Today the waking hours of waning day light here in Michigans Upper Peninsula was depressingly dark and gloomy. Old man winter has begun his ritual ceremonial dance for the seasons dominance with heavy gray clouds, cold brisk winds and a pissy drizzle from above. His signature warning is a prelude to a 6 months serving of cold, wet, white stuff. It was a day where you just wanted to eat, sleep and hibernate in front of a fire in the woodstove with a hot cup of tea. I say, wanted to. I was not that lucky, I had to go out into the world and briefly leave my woodland sanctuary and little cabin.
As I reached town, I merged with all the other zombie drivers who couldn’t decide which lane they wanted to drive in. The brain seems to disengage in chaotic traffic. 90% of the zombie drivers had a small, black, rectangle shaped piece of plastic held…
“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”
This is going to be a long one, probably a good idea to grab a cup of tea and a note pad before diving in.
A Little FYI about how I know what I know, first.
Years ago, long before moving out to the backwoods of Upper Michigan, we lived in north central Indiana. In that part of the state you will find several groups of Amish communities. About a century and a half ago the Amish found the soil in this area to be rich and thick, perfect for the Amish self-reliant way of life. They began to built houses and barns and settled in. Keeping to tradition of maintaining small, workable communities the original settlement of Amish grew too large, consequently dividing into two self-sustaining sections each run basically by it’s own bishop. When those groups got too large they again divided, keeping each unit within a specific number of members close to the newly chosen bishop. Each break away process of expansion takes much effort and about a generation to accomplish. Today there are quite a few Amish communities or groups peacefully living and farming in the northern counties of Indiana.
This article is not a treatise on the Amish faith or culture, however, when the really hard core SHTF these folks will have a leg up on many of us. If left alone they probably won’t feel the crumbling or even notice that America has expired.
I lived and worked many years amongst these God fearing people. Listen up! Hollywood producers would have you believe the Amish are some weird cult group who mistreat their children and farm animals. That is not true, pure and simple. However, they do take their bible, and simple way of life very seriously. Spare the rod spoil the child, sort of thing. Boys have been known to get a trip to the woodshed by the father of the household for serious transgressions. Teen boys are teen boys in about every culture, it seems.
In the community we were familiar with the girl children rarely felt a fast hand to the butt. Mother usually handled their childhood misdeeds. Girl children were generally given extra kitchen duty or other chores such as hand grinding wheat berries for bread, even as young as 3 years old. Hand cranking a grinding mill of wheat for bread is a chore that takes many tedious hours. A chore in which everyone meticulously tries to avoid. Strong family ties and strict adherence to the rules that govern their collective, keep most everyone walking the straight and narrow. Don’t believe that crap they feed you on TV, those are most likely actors. The Amish, as a rule, resent their picture taken because they believe your soul or your life force is captured in that photograph, as I was told by an Amish elder.
When my youngest child was 5, I dropped her off daily to an Amish lady for daycare while I was at work. Wednesday is generally the day for Weddings, so my Amish sitter asked if she could dress my 5 year old daughter in Amish clothes and take her to the wedding. Of course I gave my permission and to celebrate my daughters costume, Katy ran next door and borrowed a camera from her English neighbor to take my daughters picture. Back then we still used polaroid cameras so Katy had the photos ready for me upon my arrival. My baby girl was adorable all dressed up in plain Amish finest. No other people were in the photo, just the oil stove Katy used to heat her house in the back ground.
Besides being massively religious and self-reliant the Amish know how much effort it takes to make a buck. They also know how to make that buck squeal. Unmarried older children (16 to 21) living in the household and working outside of the farm turn over a portion of their paycheck every payday to the head of household, their father. The theory is, as I was told, if children handle their own money at a young age they tend to get into trouble. Never a wiser word spoken, in my opinion.
Each and every household must contribute to the church an unspecified amount (the details were off limits to this English outsider) of their yearly income. The Bishop and Elder council hold this money in trust. When a barn burns down, someone is injured or whatever the crisis or need, the church/community pays for it. It is the Amish equivalent of collective insurance against mishaps. Stuff happens and they are primed and prepared to pitch in and get ‘er done.
The years we lived in Amish country were a wonderful, educational experience. My Amish lady friends weren’t shy about sharing their kitchen secrets, either. Their generous allotment of old world wisdom was the impetus for my survival during the early years out here in the backwoods. There is nothing so welcomingly tasty as their traditional Dutch/German cuisine. Everything about it says family. Add to the off-grid lessons I learned from my Amish friends, my own grandmothers loving command of everything domestic.
My dear grandmother was born a Mennonite, a break away branch of Amish. Mennonites retain the simple life style and teachings of the Amish, but they do allow some of the more modern things such as driving a car and electricity in the home. Grams was born January of 1900 and didn’t own her own pair of shoes until she met my grandfather in 1918. Grams shared her hand-me-downs from an older half-sister and cousins. Her fathers first wife died at an early age, as I seem to recall. My grandmother left the Mennonite community to marry my grandfather in 1919. My dear grandmother lived during a era of many changes in the 96 years on this planet. Over the course of her lifetime she developed a command of everything domestic and taught me so much about life and living. You can see why I feel blessed and very happy to share with you the secrets of all these wonderful people.
Here we go. . .
If you have established your household previous to the coming crisis, hopefully you will be able to hunker down and safely stay in your home when it hits. The kitchen will be the primary gathering place in most households, when there is no electricity it will be the hub that makes the wheel go round.
Since the kitchen is the activities headquarters. With the probability of extra people in the household, we will need to assign sections or quadrants to allow the flow of these activities to move with ease. On a piece of paper draw out your kitchen, labeling the stove, sink, refrigerator etc. Now divide your kitchen into four equal parts, horizontal through the center of the kitchen and a vertical line through the center of the horizontal line. Assign each quarter a title such as, cooking, cleaning section. That section would have the stove and sink in it, for example. Backdoor and table section, storage section, refrigerator and prep section. (This is my kitchen lay out, yours may be of your own design. Use this only as an example.)
My kitchen flow chart begins at the entrance door area and people center;
I noticed how people took off their coat and boots just inside the entrance and generally headed for the kitchen table. I made sure that route stays open, placed coat hooks and boot trays in this area out of the way of traffic. (A rifle/ shot gun rack on the wall under the coats during the day? It could be out of eyesight from the door but easily accessible to keep predators at away. Just a thought.) Keep this area free from debris and sleeping dogs at all times. The kitchen table should have the usual salt and pepper shaker and a light source such as an l.e.d light, solar lamp, an oil lamp or candles. For us older folks, the kitchen table is where you will find our daily supplements or prescriptions and reading glasses.
To the seasoned prepper this information may be a bit redundant, but even in our world of constant and ever changing sabre rattling by various governments and this really scary political season, you may (or may not) be surprised how many young folks never give a thought about life without electricity, the possibility of war, civil unrest, no snap payments or simple food scarcity due to weather anomalies and politics. (This is the target group, 20 to 40 something with children for “How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out ” .)
What else would make this section more comfortable or workable?
Battery operated shortwave radio, ham receiver, scanner
Pencils and note paper
Coloring books and crayons, games and books for the kids
Berkey water filtration system standing on a pedestal in the corner
Extra charged car battery, or a marine battery
A schedule of daily tasks and chores for each member
A jar of raw honey. (Manuka is the best) Honey was always on the table in the Amish home and at my grandmothers dinner table. The daily use of honey is the reason, in part, that my grandparents lived mostly illness free into very old age. Honey is an antibiotic and has many beneficial properties. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100630111037.htm
The next section, food prep section;
This will be a flat surface such as a counter or kitchen island strictly for preparing food meat and fish products.(May be a food prep station set up outdoors, also.) You would be wise to keep this area off limits to other activities for fear of contamination. It will be ten times harder when there is no electricity and running water to keep this area free from insects, rodents, germs and bacteria. My grandmother used an oil cloth over her work area when not in use. Plastic or some other barrier would keep this area free from cross contamination.
In this food prep area you should find;
Sharp knives– paring knives, vegetable peelers, large cutting knives, (serrated and non-serrated), chopping knife or clever and bone cutting saw. And a knife sharpener or three.
Cutting boards, large bowls and pots and pans, manual can opener, trash can and a compost bucket, another bucket here could be useful too for chicken food.
Contrary to that stupid “vegetarian” label on the carton of eggs at the grocery store, chickens are meat eaters. Chickens will eat chopped meat scraps, fish heads and stuff that would be normally thrown away. They will even eat captured and dispatched mice, other rodents, road kill and each other if one of their coop mates should become ill or lame. Oh, how they love that stuff and the extra protein does them good. The last thing you want is to have meat scraps sitting outside in a trash can for every neighborhood dog, raccoon, or worse, finding it. Hey, there’s even the benefit of barter if you don’t have chickens when your neighbor does. Meat scraps and egg shells would make a very good trade for a few eggs. A bowl or pan of clean bleach water to rinse hands and utensils in this area at all times during food prep will help keep down insects and bacteria.
If you have rigged up your coffee pot to some sort of power device, it would fit well off to the side in this area. Once fresh coffee has been brewed put it into a thermos to keep it warm and save your battery. The coffee will keep warm for many hours in the thermos.
As an aside; If you come across this coffee maker at Good Will or some other thrift shop grab it up. I think the Lehman’s catalog ( http://www.lehmans.com ) still offers them too. It makes wonderful coffee when the power is out or during a camping trip and it is surprisingly simple to use.
If your refrigerator is in this area it will make an excellent storage place for flour, rice and other things mice and bugs like to burrow into. Without electricity insects and rodents will be very hard to control. After the power has been out for awhile and you have used up everything that was in the refrigerator, clean it well and use it for storage. Might as well get some use out of it. In the winter months, after the lake has frozen, bring in some large chunks of ice chopped from the lake or put out bottles of water to freeze over night. Put the ice chunks or frozen water bottles in a pan or bowl and place into the cleaned freezer section of the refrigerator. Now you have a cold spot for food items needing cold place to hang out. The melting ice will fill the freezer with lots of cold air for couple of days.
Since we will be unable to run to the store for paper towels a stash of clean rags stored in this area will be very beneficial. Cut up old towels, T-shirts and baby diapers, they make excellent cleaning rags . Reduce, recycle, reuse.
A light source in this area, a battery operated l.e.d is nicer than a kerosene lamp would be, but by all means use what you have.
Other handy items might be salt and seasonings for making jerky, a drying rack and cheese cloth for covering your drying meat. Do you have an outdoor meat and fish smoker? An old or discarded refrigerator makes an excellent smoker. (Check now with youtube for instructions.) For a whole lot more information and jerky recipes check out “How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out” on this website. Large stoneware crock for fermenting vegetables, manual food mill, and lots of canning jars. Don’t forget hot water bottles for winter warmth and sick room use.
What other handy items would you suggest for this area?
Next we move over to the cooking and cleaning area;
You have an electric stove you say? There are a few things you can do if you planned ahead. There are tons of great camp stoves on the market today, take your pick, however, you do know that your fuel will run out sooner or later, right? Now what? An old 1970’s fondue pot with a tea light candle will almost boil water. They will warm liquids such as soup but there is not enough heat to cook your steak. For that you could bust up the kitchen chairs and set them on fire in the back yard, if you have a back yard. After that, I hope you have a plan B.
Now those of us with a gas kitchen stove will fare better a little longer at least. You will need a light source here too. Those cheap solar lights you buy at Wal-mart are fantastic in this area when fully charged. Sometimes it’s hard to get a full charge in the winter up here in the U.P., though. Then the l.e.d. light will come in handy as next in line. I try and stay away from flammable lighting around the stove for obvious reasons.
Several years ago I took on a job of in-home-healthcare of elderly people. I love old people! They are so full of information if you take the time to listen.
During this time I had a 98 year old woman as my charge. What a delight she was! Melvina told me a story of her birth as told to her by her mother. Melvina was a preemie, born at about 41/2 pounds, at home. Back in the year she was born there were no such things as infant incubators. The mid-wife that attended the birth took Melvina after a couples hours of snuggling with the new Mom and wrapped her tightly in a blanket and put her in a basket. Next the mid-wife opened the wood cook stove oven door and placed the basket and baby on the oven door. Melvinas’ mother needed rest and tiny infant needed warmth. They kept the fire going in the wood cook stove until Melvina put on some weight and got a little stronger. That was one tough lady, that Melvina!
Back to the kitchen, around the stove area we should find salt, pepper, cooking oil or spray, a timer, bouillon in the various flavors, wooden spoons, hand cranked egg beater, pot holders, a cutting board strictly for vegetables, cast iron skillet and Dutch oven, meat thermometer, measuring cups, mesh herb ball or muslin spice bag, measuring cups and spoons, small containers each of flour, cornstarch, baking soda, spices and herbs, spatulas, tongs, potato masher, rolling pin, sprouting jar, strainers, compost bucket, and popcorn. This isn’t a complete list by any means, add your own handy items and favorites.
On to the cleaning area, namely the sink;
Here you should find– clean, filtered water, dish soap if available, laundry soap if available, baby soap and shampoo if available, dish towels, baby towels, cleaning rags, soap pads and scrapers, dish drying rack, clothes drying rack or clothes line rope and clothes pins, scrub board, large tub or pan for heating water, scrub pan for other household cleaning projects and sick room. You didn’t think living without power was going to be easy did you? Lots of lifting in this area. In the winter, clothes dry better inside. If hung outside in subzero air temperatures, your jeans will break and you will immediately have made shorts.
Last but not least, food storage area;
These will be cupboards, closets or pantries that are designated strictly as storage. Food grade buckets, totes and other plastic or metal containers will be most helpful for storing and organizing your food supplies. Rodents and insects will be a problem when the house goes dark. Most often too, if you have many people at your house you may consider some sort of locking system in this area. With the availability or lack thereof, food will need to be protected from midnight 2, 4 and 8 legged raiders.
Be advised that your groups behavior will dramatically change when hungry tummies and addiction issues become problematic. Arguments over food will be very real as people adjust to junk food, cigarette, alcohol, electronics and drug withdrawal.
Junk food withdrawal is as real as dealing with any other substance abuse withdrawals.
Case in point—Our daughter, her husband and their two dear children had been living in another state far away from us for several years due to his job. Daughters hubby wished to move back to our area to be near family after he had been laid off. They packed up what they could, traveled back to the U.P. and moved in with us for a time while they secured new jobs and a place of their own. They had been here for about two weeks when their behavior seemed uncomfortably different. Almost like they had a burr under their saddle, so to speak. One evening, a couple of hours after dinner, dearest son-in-law jumped up and ran off to the kitchen. When I found him buzzing around the kitchen, he was making a cake. When the cake was done he mixed up a pan of brownies and put them in the oven, too. Dear son-in-law used the excuse he just felt like baking something. Of course, the cake and brownies disappeared very quickly. The next afternoon he loaded up his family and drove them thirty miles into town for a McDonalds meal. Processed junk food is not on the menu out here in the backwoods because we mostly eat what we grow. So before they returned home here, they stopped at Wal-Mart for soft drinks, Twinkies and other nasty’s such as corndogs, tatter tots and frozen pizza to fill our pantry and freezer with. Seems our home cooked real food created four guest monsters. One caveat to this story; our three year old granddaughter had seemed much calmer off the junk food. An average day for this child will find her basically bouncing off the walls, but on real food she had the normal temperament of an average three year old again. The stuff she has been eating is loaded with food dyes and additives she is allergic to. After two weeks most of the nasty junk food toxins were pretty much out of her system. However, that reprieve was most temporary. All it took was one trip to McDonalds and our baby girl was back bouncing off the walls, to the point she was unable to settle down for bed.
I can’t stress enough that junk food withdrawals are as real as any cigarette, alcohol or drug addition withdrawal. Sometimes taking months to overcome. So, when I say your food stores could become an issue, believe me and take precautions now. A lock or two on the pantry door today could mean a fuller belly tomorrow, which could also save dear son-in-law a swift kick in the pants.
I would personally recommend these books and internet links;
“Country Wisdom & Know-How” series put out by the editors of Storey Books.
“Cooking with Home Storage” by Vickie Tate
And of course my book,
“How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out” this website.
Check youtube for instructions on making your own portable rock stove mass heater.
Look guys, we can’t know when the next 9-11 will strike. For me, this election has my hair standing on end. I haven’t found the “None of the above” box on the voting ballot, yet. Governments kill people to hold on to power, plain and simple. 2016 has me really worried. October surprise maybe?.
And if this election season weren’t terrifying enough, prophesy, predictions and physics are all pointing to 2020 as the year all hell is unleased on the world, or at least the U.S. Personally, I can’t say with any accuracy but I will predict that it is much better to be prepared for something than to wait for a secretive, corrupt government to take care of me and my family during a (crisis?). Think FEMA camp, eh?
If left alone, many communities will survive. Humans are creative and giving by nature. We can overcome adversity within the confines of family or tribal group due to our diverse labor force, and by handing down or passing on our expertise to the next generation. It is how the little people have made to cut up until now.
James Wesley Rawles Now that Hillary (“Hitlery”) Rodham Clinton (HRC) has received the Democratic Party nomination for president, there is a strong likelihood that she will win the election in November and then be enthroned as president in January of 2017. I predict that she will waste no time in launching an onslaught of punitive new […]
August is time to get serious about stocking up. Winter comes quick when you live between two great lakes.
I seriously wouldn’t recommend anyone cleaning the chicken coop in sandals, but hey, I got ‘er done. While I was mesmerized and ankle deep in chicken shit, I had a thought or four. Would you be interested in what we do during the dog days of summer.
The idea of Old Man Winter staring us in the face isn’t on most people front burner right now. But it is the perfect opportunity for us to start gathering that which will make surviving the winter out here a little more survivable.
Also, watching those mind numbing conventions reminds me; corruptissima re publica plurimae leges, which translates to; “when the republic is at it’s most corrupt, the laws are most numerous.” Said Cornelius Tacitus (A.D 56 -A.D. 120) Roman Historian. “It is the rare man of these days that a man may think what he likes and say what he thinks.” Exactly! You’d think that we would have developed some sort of governmental discipline by now, eh? Like a government with transparency, honesty and “of the people, for the people.” The human race just keeps going in circles, and this government situation we are currently facing is really scary. My step-Dad used to say, “don’t hold your hand over your butt waiting for it, life is but a cherr-a-bowlies,” but I digress.
August has been earmarked at our backwoods homestead as the start of getting serious about winter preps for the year. It’s not so much what you may think about prepping but a way of life for us out here. We stock up in late summer, use what we have during the winter months, eat garden produce during the growing season and start stocking up again the following August. Much like that of our great grandparents.
Y2K computer hysteria gave us the perfect learning opportunity and a timeframe in which to test our knowledge. August of 1999 we started collecting supplies in a big way and by April of 2000 we still had plenty of stuff left after the long, cold winter. I can’t tell you how glad we were to have those supplies and food too, because dear Hubby had a bad accident in May of 2000 and couldn’t work for 5 months. When he was finally able to get out about the Doctor allowed light duty only for another several months. So you see, Y2K taught us well, we have been keeping our system going ever since. If we are lucky, we may go with a two-year rotation starting this year.
Your Mileage May Vary.
The process takes a few months to complete because we collect as time and money allow. The very first step is to take a basic inventory of what you have on hand, what you would need, and items that will make you happy when snowed in for a few days (with or without electricity). I also make a wish list, things that would be great to have on hand but are not absolutely necessary at this time. Items such as that second or third gallon of bar and chain oil for the chainsaw, and a second or third gallon of hydraulic oil for the wood splitter, a new table cloth, stuff like that.
During this time I feel kind of like a little squirrely running around gathering life-sustaining supplies for the winter months or in the case our nations political situation, over zealous bureaucrats. But then again, nothing beats the feeling of self-reliance and a full pantry living through any crisis, snow storm or nutcase running the white house with his finger hovering over the that little red button. But again, I digress.
Let Us Begin
Now is the perfect time when I hit the back room at the feed co-op for their overstock of this years seed order. Lettuce, spinach, kale, anything that seems to trip my vegetable trigger. That’s where I dig though their bulk and packaged seeds on discount. Most seeds will last 3 to 5 years when stored properly. Plus shopping for seed late in the season helps the co-op with excess inventory and we are guaranteed to have seed on hand if the trucks should stop running or delivering. We are on the very end of the truck lines up here and will be one of the first places they quit delivering to. Most importantly, however, we will now have lots of fresh seed for window gardening during the winter and the start of next years greenhouse starts. Extra seeds make wonderful barter items too, especially when you need something and you don’t have cash.
Our small rural towns’ gas stations start taking delivery of 50 lb. bags of deer apples, carrots and sugar beets, on October 1st gearing up for hunting season. Pallets of farmer seconds strategically positioned between the gas pumps. As a rule, most of the apples are not sprayed or waxed and can be a bit wormy at times. Look over the bags early, before the weather freezes them sitting out in the open. We have been paying around $9.00 to $12.00 a bag for these apples. Hell with feeding the deer! We can put up a ton of applesauce and dried cinnamon and sugar apple treats for winter with a couple of those bags.
We have discontinued using the deer carrots due to nasty dark spots when they are canned. Farmers sometimes grow carrots and potatoes to absorb toxic crap from their fields, thus cleaning up the soil. If you know a local farmer and his farming practices, and has carrots that are too big or broken for market, snatch them up for him before he feeds them to the hogs. See, that’s why it is important to make friends with your local grower. The rewards can be many.
Next we dive into the socks and underwear drawers. Gotta have decent woolies and long johns, ya know. Boots, shoes, jackets, gloves and hats- check.
Hot water bottles for when the power is out- check (And you thought it was just beans, bullets and Band-Aids, eh?)
A case of toilet paper-check Shower and bath supplies-check
Hair and beard trimmers sharpened and cleaned-check
First aid kit fresh and restocked-check
Dish soap, trash bags, extra canning supplies, dehydrator and freezer bags, freezer paper for hunting season and chickens-check
Extra bottled drinking water-check
Herbs gathered and dried, baking supplies, oils and sugar etc.-check
Livestock supplies and food, house pets supplies and food-check
50 lb. bag of sunflower seed for the wild birds-check
EXTRA COFFEE!-double check
Books, movies, cards games, candles and extra kerosene (or lamp oil)- check
Plow truck maintenance, winter tires on, oil change etc. -check
Get er’ home bag for the car updated and fresh, kitty litter in the back, shovel-check We can get our first snowfall as early as late September. Usually the big stuff is later, thou.
Oh, and did I mention coffee?! -check Oh, and some chocolate. Cake, candy, brownie mix, hot cocoa, whatever, anything chocolate -check and double check and check mate.
That covers most of it anyway.
As a side note; We have had plenty of visitors stop by our homestead and tell us; “Oh how I wish I could live like this! Look at your gardens, awe, look at all those cute chickens.” I once had a guy stop by to buy eggs. I had not encountered this man before, I figured he must be new to the area.
After he had purchased some eggs, he asks; “You know how to tell if your chicken is laying?”
“No,” I said. “How? ” (Ok, I’ll play your game.)
The stranger look me square in the eye and with a straight face said, “You hold the hen upside down and stick two fingers in her poop shoot. If you can get your two fingers in there she is laying.”
The guy was an idiot! Who in their right mind would do such a thing?
I told him, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just look at her leg color? You can tell if she is laying because in most hens their legs skin will turn from yellow to white once they start laying regularly.” He took his eggs and left without as much as a thank you. People are funny sometimes.
Several couples, young couples, bought places out here. When they do, on average they last about two years and their place goes up for sale again. Kids, I’m here to tell you it’s a lot of work, this being self-reliant stuff. I was young when I moved out here and have been living and working this place for 25 years. When the pillow stuffin’s hits that cheap plastic Wal-Mart fan and you head out to your bug out location, just be prepared for a lot of hard heavy work. Winter is even tougher than summer most years, and I hope you packed lots of bug spray. And not only for the hard work and sore back, the silence will get to you if you are used to radio, TV or internet. Not trying to scare y’all, but it will take some getting used to achy, stiff mornings and the thought of doing it all over again today. Life is about as glamorous out here in the boonies as cleaning the chicken shit off your shoes and throwing them out into the yard before you enter the house. You can make it stick if ya have a mind to.
Things you need before the trucks stop. I know now what the number one survival item will be. . .
When I wrote “When the Trucks Stop” ( https://handygranny.com/2016/07/02/when-the-trucks-stop/ ) I had just completed a self-imposed experiment. I went two weeks without the grocery store, living just with what I had on hand at the time with interesting results. Several commenters asked; “Having had this experience, what should be a stock up priority?” Ah, a thinking question, I love it. I took some serious time with this one.
So, here’s my list~~
Number one on every body’s stock up, survival , keep me and mine alive list are hard copy books. Cook books, how-to books, first aid books, all kinds of books that you can refer back to once the SHTF. You can’t read a kindle after a prolonged power outage, your books must be in your hot little hands and study them before the trucks stop.
I worked as a facilities manager for a not-for-profit women’s shelter for several years. Women and children of all ages, ethnic, stress levels and education stayed at our facility. There were very poor women with children, there were wealthy women, some with kids and others without. This facility has a common kitchen in this where women had access to all kinds of food and utensils to create meals for their self and their children during their stay. Our little community was great at donations and often we would get fresh garden veggies and venison from private citizens. Our pantry was almost always full back then.
I’m here to tell you that if food stuff didn’t come in a can or box and was microwavable it didn’t get used. Most of the women that stayed with us had no idea what to do with a tomato, fresh green beans or a zucchini. After two years of venison in our freezers it was considered uneatable and tossed out. None of the clients ever touched it and I couldn’t tell people this because our donations would dry up. It was so very sad. The rules of our facility were that every client had the responsibility to feed themselves and their own children with the food from our kitchen. However, many, many times I and another staff member ended up cooking for all the clients because something needed to be used up before it was no longer fresh. I got an overwhelming response one time when a local gardener donated a big bunch of zucchini. I sliced a good sized zucchini with a little onion for breakfast one morning and threw a fried egg or two on top. Za-zamm! A nutritious, great tasting breakfast that didn’t involve a box, a bowl and milk.
My point in the above story is that we have been systematically programmed OUT of our basic human survival skills. Most of the Millennial youth will be in a world of hurt when the trucks quit running. If McDonald’s closes up who is going to feed them? Yeah, I’m sorry, kind of snarky but you know.
2) Water, water, water. You shouldn’t even eat if you don’t have clean drinking water. Unless you have been through a crisis yourself, you may not realize how fast clean drinking water can become contaminated. Heck, even our pristine streams and creeks are polluted or just unsafe to drink. Look up water-borne illness like Leptospirosis and dysentery for some hair-raising facts.
Out here in the boonies we have a small trickle of water that meanders across our back 40. Mind you there are no people who use this because it is land locked. Hundreds of acres of woods with no people, just a little flow of clear, icy water. Out of curiosity Hubby took a sample of this small trickle of water and had it analyzed. He sent the sample in and a couple of weeks later got back the results. The lab results told us there was fecal matter and decaying animal bacteria floating around in our cute little stream. Not something I’d like to put my face in, eh?
So, the second part of number 2 would be some sort of water purification or filtering system. Also, in How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out I tell you how to filter water the natural way. Activated charcoal on hand would be a blessing.
A body at 2% dehydration, thirst is perceived.
At 5% dehydration, a person becomes hot and tired. Strength and endurance decrease.
At 10% dehydration, delirium and blurred vision becomes a problem.
At 20% dehydration, the person dies.
3) Good footwear, boots in particular. Could you evacuate your building or run for your life in flip-flops? How far could you travel in dress shoes or women’s high-heeled thingies? I rest my case. Oh, and a good knife. It is amazing how many life saving things you can do with a good sharp knife. I never leave the house without one on my person somewhere.
4) Food is fourth on the list because you can go a long time without it, especially if you know what to look for out in the wild, even in your back yard. You do know that, that pesky red clover that comes up everywhere is delicious, right? Makes wonderful jelly too and roasted dandelion roots make a passable coffee substitute, too.
But if the trucks stop in the winter in the northern half of the country, I’d have a shit ton of freeze-dried food tucked under the bed. Yeah, I know that stuff is so expensive. If you are interested, I could make a suggestion. An alternative to commercial freeze dried food could be to make your own food kits and hide them under the bed.
Here’s a recipe. You are only limited by your budget and your imagination.
In a zip lock bag, add 1/2 cup of rice, 1/4 lentils, 2 beef flavored bouillon cubes and a 1/2 cup dried vegetables. I dry my own broccoli, it holds up well. To cook; put 2 cups of water into a pan and dump the contents of the zip lock bag into the boiling water. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender and all the water is absorbed. These little goodies make excellent barter items as well, and they store very well for a long time.
I make sure I have plenty of salt for personal use and trade. Sugar too, oh if you only knew how much we humans depend on sugar! Seeds, you can grown so many things in pots in the bathroom window that no house hold should be with them. Again, excellent barter items, too.
Canned milk, jello and pudding, peanut butter, cooking oil and fats, popcorn, jerky stored in the freezer to prolong its freshness. Throw a box or two of brownie mix under the bed too. Nothing says happy like brownies from the oven.
Vitamins C, D3, magnesium, kelp tablets and other supplements that your family favors. Crystalized ginger root, great for just about anything that ails ya. Wonderful in stir fry and any Chinese type dishes.
Canned mandarin oranges and Tang for the kids. Those are a never fail for them, also, some Pedialyte.
Beef and Chicken bouillon cubes, lots of them for flavoring rice and soups. Honey, maple syrup, molasses. It is amazing what kids will eat if it is sweetened and honey and molasses,they last a long time. (You know, the plains Indians of 150 years ago killed a buffalo, dug and ate wild roots and survived long winters.)
I’d tell you to save instant mashed potatoes but they are almost all GMO’ed, so instead save up on sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are some of the most nutritious food available. Sweet potatoes are among those vegetables with over 600 different carotenoids, especially beta carotene and lycopene and other anti-oxidants. I store winter squash and pumpkins too, they keep for a long time over winter. Another plus is onions and garlic. They too keep for a long time and are great antibiotics keeping away illnesses. I stock up on garlic for the winter and eat it everyday. Last year I sat in the emergency room with a friend, twice, waiting to see a doctor and didn’t get that flu that was going around. I chocked it up to all the garlic I had been eating.
5) I can’t stress enough learning some survival skills and teaching them to your kids. Check in with Grams and Gramps. They would just love to tell you all they know. They’d be pickled tink to think that you considered there information important.
6) Lots of large and small plastic bags. Endless uses. Pinesol, many uses, even effective for wound irrigation in a pinch. Hot water bottles, woolie socks and long johns. A very large box of T-shirt fabric rags. Many uses, such as when the toilet paper and girlie products run out. And as snot rags when there are no Kleenex. Clean T-shirt material works wonders as a wrap for wounds, too. A must have on my list.
Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, find a farmer or farmers market vendor and become their best friend. Help out at their place once in a while, the farmer or gardener will appreciate it and most likely shower you with produce or farm fresh eggs.
That’s all that come to mind at the present, I’m sure I missed something. You’ll let me know, eh?
You won’t know until you know. You will experience it, but by then it will be far too late to do anything about it.
Dear hubby was called out of town unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. I was left home unattended so I devised a food/foodless experiment with interesting results of which I will discuss here.
Hubby and I live on a working homestead far from the madding crowd. Our town for grocery shopping is 35 miles away, so we grow and harvest mostly what we eat, preserving vegetables in jars and freezer for winter. Everything you would expect from a working hobby farm. When hubby was called out of town unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago, it gave me the opportunity to see if I could live on what was already in the house. We’re not preppers as you might think, we just live a more sustainable lifestyle. Kind of like what our Grandparents would have been happy with. Generally, we drive to town once or twice a month for food and bill paying. We do have a tiny Mom and Pop grocery/beauty salon/with gas pumps, 4 miles up the road for bread, milk, gas and such. (and chocolate)
Two weeks without the grocery store
The first few days were as usual, but by the fifth and sixth day I began to run out of the “good” stuff. My favorites went first, of course. No bread and the fresh fruit, peanut butter as well as milk and butter were used up. Lucky I had a few cans of evaporated milk in the cupboard but the apple trees won’t be producing fresh ripe apples until fall.
I had tons of oatmeal (did you know that cooked oatmeal with home madecanned apple sauce mixed in itisa wonderful breakfast?)and rice, but by the beginning of week two the coffee ran out. Now, that was disastrous! We were pretty well stocked up on pet and live stock food, so I didn’t worry about that so much.
As the days progressed I cleaned out most of the gardens salad fixings and lived on those but my favorite salad dressing is now gone as well. Mind you, this is June in the U.P. of Michigan, short of a few wild greens in the woods and my lettuce, not much else from the garden is ready yet.
Supper had been a hamburg patty and canned green beans for a couple of nights, without butter, and rice and red beans. I have flour to make bread but it takes the two of us to run our farmstead, and I’m running solo. Doing all the work alone left me no time to make the essentials.
Here’s what I know for sure
When the trucks stop or the EBT cards no longer work, people are going to get pretty nasty. Short of the actual hunger, we are going to go through some disastrous physical withdrawal symptoms. I’m talking about just food here. Drugs, cigarettes and booze etc. are another subject. I’m talking about simply what we are used to withdrawals. Lack of junk food and processed carbs being the worst offenders.
There is a real condition called “appetite fatigue.” Just when you need to eat, appetite fatigue from eating the same bland crap day after day, sets in. You know, the stuff that barely keeps you alive. It tends to be seen in small children first. (See Appetite Fatigue and Bad Behavior, page 51–How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out) Small children and the elderly will often times reject unfamiliar foods, making the situation even worse.
In the book “Guests of the Emperor,” during WWII the Japanese held a group of women POWs in a rustic camp in the middle of a jungle. These women were given a daily ration of cooked white rice with brown specks of something in it, for their only meal of the day. After several weeks, many of the women began developing painful hemorrhoids with severe constipation. The fear of pain and continued constipation, the affected women refused to eat. Most of the women in the story were of the wealthier class on vacation when Japanese soldiers captured them and threw them into interment camps, thus holding them as hostages against enemy forces. The Japanese prison guards moved the women several times to different camps, making them walk for days at a time. The guards just couldn’t understand why the women were tired and would collapse on the trail. The guards shot a few of the weak, tired women because they thought the women were faking it. This story was told by one of the survivors of the Japanese POW interment camp.
By the end of the seventh day of my little non-life threatening experiment, I wanted chocolate in the worst way. I’m not sure if it was depression from being alone, or excessive tiredness or lack of carbs that set that into motion. All I know is that I would have given my left hind leg for a chunk of chocolate at that moment.
I can say with authority that an economic collapse or change is definitely coming and this little experiment was such a wake up call for me out here in the boonies. I can’t imagine what kind of hell the cities will go through when it happens. And I had electricity during this experiment, imagine if it were gone too!
Just for Shits and Giggles
How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out–this website
Cookin’ with Home Storage–by Vicki Tate
Country Wisdom & Know-How, everything you need to know to live off the land.– From the editors of Storey Books
How to Dry Foods– Deanna Delong
Ball Blue Book-A guide to Home Canning, Freezing and Drying– This is my bible of home food storage and preparation
Root Cellaring, Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables– by Mike and Nancy Bubel
Part two: https://handygranny.com/2016/07/05/when-the-trucks-stopmy-list/