Looking for Motivation? 21 Preppers Share the Stories of How They Got Started

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

One of the most common questions I’m asked in interviews is how I got started prepping. That crucial moment when you decide that you need to change the way you live is paramount to understanding the motivation to live a prepared lifestyle.

Recently, I asked many of you how you started out, too, for an article I was working on.  You answered via email and social media, and I so thoroughly enjoyed hearing your stories that I decided to publish some of them in this collection, as opposed to merely quoting bits and pieces in the original article I had planned.

Sometimes I think we all have days where we lose our prepper mojo just a little bit. These stories of our awakenings can serve as a reminder to push you through the low spots, and they just might inspire someone who is considering becoming more prepared to take the leap. For privacy reasons, I’ve redacted anything that might identify the person or their location.

How I Got Started Prepping

24 years ago, I was a new mom to a lovely baby girl. My husband had a good job, we had an adorable little apartment, and we were doing okay on our small budget.  Then, when my daughter was just 3 weeks old, my husband came home unexpectedly in the middle of the day.

His good job was no more. Completely out of the blue, he had been laid off.

Panic ensued. Rent was due, which used up most of his final paycheck, and we had 2 jars of peanut butter, 10 bags of bagels in the freezer, and a garden that had just been planted in the yard but had not yet produced anything we could eat.

He began applying for jobs the very next day. He was young, intelligent, and strong, so we figured he’d have no trouble finding work. Unfortunately, we were wrong.  He also applied for his unemployment benefits, but it was going to take 6 long weeks before any money would arrive.

We went into survival mode.

We rationed out our bagels and peanut butter over the course of those six weeks. We never even considered asking for help, even though our parents would have gladly given us some groceries or money. We buckled down and just focused on getting through until that first unemployment check came in. He managed to get some day labor work a few times, which kept us in enough money to go to the laundromat to wash diapers and clothes, kept our electricity on, and paid our rent. Any debt we had incurred before this, of necessity, went unpaid. We couldn’t even afford groceries, so we certainly couldn’t manage minimum payments on credit cards. The only bill we paid was the car payment since we lived in a small town and he needed a vehicle to seek work elsewhere.

Since we couldn’t afford any type of entertainment, I spent a lot of time at the library. One day, when searching for frugal recipes (back in the days of the card catalog), I stumbled across a book that would change the course of my life. It wasn’t a preparedness book in the sense of “prepping”. It was about frugality. Amy Dacyczyn had written 3 books (that have now been combined into one big compendium) called The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Amy wrote with a sense of humor and a friendly tone, added quirky illustration, and immediately become my hero, my go-to girl for all things frugal. I felt a glimmer of hope when I read about her “pantry principles” and I knew that there was a way I’d never have to be in this desperate situation again.

Although I didn’t know it then, a prepper had been born.  Once hubby’s unemployment money came in, I began to quietly build a pantry. I was determined that my child would not ever wonder where her next meal would come from. Over the years, with the ups and downs of life, I’ve had many occasions to be thankful for my pantry: when I was laid off from my job as a single mother, during lengthy power outages due to bad weather, after incurring a major medical bill.  A few years ago, when we relocated from Canada to the United States, I had to leave most of my supplies behind. (This book was inspired by what I learned when rebuilding our stockpile.)

Years later, shortly after my divorce, there was a lengthy midsummer power outage across the eastern seaboard. As we sat there sweating miserably with our food rotting in the fridge, I realized that my stockpile was just a start and jumped into preparedness with both feet.

Personal economic disaster is a common theme.

Overwhelmingly, people who responded to my question shared that they had begun prepping due to a personal financial crisis.

1.) Julia

My husband having a motorcycle wreck last July. He broke himself in seven places along his right side, suffered from MRSA (they had to do an IV four hours a day) had some of the hardware that was put in removed in the 2nd surgery and now has four blood clots on his opposite arm where he had to have a pik line. Almost a year later he suffers from inflammation and chronic pain.  If it wasn’t for me being a couponer at the time and having a stockpile I don’t know what we would have done!!

2.) D’Ann

My husband also lost his job right when our first (turned out to be only) baby was born. Those first few years were rough.

3.) Jane

I inherited my nephew when his mother and father passed away. We went through my 3 month supply pretty quick, and I had to ask for charity on his behalf. When I was just starting out, there were too many times that I had to make a decision to buy a can of beans or a roll of toilet paper.

4.) Jedidiah

911 certainly got our attention but it was the banking crisis and subsequent recession the end of 2008 that gave me a major wake up call. My construction company went from 7 employees to little ole me. Personal income dropped 70%. From my perspectivthat felt like a depression, not a recession. We managed to weather those difficult years and had we not lived well below our means prior to the recession, we would have been in serious trouble.

Now, here’s the take-away from all this. During that period of time, I was not a happy man about what had happened to my business or my great employees. Now, looking back at that adversity….I’m thankful for that experience. My wife and I ultimately survived AND thrived. There was blood, sweat and tears involved, but as a result of that experience, we are now better able to handle most anything life may throw at us. That’s empowerment. That’s freedom!

5.) Brian

I lost my job in 2009 after I broke my back. Although it healed up, I couldn’t no longer do the heavy work I’d been doing for 20 years. The same year my wife used all of her maternity leave before going back to work and 2 weeks later shattered her ankle. They let her go.

It was in the worst of the crash and no one was hiring. We lived on miracles and prayer for about a year. We had just moved. I planted a garden and studied how to plant intensively, bought chickens, she couponed and learned how to do things like make our own detergent to save expense. I think in the meantime it became a lifestyle that we enjoy.

We have been blessed since then and the pantries are now stocked for about a year. Expanding on that many other things such as hand powered tools and kitchen appliances, candles, rechargeable batteries ect and the solar panels to charge things have found their way into the inventory.

It’s a scary thing to be on the verge with few applicable assets and we chose not to be arrogant in assuming it can’t or wont happen again. In fact we continue strongly in Iight of the current economic and geopolitical situation the world is in and there is NO guarantee that unemployment benefits will be there to help next time.

Don’t panic, prepare.

6.) Andrea

A heart attack and financial devastation

7.) Diane

The seed was planted in March of 1979 when the 3 Mile Island “accident” happened. We were newlyweds, married only a few months, living about 50 miles from the power plant and worried what we would do if we had to evacuate. Then I read the book “Solar Flare” by Larry Burkett (if you haven’t read it, it’s a page turner & a fascinating novel based on facts) and the seeds were watered.

Then 6 years ago my husband went to work as always to be told he was being layed off due to downsizing. We had just re-financed our mortage and done $30,000 in upgrades to our home and were afraid we could lose it. The seeds were now sprouting. We were lucky that my husband was only out of work 3 days, a family member got him an interview that led to an immediate job. It took about a year to get back to the wages he had been earning, money was very tight. but we were able to keep our home and our kids did not die as a result of having to attend public schools.

We now are preparing for whatever hits the fan first, economic colapse, solar flare, terrorisim, peak oil, etc. My 15 year old son is my greatest ally in prepping. We shop at big box stores and try to put up 1/4 of each shopping trip. We also shop yard sales, auctions, etc. in search of non-electric tools like butter churn, treadle sewing machine, victrola & 78 rpm records, etc. We are currently looking for an older (pre 1970) pick up truck and a camper in case we would have to bug out, but we are hoping to be able to shelter in place as we have a lot of grid-free items at our home.

8.) Linda

The 2008 financial dip. It was a reminder of the need to be prepared. The economy has not improved and I don’t see it improving any time soon. Plus, my husband became disabled.

For some people, self-reliance was always their lifestyle

9.) April

My husband and I live in (redacted), rural area, 1800 ft. elevation, near a university town, and we love disaster movies…etc. We just thought it made sense to have some food put back, well bucket, water filtration backup, etc. We burn wood for heat, propane for cooking. Our most vulnerable aspect so far is our good well, 140 ft. deep, wouldn’t be usable without electricity.

10.) Vicki

We live on an Island where we are isolated for the most part 4 months of the year, so prepping is a necessity for those months. Recently I have extended the prepping to include clothing for growing kids, lots of medical supplies ,and many off grid living items. I think economic problems and the extreme weather everyone is experiencing got me thinking, better safe than sorry. If nothing happens you have less to spend later, also getting chickens soon!

11.) Dennis

I was born into being a prepper. Being raised with humble circumstances, we were taught from a very early age to throw nothing away and take care of yourself. Back then there was no government handouts. Everyone supplied their own needs. We grew and raised everything we ate from gardens to livestock. I didn’t think much about it until the 60’s and then became a “Mother Earther”  and learned to dry foods, everything from my family’s cereal to fruits etc.

Later on my wife and I felt led to take in foster children from 5-10 years old, all hard core sexually abused children. I bought a 3 acre place with a house and barn. I figured since I had been raised in that situation and with a great circle of relatives and was well adjusted that it would work for them. We had 5 at a time plus our own 2 older teenagers. We milked our goat twice a day, raised pork, beef, chickens, ducks, rabbits and all things in between. It worked wonders for them as we and our animals gave unconditional love, like our Father.

Again we got away from it until the 08 election at which time we started all over again and will continue. All 7 of our grandchildren are older and the joke is not to stand in one place too long or grandpa will vacuum pack you or freeze you. They all enjoy the dried jerky, fruit etc.  They do have a lot of good laughs about all our prepping supplies, lanterns, portable crapper, Big Berkey, food dryer etc. That’s how I got started and we continue on at 70 years old. Just makes good old common sense with our upside down world. God richly bless you and keep you.

Sometimes an outside event triggered the awakening.

12.) Jack

My start at prepping began three days after 9/11/2001.  While hearing the reports of what was going on and happening in NYC my wife described the scene as best she could without losing her voice.  I am and have been blind since age 24, had two wonderful careers, public sector and private sector and when my wife described it to me I turned to her and said “our world has changed just now, to what extent and how and when it will change is yet to be seen but we need to prepare” .

Not knowing at the time what it meant I went to my computer that evening after things had began to sort themselves out and began seriously searching for long-term storage food, generators, and other such prep items.  I have a special software package that allows me to have the screen read to me if it has text on it and at that time the internet had quite a bit more text than fancy graphics and animation which is the case today.  I slowly began to build my supplies of food,  tools etc even though my wife was a skeptic about what good it would do.  I began in earnest finally settling on Amazon and a couple other web sites that had shown up selling prepping supplies such as alternative energy, food and water supplies.

In 2008 my wife had to go to a nursing home and I was left alone in my house which I sold and turned the small amount of money I made into more preps and finally purchased a home in ( near my sister in a rural area and did even more prepping such as building up a solar system for power as I am a ham operator and wanted power for operating my ham gear and keeping my freezer and refrigerator running as well as being able to use my 700 watt microwave to cook since I am a klutz about real cooking.  The solar system is capable of charging a bank of 8 large marine deep discharge batteries with 1000 watts of solar power each day the sun shines and it can operate without sun for up to a week for the things I need in my house.  I am currently building an alternative water collection system using rain gutters which I had installed on my metal roof and placing about 3 55-gallon barrels around the house to collect the water and filtering it as it goes into the barrels for watering my SIMGAR container garden and my abundant white clover patch on the half acre for the honey bees on my property.

But what got me started?  I had in my mind an idea that it would come to this ever since high school.  I was attending the Arkansas State School for the Blind in Little Rock and in 1959 a B-58 exploded about 1500 feet above the area the school was  in and we were without power for over three days and also water etc and that started some wheels to turning in my brain which really got to spinning with the September 11, 2001 attack and I have been plugging away at it ever since.

13.) Betty

Watching the news and realizing what I was seeing going on in the world ,terrorism,impending economic collapse,all the natural disasters .I’m a christian and knew from scripture what I was seeing coming to pass and setting in place to happen,when I saw all the for rent and for sale signs I hadn’t seen in 40 years of living in my town and the jobs started leaving mills closing down I talked a family member into pulling out the 401 k and paying off their mortgage,it saved their home the only employed family member got laid off ,they would have lost their home,blessing from the lord,I think it common sense to prep as a lifestyle even in good times you lose nothing and if the worst suddenly happens your family stands to suffer much less ,it also teaches the next generation how to

14.) Ray

I have always been interested in being self-sufficient.  Ever since my early 20’s (I’m 66 now) I’ve had a garden when I lived where I could have one, and tried to learn a new skill or raise a new veggie every year.  I’ve raised bees, hogs, now raise dairy goats and a few cattle.  I can most things rather than freezing.

But all that was for long term self-sufficiency.

There were two things that got me switched on to prepping, literally overnight.  The first was the 2007 economic tanking and the government response to it: TARP, QE, monetizing the debt, all showed, and continue to show, that we are in for some real pain because no one is willing to identify and fix the real problems in our economy.

The second thing was the election of Barack Obama.  Not because he is Black (stupid comes in all colors), but because I listened to what he said and took him at his word that he meant every word of it.  The course and direction that he said he was taking the country, and post election the things he said and did, made be firmly believe that if he accomplished his stated goals, there would be nothing left of the America that I grew up in.

Sadly, he seems to have succeeded.  Crushing debt, uncontrolled government spending, Ferguson and Baltimore race riots, poverty and racial tension are all pushing this country to a precipice and any sudden shock could spill over into widespread rioting and looting.

We’ve lost the backbone of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility in favor of being on the government plan (or plantation).  Even worse, we’ve put up impediments and disincentives for those who still want to try to improve their lot in life.  Over the last generation we’ve turned out grads who are progressively less and less educated; can’t read, can’t write, can’t do simple math.  We’ve regulated and over-regulated to the point that new entrepreneurs aren’t starting businesses.

I founded and ran my own engineering business until I got fed up with the taxes, regulations, crime and congestion that came with living in Baltimore, so I sold my portion to my partners and ‘retired’ to a farm.  I have tried to have some small artisan business income from the farm activities, but (redacted) is not very friendly to that sort of thing.  So now I do my thing under the radar, not legal but not illegal as long as I don’t get into ‘public commerce’.  <sigh>

I can, I make cheese, I bake and am still learning new things.  The latest is that I’m raising rabbits for meat.

I’ve got food and water stored, am finishing my rainwater collection system for sustainable water, I’ve got my self-defenses set up and a plan for what to do if family shows up on the doorstep.  For the last few years I’ve been experimenting in the garden to improve yields and reduce labor (mostly to reduce weeding).  I’ve got manual tools and know how to use them when the power or fuel runs out, and my fuel tank holds almost 2 years of diesel with current usage.

When the SHTF, we may not make it out the other side, but we’ll be here long after most others are gone.

15.) Anonymous

Y2K. Thank goodness it didn’t happen, nor did I lose my faith in the preparedness mentality. Best thing thing that ever happened – getting me off my chops and being proactive.

16.) Theresa

My desire to protect my family from H1N1 started my prepping journey.  It started out gradually by purchasing N95 face masks, bio suits, gloves/booties and lots of sanitizer.  That led to purchasing supplies in case we needed to quarantine ourselves.   Finally I gave up my stand against firearms and adopted the mindset of beans, bandages and bullets, with one as none and two is one.  My family has slowly come around.  As a joke, my oldest sent me a picture of an emergency/camping port-a-potty as a possible Christmas gift for me.  Imagine his surprise when I told him I already had one.

For others, it was the influence of another person that woke them up.

Occasionally, something that doesn’t affect others with the impetus to prepare speaks to you in a different way. Sometimes it’s popular culture, and other times an influential personality.

17.) Crystal

Ok my story is going to sound a little ridiculous but it happened and now I prep. My husband was a prepper before I came along. He would always try to talk to me about it by I would shut down the conversation because I didn’t want to hear it. I was scared. Scared to think of what could happen. Scared of the tough decisions I would have to make for my kids. My husband and I came across The Walking Dead on New Years. They had a marathon on and my husband and I sat down to watch from the beginning since we had missed so much. It was like the hand of God slapped me and said you will do this and there will be no fear. That was 5 years ago. I haven’t looked back and I have no fear. My kids are on board and we prep as a family.

18.) Mickie

Reading Ron Paul.

19.) Vanessa

Finally listening to my husband. He’s been prepping for a while. I just didn’t want to believe it. I think I really understood once we had kids. Between dealing with schools and pediatricians and just how much the Government had their hands in my life is very unsettling.

Extreme weather is also an eye-opener.

20.) Walt

An ice storm here in (redacted) left us without power for 8 days. No power meant no well water. We cooked & heated with our woodstove but had to collect snow, ice & cold water from nearby creeks for water–in the cold. We began storing water for non drinking uses in milk containers after that event. Good thing. The following summer, freakish hurricane-force winds knocked out power for a week. By that time, we had managed to store plenty of water. That was 7 years ago and now we collect rain water in large containers & continue to store in gallon containers. Drinking water is stored, we own filters as well. We have also found alternative water sources in our area. What began as a survival mentality has become routine for us with water, food, medical supplies etc.

21.) Gregg

2011 tornado outbreak brought me back to it. I was raised being prepared, but became lax.

There’s a common element in these stories.

Nearly all of these situations could happen to anyone. None of it was extreme or a stretch of the imagination or the culmination of a conspiracy theory.

  • Bad weather.
  • The loss of a job.
  • A natural disaster.
  • An accident resulting in serious injury.
  • A power outage.
  • A financial downturn.
  • A nearby industrial accident.
  • A terrorist attack.

No one shared a story about a comet hitting, the overthrow of the government, or a Mad Max scenario. These were everyday emergencies that everyday people needed to survive.

Sometimes, we face the mockery of those who don’t understand our need to be self-reliant. The mainstream media never fails to put the word “prepper” in quotation marks, as though it’s a delusional term used by people who also believe in unicorns. But when we look to stories like these, it’s obvious that learning to live a prepared, self-reliant lifestyle isn’t “crazy.”  It’s actually the height of common sense.

What inspired you to get started?

For those of you who shared your stories for this article, thank you. You may never know it, but your story might just be the gentle push someone needs to get started.

How did you get started with preparedness? Please share your story in the comments below.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • A number of things influenced me to prep.

    When I was a kid my parents took me on vacations to a fairly remote island, and I went to summer camp there as well. I was responsible for planning what I was going to take, and if I thought I might need something like needle and thread, or silicone grease, or Band Aids three weeks out, I had to take them with me. I still have the lists from those trips, and have to wonder at what planning I did at 12 and 13 years old.

    Later, while backpacking around the world, I spent the Fall of 1975 in a small mountain village in Lebanon, just as the Lebanese Civil War got going. We had shortages of fuel, cooking gas, food, electricity, and a surplus of generalized violence as the country fell apart. We learned to make do, but in looking back at that time, I think I came out of it with a touch of PTSD. I certainly became concerned about being prepared for things to fall apart.

    I’ve lived in hurricane country for quite a while, a spot where no one will be trucking in disaster relief supplies and repair crews from the next state the day after. We don’t get hurricanes often, but when we do they can be devastating, so we must be prepared in advance for the consequences.

    Much of my wife’s extended family is Mormon, so she comes from a culture of being self-reliant, including in long term family emergencies. They believe that the primary responsibility for the well being of the nuclear family is the nuclear family itself. After that, the extended family, and then the community. They plan ahead for taking care of themselves and of each other, so they keep food and other necessities. We have been lucky to have an extended family which understands and believes in preparing for the problems which any family can run into even during the best of times.

    • Morning Penrod
      See what started you on this journey.

      Retired packrat to Antique Collector.
      Missed your funny stories about the beavers.

    • Penrod
      “The Ohio Prepper” said hello from the original gathering place now under new management.

  • I would say it has been a combination of factors. My husband and I have been through a few earthquakes and a couple of wild fires. Only once was it necessary to evacuate. Then I went to a seminar to see Michael Shaw (Freedom Advocates) and had the bejesus scared right out of me.

    We weathered Mother Nature’s devastation quite well (even the evacuation).

    The government, on the other hand, is the reason I’m so rabid about preparing.

  • I was a child in 1993 when Alabama had the biggest snow storm that I ever remember. The Blizzard of 93 as I remember. So, The weather man called for only a dusting, but my mother had that famous feeling. So while she was at the grocery store that evening I got all the containers I could find and filled them with water.(we had well water so if the power went out, we had no water)Later that evening and half the night until we did indeed lose power my mom and dad were cooking. (we also had wood heat so we could heat our food on the stove if we had to) I thought that my mom had lost her mind at how much food and water she was preparing for a little bit of snow. Two and a half weeks later we had heat, food, and water when our lights finally came back on. I remember a few of our neighbors walking to our house for warmth and to have a good hot meal. Thanks to my moms funny feeling we have made it through a few weather events and as an adults I take my funny feelings serious.(and call my mom lol)Today as an adult I am adding to my preps daily but not only in physical things, such as food and water, but with skills.

  • Americans, have it in our blood. Hard times are here, Daisy said much with two words..common sense…..

  • In the early ’80’s my (then) Husband lost his job. We had 3 young children. I was not a “prepper”, per say, but I did love a good sale. So I had shampoo and soap and cleaning products to spare and a pantry full of canned goods. We ate from the food in the house and used unemployment to pay the bills until he found a new job. (Which took 6 months, btw)

    Now? I prep on purpose. Times are so very uncertain, with the only certain thing being prices are only going to go up. So in 2016 I will be eating food bought with 2013 or ’14 dollars and paying fewer bills, because I have what I need to survive in the house already.

  • I was young during the Cuban Missile Crisis. My Dad got a book on how to build a bomb shelter. He never built it, but the book stayed on the coffee table and Mom kept a box of food supplies together all the time.
    In high school I read the book “Alas, Babylon” and have always said that book changed the way I look at just about everything.
    Prepping is in my DNA, I guess.
    I’ve lived in hurricane country and when I went through my first one (no electricity for 10 days) I learned to be prepared. My three boys were little then and trust me, having young children during a crisis will teach you a thing or two.
    Now, we are retired. We both have health issues, although we still manage. We’ve moved from the big city to a 5 acre place outside a small town. Going shopping is over a hundred mile round trip, and since we never know when one (or both) of us can’t physically make the trip, we keep a very well stocked pantry. We’ve also managed to stock pile some of our medications “just in case”. We store water in large tanks from our well.

    I feel a certain amount of calm knowing I could shelter in place here for quite a while.

  • I don’t consider myself a prepper. I don’t have a bug-out location, faraday cage, or even solar panels. However, I know my husband can lose his job at any time, and it would be hard to find another one making what he does now. When he lost his job in 2009, he had to end up working a low-paying job for the next couple years. He finally was able to get a better job, but it’s the same kind of job in the same industry, which is really vulnerable in a recession. It’s not hard to see that we are about to have another recession, if it hasn’t already started.

    I’ve planted a garden, which looks great so far. We’ve just moved again, so I don’t have much in the way of stored food supplies. That’s going to change with my husband’s next paycheck. I plan to pick up a few extra canned goods, bags of dried beans and lentils, and a jar or two of peanut butter with each shopping trip. My goal is to have at least a month of food in our house to fall back on if my husband loses his job.

    We are also going to work on paying off all debt. Plus I’ve started shopping end -of-season clearance racks to buy my children’s clothes ahead of time instead of paying more to buy their clothes at the time they need new ones.

    Another thing I plan to do is have a yard sale. The money I get will go towards other things I want, like gadgets to make hand washing clothes easier. My dryer had to be repaired recently. What if my washer or dryer tore up, but we couldn’t afford to fix or replace it due to unemployment?

    I feel a little like I’m racing the clock on this. The shale oil bubble has already popped and is now deflating like crazy. That’s going to affect the rest of the economy too, including possibly my husband’s job.

    • I don’t even use my dryer, haven’t used it but occasionally for years. I have one of those umbrella drying racks. Clothes last a lot longer if they don’t go in the dryer…where do you think all the lint comes from? We quit using the dryer once we figured out how much electric it used.

      Although, I will admit to using it once and a while for some dark clothing, as we have 2 cats, and the cat hair is easier to get off if you chuck the dark colored stuff in the dryer. But I only use it on the good clothing, which we don’t wear often. Don’t care about cat hair on t-shirts and sweats.

  • It sounds crazy but I’ve been a “closet” prepper all my life. It started when I was little and my father lost his job and we became the “welfare” family on the block.This was in the 50’s when being on welfare was shameful not like it is today. My parents did all they could to protect us kids but little ears often heard the other parents talk. If it wasn’t for my dad’s parents, who helped out and an uncle who had a farm. I don’t know what might have happen if Mom and her mother, my English grandmother,(who was in England during WWI) hadn’t canned everything they got their hands on, we might have gone hungry.I remember the conversation about possibly losing our home one night when the parents thought we, the 5 kids, were asleep. Dad did get another job but the 2-3 years we went thru this(in the 50’s) affected me. I have always had “extras” on hand for emergencies but I have had this uneasy/gut feeling over the couple of years or so that we are heading into really bad times and I want to be able to keep my family safe, healthy and together.

  • I am presently living the “prepper” reality. As a (disabled) vet, I just couldn’t keep up the intense climate of a production setting and so they eliminated my position this past February. Being in my late 50’s and not able to do my chosen profession, I found no one would hire me for ANY job, however meanial or otherwise.
    Fortunately I had (have) a modest IRA which I had to cash in just to keep a roof over my head and the utilities on. For now.
    But years ago I was a “Prepper” when it was called being a Survivalist and it has helped somewhat.
    The past few years I got into buying freeze dried foods for any SHTF situation and now that for me it HAS, I have a cushion knowing I have food for at least six months or more.
    With a little luck (?), and a LOT of prayers I hope thinga will turn around SOON!
    How long it will take is an unknown for me at this time but if I hadn’t the foresight to put back some money (IRA), buy some long term storage foods and starting a garden, it is certain I would have lost EVERYTHING by no and be living on the streets.
    NEVER give up hope or your Faith and keep putting one foot in front of the other Every SINGLE day, folks.
    I never thought it would happen to me and now that it has I’m praying HARD I’ll come out the other side with only a few bruises and bad memories. Wish me luck!
    God Bless.

  • Well actually I started reading the shtf plan blog several years ago. I just want to thank you now , Daisy.So much of what you and a bunch of the others on the plan said made perfect sense. I was already feeling the end of time pressing down on us and then it was like a light bulb just came on in my head!!! Oh, and thanks to all your good education about TVP. We have removed all of it from our home!
    I prep everyday!

    • I’m really glad you found that information useful. Years ago, I used TVP all the time, but the more I learned about soy, the more I knew I did not want it in our diets. 🙂

  • We don’t even remember why we started prepping. But we’re glad we did. Shortly after we started stocking up, my husband lost his job, and decided to go back to school, as no other options were available. I started driving OTR to pay the bills, and we started dipping into our stocks to keep ourselves fed. 6 years later, he’s got his Masters and a good paying job, so here shortly, after I replace all the appliances that broke in the interim (and been doing without), we will be going back to stocking up again, starting with a huge seed order to Richter’s.

    However, this time, the stocking up will be with organic foods, instead of what we bought before I knew what GMOs were. I hate to do it, but I abhor waste, so we’re going to have to get through the rest of what we’ve got stored, which, unfortunately, includes a lot of GMO polenta and pozole. The rest of it probably isn’t too bad, but it isn’t organic. Can organic beans even be bought in bulk?

    Oh well, there isn’t a lot of it left, and we’re still alive and reasonably healthy, so I guess we’ll get through it ok. But no more GMO stocks. I’ve seen the pics of the rats with tumors that were fed strictly with GMO corn and GMO soy.

    I made the mistake of telling someone I work with that we had enough food to last for 3 years. He thinks he’s just going to waltz over here with his wife, kids and grandkids if TSHTF, and “share” with us, cause he doesn’t prep for more than 3 weeks. I won’t make that mistake again. Do NOT tell anyone that you prep, people. Cause if TS does HTF, you’ll be inundated with people who think that it’s their right to survive too, even though they were stupid. They seem to think that you should share. Why, I don’t know. I should share because you were stupid and I wasn’t? How the hell does that work? Don’t forget to stock up on ammo cause word will get around. And the funny thing is, right now, you’re the one who is nuts, because you’ve prepared for any eventuality.

  • born and raised a prepper because my dad was military and we lived on the gulf coast – lots of hurricanes in my past.

  • https://www.theorganicprepper.com/looking-for-motivation-21-preppers-share-the-stories-of-how-they-got-started-06112015

    Always loved the outdoors, got into survival mindset when I was around 13 or 14 years old. Through self study and knowing adults of the same mindset I learnt to hunt, track, forage. I learnt to have everything I needed, when I needed it by planning ahead.

    The old attitude of “crossing that bridge when/if I come to it” was replaced with plans of what to do if I arrived to find the bridge was gone. So I always had backup plans in place to try to cope with anything that MAY happen. Came in handy a few years back during a bout of severe weather. We were able to cope because, although the electricity went out we had a generator which, among other things, powered the heating boiler which runs on oil. We cooked on gas stoves and barbeques, and the water kept running.

    The monetary savings of bulk buying are a nice bonus, and free up money for other things such as a new, bigger garage.

    Back when I started we were called survivalists

  • We took a job on a small island in the far pacific. Till then prepping was unknown to us. Our friends told us we should have a “typhoon box”?? We found out that this was a box where you kept emergency supplies. Flashlight,food,water,ect.
    Sure enough within a few months we had a small typhoon. Debris blocked the roads for days and the power was out. From that experience forward we have continued to grow and fine tune our supplies and plans. After suffering a severe earthquake our plans were found to be in need of revision. Although we had warnings for typhoons that we knew were coming. Earthquake was out of the blue.
    It taught us to keep an open mind and to look into the history of the surrounding area for previous calamities.

    Now many years on we have a solar well pump. small solar panels for charging batteries and a years supply of food. Youtube is great for learning how to do things. Practice is always needed to hone your skills on how to do things for when the day comes you have to rely on yourself. It is a fun challenge to see how to do things in alternate ways. The penny pincher in us always looks for a less expensive way to get the job done.

  • I lived in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina. What you saw on tv was nothing compared to the real devestation and the aftermath that happened when 1.5 million people lost family, homes, jobs, churches and everything familiar in a matter of days. For those of us who had prepared, we at least weren’t starving but no matter how prepared you think you are, you aren’t ready for the physical and emotional toll.

  • Daisy I just want to say that I am so encouraged by your site. I am a disabled single mom of 4 kids and I never see many single mom blogs let alone preppers. Especially with a low budget. I haven’t been able to get your book yet but am saving up for it bit by bit. I love reading and rereading your posts!

  • I became interested in prepping about 8 years ago. I grew up in a family that always had a garden each year. My mom put up anything that she could. When I got married, my wife and I weren’t worried about economic problems. I started trying to prep after reading some books by William W. Johnstone (his “out of the ashes” series). I began to realize that our economic system was very fragile. The more I read, the more concerned I became, so I started to buy up things that would be beneficial in an economic “crash”. Noting that our country’s situation is getting more and more tenuous, I began to try and interest my wife in prepping. I began growing our own garden, and continue to do so. The problem remains that my wife is not very “prepping” conscious, so I feel like I’m rowing upstream.

  • I was living in Los Angeles when the riots of 1991 happened. `It wasn’t safe to go out to the store and I was getting low on food. There was no police or law enforcement anywhere. I had one S&W 38 with one box of ammo. I don’t remember being so afraid as I was then. smoke,fire,and absolute chaos. And no cops. Now, I have food,water,and personal protection the likes you would not believe. I am also the hell out of L.A.

  • Back in the late 70’s my husband read Howard Ruff’s “How to Prosper….” and our lives took a turn.
    We bought wheat in 50# bags and put them it in buckets under our firstborn’s bed, and we also bought a hand ground grain mill and I started making bread on weekends. My boss had no idea what we did for “fun” but I think he got a clue how “weird” I was when I told him my goal was to live in the country and have chickens instead of his idea of having lots of money or being at the top of our profession.
    We started gardening
    We moved to a more homesteader lifestyle.
    We endured hurricane weather on the gulf coast and fires and ice storms in the Pacific Northwest so weather is always a factor in our planning.
    Many years ago while I was on extended “Mommy break” from my career, my husband was out of work for an extended period of time. We had enough for rent, a small amount of gasoline and a few items at the store (98cents for a big bag of potatoes is the one that I really remember). But between the garden, the food storage and a one time anonymous gift of a box of groceries my children never really realized we were broke.
    We endured the oil crash in the 80s a few years after he started us down the prepping path and it helped us get through a different layoff.
    More recently I watched the devastation done to the real estate/financial world by some incredibly stupid gambling by “too big to fail” and now I see political opinions become more divisive and finances again looking shaky and so we’re stepping up our preparations because I see the signs on the wall.
    I work where the instability is just another source of income so I’m one of the few who won’t lose work if there’s another real estate crash. But there are lots of other warnings.
    Also, I just hate spending anymore than I have to on things and buying in bulk saves now and probably later when I would “normally” needed to buy some more “X” at an inflated price. I knew a professional’s wife who went to the grocery store every single day to shop for dinner and I was just amazed that anyone could live like that. (And they think preppers are weird!) And yes I know that’s how they shopped in France eons ago when I lived there, but, really? It’s not like the produce came from the farm that morning and you shop daily because you like fresh lettuce.
    Will I stop prepping? Yep, when I die.

  • When the previous President was elected I figured, this might not be a good thing. I started then. Now we have a .57 acre property with 16 fruit trees and 20 grape vines in SC PA. Yet we lost $3,000.00 worth of income when our former employer decided my wife was getting too old. Forced us out. She is on SS I have no job because no one will hire me due to me being certified as a medical marijuana user in Md. Had a job for 3 1/2 hours on 8/13/18. fired me because HR person transposed my urine test with someone else’s. Now, well I’m using preps from when I was employed. Mortgage takes 90% of her SS. Dire straights? Yeah, Been there doing that. REM’s “Everybody Hurts” is very poignant for me now? Many times I think why bother? Do it and you have no worries. Yet, some voice tells me I AM tough enough.

    • You ARE tough enough! As for the medical mj, many places have legalized it, so you may have better luck than previously finding a job. If you have time – you sound like you have your hands full as it is with your homestead.
      Hang in there!

  • Short answer is the same as a couple of others above.. the 2007 economic problems and how the Gov. dealt with it.. then came Obama.. but in reality, I was raised as a prepper, it just wasn’t called that then. My parents came from humble ( poor ) families, both born right after the Depression and raised by parents who lived through it. As a kid, I thought everyone grew their own food, raised their own meat and knew where all the wild grape and blackberry stands were for picking free fruit to make jam. My dad and I planted a very large garden every year and my mom ( by herself mostly ) would can everything… we always had plenty of food left over by the time next years garden was producing. For me, it was just reverting to the self sustaining lifestyle I had lived as a kid. Now, no debts, large stock of supplies of all types, active garden and several hundred fruit trees.. tons of hand tools and older small machinery, which I know how to use and fix.. and a very real and abiding faith, not in those things, but in my God. It’s nice to live this way.. as was intended.. close to the soil and your food.. able to help others as desired and constantly being amazed by God’s creation.

  • 1959: Age 6. Moved to a mini-homestead. Two milk cows, ~25 chickens, one or two pigs each year, huge garden, foraging on surrounding property (wild blackberries, black walnuts, hickory nuts, poke, persimmons, wild strawberries), hunting small game on surrounding property (rabbits, squirrels, occasional deer, ground hog, raccoon, opossum), fishing in nearby river (usually by trot line for carp and catfish), home canning, no indoor plumbing so an outhouse for sanitation, a cistern for water, heat with wood we cut in the surrounding property, and then coal, hot water for baths on the stove and bathing in a large wash tub.

    1962: Helped my dad clean up and prepare the storm cellar for use as a fallout shelter during the Cuban Missile Crises. I was 9yo. That was my start in interest in what became prepping.

    1965: First rifle at Christmas at 12yo. It was now my responsibility to hunt rabbits and squirrels for the table.

    1966: Saw Panic In Year Zero on TV. Made a major impact on me.

    1967: Moved to a small town in the Bootheel of Missouri. Learned about the New Madrid Seismic Zone (then just the New Madrid Fault), the Mississippi floods over the years, and other local hazards. More major impacts.

    1967: Read Alas Babylon and How To Survive The H-Bomb and Why both by Pat Frank. I began to do some prepping in small ways at 14yo.

    1967: Viet Nam and the Cold War were both in full swing. More thought provoking survival reasons.

    1971: Graduated high school, and began getting paid a bit for working with my father. More preps but still very few and very slow accumulation.

    1972: Joined local Civil Defense. Their primary interest was weather watching and tornado spotting. I did my own prepping for everything else. It was then still known as home Civil Defense.

    1975: Local Civil Defense sort of fizzled out for lack of interest. Began attending (did not actually join) county Civil Defense. Began accumulating literature and taking training I could through them.

    Mid 70s: Got my FFL to make it easier and cheaper to obtain many types of prepping gear.

    Late 70s: Transitions to FEMA and the rise of Survivalism. Survivalism was frowned upon by organized FEMA officials in the area. Still accepted in the county training programs.

    Early 80s: Assisted in starting a multi-agency training facility locally. I was helping overall and pushing for a Civil Defense type program to supplement FEMA. Due to lack of funding the school fell through after just a few months.

    Attempted to start a small dehydrated and freeze dried food supply business, but there was not enough interest and had to stop. And when the BATF began to implement some questionable practices I returned my FFL.

    80s: Still attending and helping with county FEMA training and county and state exercises. During this time Survivalism and Survivalist became demonized by the MSM (Main Stream Media). Despite my known activities as a Survivalist I was still welcome, with some hesitation, by the county FEMA officials.

    1985: Due to health issues I had to leave the Bootheel. Left most of my preps behind in the care of my father and sought work in the oil patch of Oklahoma/Texas. Had enough to get home, hopefully.

    1992: Moved to Nevada for work. Was making enough money to increase preps. Had a good location with everything needed for long term sustainment. Prepping pretty much became an integral part of my lifestyle, if not actually my lifestyle with work being simply a means to obtain preps.

    1994: Found a prepper forum and joined and began to contribute. Found more, and various prepper websites from stores to blogs.

    2003: Became ill, had to leave the job, which included much physical activity and high stress management situations. Moved to Reno to look for less physical and less stressful work. Health still getting worse.

    2004: Was now disabled and applied for disability. Used up my consumables and sold most of the hardware I had accumulated to pay for medications and doctors. I began to write disaster, prep, and PAW (Post Apocalyptic World) fiction and posted it on various websites to keep myself occupied while waiting on disability.

    2007: Qualified for disability. Used first check to get a few preps. Been up and down since then with continuing health problems, but have built preps back up to 2 to 3 months of consumables and have some quality durable preps.

    Since 2007: Became associated with what has turned into a great loosely organized prep group. We have been active as a group with field exercises for natural disasters, primarily. I am also associated with three other local prepping groups of various natures and activity levels. Got my Amateur Radio General License and am on a weekly Prep Net that is listened to in just about all states and many countries around the world through the group website.

    I have been interviewed by a couple of major magazines, a couple of radio and TV stations, been interviewed by six doctorial candidates whose thesis’ pertain in some way to prepping. (So far, each one that has finished their doctorial program have succeeded. Two more still in the process. I guess it takes a very long time.)

    A bit more than just what prompted my interest and involvement in prepping, but I believe each step has brought me more and more into the mindset and lifestyle.

    Prepping started as insurance for future dangerous possibilities. It became a hobby to a large degree, and finally a lifestyle. Now it is a lifestyle fully integrated with all aspects of my life, and in some ways has become a small supplemental revenue source for me through my published books.

    Not an opinion this time, just the facts, ma’am. (Man I am old. That is an old Dragnet TV show reference for those that do not recognize it.)

  • Snow storms and tornadoes are common, so I was always prepared a little bit but in 93 we had a state wide flood, we lost access to clean water. My husband had just gotten out of the hospital with Guillain-Barre and was paralyzed; unable to work and I had two small children to take care of as well and my job had closed temporarily due to no water. We all survived but my mind was changed and I swore to get better prepared and I haven’t looked back. Preps came in handy and got me and the kids through lots of down times. The husband got better and then left me. appliances break and had to figure out how to get by, job loss at one time but we never went hungry. Recently remarried and my husband who humored me when I insisted on moving my prep supplies is now rethinking as my supplies and the way I shop, can and store supplies has come in handy multiple times.

  • We(dh&i)had similiar experiences families struggled to put food on the table. Parents gardened and my mom canned, yet she did not pass that on to us, so I having to learn from the beginning.

  • We had a small financial emergency. We ate pinto beans and potatoes for a week. It does not sound that bad but it showed me that we were way to dependent on a weekly paycheck and an open, well stocked grocery store! Pantry is now stocked and I now go shopping to replace what we have used the past month, not to buy for the next week.

  • I can identify with the woman who mentioned the “The Walking Dead.” That show woke me up as well. I hate relying on others for anything. I have lived through pretty tough things including hurricanes, job loss, bankruptcy and serious physical injury. The last thing, crushing my right elbow, caused me to be out of work for about 3 months and I was really glad I had money and food stocked. I really wish I was able to meet like minded people close to me – that is a huge challenge for me. Thanks so much for your article!

  • Native New Yorker here, and no we’re not all left-wing loonie tunes. Most are good, moral hardworking people, and many conservatives, who are stuck with Cuomo and DiBlasio. Ugh. Anyway I only mention that because September 11th and later Hurricane Sandy each had a tremendous impact on New York and the Tri-State area, as well as my family and I for many reasons.

  • We lived without power for 8 days during the big northeast ice storm of 1998. You;d think that would be the trigger, but it wasn’t. My parents lived through the Great Depression and my father always had plenty of food on hand (it was hell cleaning out his kitchen when he died). And we grew up poor – I remember the day the peanut butter ran out – so I guess I caught the bug, because my husband is always after me about the freezer being so full he can’t fit in a container of ice cream. :). But what really did it for us about 4 or 5 years ago was seeing a National Geographic TV show about what would happen if the Yellowstone caldera blew (it’s overdue). I do some work in the emergency management arena, and one of my friends, who is the guru of social science on emergency alerting, said Yellowstone would be a mass extinction event. We live in the far Northeast, so if the winds blew the right way, we may be spared the 6 to 8 inches of volcanic ash. But the breadbasket of the Midwest would be toast, so no going to the store for bread. (The biggest crisis of the 1998 ice storm was day one, when hubby woke me up on his way off to work to tell me we had no power. Luckily, he had built a fire in the fireplace. But how am I to get a much needed cup of coffee? Of course — heat water over the coals and pour it through a Melitta filter. After the second cuppa, things didn’t look quite so bad.).

  • I married a Vietnam veteran, who had spent 3 tours in country with the 5th Special Forces. He did not transition smoothly into being a civilian. As his specialty in the Green Berets was underwater demolition, he was a life guard for a season when he got out. Then he tried his hand at installing floor covering in construction for about 5 years. Then in the mid-1970s, when he had been laid off, he went to work for a dairy that was across the street from where we were living at the time. He found his place in life.
    Working with the animals, instead of people, was good for him. Working 12-15 hours a day, 6-7 days a week made him so tired that he stopped having nightmares. Taking care of the animals gave him that same kind of purpose he used to have in working with and caring for his brothers in arms. Serve and protect.
    But dealing with people was hard for him, both with bosses and landlords. He would get angry or frustrated and would up and quit his job. Or he would piss his boss off and get fired. He would also get into arguments with our landlords and we would end up moving.
    I learned after the first time he lost his job and we had to wait for 2 weeks before getting his first paycheck from his new job, that I needed to put food and other stuff by to prepare for these instances. Because of these actions of his, we moved 31 times in the first 20 years of our marriage, which brought financial hardship with each move. But having food and supplies put by allowed me to take care of the family, no matter the upheaval that was going on. And working for different dairies, far from town, also posed problems with getting to town during storms and such.
    Even though he worked for his last employer for 26 years and we lived in the house we bought for 21 years, I never stopped prepping for hard times. We retired and moved in with our son (who had gone to 13 schools in his childhood). He too is a prepper, which came in handy for us when I had a hospital stay and spent 10 months bedridden back in 2018, where he had to cut back on his work to help take care of me. This last lockdown for the pandemic also showed us how nice it is to be prepared with extra food and supplies on hand for emergencies.

  • grew up in 60s, dad was a civil defense instructor and firefighter. he taught us to prepare for nuclear and other situations, taught us camping/living off land, etc. and when we went to grocery store…if bit extra money or special sales, we were to buy two – one for now, one for later…when we were down to one, we bought 2 more next time. so I’ve always been prepared for hurricanes, etc. VERY hard habit to break…which now I’m not worried about…just 2 of us with 3 cats…we’re as prepared as we can be nowdays – covid made us see that soon there wont be a lot of availability, times are getting worse, so prepare now while you can. we were always in a city, so we had water/sewer, til hubby and I moved to NC and our house had well/septic…first year we had hurricane, nocked out elec for 2 wks. we had no idea well wouldnt pump, septic wouldnt either…..lol, learned a HARD lesson that way! had to catch rainwater to wash with, catch rainwater in bucket to use commode etc. DONT WAIT, PREP NOW!!!

  • I was born to farm parents in Tornado Alley who had grown up long before Rural Electrification brought electric power to the country. Kerosene cookstoves (that left a greasy film on the kitchen ceiling) and coal heating stoves were common. Everybody in that era had a cellar where they stored home-canned foods that they prepared with a pressure cooker. Everybody called them “storm cellars” because if you saw a tornado coming your way, that storm cellar might be the only thing to save your life.

    Kerosene lamps had replaced whale oil lamps since the late 1800s. I finished many a grade school homework assignment by kerosene lamp light when a storm would knock out power. There were a few times when snow drifts were too high to drive through, so Dad would saddle up his horse and attach some saddlebags behind … and would ride into town for groceries.

    Even when the power would die, it wouldn’t interfere with the phone company’s line voltage so you could still make and receive phone calls via the wooden hand crank phone mounted on your kitchen wall. It was on a party line so you were careful to remember who your neighbors were that might be nosy enough to listen in, so you were always careful about what you said. Today’s “social media” (that Edward Snowden describes as a mass surveillance system that’s just rebranded as social media) seem to differ only in its vast numbers and government funding with spy access — but the principle of snooping remains.

    I remember when grade schoolers were given the polio vaccine in the form of a couple of red liquid drops on a white sugar cube. Even back then, the number of kids who GOT polio from that vaccine should haunt anyone today who knows about that history:


    I learned how to fry eggs on an overturned #10 tin can in the Cub Scouts. That was an early prelude to later adventures with the Boy Scouts (where the “Be Prepared” motto was strongly encouraged) that took me through marksmanship, electricity, cooking, camping, swimming and hiking merit badges and a lot more. A couple of summer backpacking trips to the Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico was a wonderful introduction to remote outdoor life. I still have the little green survival manual that Philmont made available back then.

    In the 1950s the Duck & Cover films were common during the civil defense teachings regarding a possible war with the Soviet Union. I had a high school teacher who was still on army reserve status when the Cuban Missile crisis hit the fan. He explained that he was concerned that he might be called back to active duty.

    Also in the 1950s, a British TV series about Robin Hood starring Richard Greene was very popular. One of the underlying themes of those stories was about how the common folk had to defend themselves against the thoroughly predatory and dishonest Sheriff of Nottingham and his corrupt supporters from the governing system of that era. Is today any different?

    Also in 1957, a successful refugee from Bolshevik Russia published her last novel about how societies can be torn to shambles by corrupt governments, The Bolsheviks had confiscated her parents business, so she had much painful experience with central government pillaging. Each of her novels, particularly Anthem, We the Living, the Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged, contained persuasive insights into such battles for survival. She did much in contributing to libertarian thinking in her day. The term Galt’s Gulch (from her last novel) has become a part of the modern day vocabulary for those seeking or creating a safe place of refuge.

    In that same era, late night AM radio would let me bring in stations (that today we would label as conservative) from Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, and even from parts of Mexico. That’s how I came to distrust what today we call the mainstream media. Every time the John Birch society would expose some variety of political treachery, the mainstream media would go immediately into cover up and destroy mode. I didn’t know the term HINO back then — historians in name only whose mission it was to whitewash over generations of evils committed by governments.

    Just as we understand how the Clinton body count was created in the current era, the same thing began to happen to investigators who dug into the JFK assassination and the incredibly fraudulent coverup.

    I don’t remember the term survivalist or survivalism being used often in the 1950s, but I might have missed it. In any event, this surprisingly detailed history from wikipedia fills in a lot of the blanks, the different varieties, some of the major names, literature, online links and bodies of knowledge.


    I just got an early introduction to some of that community.


    • Lewis, the reference to the JBS sure triggered a flashback. I was going to meetings when a junior in high school along w/future husband. His mom burst into tears when she learned where we were going on dates!

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