Prepper Dad: A Second Look

Editor’s Note: After I started at Lehman’s, my good friends Tim and Laura shared that they are (at least for now), urban preppers, with the eventual goal of retiring off the grid. “We just love Lehman’s. They have everything we’d need at our retirement place.” Tim was gracious enough to give me an extended interview about their future plans, which sound like what we hear from many Country Life readers!

Home Preserving BookFood preservation can be an issue for an off-grid homestead, but Tim has already started to plan out some systems that he believes will fit their retirement years. “With the acreage we are looking for, about 10 acres, with a deep creek, we are planning three 10-foot diameter turbines minimum. One for water, two for power, and then some solar panels. That should be plenty to run our freezers.” He pauses for a moment, and I know he’s about to pull my leg. Hard. “Do you know the difference between a stream, a crick and a creek? If you’re wet up to your hips, you’re in a creek. If you’re wet to your calves, you’re in a crick, and if you don’t get wet at all it’s a stream.” He pauses for a minute, roars with laughter, and then switches back to the plans for the homestead.

“I see our garden as old school raised beds. I’d love to garden now, but we don’t have a ton of room here in the ‘burbs. Our little flower beds are nice, though. We do compost, and I use the leftover grains from brewing in the beds too. My roses are blooming already, this early in Ohio! They really like the grains and coffee grounds. That keeps the bugs down too.”

“We plan on using wind and solar power, like I said earlier, with a backup of a propane generator with a huge tank; 1500 gallons or larger, if we can manage it. When we get settled out in the country, we want to make enough electricity to sell back at some point. We don’t need much for day to day. It’s possible to be off the grid, self-sufficient, and still have enough power to sell back at some point, if the weather is in our favor. Wind is a great power resource for our area.”

Even his workshops will have solar panels on the roof. He’s thinking about what might happen in the case of a bad solar flare. “My tractors, truck and back-up tech stuff are going to be in a shipping container ‘shed’ roofed with solar panels. No matter what happens outside our land, solar will let me power what needs powered, charge batteries, whatever.”

The frugal ways they espouse now will pay off in the future too. They’re not afraid to invest in what they need, and in a few special things that will add some enjoyment. “Laura will spend in big chunks for stuff that lasts, although in the end we’re both pretty frugal. We mainly look for practical purchases, investment purchases, things we know we’ll use for a long time.” Tim saved up and paid in cash for a 50-inch widescreen television, and Laura picked up an above-ground pool at a great price recently. “She’s installing the pool herself at the current house; but she intends for it to go along when we retire,” says Tim “‘When we move, she said to me, I’m taking this pool, it’s going with us. I’ll buy a new liner, I’ll put it in there too. It’s going with us.’ I said to her, ‘OK, baby.’” He chuckled again. “I know the right answer when it counts. And she’s got a point, too, that just because we’re going to be off the grid doesn’t mean it will have to be all sacrifice, you know? Our plan will allow us some cushion, a few luxuries.”