Thursday, August 6, 2020

Too Much

Once in a while I hear people say, “You can never have too much (whatever they're selling)”. This may be a good way to sell things, but it's a terrible way to prep. A wise prepper knows their limits and has plans for “events”, and knowing how much is “too much” should be part of those plans.

Too Much Food
Food has a set shelf-life and regardless of how it is prepared or stored, it will eventually decay to the point of being inedible or even toxic. This is why we suggest that you stock the foods that you normally eat and rotate through the stockpile to keep it fresh; putting food aside in excess of what you can eat or are willing to give away is the same as taking it home from the store and immediately tossing it in the trash can. Wasteful of both food and money, this is one of the easiest “too much” things to do right now.

If you run into a situation where you are producing more food than you can store or eat, consider giving the surplus away. My folks always kept a few chickens around for fresh eggs and the surplus went to church with them every week. There will always be someone who can use a free meal or two, so dad would set the extra cartons of eggs on a bench inside the door, free for the taking. 

Gardens worked in a similar manner; we always grew more tomatoes than we could handle, so we talked to the neighbors and worked out a system of trade. Everybody “specialized” in a crop or two -- the neighbor to the north planted extra sweet corn, one to the south planted extra squash, to the west it was berries -- and traded the excess with the others. Specializing allowed us to pay more attention to the garden and simplified the fertilizer and pesticide application. This system has a lot of positive value that I'll have to cover in a later post.

There is one exception that proves the rule for food having a shelf-life: honey. As far as I know, honey will last centuries in a sealed container and that's longer than even I tend to plan for.

Too Much Water
Water also has a shelf-life that varies by treatment and storage conditions, which is why we recommend having a way to treat or filter water on hand. You can't store enough water for a long period, so it's better to have a way to clean what you can find. 

Water is also dense, and carrying more than a day or two's worth will either force you to leave other things behind or carry more weight than your body should. For shelter-in-place, having a few hundred gallons on hand is “enough” to give you time to look for sources to resupply from.

Too Many Guns
Firearms are long-term, durable goods. Kept properly maintained, you should be able to get at least 100 years use out of a quality firearm. How many guns is “too many” is a personal decision, as it varies with storage space and training. I'll freely admit that I have too many firearms! I tend to collect guns, and I have enough that I can afford to arm friends and family if they show up without any. I try to keep the ammunition required to a select few calibers, but that has been a challenge lately, as having a few oddball calibers around comes in handy when the gun stores can't keep the 9mm/5.56/.45ACP on the shelf.

You can only effectively fire one gun at a time, and they get heavier as the calibers go up, so choose your loadout to meet the expected threat. When hunting I'll carry a long gun and my EDC pistol, but if I'm traveling through unknown territory I add a back-up pistol to the EDC and carry more spare mags. Were I young enough to be on a combat footing I'd probably stick with the rifle/pistol combination that I know well.

Too Much Ammunition
Ammunition is close to firearms in terms of shelf-life. I've fired cartridges that were made for WW1 (nearly 100 years old) without any problems. I also have quite a bit of ammo that was made for WW2 in storage and don't expect to have any troubles with it. Heavier than water, I run into limits on how much I can carry under different circumstances, but the stuff in storage isn't going to be moved without a vehicle or two. Reloading gear and supplies would likely be a separate trip.

I stopped buying ammo a while back because I hit the “too much” limit and the fact that I have enough to keep my grandkids shooting until they have kids of their own. I don't keep it all in one place, which is a prudent prepper strategy for a lot of things. Fires, theft, and other ways to lose it are always a possibility so I don't keep all of my eggs in one basket.

Look at your preps and take stock of what you have. Is there any category that you can say “I have enough” and start working on another category? Having too much of any one type of supplies cuts down on your time and space to better round out your preps.

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