Back in November(2010) I had done a post on what I call the SaWaFo pyramid to shed a little light on that particular anchor point on your preparedness planning. What is the SaWaFo pyramid? Basically it puts your three basic needs into a pattern of building blocks with your survival, or preparedness plan at the center. We need all three of these things to survive. Safety, Water and Food. We can survive for a short while with just one of these three, and maybe a little longer with two of these three. But to be able to survive indefinitely, we need all three of these elements to be in place. Always.
As you begin your search in earnest for a piece of property to create your survival homestead, you will need to make these three elements part of your search parameters. But just how do we utilize our resources as we search, while keeping these three things at the forefront of your mind? Let us look at them one at a time and see how this may be done.
Safety encompasses a lot more than what many people think it does in this situation. Safety includes more than simply being safe. Safety and security actually affects everything you do. When you obtain water, you want to make sure it is safe to drink. You want to make sure that your long-term food storage is kept under conditions that will maximize its lifespan. When you buy a piece of property, you want to make sure that there are no hidden dangers that may sneak up behind you and bite you in the butt.
Some of the things you will want to check for are the usual resources related to safety and security for most homeowners. Does the community have a local police department? If not, do they rely upon a county sheriff’s department for law enforcement? What is the relationship to the state police force, and do they patrol the area? What is the history of crime in the area you are looking to move to?
Wild animals, such as bear, and in a few locations, wolves, can present some safety problems to you and your family. You will need to inquire as to the presence and if there have been any problems from these animals, or others. Raccoons and other small animals can carry rabies, and thus present another source of problems. Generally, if you are in a true rural area, and you stay on top of the trash and waste accumulation you will create you should not have any problems. However, if you are in a built up area you may find that there is a problem with animal and human interactions.
One of the drawbacks of human expansion into the woodlands is that we reduce the habitat of the animals that live in those woods. As that happens, some of these animals learn to adapt to our encroachment, and begin to raid out trash cans, eat from our gardens, and sometimes see our pets and children as potential food sources. A high incidence of problems in an area with any species indicates that there are in fact at least some animals that will invariably threaten your safety and security. If these incidents seem to have an unusually high occurrence rate, you may want to look elsewhere for a piece of property.
Other safety and security factors may be, but are not limited to, the presence of industrial chemical plants in the area that may create a hazmat situation. This could be through groundwater contamination, or possibly an accident that may release hazardous chemical clouds into the atmosphere. You should also investigate whether there are any large scale commercial farming operation that could also cause problems for your water source.
The list is long, and some people may claim too exhaustive and maybe even a bit much, but always remember that anything can happen at any time, and in any place, often with no warning. Proper analysis of your potential homestead property can prevent a lot of surprises from popping up and destroying your dream come true, turning it into a nightmare.
Water to drink is an absolute necessity. However, that water needs to be safe to drink. Following the recommendations above can help you to locate a homestead with safe water, but how do you find a homestead location that can provide you with water in the first place? One way to check on the potential of available water is to simply examine a topographic map of the area. Take a look at this clip from a topographic map to the left. It shows plenty of water available, but it is at or very near the surface. That could cause you some problems with the quality of your water supply.
A better indication of water is this clip found to the right. It shows a stream, with some relatively high ground on either side of the stream. You should have a safe shot at a clean well, even if you have to drive a shallow point well for financial reasons. You may not always be able to find property with such a clear indication of water availability, and in that case you will actually have to visit the area to see what is present for foliage.
An abundance of willow trees, ferns, moss, cattails and other marsh type grasses indicate a good source of water on your property. Another excellent source of clean water is the presence of a spring, especially one high above your home site.
The safest way to extract water from the ground is from a deep aquifer through a drilled well. That can get pretty expensive, especially if you have to go hundreds of feet deep. A shallower driven well can be installed for much less cash outlay, but generally can only be driven down to a depth of 20 to 30 feet as a maximum. There are exceptions, but 30 feet of pipe makes for a pretty tough time with a sledge hammer. You can also hand dig a well, although this is not the best alternative. However, there are cases where this is the only viable alternative.
Food is obviously a cut and dried necessity, or is it? We need food, and part of the concept behind homesteading or farmsteading is to be able to grow your own crops. One of the things you will want to watch for is the presence of large-scale commercial growing operations. Many of these businesses utilize genetically modified seed, and the potential for cross-pollination with your own garden is very real. The quality of the soil is paramount in your search for a homestead location. Scrubble land, or land where plants grow sparsely, has a PH that is too high or too low, too high a gravel or sand concentration is generally not worth the work it takes to get it into prime growing condition. It takes time and money, sometimes lots of it, to modify some land. Also, be aware of the drainage quality of the land you want to grow crops on.
You may need to install a drainage tile system, which can add thousands of dollars to your costs, or you may find that there is simply too much drainage causing a shortage of ground level moisture for your crops to feed on. In that case, you will need to modify the content of your soil by adding more clay or loam, again creating additional costs to your final expenses.
Do you need to clear large swaths of woodland to create adequate space for fields in which to grow your crops? If so, is there some sort of easement or restrictive covenant that would prohibit you from doing so attached to the bill of sale and title of the property? Again, you could wind up in an expensive position in which you could end up spending thousands of dollars, and still end up with a nightmare, instead of your dream come true.
Always remember the SaWaFo pyramid. Safety, water and food. You need all three of these things, no matter what your final plans for the coming times will be. Careful planning and thorough analysis of your situation can alleviate many of the potential problems you would be facing if you had not planned carefully in advance. Decide now what your goals are going to be for the future. Then make a plan of how you intend to achieve those goals. Once you’ve done your analysis and planning, you can deploy your plan with confidence of success.