Home(stead) Security

We never cease living in dangerous times.

For me...
  • There was the time some guy followed me home from work. Had my mother not been looking out our fourth-story window and called out to me, I might've been snatched. He ran like a scalded dog as soon as he realized someone had been watching.
  • There were the thugs who mugged my father in an alley (and nearly killed him) for two measly dollars.
  • There was the time someone broke into our out-buildings and stole our yard equipment. That's happened twice at two different homes.
  • There was the time someone tried to steal our septic pump. Although he damaged it beyond repair, he paid for his crime by getting a nasty shock when he tried to pull the pump out. It was hardwired into our electrical system. Oops!
  • My neighbors have had their packages stolen.
  • I've come face to face with bobcats, wolves, and coyotes. Fortunately, all of them preferred to back off or run away. But what happens if one of them ever stands his ground? This has been happening all too often in a city not far from us where coyotes have brought down joggers and grabbed little dogs. Their bold attacks have been caught on surveillance cameras.
  • In more comical moments, there was the time I got lost in the woods, at night--on my own property!
All these moments are tiny scenarios on what could happen, what has happened, or what will happen to you or yours at some point.

It doesn't matter if you live in a studio apartment or a McMansion; whether you live in the city or the country; danger is everywhere.

After what happened to our poor Iko, we redoubled our efforts to secure our homestead. We installed cameras all around the house and shop. We plan on adding more by the goats and the road leading to our home. So far the only things we've recorded are marauding deer, though we did see a coyote trot out our driveway with a deer hindquarter.

We also installed more lighting, particularly motion-sensitive and timer lighting.

Something I dislike doing, but have accepted is carrying a gun at dawn or dusk. Where there's prey, there are predators. I just don't want to be one of the former.

So what can you do to stay secure? Here are my best tips to stay safe.

    • Be aware of your surroundings. Know where to run for safety whether you're in your backyard or in public.
    • Walk like you know where you're going. A Marine once told me this. She said I walked with authority. It keeps the bad guys from thinking you're an easy mark.
      To that, I should add that Greg knows I'm usually lost. I might walk with confidence, but I have no idea where I'm going. I might be lost, but there's no reason to be late. :)


  • Add cameras. Cameras are a step up in security. If you have good wifi, wireless cameras are great. If like me, you live in an area with limited reception, run a hard line for your cameras. I'm lucky in that Greg knows how to wire our security system, otherwise I'd have to pay someone. The comfort it gives me is worth it.
    What's nice about the hard-wired cameras is that we can route everything to one monitor and keep track of all the different cameras.


  • Lights. This one also requires wiring but is less troublesome for the technically challenged. I like the motion sensor lights. If anyone is on your property without permission, I want the whole world to know he's on Hollywood Lights.

    • Ring (or other doorbell camera). We bought this last year and LOVE it. It alerts you to whoever comes to the door. Not only is the video camera motion-activated, but you can talk to who's ever at the door from your phone, so they'll never know if you're home or not. Relatively easy to wire.
      • Gun/knife/pepper spray: Carry whatever personal protection suits you best. When we're out in the woods (especially in the dark) we carry a gun. The rest of the time, a knife is all I carry. For the record, I've only ever used a knife to kill something once. A snake was feasting on my baby bunnies, the poor mother rabbit watching helplessly. I impaled the snake to the wall. Nobody messes with my babies.
      • Dogs: Iko was brutally attacked and he's a big dog, so that's not always the best answer. On the other hand, dogs are aces at letting you know when something is amiss--if you happen to be home when it happens. A dog's hearing is far superior to ours. If they're on alert, you should be too.

      Even a cat is good at alerting you. I always pay attention if Jammy suddenly sits up and stares at something. He's been especially good at hunting and killing scorpions. That gives him job security for life.

      Whatever your environment, nothing beats being aware of your surroundings. That one exercise can save your life.

      Have you ever been in a dangerous situation? What security measures do you use in your home?


      B.E. Sanderson said…
      All excellent suggestions. Personally, I carry pepper spray everywhere I go - even if it's just out in the yard. You never know, ya know? I also maintain situational awareness - basically, be aware of everything all the time. This is especially important when I'm out fishing alone. As is being aware of what's handy to use as a weapon, if necessary. A stick, a rock. If you can grab it, you can hit someone with it. There's a knife in my tackle box, but that's not always easy to get to because I keep the box latched - unless I get a hinky feeling, then I unlatch it and put my knife on top where I can grab it easy. And that's another thing - pay attention to those hinky feelings. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred they're nothing, but that one time...
      Carole West said…
      When you're out in the world I find how you present yourself speaks volumes. Posture is huge and knowing you can attack back to protect yourself is also smart. Carrying a knife or gun is what I do on our land. Our acre is fenced in so even though anything could jump in if they put the effort forward at least it can slow things down.

      I miss having a dog,that was a huge help as well. Dixie was an amazing protector and since she has been gone I've come to realize you can't rely on animals to take care of you either. But they are a prefect detour ant.

      A self defense class is something all women should take or a year of martial arts. I did that with my daughter and it was a huge also helped build my confidence.
      Maria Zannini said…
      re: hinky feelings
      Absolutely! People don't trust their guts enough.

      re: As is being aware of what’s handy to use as a weapon...
      I used to spend a lot of weekends at uni working on my art projects. I always locked the classroom door behind me and kept a knife within reach. Just before I graduated though, a serial killer had murdered a young woman at our university. After that Greg insisted I carry a gun.
      Maria Zannini said…
      Carole: Self defense classes are excellent. Greg and I both took karate when we were younger and I still remember the best moves (for me) to attack or defend.

      We once were dogless for six weeks. We couldn't do it. The house was too empty. They're a comfort in more ways than one.
      Great post and I am planning on adding in more "eyes" on our homestead as well. I do not go around without the hounds and a little backup on my person.

      I have had a few close calls over the years myself and it has certainly taught me to be aware of things around me. Agree.. watch your animals. I feel the same way about listening to your horse when you are out riding or even what they are telling me in the pasture
      Maria Zannini said…
      re: Watch your animals...

      I'm glad you said this. I'm always very aware of my animals. I watch them constantly so I know if their behavior changes even a little. Goats will back up to each other to keep eyes all around them, chickens will suddenly grow quiet, dogs and cats flick their ears to approaching sounds.

      They are a first line of defense. Great suggestion!
      Mike Keyton said…
      In London I'm aware at all times, walk, as you say, with authority and check out my routes before hand - unless I'm with my daughter who takes me to some very strange places. My guardian angel is called Hinky, and I trust her completely
      I had heard that about walking with authority and confidence. I also remember being told to hold keys a certain way - sticking out from between your fingers - to use as a makeshift weapon. I grew up in NY and took public transit to and from school so I pretty much did the key thing automatically.
      Jenny Schwartz said…
      Security cameras can record some very strange things! although not coyotes here in Australia ;)
      Maria Zannini said…
      Mike: That reminds me of my niece. She took me to some strange places too. Kids!
      Maria Zannini said…
      Madeline: Years ago, our college class took a trip to NYC to visit the art museums. I grew up in Chicago so I knew to stay aware and walk fast. My friends looked like deer in headlights. I had to grab one of them by the jacket sleeve before a car hit him.
      Maria Zannini said…
      Jenny: Given a choice I'd rather see animals in my yard than people though. :)
      Lisa Lynn said…
      I agree...everyone should take self defense classes. But remember not to be over confident and test your skills. It's always better not to need to use them!

      To Madeline...I had heard the tip about putting your keys between your fingers too. But my self defense teacher said that can hurt your hand almost as much as your attacker. Instead, hold your keys so you can swing them and use them to strike someone across the face...ideally the eyes. You won't hurt yourself this way.

      Some of the best moves are learning how to get out of a hold if someone grabs you from behind. Grab their thumb and yank it backwards.

      Don't punch someone in the face, punch them in the windpipe - throat. It will take them down a lot faster.

      I carry a pepper spray can in the car that is designed for bear attacks.

      Good tips, Maria!
      ANGELA L BROWN said…
      Maintaining an awareness of my surroundings is a big thing for me. When I go to places, I try to see where the nearest exits are, along with my proximity to them.

      I use to keep a switchblade in my purse but I broke it using it for a non-knife purpose. I need to get a replacement soon.

      Thank you for the tips. I have a feeling they will come in handy.
      Maria Zannini said…
      Lisa: My favorite move has always to kick the kneecap from the side. We have no stability from that side. No matter how big someone is, he will drop. If I remember correctly, it only takes 12 pounds of pressure to take the knee out.
      Maria Zannini said…
      Angela: I don't keep a weapon in my purse. It would take too long to pull it out. :) If I'm out and about, I do what BE said. I look for anything around me that could be used as a weapon.
      LD Masterson said…
      Um, regarding the benefit of dogs... that kinda depends on the dog. I've had dogs who would greet an intruder with tail wags and kisses, a couple who would run and hide under the bed, and one whose only risk to a bad guy would be if he tripped over the giant sleeping lump. And then there's Sophie who might have noticed an intruder, before she went blind, but wouldn't be much of a alarm system since she never barks. Well, actually, I've heard her let out a couple little "woofs" but she was asleep at the time. I obviously haven't been choosing my furbabies for protection.
      Maria Zannini said…
      Linda: I think all my dogs have been good early warning systems. Not all of them were capable of defending me but they always let me know there was trouble.

      They did have a hard time distinguishing the level of threat. A squirrel elicited the same alarm as a real intruder. LOL!