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When I first got a drone, I had a lot of fun just playing around, recording silly aerial movies of me and my kids, but it actually comes in handy on our property. Far more than I thought it would, and it got me thinking about just how practical they can be as tools. I mean, there’s a reason the military uses drones, using them for everything from surveillance to tactical missions. You can get a feel for a situation with a drone, before sending the troops in.

Now, I’ll fill you in on how I plan to use my drones (yep, that’s a plural) in a minute, and how I’ve been using my latest tech toys around my property. But first though, comes the all-important question…

How to keep them charged?

We all know power is going to be in short supply in a grid down scenario, and drones are power-hungry little machines. You’ll get maybe 15 to 20 minutes of flying time on a single charge. That’s not a lot, and you need to be sure you’re generating enough juice through your off-grid sources to keep the batteries going or you’ll wind up with a bunch of paperweights. So, run your numbers and make sure your setup is generating enough power before you start buying drones for your homestead. Once that’s sorted, here’s how they can help.

Scouting your fence lines

If I were to walk my entire fence line, it’d take me the better part of the day. Even riding it on an ATV takes far too long, burning petrol (which is in short supply too). But in a SHTF situation riding my fence line puts me in danger. On my property, that’s where I’m most likely to be spotted. With a drone, I can fly the entire route on a single charge, from the comfort of my dining room, and check everything is alright. This is especially important after a storm, when branches or fallen trees could have damaged parts of the fence line where my cattle can get out.

Searching out new resources

When we built our bug out cabin it took months of exploring until we found the perfect location, a hidden spring tucked away deep in the back of our property. But on a recent fly over I noticed something. The pond that forms is quite visible from the sky, but almost impossible to find on foot. If I was using the drone back then, I could have saved so much time from our search. If you want to quickly search an area, looking for new resources, using a drone is one of the most effective ways to find what you’re looking for.

Patrolling a border

Now here’s where things get fun. It took me a while to figure out but there’s also a pre-programmed setting on my drone that allows me to record a flight path and send the drone on patrol. Once I set this up it became that much easier scout my fence lines (I simply run the program and watch the feed), but this has another practical use. In a SHTF situation, you could use your drone to run surveillance along a border during a firefight. Obviously, it may be the drones last flight (anyone intent on doing you harm will probably shoot it down), but you’ll get some valuable intel on your feed as to what’s coming.

Investigating a disturbance

I also use my drones as investigators. They’ve got flashlights I can turn on and off, so when I get an alarm from one of my far-flung motion sensors during the night I can quickly boot one up and go see what’s happening. It’s a relief most of the time (we’ve had a couple of deer and one bear so far), but knowing I’ve got the ability to see what’s happening, on all parts of my property in minutes, well it gives me more peace of mind, especially living this isolated. It also makes it really easy to check whether or not there’s any mail, without the mile walk to our letter box at the end of the driveway.

Dropping a payload

Now I’ve not tested this yet (I rather like my drones thank you), but I have considered weaponizing my drones as a last line of defense against an attack. Insurgents have already been using this technique against our military, and while a tad controversial, it’s also rather effective. Fit a grenade to your drone and crash it into someone trying to storm your property? That’ll get far more range than I could throw it, and I’m sure it’d take any approaching force by surprise.

How about the noise?

Finally, and I did get asked this a lot, but how about the noise? When a drone is close, you can definitely hear the buzz, but once you get a few hundred feet in the air it’s much harder to notice. Unless you’re planning on flying right up to someone, there’s a high likelihood they won’t even notice that you’re flying a drone, and that’s exactly how I like it.

Protecting against drones?

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to protect against a drone. They’re quick, and you can’t get your hands on the lasers or signal jammers the military uses to protect against them. My advice, if you see a drone investigating your property (after the SHTF of course) is to shoot it down. It’s good target practice, and shows whoever watching they better not step into your property because you’re ready and willing to fight back. The last thing you want is people snooping on everything you’ve been preparing so they can steal it for themselves.

In my opinion, drones have been a fun addition to our homestead. The kids love flying them, and they’re also quite practical, giving me the ability to scout disturbances and see what’s going on in all corners of my property, without having to trek there myself. Saving me time, effort, and freeing me up for everything else that needs to get done.

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