I’m 26; I’m female, relatively healthy, married, mother of one son (age 5). I will not claim myself to be an “expert” in any way; I’m not. But I know some, and I learn fast, and I’m willing to push myself as hard as I have to. My “group” is currently a solid three people – myself, my husband, and our son – with a tentative additional two – one male, one female, both in their twenties. The male is a former army medic; the female is a veterinary assistant. Both are willing to carry their weight, should we permanently join up with like-minded folks to create a permanent compound, which is something I’m growing more interested in every day.
I know some things about medicinal plants (as well as more conventional methods of first aid) and have books on identifying and using them; I know various way to prepare them and seem to have a knack for knowing exactly what to use for someone when there are several possible options. I know a fair bit about childbirth as well, though again, claim no “expertise” in the area (other than that I’ve obviously done it). I also know a reasonable amount about gardening, and have books on everything from building greenhouses to natural ways to control pests/combat crop issues and can recognize quite a few edible plants people don’t have a clue they can eat.
I’m no sharpshooter, but I’m not afraid to hold or fire a gun and I’m willing to practice until I’m better. I’ve taken archery classes in the past and am a decent shot, though admittedly out of practice. I am small (not much above 5′) though a bit on the heavy side (I wasn’t always and am working on this) but I’m strong and flexible and a decent fighter. I grew up in a family of military/police officers and was taught many easy ways to defend against an attacker, and am always eager to learn more.
I can swim and climb and hike (though not as well as when I was thinner; again, something I’m working on). I’m not squeamish about killing my dinner, be it fishing, hunting, or trapping, and I’m eager to practice/learn all of those skills. I’m a fairly-good cook (and have been serve-safe certified which means I understand food safety to avoid things like salmonella) and can get creative when my “ingredients” aren’t conventional. I am willing to eat all manner of things (I’ve had squid and deer for instance and have always wanted to try both rabbit and bear though I’ve never had the opportunity) and I understand the value of balancing a home-grown/foraged diet with fresh/preserved meat, regardless of it’s animal-of-origin.
I am fantastic with animals. I own 3 cats (all healthy; all loving; all fantastic mousers) and I spent a year in high school working with a hunting dog trainer, teaching young dogs to retrieve game shot by their owner on silent command. I love horses and can ride relatively well (though again this is something I am out of practice on) and while I prefer to ride horses trained for heel commands, I can handle rein commands when necessary. I haven’t spent much time around farm animals, but I’ve been reading up on the care of animals like rabbits, chickens, and goats, and I have milked a cow before (I don’t think I was very good at it, but I’d be willing to try again!).
I have been learning how to preserve food (dehydrating; canning; smoking; etc. – basically, any way to keep food good for longer). I can sew. I can crochet. I’m capable of wielding an axe; a hammer; a screwdriver; a saw; a drill…and many other tools, with varying levels of skill. I can embroider a flower on a napkin, and I can fix a wobbly leg on a flea-market-find-dining-room-table. I can paint a room, pull weeds, cut hair, hem pants, fix a leaky sink, change a light bulb, lower a fever, bake pumpkin bread from scratch, stitch a wound as well as a seam, and dozens of other skills.
I know religion. In general, I mean. I can whip up a voodoo gris-gris bag in a couple of minutes, cleanse a room with sweetgrass and pine, create a protection charm better than most Wiccan priestesses, and spout off Bible verses. I studied to be a Christian missionary for three years devoutly, and have studied every other religion I could ever since, and I have faith. I feel very strongly that it doesn’t matter what we have faith in – only that we have it. My faith is strong. I do not argue religion; I listen and learn and, when asked, I teach. Religions aren’t as far apart as most people think, but close-minded religious bigots won’t be a good fit for me as I cannot abide being preached at rather than spoken with and listened to.
Beyond that…I am, at heart, a skald; a bard; a story-teller. I write original things, but it’s more than that. I can tell you story you’ve heard a dozen times and twist it just enough to make you swear you never heard it. I own hundreds of story books, of all sorts, and love to read aloud. I love mythology – Greek-Roman is my favorite, but I know tales from Norse, from Egyptian, from Native American, and from Gaelic myths as well. I adore fairytales – from Disney to the Brothers Grimm and various forms in between – and I can spin a tale to catch the attention of nearly anyone.
You can prepare for a lot of things – you can stock food and water; you can learn to hunt and grow and raise food; you can learn to shoot and fight; you can fortify your home; you can learn to hide; you can find alternative energy sources – solar, wind, bio-diesel, methane – for your compound. But what you cannot do – what you simply have no way to stockpile – is the sort of thing that feeds the soul.
Stories, and songs, and dance…these feed our souls. I’m not the best dancer, but I can sing passably well, I can sort of play piano, and I can tell a story like you wouldn’t believe. So while some preppers might have more food, or more secure shelter, or better weapons…no group that doesn’t have someone like me (a storyteller, a musician, or both) is going to be in better spirits. And happy people fight and argue less; they work together and pull together as a community better; they form stronger bonds and a more solid unit. They work harder and longer and smile while doing it. Because feeding your body isn’t enough; you’ve got to feed your soul as well. That’s the heart of our humanity; of who and what we are.
Music, laughter, stories…these things breed solidarity and community and connection. No group or compound should be considered complete without someone capable of bringing together the hearts, minds, and souls of it’s group. That’s what a bard does. So maybe I’m new to prepping; maybe you could find a group with stronger people or more-experienced people. But new as my tiny group is, we’ve got a strong bond and a lot of heart and we’re willing to learn and teach alike; to welcome others as new as us, and accept lessons from those who know more; who have done this for longer.
Anyone interested in learning more about me, or my group, either PM me on here or shoot me an email/gchat invite at theladyslytherin(at)gmail(dot)com. Use the subject line “Compound” so I don’t filter it to spam by accident.