What Makes You a Prepper?

What Makes You a Prepper?

I recently went back to my roots in West Virginia, visiting there for the first time since I started FloridaHillbilly.com. I stayed with friends from high school, folks that have consistently proven themselves to be worthy of that short list of folks that you know you can call at 3am when you need bailed out, a shoulder to cry on, a couch to crash on, or simply someone willing to bring a shovel and a flashlight out to help you hide “the evidence”.

Born and raised in rural West Virginia, my friends have grown up not know just who they are in some respects.

I laughed out loud when I was asked by my hosts, “So just what are these “preppers?” As I explained that they are people that stockpile skills and resources to be used on a rainy day, I was given a puzzled look.

“So they learn how to do things for themselves so they don’t have to pay someone else to do it, and buy extra stuff when they can so they have it without having to run out to the store? We do that just all of the time mostly because it is hard to get anyone to come way out here to do anything, and the store is just so far away. Does that make us preppers?”


My response? “Pretty much.”


Home Canned Goods
Home Canned Goods, complete with Ping Pong Storage

As always, when staying with my gracious hosts, I have access to the entire house. The full basement was laundry room, play room (ping-pong, baby!), computer room, workshop, garage, and…storage. (Oh how I long for a full basement. And a cellar for that matter!) Each wall of the basement had an array of shelves, each full of various items. One wall had a second refrigerator and an upright freezer. A second wall had another upright freezer.

And almost everywhere you looked, there was signs that a “prepper” lived there. Home canned food. Commercially canned food. Boxed foods bought in bulk. And those freezers I mentioned? Full. (I am almost certain that one of the freezer was dedicated to nothing but butter and bacon.)

Why would these rural folks have all the signs of being preppers?

The simple answer is convenience.

From the skills standpoint, it is about 60 miles to the nearest town large enough to offer a 24-hour emergency plumbing service to fix that pipe that froze and busted at 2 am (Problems, like babies, tend to show up in the wee hours of the morning), and the cost and time to get the serviceman there is painful. So you learn to fix things yourself.

From the home canning angle, why waste surplus food when you can can it, preserving summer’s wholesome goodness for a cold winter’s day? Gardens in West Virginia are notorious for abundant production. Can those tomatoes, corn, potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, beets, peppers, as well as products like salsa and tomato juice. Hunting also provides a large supply of deer meat…and in order to save space in those well-stocked freezers, canning is a great way to preserve much of a garden’s surplus.

From the commercial produced items, pastas, canned goods, paper products, personal hygiene items, etc, again the answer is convenience.

(On a side note: Amazon Prime brings a level of convenience to almost everyone that has daily mail delivery. Free 2 days shipping DOES bring convenience to your door. I use it now, and should I ever move back the rural West Virginia, I’ll use it there as well….Money WELL spent! Click here for a FREE 30 day trial – perfect for the holidays! Sorry for the commercial, but when I make money from this website, my wife doesn’t mind my Hillbilly shenanigans as much. And that helps me continue writing. Thanks!)

My rural friends are located about 30 minutes from the nearest full sized store, and well over an hour away from any of the big-box stores that sell in bulk, such as Sam’s Club, or even WalMart. When my friends run out of something, if they don’t have a spare…they do without, until they can get back into town….sometimes taking a week or more to get there. No special trip just to replace a single item. Make a two-hour round trip a couple of times, and you, too, will learn to plan ahead.

And since they have two girls and two boys, all in the teens and early twenties, running out of something like deodorant quickly becomes an issue. Those country boys can REALLY work up a sweat, working, playing, or trying to beat me at ping-pong!

The lives lived in rural West Virginia can be one of wonderful, wholesome abundance. In the back of the house, my friends have a lovely garden, full of rich soil, just SCREAMING to get to work growing far more food than they can consume.

green onions
The wife showing off some wild green onions harvested from the yard in November

There are wild edibles growing everywhere, well… like weeds. During our Thanksgiving trip to West Virginia, I spent an hour with my Florida-raised city girl wife walking around the yard, just digging up wild onions. The Mrs. was amazed at how prolific they were, and how large they would get…growing as “weeds”. And oddly enough, it is a mostly overlooked weed. Our hosts laughed at us for digging up the yard in order to pick some tiny onions that they simple mow over along with the  rest of the lawn.

They also have a pig lot, growing out about a dozen lovely porkers, ham, sausage, and bacon on the hoof. These pigs get to live a pig’s life, with a pen large enough to house 50 animals if it were a commercial venture driven by profits, not quality meat grown by happy animals. However, there are only 8 pigs running in this pen. With room enough to run, stretch, wallow, and grow, these are happy pigs. In my mind, happy pigs make the tastiest bacon.

My rural friends also have rabbits, with the breeding stock so amazingly meaty that I was almost convinced to bring one home to add to my breed lines. Earlier this year, one of their rabbits took the Blue Ribbon at the County Fair, and sold for $1300!  I almost regret not getting some of those bloodlines…. Maybe in the near future, I’ll have another chance…

They also have dogs, four wheelers, motorcycles, trucks, guns, tractors, and various light and heavy equipment…and know how to use it all for work and play. Rare is the time they call out someone to do something for them, and when they do, it is usually a bartered job, trading out one favor for another.

But really, are they preppers? By definition, sure I suppose that they are. In truth, they are simply folks that live remotely and take responsibility for themselves. With the nearest doctor, grocery store, drug store, and police station roughly 30 minutes away, the only sensible way to have a comfortable life is to plan ahead. And take responsibility for their own lives.

It should come as no surprise that most of their neighbors share many of the same habits, skills, and forethought. “Prepping” isn’t a new thing to them, it is an ingrained part of their lives, mostly done without hesitation or conscious planning. In winter, it is possible to get snowed in. In summer, it is possible to get flooded in. These things happen. The stores and emergency services are NOT within walking distance, so they all make adjustments in their lives so that they can handle emergencies.

You could call their daily habits and routines the REAL “Whole life insurance”. They plan today for eventualities tomorrow, and every bit of today’s efforts pays a dividend tomorrow.

Me as a kid, catching turtles for dinner
Me (on the left) as a kid in West Virginia, catching turtles for dinner with my dad and brother David. (Nice shirt, Dave!)


This is also how I grew up. My rural friends do nothing that we didn’t do when I was a teen. Those skills still are a part of my daily life living in town, and have saved me much hardships many times. Hurricanes, health issues, loss of income…all eventualities that I have dealt with with minimal effort due to having planned ahead

And if we all did that, I can promise this world would be a better place, or at least be MUCH easier to deal with when bad times arrive.



In closing, I feel I should answer the title of the article, “What Makes You a Prepper?” The answer is if you plan for your future.

The term “prepper” has come to be viewed as some sort of doom and gloom, end of the world survivalist type, the uneducated media (sheep) trying to spin what they don’t understand into something that other sheep feel safe reading.

The term “Prepping” implies that there will be bad times ahead, be it illness, or social breakdown – things no sheep wants to think about. Making it seem like being ready for bad times is a social-stigma turns the sheep’s lack of readiness seem OK.

I have always believed that “prepper” is a derogatory term making fun of those that plan ahead. Planning ahead is not a in issue when you live in rural West Virginia, so why is it an issue when you live in a suburb? Hell, many of the folks that LIVE the “prepper” life don’t even know they are “preppers”. They just know that they are ready for problems…that WILL happen.

So each day, I embrace the derogatory term, in hopes that I open the mind of one more sheep, making them understanding that no matter how much you ignore the fact, bad things DO happen and that how you plan for it today will determine the level of grief you deal with when it does.

I say work a little today to make coping with tomorrow’s troubles easier.

It can’t hurt, folks….



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  1. Nice piece, DB. I love the turtle picture! Those snappers are delicious! A couple of years ago, I caught a nice one out of the farm pond up in Ritchie Co. and cleaned it for dinner. :)

    1. Those turtles were caught on Arnold’s Creek, just below the church, about 2 miles from Rt 50. We would set trot lines in the bend in the creek right below the road. It was one of the few spot along the creek that had any depth to it, and was so small that our trot line was always way too long. We would run it in a “V” formation across the stream giving us more coverage.
      After stringing the line from bank to bank, we’d go back and hang hooks and bait it at the same time. Many times while baiting it, we’d not get halfway through and we’d already have fish hooked up. We would go back, remove the fish, drop line and all, by lifting the fish into a burlap sack then cutting the dropper line. It was easy enough to replace the line after we were done, and MUCH easier than trying to wrangle a “green” fish while wading next to it and dozens of other flailing hooks. After removing the fish, we’d replace the hook and re-bait, and move to the next fish. Normally, we’d have to make 3 or 4 passes before we had all the fish cleared off. Then we’d leave for the night, coming back in the morning. Over night, we’d catch the turtles and catfish.
      We always loved the hardshelled snapping turtles. They were the meatiest, and easiest to clean – we normally had a pot large enough to drop them into boiling water before cleaning (after chopping off their heads). This pic was one of the best takes we ever had on the spot. We ate turtle for quite a while.
      And for those that wonder….yes, it tastes like chicken. Or more accurately, it tastes like from…that tastes liek chicken. :)

      I’d write an article about eating turtle….but since many of the turtles down here are protected, both fresh and saltwater varieties, I’d be writing another along the lines of the manatee steak article.

      Though my Florida Buddy, SB says you can get sea turtle steaks in the Bahamas….I feel a road trip (ok, boat trip) in my future….


  2. db-good article. Although I have absolutely no basis in fact for this (and, as you know, that has never stopped me from giving my opinion anyway) I feel like the first time I heard the word “Prepper” it was describing a reality TV show where guys were seriously preparing for the Zombie apocalypse. In other words – “Preppers” were people intent on wasting huge amounts of time and money preparing for an unrealistic/impossible future. Maybe its time someone like you redefined the word to describe people taking reasonable steps to prepare for the likely future while saving huge amounts of time and money?

    1. It probably was the first time YOU heard it :)

      Those shows are popular for the same reason NASCAR is – everyone loves to see the crashes, mayhem, and destruction. Laughing at those folks makes viewers feel better for not being ready for eventualities.

      But let me ask you – Since you live in Hurricane Central like I do, do you have a generator? A weeks worth of provisions? A flashlight? Hurricane panels? If so, why?

      And if not, why wouldn’t you?

      No matter what you call it, being ready for the future just makes sense.

      And if you start taking the spin out of the Doomsday crowd, you’ll find those folks aren’t JUST preparing for zombies, MCE, EMP, Swine/Avian/Simian/Goldfish flu or any of the other wacko ideas put forth on the shows…they are ready for things like job loss, illness, and other closer-tohome-and-more-likely scenarios.

      And don’t forget, the CDC used Zombies as a propaganda platform, stating “Get a kit, make a plan’, and “If you are ready for zombies, you are ready for anything”.

      I don’t care how or why you get ready, just get ready. In an emergency, the only security you can count on is yourself. Emergency authorities are far more likely to show up to do write the report on what happened than they are to show up to stop the calamity.

      And remember, showing up at my place isn’t really a good idea…my freezer is already full :)

  3. db – as you know I’m worse than most on the preparedness thing but the one time I was out of power lasted, I think, about ten days. We were miserable in the heat. The interesting thing about it was the absolute worst experience was that we had to take cold showers and had no stove. I had all electric appliances then but immediately converted to gas for both oven and hot water as a result. I guess you could say that was my “Prepper” effort. I know, I suck.

  4. Have you considered tactical training? As part of my preparedness effort, I am attending two classes in March. The first will be Combat 2-Gun and the second will be Combat Team Tactics. I will be training with Max Velocity Tactical. maxvelocitytactical.com

    1. I have not, other than intermittent doses of paintball. Not even close to the real thing, or training, for that matter…

      …but then I also don’t see tactical training as a realistic need – at least not as realistic as things such as improving skills like managing off grid power (I’ve needed and used before), primitive cooking (needed and used before), or growing my own food (STILL learning that one here…).

      Let’s see how I can explain this off the cuff:
      There is a matrix with the likelihood of disasters cross referenced with the personal affect it has. The more likely a possibility, the closer to ME it is. Examples:
      Stubbing a toe is a likely situation, affecting just me.
      Job loss is less likely, and affect me and my family.
      A Hurricane is less likely still, and affects my community/state.
      Civil unrest is less likely than a hurricane, but affects a region.

      Therefore, the possibility of my needing tactical training is less probably than needing hurricane readiness, alternate job skills, or a safer way to walk.

      Plus, GOOD tactical training is expensive, and I find money to be better used elsewhere.

      Though I’d not be against an Appleseed course or three…

      1. I read this book a couple of years ago. The authors drew upon experience from the civil collapse in Bosnia during the early 1990s. History has shown how brutal conditions can/will become in a prolonged grid-down/SHTF scenario. My concern for the physical security of my family/group from the criminal element in such a scenario when there could quite possibly be NO law enforcement remaining is what has prompted me to acquire equipment and tactical training. This book is thought provoking and worth the money, I think.

        Damn, I am unable to copy a link. The title is, “A Failure of Civility”, and it is available from Amazon.

        Also, In a really bad, TEOTWAWKI scenario, the lone wolf mentality will not work. I have been training and building relationships with other like-minded folks. Communities will survive; loners and single families will not.

        I wish you lived near me. You would be a valuable asset, for sure! :)

  5. So I’m a “Prepper” and I didn’t even know it. Living 30 miles from town (45 minutes if you go the speed limit) I only go to town once a week or two, (low income and high fuel prices and bad gas mileage the reason) and if I can’t make it that week no big deal I’ll go the following week. Living in a state forest in S.W. Florida,(I was here first the state bought later) we have hurricanes and forest fires that cut off power, close road access and create other problems. We keep extra of everything, have generators, propane stoves, extra fuel, extra ammo, lots of canned and dry goods and all the stuff a prepper would have. With the wildlife that comes around my 20 acres and my chickens and cows and a winter garden and a pond full of fish, turtles and a gator or two I could last a long time if needed. So I guess I can say I’m ready for the zombie apocalypse. Thanks for pointing out that this normal life style for many rural people is what some others are looking for.

    1. Not all of us are looking for it…some of us left that life, and are now trying to get BACK to it!

      I’m guessing that you can also turn a wrench, swing a hammer, and fix a busted pipe. You, my friend, are the backbone of the country, and seem to be a fair representation of what once made us strong. I’m hoping you were able to pass on that lifestyle to a new generation – those skills are slowly fading away, sadly.

      Thanks for taking the time to drop a line here. Makes me feel as though I’m not as alone as I sometimes feel in this struggle.


  6. Loved your story.
    I went to school in Huntington, My Grand ma’s sister had a Big farm in West Hamlin. route 10 I loved going there Horses, Cows, Pigs, Hogs, Chickens you name it. Out house, Bucket in the well for “COLD” water. they grew anything that grow, eat stuff right out of the garden,
    sure do miss the good times..I bought a small piece of crappy land in rural southern VA. but it’s to much work for me now to do a garden.but I sure would like to.
    thanks for telling us what’s happening.

    1. Too much work? Get a container and grow some basil! I have some growing on my windowsill….

      (….and in about 5 different locations across the yard :P)

      thanks for the kind words!

  7. Loved this article. I went home to NE Wyoming for Thanksgiving and life there is exactly the same as you describe. One hour drive to Spearfish, SD, closest town with a Wal-Mart. My parents have three large chest-type freezers, one for meat, one for “butter and bacon”, and one for frozen vegetables. Plus two upright refrigerators! We’ve been “preppers” for generations up in the neck of the woods and didn’t even know it!

    Love your articles and I will use your Amazon link to help out whenever I can.
    Take care,

  8. Preppers is just another word for being responsible for yourself. Not dependent on the guberment. That ain’t going on these days in citys, the hood or in the general population. The 3s matter in being able to survive any situation. Cover those and you might be able to tell you grandchildren some Great storys. Just got 5 Welsh Harlequin,5 Rouen and 5 Cayugas. One breed lays 350 eggs a year per hen. I love Duck eggs and meat. They Rock ! Duck Bacon does too…

  9. Dear db…absolutely loved this article. Oh how I wish there were more folks like yens. I do my best to self sustain and never knew I was considered a prepper. This is long overdue, but I want to thank you for the everglades tomato seeds you sent me in April I believe. The seeds produced beautiful healthy plants and I still continue to be amazed at how they continue to flourish. I shared with a neighbor who is also thrilled. We will continue to reproduce from your family seeds! Thank you! Have a blessed and joyous Christmas!

    1. Nobody will take care of you as well as you will…and if buying home owners insurance and wearing a seatbelt make sense, why doesn’t any of the things that coincide with being called a “Prepper” socially acceptable? No one expects to be in a car accident, or have house fire, but planning on job loss or the need to defend yourself is not?

      Makes no sense to me…

      But then, I’ve never really folded to peer pressure, preferring to make myself happy rather than others, at least as far as how I live my life.

      Thanks for stopping by…

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