Creating your own master reference manual(s)
Earlier I mentioned ink, paper, and bookbinding. Luckily today you have the opportunity to create your own journals without going to all of that trouble. Yes, it will certainly be useful for you later post-collapse, but how much easier would it be to prepare today?
You can do that by sitting down with paper and pen and writing a plan. I've discussed that before, but maybe most of you read that, but never did that. Do it right away.
No doubt you've learned some things over the last year and a half, and some of you have made notes. That's fine, but as a beginner, what you think is important is different that what is important. I'm hoping that you begin to grasp that prepping is complex and personalized, but that many old timers have been down this journey. They usually want to save you pointless heartache, but no doubt you'll have your own plans that are different than their knowledge and experiences.
This means you must synthesize what you need to refer back to while prepping. In an ideal journal, you'll make notes inside the reference, or you will create a specific journal that goes with that reference. Writing in your book is a good thing, but in the beginning what you think is true, may end up not being true. A better way is the latter.
For example, you may have started a small library for gardening. That's usually the most common way people get interested in prepping. Since that knowledge is in several books, why don't you photocopy the pages that are most important like companion planting, then create a blank page for writing notes. Maybe have a germination table in there too. Maybe a height table so you don't overshadow other plants. In subsequent pages create a vegetable page for a specific one. Say broccoli, and then write what you tried in the first Spring season. When did you plant? Was it based upon a set time or because of weather? When did it germinate? Being optimistic here, did you put out transplants? When did you side dress it? When did you first harvest from it? Did it seem like certain plants grew better? Why do you think that happened? Did you notice hail coming down or more than average rain? When? How much? How did you protect it? What was your yields per plant? All of these are good things to document.
Now re-read everything you have about broccoli. Did you get cabbage moths? When did you see your first cabbage worms? Did you pretreat the plants in order to prevent these pests? Are there any diseases that you got on them? Did anything seem to help? Did any of your neighbors report anything different that your own results? Can you replicate their successes? Does anything in your book explain a better way? Have you yourself learned a better way?
Do this for every season that you plant that veggie, and then next Winter when you're planning the garden, maybe you move the plants around because you've learned from your successes and errors. Yes, you can buy an expensive gardening journal. Most of the time though people end up not using them. It's far better to make one yourself. You'll find a series of tips, and then most likely in your own words write that down. It is wise to see what kinds of journals there are and how they're organized though. Of course do that.
Keep those old garden plans. It may be that four years down the road you realize, “Say year two was really our best because of ____.” Or maybe several areas were good in one year, while in other years other parts were good. Analyze why this was. Then create a new plan based upon your thinking.
Now you're slowly becoming an author. Show your children what you're doing. Explain to them why this or that is done, when to water, fertilize, harvest, etc. Let them be your allies and helpers. If you get sick, or if worse happens, then they can shoulder your burdens. Don't be the sole person who knows how to do a job. That's a very poor strategy.
All of this seems like nonsense to a nonprepper who simply buys their food from the grocery store, however you're learning the best way to produce the most food and in the cheapest way for your family. That is practical and the beginning of wisdom. It seems like folly only to the lazy.
You can waste a lot of money and effort by not working efficiently. In a collapse you'll be working harder than you do in your forty hour a week job. There's countless things to do. Work smarter, not longer.
This means mulching to save on weeding, and not hurting your back as much from stooping. This means carefully planning rainwater irrigation so your yields are good despite the lack of rain in certain seasons. This means pretreating anticipated pest issues. If you do that coupled with good planning, then you'll probably work half as hard. That's a lot of hours that can be spent in trapping, repairing, fishing, water gathering, etc. Maybe you'll actually get some rest!
Do this with the most common references that you have. Most of the pages will be blank at first with only reference tables within, but in a year's time, it will fill. Examine, challenge, and reanalyze your assertions. Are they valid? Thin out what isn't necessary.
Over time you'll assemble a series of books that will help your children do the same process. It may be that you'll become the master gardener in your community and you end teaching novices how to do the same. You could end up helping a lot of people by creating more food to fill their bellies. You also will expand their minds to possibilities too.