Farm OPSEC for Ms. Piggy and Friends
By: Tom Chatham
I have seen quite a few articles on OPSEC concerning supplies and distribution to the needy during a collapse but not very many concerning farms. Here are just a few things for you to think about between now and then.
Many preppers have made their list and checked it twice and feel better for the effort. They have developed plans for most contingencies that may arise and have their stores well secured for the duration. One of the situations that many have talked about is the prospect of providing excess to those in need when the time comes. Some will share and some will not according to those that talk about it.
There are good points to be made for each side of this argument. It ultimately comes down to your particular circumstances. Some people will be ok sharing within their communities due to the cohesiveness there and the willingness to look out for one another. In these places a certain moral code will prevail.
In other places it would literally be suicide to advertise your ability to help others. In this situation if you felt the need to help others it should be done anonymously through third parties to protect yourself and your family. In either case it would be beneficial to have a third party system such as a church group to provide for unprepared neighbors, drifters and “outsiders” to help protect the whole community from foragers on the move. Those that have supplies stocked in depth may be able to keep them out of public view but what about those with livestock?
One of the goals of many is to become self sufficient so they can provide for their families in perpetuity. This means being able to grow crops and raise livestock. Due to the nature of this activity it is almost impossible to hide these things from full view. If you are a farmer and someone comes to your door asking for food, it is difficult to say you have none when you have a pasture full of beef walking around and roosters crowing in the backyard. This puts you in the unpleasant position of turning away desperate people, some of which may due you harm.
This is why a third party clearing house for excess foods is preferable in many cases. It is much easier for a farmer to say that all his excess food is sent to the local church for dispersal to the needy and give them directions there. This can defuse many possible encounters and ill will from others and those in need will soon learn that this distribution center is the only place to get any food. This will prevent many from continuously coming around seeking food. Once it is known where to go any individuals that show up on your farm will likely be trouble makers and you will know as soon as you see them.
When trouble makers show up, how you handle them depends on the situation but if they leave at gun point with an attitude, you will likely have more trouble from them later. These are the people to fear during a crisis. When it comes to this type of environment, you will have to take measures to prevent this situation from developing to begin with. There are several ways to handle it.
– Get rid of all livestock until things stabilize.
– Conceal livestock so animals are not visible
– Have the ability to guard animals 24/7 with deadly force
– Have a secluded location with no through traffic
– Have sacrifice animals positioned that will prevent a larger intrusion
Getting rid of all livestock is a desperation move because you do not know if you will be able to replace those animals when things stabilize. It may be possible to conceal animals to some extent by using structures, hedges, trees, solid fences or dirt berms to avoid detection by passersby but a rooster can be heard ¼ mile away and a cow over ½ mile so visual concealment alone may not be enough.
Having the manpower to guard a herd of livestock may be a viable option for some but it will not prevent some attempts. If someone is coming to steal a pig or cow they will not be alone and will probably have a vehicle. This means the more livestock you have the bigger the target you will make.
It is good if you have a secluded location a good distance from a travel route and one that is surrounded by forest. This will make it easier to block the entrance and prevent accidental discovery by outsiders. It will also necessitate vigilance on the farmers part because being secluded will make you a target if discovered unless you have the means to protect your farm. If your farm is assaulted by individuals, having animals outside your defensive perimeter will allow assailants to get what they came for without putting the rest of your farm in jeopardy. The only problem with this solution is that appeasement never works. Eventually they will be back for more so it is best to deal with this the first time and end the threat.
A solution that many will likely have to employ will involve all of the above solutions. Having a breeding stock that is well protected and concealed, good security, keeping only the minimum amount of livestock necessary, having a secluded location and if assaulted, having livestock exposed that will lead aggressors into an ambush where they can be dealt with.
No plan is perfect for everyone which is why each individual must analyze their own unique situation and determine what will work best for them. The more time you spend on planning and execution of your plan the fewer bugs you will have in it when the time comes to use it.
As for crops, it would be difficult to completely protect them from foragers. In that event it might be useful to have some disposable plantings around the perimeter of the field to prevent damage to the main crop. Most people have little understanding of what to do with small grain crops straight out of the field such as wheat, oats or barley so they would be less vulnerable than crops like corn and beans. Also, large plantings of crops like potatoes, kale and carrots may be best hidden in the middle of a crop of wheat or corn to prevent detection. To many these would look like nothing but weeds in the field. Hiding crops in plain sight should be employed when possible.
Protecting a working farm during a collapse when food is scarce is a daunting task. With the size of the perimeter it is unlikely most farmers will be able to guard it all so some sacrifices may have to be made. The core of the breeding stock and garden should be close and readily defendable at the very least. Seed stocks should be hidden and protected to ensure a crop can be planted when it is necessary. Farm equipment, liquid fuels, energy production equipment and transportation are all areas that need to be considered in the overall plan.
Farming is a complex business and doing so during a collapse will make it even more difficult. This article only touches on a few of the items you may need to consider. The every day needs of the farm must be planned in detail for long term viability due to possible lack of resources outside the farm during the events duration. Planning pays and lack of planning will cost dearly.