The Challenge Of Rural Prepping

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Rural prepping may require a different approach when it comes to managing resources. Know how to deal with the situation as you read on!

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Rural Prepping | How to Survive in a Rural Setting

Challenges in a Rural Environment

Who we care for, the resources available, and where we’re from can make a big difference in our prepping approach.

Since we all have different circumstances to determine post-disaster success, there is no such thing as a perfect prep. However, those who take the challenge in a rural prepping community experience perhaps the greatest risk-reward trade of anyone.

When in a rural environment, we lose access to plenty of commodities that might make other areas more survivable.  It can be the availability of supply centers and the assistance of others.

We lose the ability to incorporate certain features into our preps. An example is a bug-out location when we have to care for the needs of livestock and crops.

And while we lose these abilities, the rural prepper gains a key strategic benefit: sustainability.

Here are a few ways that rural preppers can tackle the difficulties particular to their environment. This is to make sure that their homestead weathers the worst that the world can offer.


Dealing with Security Threats

The security issues with living on a rural property can be something of a contradiction. While it may be common knowledge that rural areas enjoy a hugely reduced rate of crime compared to neighboring suburban and urban regions, there are a few caveats that can make rural life more challenging to stay secure than living in a crowded city.

First, while there are fewer instances of reported crime, instances of violence can go undetected in rural areas.

Secondly, those in rural areas frequently lack the benefit of a neighborhood watch. This is proven to be effective in deterring crime and reporting it as it occurs.

Finally, rural life mostly involves living in large, open expanses.

While crime is less likely to occur, the odds of successfully deterring home invaders are reduced significantly. This is due to a wider space to cover with fewer means of detecting threats.

The most effective way to account for this is by establishing a parameter with adequate fencing. It should be at least 6 feet high and unscalable to ward off people.

Consider adding wire and other such defenses if allowable by local laws.

Finally, it can help to keep criminals away, using what I term the “scarecrow” strategy. By maintaining a façade of surveillance even when you aren’t available, you can help deter criminals in a larger area.

  • Spread out security equipment throughout the grounds, along with conspicuous signage indicating your security. Ideally, any security equipment should run with a back-up generator.
  • Hook up sensors to activate floodlights and noise alarms – this can actually also help in keeping away threats such as coyotes, as well.
  • And for an extra security bonus, you can’t go wrong with the old standby of a tough, well-trained dog. Locating impending threats in the pitch dark of night is something that your trained dog can handle much more competently than an entire search party.

RELATED: The Moderation Key: How to Recognize When Prepping Has Gone Too Far

Caring for Your Livestock and Garden

When long-term prepping comes to play, resources such as luxury items come second to vital resources such as food.

In a disaster situation, your livestock and garden might become far more tantalizing than any goods inside your home. There are some practices that can help defend these precious resources just as effectively as you might defend your goods indoors.

Before considering ways that you can defend your livestock from others, think first of ways to help them overcome the elements.

  • Use electrified fencing or wire around all potential entry points to eliminate small pests and predators from accessing your livestock.
  • Various garments and coverings can be equipped to avoid freezing and certain pests. Make sure any shelters for your livestock are well-maintained at all times.
  • Avoid resorting to too much artificial feed, which can be nutritionally hazardous and result in heightened illness.
  • Keeping a surplus of livestock first aid equipment is also a wise investment; for some ideas on what might be good to stock up on, look into this prepping list.

Once their basic needs are met, the next threat you can meet is that of others who might steal or harm your livestock.

A herding dog can serve as a natural guardian, but only goes so far when it comes to potentially armed invaders. However, they can serve as a helpful alarm for if anything does go awry.

Keeping a noise detector nearby livestock shelters can be a helpful way to keep tabs on these areas. Just make sure it has precise calibration to avoid excessive false alarms.

Finally, firearms and a well-sealed parameter to limit access points on your property can be useful ways to turn your range into a fortress.

Much of these tips are applicable for keeping your garden safe, though you must take extra caution to keep gardens out of reach from the parameter. Any resources reachable through your fencing will be more difficult to defend.

Given that, livestock and crops placed near fences can more easily be stolen or harmed. While it can be labor-intensive, it is worthwhile to push your parameter fencing several feet back if they come within several yards of these resources.


Here's a video from Survivalist Prepper that discusses the difference between urban and rural prepping:

These are just a few ideas to help preppers in more out-of-reach areas handle the challenges of prepping to survive. While it can take more effort and resources, you’ll be able to sustain a household much longer than someone in the suburbs.

It certainly isn’t the easy way to prep, but it’s one of the most effective ways if you follow the right practices.

What else do you think complicates rural prepping, and what would you recommend overcoming it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!



Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 31, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

24 Responses to :
The Challenge Of Rural Prepping

  1. Mith Radates says:

    Small correction: it’s perimeter, not parameter. Otherwise, well done. You might also consider an inexpensive CB radio or FMS/GMRS radoio network among rural dwellers to alert each other to threats and to coordinate responses. Each household could be equipped with a set of radios for well under $100 that would have a 36-mile range in flat country. And they are solar-rechargeable.

  2. Mith Radates says:

    You might also look into a Civilian Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) training program. They are available in many states for free and they cover organizing a group of civilians to deal with a natural or man-made catastrophic event. Topics and times include:

    1. Unit 1: Disaster Preparedness 2 hr. 30 min.
    2. Unit 2: Fire Safety and Utility Controls 2 hr. 30 min.
    3. Unit 3: Disaster Medical Operations I 2 hr. 30 min.
    4. Unit 4: Disaster Medical Operations II 3 hr.
    5. Unit 5: Light Search and Rescue Operations 2 hr. 30 min.
    6. Unit 6: CERT Organization 1 hr. 45 min.
    7. Unit 7: Disaster Psychology 45 min.
    8. Unit 8: Terrorism and CERT 2 hr. 30 min.
    9. Unit 9 Course Review, Final Exam, 2 hr. 30 min.
    and Disaster Simulation

    Not only does this training prepare you for crises, but it makes you known to agencies who will be involved in disaster response so they will be more likely to listen and respond to your comms.

  3. Edward F says:

    I think you mean perimeter, not parameter. This is confusing stuff.

  4. left Coast Chuck says:

    Regarding your link to ADT Alarm Systems: If the collapse that you contemplate actually occurs, a professionally installed alarm system will be totally useless. First, it depends upon electricity. If the power is off, so is your alarm system. Secondly, if armed response is included, in a total collapse, the armed guard that responds may be your worst enemy. He will arrive under the guise of offering assistance, but it may well be that he has other intentions in a total collapse. That is, if he is able to arrive at all. An alarm system is great while society is still working. When society collapses, that term explicitly includes the collapse of all the societal support systems we have installed over the years so that we don’t have to do what we used to do for ourselves in an earlier era.

  5. Laura says:

    Rural prepping has another advantage in defense – defense in depth. With long wide views, it is much harder to sneak up on your residence. Good dogs are a must and at least one, inside, that will wake you quietly, rather than bark it’s head off. I would avoid any obvious security fence and use natural barriers, such as blackberry vines or even honeysuckle. You have the additional benefit of fruit and really good nectar for bees. Even body armor will not fully protect someone coming through a blackberry thicket and it will grab them constantly, making this a very unattractive place to enter. They are nearly as formidable a fence for larger livestock, though they don’t work with goats, who just eat their way through.

    If your property has a strip of woods for a visual barrier to keep your garden or livestock from being easily seen, this makes you less of a target. The possible downside of that is distance from residence to barns for security. I like the idea of noise detectors. We have had serious problems with raccoons in the past and that might help.

    The lack of immediate backup will vary depending on location of course, but neighbors are neighbors and country folks tend to look out for each other.

    1. Grandma says:

      I am sure this will sound ignorant, but how do I teach the dog to come wake me quietly? It sounds like a good idea to me, but she barks loudly.


    2. Sargint Rock says:

      Also Bougainvilla hedges for those in southern climes!!

  6. Grandma says:

    The major flaw I see in these suggestions is the relying on electrical security systems/devices. When we come down to survival situations we can almost guarantee there will be no electric and you can only keep your generator going for a limited time. Anything that needs protecting in this kind of situation will require a human presence and oversight. Anyone serious about getting your food and live stock will first shoot the dogs and then encroach in a very hostile manner.
    And the other thing peculiar to rural living is that even with the distance between residences rural folks are rather more close knit than their city counterparts. And rural folks will help faster than city folks. City folks are raised to isolate themselves in crowded conditions to safeguard their privacy and in doing that they don’t know their neighbors well enough to rely on or trust in a crisis.

    1. sunny says:

      Electrical fencing could be translated into solar. That’s what we have on our wire fences to keep the horses grazing on the inside and not the outside. They are savvy when it’s one but humans wouldn’t be if they didn’t know it was wired to “jolt”.

    2. Sargint Rock says:

      Excellent analysis of city folks loving privacy over community!

  7. Julie says:

    I can think of no more hostile place to face a crisis than in a city. The inhabitants of cities are hopelessly dependent upon the system. I would not worry about the country folks. We are resourceful by necessity and are quite well experienced in taking care of our families and our animals as well as “making do” in emergencies. We don’t even consider a power outage a true emergency out here. While police are useless in rural areas, our neighbors can always be trusted for back up when needed.
    I feel fortunate to be able to have a garden to protect — how do you produce your own food in a high rise?

  8. Great Grey says:

    There some things I see that were missed.
    1. Having alternate shelter in case your primary house becomes uninhabitable. i.e. fire, flood tornado, etc.
    2. Shelter on the far side of any stream or drainage in case they become uncrossable while you are far side from home. i.e. that afternoon shower turns into a 6 inch cloudburst.
    3. How do you deal with fire, range or building.
    4. A) Solar will run alarms sensors quite well. B) after 6 weeks to 6 months depending on where you are, you might not need full time electronic alarms.

  9. rev. dave says:

    If you really want ‘perimeter defense’, consider English-style hedgerows. They will take a few years to get them well started, but will protect your stock from straying, provide fruit and nuts and shelter for wildlife, limit access to your property to driveways, and will stop humans, cars, trucks, and even MRAPs. Nothing gets thru a mature hedgerow except where you left the tractor openings – which means one rifle can cover the openings. And if you grow them wide enough, you can leave yourself travel tunnels in the center that nobody else will know about.

  10. Glen Wilcoxson says:

    About the hedge, it is Bougainvillea. If you run n jump n it you’ll probably die. Instantaneous hedge is razor wire or suspend a strip on a dowel rod above doors or window, running the hoisting strings inside the house, so you may release it on anyone under it you want to disable. You have to cut your way out of both these mentioned.

    1. WROLMike says:

      Although we love our animals, having a large (or several) outside dogs has proven not to work. Much experience in the Middle East confirms that the bad actors planning to attack a fixed position/shelter first shoot/poison “guard” dogs to eliminate the threat. They usually use bows and arrows to maintain silence, or place the poison inside fresh meat.

      Having a small dog inside to hear/sense that something happened to the outside dog(s) and alert the defenders may work.

      Assaults are often brutal, and a guard dog is easily expendable to the bad actors.

  11. John says:

    If it truly all goes to heck you can use a tried and true method. If you catch a REAL bad guy you can hang a good distance from your place and put a note on him: TRIED AND FOUND GUILTY BY A JURY OF THE FOLLOWING CRIMES: MURDER W/ SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE, RAPE W/ SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE, ROBBERY W/ SPECIAL CICUMSTANCE, THEFT W/ SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE AND ETC. If bad guys think they could die then they’ll on to better pickings. DON’T EVER TAKE THE BODY DOWN.

    1. JJM123 says:

      Crude but effective. But then again IMO public capital punishment (hanging or firing squad) in a civilized society would also deter crime.

  12. Joyce says:

    I’d also suggest making the aquaintence of your neighbors if you are going to set up a place in a rural area for a ‘retreat’ location. If you aren’t planning on living there full time at least for the present, sometimes amiable neighbors can be enlisted to help keep a watch on your property in your abscence, especially if it is near or adjoins their own. and I’m going to disagree with the statisitcs of ‘rural crime’ mentioned above. Because of the lack of neighbors and regualar sheriff’s patrols, rural crime is ALSO on the rise, mainly in the form these days of burglary, breaking and entering and theft. If you’re going to set up an alternative location in the country to use to secure your family, make sure you check it frequenctly yourself, or get the help of the local neighbors. You might include them in your prepping plans as an incentive for their help, especially if they live alone, have elderly relatives they care for or have young children that they might need help with themselves in a tight situation.

    1. Rose says:

      Add to those crimes; home invasion, which I have noticed is on the increase. In this crime, the person/people are at home and are often injured and/or killed.

  13. Amy says:

    We live in an area that is considered rural, although we live in a small town. We have had chickens for about 6 years now. Last year, we suddenly stopped getting eggs during a normal bounty. We realized that someone was stealing them from the coop in the wee hours of the night. So we have put locks on the coop door and the lift door over the nests. The eggs immediately returned to their normal level each day. Although someone came into my garden and relieved me of all my just ripe, and ready to be canned heirloom tomatoes.
    This year we are going to put up the motion activated lights. Thieves like to do their work in the dark.

  14. JJM123 says:

    My experience with electric fencing is decades old, but anyone familiar with electric fencing would be alerted by the insulators and therefore avoid or cut the live wire.
    Is there available an alarm to advise when a ‘jolt’ is given & when the circuit is broken? Would make a good perimeter alarm system.

  15. Frank says:

    Consider remote wireless detectors to detect intrusions. Some require batteries, others run on solar panels. They send a wireless alarm to a receiver. Some have a camera and send a picture or even video. Some cameras have IR light sources to see at night. Fore-warned is fore-armed.

  16. Kathleen says:

    I don’t have a lot of acreage, but when I bought this place the neighbors were few and far between. Now the hills behind me getting populated, much to my distress. A dirt road was put in along the top so I went up there, and to my surprise you could see EVERYTHING in my yard. You could even see my vehicles parked in front of my garage. All my privicy is gone. I have tried planting trees without success. I have about 100 more trees to plant come Spring. I just hope they make it through the Winter without dieing. I have them wrapped in damp newspaper stored in a cool room. I’m just about 70 so I do whatever needs to be done by myself. I’m probably the only person home during the day in this valley so there is no one to help me. Any ideas you have to streamline my work would be greatfuly appreciated.

  17. Marc H. Fries says:

    I have lived in the deserts and the high lines of the western united states. Also have lived and hiked/boated the beaches and forested/swap area’s of the southeastern states some. I grew up in the city of Detroit, MI. so I Was prepared for about any thing short of “Grizz” or “Carabobo”…HA!HA!HA!HA!

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