It’s the simple life, right? One of the things I hear so much when talking to people about survival is how they plan to live off the land. Shoot their own meat, or raise their own livestock. On the surface, it seems like an easy choice, do whatever you’re most comfortable with, but there’s a bit more to it than that. In this post I’d like to cover what you should consider when you start planning ahead for your meals, so you can plan appropriately before the SHTF. Because your family should never have to go hungry.
How much land do you have?
This is an obvious one, but it’s important. To raise livestock properly, you’ll need space for them to grow, grasses for them to eat, as well as barns, watering holes, and an ability to take care of your animals as they grow, until they’re old enough to butcher. In a city, this can be a headache, especially if you run afoul of your local zoning laws. Smaller animals, like chickens, ducks, rabbits and even fish can usually be part of your plans without raising too many eyebrows, but some cities restrict even these. Be sure you do your research first, and make sure there are now laws prohibiting what you’re planning to do.
Likewise, hunting may not be any easier. Open seasons may impact your ability to get the food you need, when you need it, though I imagine this will be less highly regulated in a SHTF situation where we’re all struggling to survive. Just remember, if you’re using public land as your hunting grounds, the animals may quickly become few and far between once the supermarkets run dry and everyone has the same idea as you. The good news is, especially if you’ve got a car and the ability to get mobile, you can increase your hunting range as need be.
You need land to raise livestock, but not necessarily as a hunter.
How’s your hunting and animal skills?
Next, it’s important to consider just how much skill you have. Not only does it take time and experience to become a decent hunter; you need to know where to track and stalk your prey if you want any hope to put meat on the table with any sort of reliability. Trapping is hard, and it’s more than just setting a couple of snares. You need to be able to find animal sign, and doing that well comes purely from experience.
But raising livestock comes with its own set of challenges. You’ll need to learn how to care for all of your animals day-to-day, how to ward off diseases, keep them growing fat and healthy until they’re ready to be butchered. It’s not as easy as you think, especially if you don’t have any experience, and once the SHTF it’s going to be too late. Not only will no one be selling any of their herds, one disease or disaster and they all could simply perish.
You need to start developing your skills now, no matter which path you choose.
How much money do you have?
Both hunting and raising livestock require significant financial investments. For the former, its you’re gun and all of your hunting gear. Everything from special sprays to mask your scent, to the ammunition and targets for your rifle costs money. My advice is to invest in it now, while it’s still cheap and we haven’t got any restrictive gun ownership laws. It’s just a matter of time, so start to build your ammunition stockpiles now.
Raising livestock is definitely the more expensive of the two. You’ll not only need to purchase your first few breeding animals, they’ll need a barn for shelter, fencing around their enclosure, and not to mention all the feed you’ll need to buy if your land doesn’t have enough good grasses for feed.
You need cash to raise livestock effectively, while hunting is more cost-effective.
What do you actually enjoy?
Finally, and perhaps the most important question of all, is what you actually enjoy doing. What are you passionate about? There’s no denying some people are far more into hunting than they are caring for a herd of goats, and each requires a very particular set of skills.
Personally, I get bored when I’m hunting, but I could spend an entire day fishing a stream. The methodical flicking of the line is almost therapeutic, and over the years I’ve developed a bit of a knack for “finding the fish” as my friends like to say. My passion, led me to develop experience, that I can now use to reliably bring home a feed of fish.
But I get bored and frustrated with our animals. You never get a day off, they always need to be cared for, fed, and you need to be highly motivated to get out there and see to them, rain, hail, snow or shine. But it is far easier for a neighbor or my kids to chip in and help care for the animals than it is to rely on them having a successful hunt or fishing trip.
You need to ensure you actually enjoy what you’re doing, or you’ll never get good at it.
For me, I’ve struck a balance. I know I’m not a skilled hunter, so we’ve compromised on our homestead and have invested in a flock of egg-laying chickens, ducks in our pond. Tilapia in our dam, and a small herd of goats. Oh, and a bunch of bee hives for honey. And I’ve got a free pass to go out and catch as much fish as I like, because we salt and dry it like a jerky that tastes absolutely amazing. Doing it like this means I get the best of both worlds, and we’re more prepared than ever, if the SHTF.