members live – there might be guns in them there hills.
  • Track the farmers, farmers, farmers – they commonly have guns, red diesel tanks, and electric fence batteries.
  • Look up Pest Controllers –  they often have guns.

The list goes on. Limited only by how far off the scale you are prepared to go.

The Big Red Bottles – My Personal Favourite

I live in the countryside where very few people are connected to mains gas.

Some people have large Calor Gas tanks, but many people use bottled gas.

While it is not transportable on foot, if the means are available grab all you can.

We use 47kg propane cylinders for our cooking. On average we use one bottle about every 6 – 8 months. We keep three at any one time.

An even more interesting use of propane is for electricity generation. Diesel and petrol are likely to disappear quickly. Fewer people will be collecting the gas cylinders. And the gas is safer to store and doesn’t, as far as I know, go off like liquid fuels.

LPG converted generators are readily available, for example in the UK :

There are many resources available to convert petrol or diesel generators to run on gas, for example :

And there are several videos on YouTube showing how to install conversion kits, for example :

So now I’m a red bottle spotter.

When I am out and about in our local area I make a note when see any gas bottles – homes, farms, public buildings, blacksmiths, caravan parks…

And of course bottle gas suppliers – you can look these up online as well.

So that’s my little hobby of the moment.

Is it prudent and resourceful?

Or too wierd and stalker like?

Have I been watching too many movies?  Or am I earning my hardcore prepper stripes?

In every good prepper there’s a wierdo just waiting to get out…

You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

[ photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash ]

Pennsif’s Progress #619 – Why do I prep – Pennsif’s Personal SHTF Scale

I have been a prepper all my adult life.

It started with watching Terry Nation’s never bettered BBC TV series ‘Survivors’ in late 1970’s.

I grabbed a copy of Richard Mabey’s Food For Free book and I was up and running.

In various ways, and to various levels, I have kept on prepping ever since.

Over the last decade or so, as I have got older and the earth has got rougher, my prepping has been accelerating at an ever faster pace.

Moving to our homestead at the turn of the century was a hyper-catalyst on our prepping journey.

The independence, the isolation and the insulation that our homestead provides is a critical key on our path to self-reliance.

There is the convergence and the divergence at the heart of it all.

On the one hand we strive for self-reliance and self-sufficiency in these ‘normal times’ just so we can STICK IT TO THE MAN as some would say.

But underlying and underpinning our quest to off-grid our lives in full @wwf ungrip style is the desire to be ready and to be resilient for when the ‘normal times’ become the ‘bad times’.

What are the ‘Bad Times’?

I use the term ‘Bad Times’ as a family-friendly euphemism for SHTF – When the Sh*t Hits the Fan.

Bad Times can come in many guises and in many levels of severity.

Like all good preppers I endeavour to prep for all eventualities, but like all realistic preppers I know I can’t.

That does not mean rolling over and turning the other.

It means doing the best with what you’ve got.

Pennsif’s Personal SHTF Scale (PPSS)

I am sure someone, some body or some worthy institution has codified this better than me but I have my own personal ‘scale of threat’ that I prep for.

I’ll aim for the big #5, but if in reality I can nail down #3, or even #4 at a push, I know I’ll have prepped my prepping best.

Threat Level Threat Area Examples
0 Family house fire, death of immediate family member, loss of main source of income, major illness
1 Local major flood, explosion at a chemical factory
2 Regional widespread flooding, terrorist dirty bomb, severe earthquake
3 National extreme weather destruction across the country, multiple terrorist attacks in several cities, government collapse, cyber attack on the electricity grid
4 Continental outbreak of war with Russia in Europe, major pandemic, terrorist detonation of a nuclear bomb
5 Global major meteor strike, worldwide pandemic, outbreak of nuclear war between USA and Russia / China


Everyone, everywhere should, one hopes, be minded to take care of Level 0 possibilities.

Ideally responsible families might make some provision for Level 1 threats.

Beyond that you are beginning to earn your prepper stripes.

I’m all in and shooting for #5.

Prepping for the really big one is a mental challenge of the first order.

It’s all risk and reward, opportunity costs, getting your priorities right, hoping, praying and thinking it through.

The common voice I am sure will retort “that ain’t going to ever happen…”.

But it might.

A level 5 event is not impossible.

It may not be that likely, but if you sit back and think a while it is not too difficult to string together the news headlines that would take us there…

That is why I prep.

You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

[ photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash ]

Pennsif’s Progress #622 – Security in Numbers – can we build a community on our homestead

Harking back to the topic of security once again might seem repetitive.

But security in all its forms and manifestations is fundamentally what prepping is all about.

Security of food, security of water and security of us – my family, our animals, our homestead.

Picking up once more on the comment by @bobydimitrov in a previous blog :

Your food stockpile is just a club swing away from being someone else’s. … Even if you keep an arsenal in your house, you cannot possibly keep a band of marauders from taking your stuff and your life.

This fact is so totally true, and must absolutely be addressed. In any ‘Bad Times Scenario’ it will most likely be a safety in numbers game. As @bobydimitrov says :

People will never survive as loners, or single families. At the very least I’m thinking groups of 10-15 families living together in a small space. And even that probably won’t be enough to fend off marauders.

I spoke in a previous post about [the importance of local community]( That will be important but it can only ever be part of the whole security solution.

We are blessed, and lucky enough, to be stewards, guardians and owners of a largish house, an attached coach house, two barns and 17 acres of land.

That was not just by chance. From the beginning of our time here I have always had in mind that the property might eventually become home for more than one family.

Although financial, time and family limitations have so far held back any major developments, we are soon entering a “new phase” as our children begin to move away to the next stages of their lives.

This presents the opportunity for developments I have long been contemplating to turn our property of one family into a community of several.

The starting point has been the old barns (and there is another one on the other side that this photograph doesn’t show).

These could readily accommodate at least eight people. Of course for planning reasons, in the here and now, these would not be permanent residences but temporary accommodation for holidaying family, friends and guests.

We even have had an architect draw up full plans for the renovation and conversion. He got rather carried away though and came up with a Grand Design costing over US$ 350,000. This included such embellishments as a glass atrium and even a lift.

This was a somewhat more extravagant development than we had envisaged. His plans have been carefully stored in a strong cardboard tube and instead we have begun the work in a more piecemeal, practical and affordable fashion.

The coachhouse at the end of the house has also been planned up for a more modest conversion to accommodate another couple of people.

With a fuller utilisation of existing buildings we could with ease accommodate 4 families, or around 15 people.

That still leaves the 17 acres around us. Erecting new buildings will be difficult with planning regulations but less permanent structures would be quite feasible.

I have long had a dream to build two cabins of some sort – one tucked in the corner at the end of the old pig garden, the other down by the lake.

Exactly what form these buildings might take I am not yet sure.  I have been looking at a number of options – straw bale houses, log cabins, timber framed, extended sheds…

On The Alternative Lifestyle Show last week I listened with great interest to @basicstoliving’s plans for aircrete dome houses.

Another route, which would certainly be easier from a planning point of view, would be to go for semi-mobile tiny houses.

It is certainly going to be an interesting journey exploring alternatives and eventually turning them into actual dwellings of some nature.

Who will live in them?

Once all the living places are complete we should be able to accommodate 6 families with around 20 people in total.

That still doesn’t achieve @bobydimitrov’s suggested 10 – 15 families but it is a step in the right direction.

The big question is who would live in the various buildings?

In good times some would be reserved for our children and their future families. The rest would be ideal for AirBnB lettings which would also bring in a little extra income along the way.

But what about if the Bad Times come.

The starting point of course would be our children.

By the time all these developments come to fruition they will likely be starting their own families. They will be given first refusal.

Our extended family are all in other countries and other continents so it is probably unlikely and impractical that they would want to come here.

The next port of call would be friends. We don’t have a large circle of friends. And many of our friends live on similar properties to ours and would likely be staying put.

So that begs the question who would want to come here and who would we want to come here?

It is a question that best needs answering long before Bad Times might come, not when they happen.

I wonder, I wonder, I wonder…

Maybe we should start a little steem prepping community?

Perhaps some sort of steem ‘timeshare’?

There was a very good project proposed some months back on steem – Kin-Shep – Steemit Hospitality Engagement Platform – for people to swap temporary ‘work’ for accommodation on homesteads around the world. Alas it seems to have faded away, but I think the concept still stands strong.

This is just the beginning of this story.

Much, much, much more thought, contemplation, discussion, exploration and perhaps experimentation needs to come next.

Whichever way it cuts and falls it presents some very interesting possibilities.

I would be happy and a half to hear your thoughts and ideas on this..

You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

[ all images by @pennsif ]

Pennsif’s Progress #624 – Our Water Supply and all our backups

Wales, where I live, is renowned for being a rather wet and rainy country.

So as a prepper going off-grid for water has been comparatively easy.

We have our own water supply from springs, and we deal with our sewarage via a septic tank. We are not mains connected for either.

In fact we have invested quite a bit in improving our infrastructure over the last 15 years.

When we moved here there was a single concrete water tank with a capacity of about 2,500 litres (550 gallons). This was adequate for the elderly couple that we bought the house from.

However with three young children, baths, showers and lots of dirty washing, we ran out of water the second year we were here. So we upgraded our water storage capacity to two new 5,000 litre (1,100 gallon) tanks.

A few years later we had problems with the septic tank breaking down so we had that replaced with a new bigger capacity tank. We make sure we get that emptied every couple of years at least.

As well as the springs and the tanks we also have a secondary mini reservoir and tank system set up on a spring-fed stream on the other side of the property. This is currently used for watering the polytunnel.

The old original well of the house is also still accessible and usable. It needs quality testing again but certainly would be suitable for all non drinking or cooking uses.

As a backup to the backup to the backup there is also the lake that I am sure would never run dry. Although that is around 60 feet below the house so we would need some serious pumping gear to get water up to the house from there.

Finally as a backup to the backup to the backup to the backup we also keep about 50 litres of bottled water in stock just in case…

So in terms of water I think we can tick the OffGrid box pretty handsomely.

Risk Points

Our only risk points would contamination or extreme extended dry summers.

In terms of contamination we have our water supply lab-checked every few years, we have a supply of water purification tablets and we a couple of water filters.

Extended dry summers while rare in Wales do occur here every ten years or so. When they do happen we activate our ‘Restricted Water Usage Protocols’. This involves only allowing short showers and no baths, cutting down on the amount of clothes washings, and using ‘grey water’ for toilet flushing.

I estimate these protocols cut our water usage by a third at least.

We have in fact just activated these protocols on Sunday as we have been without rain for approaching a month.

However when I checked the main tanks yesterday both were still full, but the weather forecast is saying at least another two weeks of hot dry weather so we will keep the water saving in place just in case.

As a prepper I am very happy, and very proud, to be able to put a big fat tick next to the Offgrid Water option.

This water independence also gives us the added bonus of no bills for water and sewerage.

When we first moved here we did make enquiries with the local water board about how much it would cost to get connected to the mains water supply. They came back with the tidy sum of £75,000 (US$100,000), and that was nearly 20 years ago.

No thanks Mr Water Man, we’ve got this one covered.

You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

[ all images by @pennsif ]

Pennsif’s Progress #627 – Security – it must start with the local community

In my previous Pennsif’s Progress post about food security @bobydimitrov made a very good comment about security and being able to defend one’s food stockpile against the marauding masses if a society breakdown occurs.

Your food stockpile is just a club swing away from being someone else’s. Your greenhouse is a magnet for hungry bands of pillagers. Even if you keep an arsenal in your house, you cannot possibly keep a band of marauders from taking your stuff and your life.

That is of course a big concern. In that sort of situation we can only have food security if we have security.

Our remote location is both a blessing and a danger for us. Our nearest neighbours are one mile way in one direction and half a mile in the often.

The neighbours are too far away to even know if we were having problems… or are they?


Before I joined steem I wrote my daily Pennsif’s Progress posts for many months on a UK Preppers forum. Discussions were always informative, often educational, commonly enjoyable and sometimes quite frank.

Security was a common topic for discussion – but ‘OpSec‘ was the always the watchword.

Operational Securty was of the outmost importance – never give too much information away, least you would be ‘uncovered’ and hoards of undesirables would be beating a path to you door.

So my big takeaway from that preppers forum was to keep a low profile and never say too much.

That is sound advice. So in answer to @bobydimitrov I will keep it general.

One family in a remote farmhouse – even with a truckload of guns – couldn’t mount any effective defense against hungry people with bad intentions.

But this is the UK, with very restrictive gun laws, so our truck won’t be full guns… maybe just airguns, catapaults, sticks and stones and bows and arrows.

But this is rural Wales where every knows everyone, most people have the same surname and sometimes you really have to keep up with the Jones.

The Local Community

So that is where security will start … with the community.

We moved here nearly 20 years ago and in that time we have been involved in a lot of what goes on in the local community.

Our children have attended the local schools, my wife has learnt Welsh at local classes, I have been been involved in organising festivals and other community events. In any ways and all ways we have got to know people in the local area and they have got to know us. My mother being born here has given us a free pass in some areas as well.

And our near neighbours have always been helpful – pulling our car out of the floods, lifting delivery vans that have slid off our lane, coming by in their 4x4s when we have been blocked in by snow.

The local community, and our neighbours, are the foundation of our security strategy.

Distance can be an issue, but that is nothing that some CB radios or a network of walkie-talkies won’t be able to deal with.

So that is our Prepping Security Strategy, Part I.

Tomorrow, OpSec permitting, I will reveal Part II, and maybe even a glimpse of Part III…

You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

[ images from pixabay – Creative Commons CC0 ]

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