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Survival Farming - Equipment?

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posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 11:14 AM
So you're in a WTSHTF situation, you're settled fairly securely on your bit of earth and it’s now time to get down to the mundane task of growing something to eat. What you would grow is another (very interesting!) topic, but let’s assume you are growing OP varieties, devoting a great portion of your land to staples like potatoes and grains and you are pretty well-versed in organic methods (AKA doing without those handy bags of chemicals).

What tools/equipment do you need to meet these goals:
1. Prep soil and get the potential crops in the ground
2. Keep them weed-, predator- and disease-free
3. Maintain and physically support them
4. Harvest and process them if necessary
5. Store them for extended consumption
6. Store them for next years seed

Let’s limit to physical tools (as opposed to knowledge tools like companion planting) with which you might stock your bug-out place, and assume that your gasoline reserve is too precious to waste on a rototiller.

Thanks! Your input greatly appreciated!

Edited to correct baad spellinks and wurst grammation!

[edit on 25-1-2008 by TenEighty]

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 11:34 AM
A shovel
A hoe
a rake
my three kids to do all the work

In reality I think that where I live [midwest U.S.A.] most plnatings will be small. We have good ground and a long growing season. Friends have done remarkably well with just a few plants and basic crop rotation. I do think that heirloom type seeds[non-hybrid] are the only way to go. I am really not sure how to deal with unwanted pests other than the two and four legged kind. One you kill and eat, the other you just don't eat



posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 11:35 AM
reply to post by TenEighty

I guess it would depend upon how much land your planning to cultivate, whether you plan to use animal or human power to perform the tasks, and what type of crops you're planning to grow.

If you could give me a few specifics, my father-in-law could probably give you the low down on what's needed to get the job done. He grew up in an era when the majority of farmers didn't own tractors and used horse-drawn or human powered implements. I'd be glad to ask him if you like, and I'm sure he'd be more than happy to share his recollections on th subject.

[edit on 1/25/08 by LLoyd45]

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 11:38 AM
reply to post by LLoyd45

Lloyd are we following each other around or are we psychic twins from different mothers? It seems where on is the other follows. Glad to have a like minded friend.



posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 01:31 PM

Originally posted by TenEighty
So you're in a WTSHTF situation, you're settled fairly securely on your bit of earth and it’s now time to get down to the mundane task of growing something to eat.

First off, if you are evacuating from a city to land you've purchased and want to start over after a catastrophe it's already too late.
You need to prepare for situations like this years in advance so you'll be familiar with what crops can grow in your region and how to preserve them once harvested. You can't just drop in and expect to survive because even a fast crop of something like green beans take a couple months to produce something edible.

If the situation is effecting the environment you may be totally out of luck for one or more growing seasons.

What you would grow is another (very interesting!) topic,.......

This would be very dependent on your location, how many people in your group, what livestock you need to feed. Something as simple as vitamin C could mean your demise if your only source is tomatoes and peppers from garden. Sure, wild fruit and berries could supplement your diet if they're available and you know what to look for, but a single crop failure will leave you with a nasty case of scurvy.

What you can plant will be only the seeds you have stockpiled because the local garden center will likely be closed.

What tools/equipment do you need to meet these goals:
1. Prep soil and get the potential crops in the ground
2. Keep them weed-, predator- and disease-free
3. Maintain and physically support them
4. Harvest and process them if necessary
5. Store them for extended consumption
6. Store them for next years seed

1. If you need to clear land of brush or trees, again, you're too late.

A proper producing garden takes up to two years of work to get the soil prepared and working for you on a scale for a family to produce a meaningful amount of food. Even reasonably soft grassland needs to be cleared of any rocks and sod, and believe me when I say, the native grasses will try to reclaim any clearing you do. Most of your time will be spent with a hoe trying to keep it from coming back up.

2. Weeding will be your largest chore after the soil is prepared and the planting is done. Without chemical assistance it's a very labor intensive job, but a very necessary one.
That takes us back to the hoe.

As far as predators go, the animals you kill them and eat them.
Insects are more difficult, but plant by plant they can be killed by hand and having a bag of diatomaceous earth to sprinkle on the plants will save you a lot of heartache.

Birds are by far the hardest to control unless you have an endless supply of shotgun shells. I had some success protecting a cherry crop with a couple 11 - 12 year old nephews armed with pellet guns and a box of 177 pellets. The boys were quite happy to shoot anything that landed in the trees and they worked for free other than meals and a roof over their heads.

3. Water, some sort of fertilizer, and plenty of TLC.

4,5,6. Of course you harvest when the particular crop is ready, but you need to familiarize yourself with storing each different type of food.
Some things can be canned and kept for a year or two, some will need to be dried, some stuff keeps for months in a root cellar.
A food dehydrator is a good investment, but you can also build one.

Let’s limit to physical tools

OK, just the basics.

Gardening tools need to be very sturdy and not some $5.00 shovel from WalMart. Buy the best you can afford.

A couple of spades
A couple flat shovels
An ax, hatchet, machete, and scythe
At least two or three hoes (you'll use them a lot)
Tined forks for spuds and root veggies
Pitch forks for hays, grasses and grains
Hard rakes for soil, leaf rakes for softer material
Sharpening equipment for your tools (sharp tools make the job easier)
A good solid wheel barrow (very important)
Water barrels and watering cans
Baskets, buckets, and containers
Twine, string, stakes, and possibly nets

Plenty of blood sweat and tears...............

I know I've forgotten a lot but these are the basics.

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 01:45 PM

Originally posted by reluctantpawn
reply to post by LLoyd45

Lloyd are we following each other around or are we psychic twins from different mothers? It seems where on is the other follows. Glad to have a like minded friend.



Same here reluctant.

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 02:50 PM
I just wanted to add the importance of cats and dogs when considering animals in your survival group and how it relates to crops.

A good dog will chase off predators that want to eat in your garden, and they can be a fantastic early warning system for predators that want to eat you. I recommend the Chow for pure tenacity and loyalty, but they can also be eaten if necessary because they have a lot of meat on them.

A couple young cats are the best defense you can have against rodents that will eat and spoil growing food or food you have stored. Siamese tend to be the best hunters from my experience, but again, all cats can be used for food in an emergency situation.

Keep in mind that these are working animals.
You'll need to feed them and give them succor to keep them loyal, but the trade off is worth it. If it comes down to you dying of starvation or eating your animals, you eat the animals.

[edit on 25/1/2008 by anxietydisorder]

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 04:50 PM
First off---guns, guns, more guns, and lots and lots of bullets.

Should you actually survive the "mad max" time just after some serious degradation, A patch with trees and running water, some mules, and some spare iron. Anyone can build a small forge. A few cattle for meat and leather.

I would presume this would be after 5 or 10 years. IMHO it would be better to stay mobile and remote for a bit while the starving masses of humanity ravage the country like locusts.

Don't wast time and effort building something someone else wants worse.

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 05:16 PM
reply to post by anxietydisorder

What great posts! I am honored by everyone’s thoughtful answers (bows humbly)!

Anxietydisorder, I agree that if you are having to rely on gardening skills alone to feed you – yes, you’re definitely out of luck. I have spent the last year and a half with various garden plots built from scratch (but hardly all by hand) and it was and continues to be hard work. All seek to return to their former madness. I think your two-year estimate is probably a good thing to keep in mind when planning supplies. You make me think that Vitamin C tablets would be an excellent item to have on hand.

Your list of hand tools is great. I have a tendency to break wooden handles or sling the head off fiberglass ones (this due either to cheap tools – as you warned against – or perhaps I don’t take very good care of my tools (hope it’s not the latter, how embarrassing)), so DH welds on steel tube to the implement and I am set for life. In my case I might do well to convert everything over ahead of time, eh?

In agreement with all your items. Good list! Some of these did not cross my mind as I posted the first time. On further consideration, here are some more things I would want to have:

Pruning shears and long handled loppers. Ladder. Wire for fencing or trellising (and then fence pliers and fence stretcher). Sturdy hand pump for water, long lasting hoses. Trays or screens for winnowing grain, and for drying foods. What about a flail – is this necessary?

Canner, plenty of jars and crocks, lots and lots of gaskets and lids. This raises the question – at some point the gaskets will dry up and you will run out of the disposable lids. Obviously this is not to be considered in any but the survival situation, but does anyone know if the lids can be revamped some way, or if there is another solution?

Ok and now I have another question – some years and some locations aren’t the best for hay and I know nothing about silage, can someone point me in the right direction? What are your basic requirements? As in – first of all, do you have to have a silo?

I agree about the cats and dogs! I like Great Pyrenees for livestock protection and guard work – but I’m not sure how, er, meaty they are…

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 05:26 PM
reply to post by reluctantpawn

Hi reluctant,

Yes, definitely the OP varieties are a must-have. And a long growing season is so valuable! If you have to make the choice - do you go with disease resistance or high production? (obviously if you don't have to you just plant both...


posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 05:32 PM
reply to post by LLoyd45

Hi Lloyd,

i would be greatly interested in knowing what your FIL would recommend as necessary eqpt, etc. What a great resource of knowledge he must be! Please do share, I appreciate the offer!

For specifics let's say 2 mules or horses, and 25 acres to split the most appropriate way among pasture, some kind of grain, and then various vegetables. That's probably not enough info, tell me if you need more. It's pretty hypothetical anyway.

Look forward to the answer and anything else he would like to share. Awesome!

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 05:44 PM
reply to post by gotrox

Hi Gotrox,

Hear, hear. As far as I'm concerned you can't have too many guns.

You might be totally right, and there's a lot to be said for being mobile and nomadic. But i would hope at some point (before my seeds are no longer viable - although they'll last a good while) to be able to plant - i think it is just something people need to do. It's good for the soul. And heck, who is going to want my place worse than ME? Anything worth having is worth fighting for... I think territorial defense is an interesting subject too! Dogs, barriers, boobytraps, cannons.. all forms of pest protection!



posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 05:49 PM

Yes I said tires.

Cost? FREE!
There will always be old car tires laying around. Find a tireyard and youre in the money!

Here is what you can do with them…

They are great for starting all manner of plants. You place the tire around the site of your plant; encircling the plant or small bunch of plants in a single tire.

This acts like a mini greenhouse.
The tire will collect and radiate heat and also keep the area surrounding the plant moist.
It will accelerate growth.
It will also protect the plant from some predators and give it growth support.

Later on you may remove the tire if the plant outgrows it.
You may also stack numerous tires.
You can put water into the tires to create a reservoir ring of water to keep the area moist. REMEMBER change the water in the tires 2-3 days to keep insects from laying eggs.

This method works great for potatoes; which would no doubt be a staple of post-apocalyptic gastronomy because of its resilience and ease of farming.

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 05:59 PM
I have found that it takes very few tools and very little effort to grow organic crops for just my family and sometimes the neighbors (if it's a good year!). The main thing is to concern yourself with the basic tools mentioned by reluctant pawn but also to invest in hardy, preferably heirloom, seed varieties.

This may have already been posted on ATS but I thought it might be helpful to include here:

The Librums

Tons of info on how to do, make virtually everything.

posted on Jan, 25 2008 @ 06:53 PM
reply to post by TenEighty


I'll be at his house tomorrow, so I'll see what he can tell me. I'll take notes because he loves to talk about the old days, and enjoys helping others become self-sufficient. I've learned more from him in the past decade than I ever could have imagined.

[edit on 1/25/08 by LLoyd45]

posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 03:13 PM
Finally, a topic I am well over-qualified to answer and could write an entire book but will try to be brief.

1. Spading fork to break ground, mudrake, a lot of hoes, spade (some call a shovel a spade ... but a proper spade has a pointed rather than a flat end). Watering cans, a water reservoir of some sort, hoses if you have a raised water cistern. An old fashioned push mower is a mulch-maker. Wire for compost bin. Leaf rake for compost leaf collecting. Animal manure for compost. Lime for compost. Wheelbarrow.

2. For disease, eco-tech shows that by keeping the plants at optimum health, most diseases can be avoided. Rotation, companion planting, french intensive biodynamic using double-dig techniques. Watering techniques are vital in disease prevention. LIME for acid soils is something to stockpile if you can ... dolomitic lime (has calcium as well). If your soil is alkaline, forget the lime. Get a PH meter and try to maintain 6.0-6.5 (slighlty alkaline). PH seems to affect plant health more than all the major and macro nutrients. Disease prevention is a very long subject ... but, there's nothing to 'stockpile' unless you need lime (or gypsum for clay-based soils).

For insects, rotation and companion planting. A pair of scissors is nifty for bisecting tomato hornworms (but basil plants in between each tomato plant do a super prevention job). Keep fruits from contacting the soil, especially curcubits. Put soil over the main stems of most winter squashes. These methods are better than stock-piling pesticides. Oh, and harvest all corn as soon as possible to prevent corn earworm infestations. Observe corn once every couple of hours when it is close to ripe. Vigilance is keyword.

For predators, two adult cats and a dog or two should suffice for a small farm and small garden.

3. Support ... cages are a nuisance. Straight sticks and SOFT cotton twine. Mulch!

4. Harvest baskets and old 50# burlap sacks or recycle cardboard boxes.

Process low acid fruits and vegetables in a pressure-cooker/canner ... and high acid products in a regular canner. Most common market variety tomatoes today are no longer considered high acid and must be pressure cooked.

5. Storage methods salting, canning, pickling, dehydrating and root cellars.

6. Seed saving is really an art in itself ... knowledge of methods is what you need here. See the link below for a starting point. I saved seeds I processed in simple envelopes, recycled from junk mail - labeled and stored in a dark wooden box.

[edit on 26-1-2008 by Trexter Ziam]

posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 06:18 PM
When you head for the hills, remember, it is rocky there... bring a pick mattock if you wish to establish crop rows in the hinterlands. You'll find when you get there folks refer to a shovel as a "transfer shovel"... because you cannot dig with such a tool.

Dam the water that runs through your land, you will need it for irrigation. Salvaged steel 5 gallon buckets can be burned out in a hot fire to hold clean water. Scavange any chicken wire/hog wire that you can to keep the critters off your food. 2 - 14" pipe wrenches work well to scavange irrigation lines.

I do not go without my carpenter's hatchet, my axe,a 20 oz hammer, 2 lb mini sledge, and an 8 pound maul, two shovels, a grade rake. and a leaf rake. Some form of cart or wheelbarrow helps tremendously. I find galvanized trash cans to be good cheap, durable, dry storage.

ditto on two cats and a dog

I save every gallon, quart, and pint, glass jar that goes through my hands and keep 6 months of dry goods.

Stack your timbers, cut sapling, and boards in grid fashion 12" above ground on rocks. Salvage pipe and steel rods into your stacks. When the "world ends" the junk will still be left over... just get to stacking and cleaning the old bricks.

Sri Oracle

posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 06:28 PM
Seeds: Corn (Maize), Pole Beans, Squash or Pumpkins (The American Indian's "Three Sisters") plus Marygolds and Nestursiums. Corn and Beans make a complete protine. The Corn supports the Beans, The Beans fix nitrogen for the Corn, the Squarsh or Pumpkins provide ground cover to control weeds, The Nestersiums (edible flower) protect Squarsh, Pumpkins and Cucumbers from bugs, Deer are "Smell Blinded" by the Marygolds (edible flower) and avoid them.

Animals: Geese And Guinea Fowl. Good watch dogs. Very tastey. Geese are good weeders of strawberries (before budding) and cotton.

Tools: Grass Syth with Cradle for harvesting hay and small grains (Oats, Wheat, Barley, Rye) and mowing the yard to reduce bugs, mice and snakes.

Hand cranked Meat Grinder and a hand cranked Grain Mill (such as the Corona Mill).

A large Pressure cooker (5 gallon/20 liter) with spare blowout plugs as well as a smaller Pressure cooker of same manufacturer (interchangable parts) and a pallet of mason jars in quart, pint and half pint sizes with rings and ten times as many lids. Lids are damaged more often than rings.
"The 'Ball' Blue Book of Canning".

Plastic barrels with clamp on or screw on lids for grain storage.

A methane generator to dispose of fecal waste and make methane gas and high grade fertilizer.

Indoor hand pump (kitchen pitcher pump) for convience and advantage in a siege defence.

The roof in snow country must be either strong, steep, or slick to survive. I vote for corrigated galvanized steel which has a 40-60 year no maintance life and will shed snow on any sunny day at tempatures five to ten degrees below freezing.

Well, I hope you find these ideas useful.

posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 06:59 PM

Originally posted by John, Sartell, MN, USA
plus Marygolds and Nestursiums. Corn and Beans make a complete protine. The Corn supports the Beans, The Beans fix nitrogen for the Corn, the Squarsh or Pumpkins provide ground cover to control weeds, The Nestersiums (edible flower) protect Squarsh, Pumpkins and Cucumbers from bugs, Deer are "Smell Blinded" by the Marygolds (edible flower) and avoid them.

Marigolds are a very important part of a garden and work very well at keeping deer out of the garden if planted around the perimeter and mixed in with other plant. Plus they look nice and the seeds are prolific and store well for years.

Just be careful of the varieties you select if you want to eat the flowers.

Gem Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia): 'Lemon Gem' and 'Tangerine Gem' Marigolds are the only edible marigolds. As their names suggest, they have a citrus flavor, even though you won't smell a citrus scent. Pull off the petals and break off and remove the bitter portion that comes to a right angle.

I've found that the stronger smelling NON-EDIBLE varieties work the best for controlling deer.

The non-edible varieties won't kill you, but they taste like crap and leave a very bitter lingering taste in your mouth and a slight burning at the back of the throat and on the tongue.

But anyone with a garden should really consider adding them to your growing area.

posted on Jan, 26 2008 @ 07:34 PM
My Barrett 82A1 CT will till the soil..
If it comes down to fighting with farm equipment ANFO is the only way to go.

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