Urban areas and cities aren’t the only places where crime and theft can be a problem. Rural areas are also at risk. Here are just a few ideas for how you can keep your homestead more secure and protected.
1. Get a dog
A dog is easily one of the best means of home defense. Interestingly enough, it often isn’t just the intimidation factor of the dog but the fact that they make a lot of noise which draws attention. For this reason a watch dog can be very valuable.
First off, there is a difference between a watch dog and a guard dog. Watch dogs work as an alert/alarm system. They will be very vocal if they sense something strange going on and will ideally continue making a ruckus until the owner addresses the situation. A guard dog will perform the same duty as a watch dog but will also confront an intruder to protect the property/house/owner/etc.
The vast majority of dogs can only perform as a watch dog. Truly any breed of dog is fine to have as a watch dog. Whether it’s a little terrier or an imposing looking mastiff. Most family dogs already act as watch dogs and will bark if someone pulls into the driveway and whatnot. You can easily find a nice, friendly pooch from your local shelter that will do this for you.
A guard dog is a completely different story. Many people have this idea that their dog will protect their property and attack a person. Honestly, there are few dogs (without protection training) that will actually engage an intruder in such a way unless perhaps they are cornered and react out of defense. A true guard dog is a very confident, dominant dog that requires a very knowledgeable owner who has plenty of dog experience and understand the liabilities of owning such a dog. (Recommended: The 10 Very Best Guard Dogs For Security.)
2. Put up signs
Sometimes people trespass accidently. For example, perhaps your property butts up against popular hunting grounds and a hunter enters your property line without realizing. Others may not realize someone lives on your property. Of course, someone intent on stealing from your home won’t be stopped by just a sign, but it is still important to use them as a warning and for legal reasons.
One of the most basic signs to have displayed on your property is the classic “No Trespassing.” If you live in a rural area with lots of acreage, these signs should be displayed around the perimeter of your land. You should also have some such a sign tacked to the gates on every driveway or private road leading to your house.
Another useful sign is “Beware of Dog”– even if you don’t want or have a dog. These signs should also be located around your property and especially in an easy-to-see location on the main driveway to your house. Sometimes, people will ignore a typical beware-of-dog warning sign since they are so common. I prefer a variant of this sign with a more eye-catching message like “Warning: Guard Dog on Patrol” or “Guard Dog on Duty.” Some signs used on estates or within properties heavily guarded by loose patrolling guard dogs even go so far as to state that dogs will attack trespassers. I would recommend that if you do have a true guard dog outdoors, you should include a phone number on the sign.
Another popular sign for security are those that say surveillance cameras are in use. Again, perhaps you don’t have cameras, but the intruder doesn’t know that.
3. Add locking gates to all driveways
There is a general rule in rural areas that a closed gate means you shouldn’t enter unless the person is expecting you. A gate is a good visual deterrent. If the gate is used in conjunction with a perimeter fence, you can also stop people from driving onto your property. For those without a perimeter fence, you can use natural materials found on your property like giant boulders or logs to prevent people from driving around the gate.
For an added element of security, you can add motion sensors to the driveway which will alert you to someone walking or driving onto your property. Aside from security, these sensors are just nice to have so you know if a visiting friend has arrived or that package you’ve been expecting is being delivered.
4. Build a perimeter fence
There are a lot of benefits to having a perimeter fence on the homestead. It is a visual and/or physical barrier to reinforce your property line, a way to keep wildlife out and a nice backup in the event livestock escape from their pastures. It’s fairly useful to be able to know exactly where your property line is as well.
A perimeter fence used primarily as a visual barrier doesn’t need to be that substantial. It could be a couple strands of barbed or barbless wire or a few strands of electric wire/tape hooked up to a solar powered charger. This is enough to let people know they’ve reached private property and shouldn’t enter — especially if you have prominent no trespassing signs on the fence or right inside of it.
If someone really wants to get onto your property they are going to, but you can thwart their efforts further by using a combination of multi-strand barbed wire and electric fencing to deter them. (This also helps keep animals out and livestock in.) Another very good deterrent is to purposely grow thorny bushes along your perimeter fence. This works well for keeping predators out as well.
5. Use motion-activated spotlights
Motion-activated spotlights are very popular, and for good reason. Aside from being useful for seeing where you are walking at night when your hands are full, they are a deterrent for both human and animal intruders. A bright light suddenly turning on is alarming for a marauding dog, coyote or raccoon while it also destroys a potential thief’s stealth.
Naturally, motion-activated lights are best used around buildings since you’ll need electricity — although there are some solar powered lights on the market. Place the lights in strategic areas like around doors, walkways or equipment stored outdoors. If it’s a predator problem you’re trying to protect your property from, you will want to use the light around livestock pens or coops as well as areas where feed and garbage are stored.
6. Invest in surveillance or game cameras
Surveillance cameras are one of the most useful tools for home security. Obviously, they won’t actively stop someone, but they will give you the ability to prosecute that person. Surveillance camera systems can be found for a fairly reasonable cost now, and many give you the ability to see the cameras while you are away through a smart phone app. Many people consider them a very worthwhile investment.
If you do really need to stick to a budget or want something more versatile, game cameras are a great idea. A good quality game cam can be placed pretty much anywhere and is especially useful in naturally wooded areas. Such cams typically stand up to harsh weather better than the average home security cameras.
Have you ever had to deal with crime in your rural area? Or maybe you have your own tips for home security? Please share your stories and advice in the comment section below!