Friday, January 2, 2009

Who will you do emergency preparation for?

You know I really wish I knew how to manipulate the font on the post title a little more. If I did, it would look like this: Who will you do emergency preparation for?

We have quite a few picture books around here, one of which is called "Mr. Badger's New House". (Written and illustrated by Robin Muller, published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC, copyright 2002 by Robin Muller. Ah, now hopefully no one will be angered, or worse, come after me... :) The gist of at least part of the story is that Mr. Badger likes his house, but when things go wrong, he ignores the problems, until one day there is a big storm. In the aftermath, he looks at the challenges of fixing what is wrong and decides that he can't do it, so he decides that it is time to move. He purchases a new house, and Grandmother Mouse moves into the old one, despite the fact that Mr. Badger tells her all about the problems that need fixing. She's not worried, and tells Mr. Badger that someone will fix those problems for her.

Grandmother Mouse is right. When Mr. Badger is invited to visit his old home (more than once) he eventually ends up fixing the house for her. There is more than that to the story, so I leave you to visit to your local bookstore or library to find out (while hopefully leaving myself in the good graces of the author--it's a charming book.)

When I read this book lately, it occured to me that this little scenario could be applied to food storage. Then as I have been writing this, it appears that it could be applied in more ways than one---how ignoring problems that are evident can become bigger and harder to fix until they basically become an emergency, how not even trying to take care of necessary tasks guarantees failure, how much we can actually do when we decide to try to do something--you get the idea. However, I'm sticking with the idea that prompted the post title--Mr. Badger wasn't willing to do the repairs that the house needed for his own benefit, even though he really liked his house. But he was willing to do the repairs for someone else. What aren't you/I/we doing in terms of emergency preparation that we would be willing and able to do for someone else, if we would just try?

It's kind of a personal question, so I will leave you to your own thought processes. But for purposes of illustration, I'll share one thing that I have begun doing since I have really started to get prepared that I am willing to do for my family but had no desire to even try just for myself. Many of you may laugh (but hopefully not decide to never read my blog again) when I say that I never wanted to bake my own bread-- among other things, I was afraid that I would kill the yeast. There were many rationalizations for this behavior--way back when bread was more affordable, making my own bread was a lot more time-consuming than buying it off the shelf, etc.--so I ignored the fact that I should probably be learning this oh-so-useful skill. When I realized that having flour and oil and yeast in storage was nice and all, but I didn't know what I was going to do with it all to feed my family, I couldn't ignore the problem that I didn't know how to make bread anymore. I had to roll up my sleeves and try, just like Mr. Badger did. And when I did try, it worked out, just like it did for Mr. Badger. And just like Mr. Badger let things slide when it was just him that was affected, but fixed those same things for Grandmother Mouse, what I am willing to do for my children can be vastly different than what I am willing to do when I have only myself to consider.

Long story short? (Too late... :) I do emergency preparation much more efficiently for my family. Even though my skills are still extremely limited in the bread-making category (ok, I have like one recipe down pat) I can do something with my preparation supplies to make sure that there is food on the table. It's a good feeling. I should repeat that feeling with a bigger variety of bread recipes....

So, back to the post title question--who will you do emergency preparation for? You/we/I may be able to stomach meal after meal of rice and beans/live in temperatures a lot lower than comfortable/have less light to do things by, etc., but what about those for whom we are responsible? How well do we want to be prepared for their benefit? And I have to mention (and hope that it is not too much of a spoiler) that although Mr. Badger is motivated to do the things that need doing by Grandmother Mouse, he does benefit from his own labors in the end, though I won't spell out the details. This will most likely ring true for us as well if we need to deal with an emergency situation--even though we prepare with the welfare of others in mind, it is highly likely that we will share in the good things that result from our efforts. Even if we don't, the ones that we did do the work for will still reap the benefits.

Just something to think about. Thanks to Robin Muller for the story that prompted this post--I highly recommend it. Admittedly, every new effort that I have made has not met with the same success when it comes to my emergency preparation (you can check my previous posts to verify this unfortunate fact) but I would rather make mistakes before an emergency so things will work out better during one. Can you think of something that you can do for others in terms of emergency preparation that you don't necessarily want to do just for yourself?

I, as mentioned, could always improve on that bread-making thing....


The Scavenger said...

In gathering preps and trying to do all I can to prepare for my family I know I will in time have to help others. I have set aside some extra for that reason. I want to continue, like you, to encourage others to make plans for themselfs. My extras will only go so far to help others. Great post that makes one think. Thank you,


HermitJim said...

You know, one thing that comes from from making mistakes in can always eat the evidence!

Seriously, baking bread and such can be so rewarding when the family says" made this?".

Good luck and keep up the trials and practise!

Marie said...

Chris--I think you do an excellent job of not only encouraging others to make plans for themselves, but in setting a good example of doing so yourself...thanks for your comment!

HermitJim--You are right about eating the evidence--sometimes even when a recipe doesn't come out exactly it's still just fine to eat. I've seen over at your site that there are a couple more recipes that I could try...I appreciate your comment!

Christy said...

What type of yeast do you store? I learned to make bread for the same reason you did, for my family. I have a lot of stuff in my storage that I wouldn't have just for me.

foodstr2 said...

One situation that *I* face is helping to prepare for family members who DON'T. They'll be at my doorstep because they know *I've* prepared. How can I turn them away??

So, I'm forced to store extra. My thought is to start charging them, say $20/week--or some amount--to help with the financial crunch of having to store extra supplies.

Any thoughts?

BTW, if you use canned meats, there are some great recipes at

Stephanie in AR said...

My kids are what got me started on the idea of a big pantry - this before I had ever heard of Mormon's, food storage or prepping.

Back in the 80's when I was a young wife with small children Buffalo had one of its yearly bad snowstorms + lake effect snow and it was a serious amount of snow. The tv news had a story about a mother who had to carry her 7 yos several blocks because the cupboards were empty. More interviews & they had eaten even the last oreo's so she had to walk. At first my thoughts were how bad the storm was...then I realized wait! she grew up in Buffalo & knew all about the snow, why didn't she have food stored away!? Its one thing to go hungry as an adult but when you have children! How hard is it to keep extra peanut butter...So it began. (My kids have grown up hearing this story & have turned it into quite a comedy routine too. lol)

So I store (or try) for my kids (at home or not) and now the grandkids. One daughter has been married 5 years and is working on her own storage. She just moved into our old place & is loving the shelves. The two boys have been married less than a year & are trying to finish up Air Force schooling. No home = no storage. But as my youngest is only 1 year old it isn't hard to have extra.

I also try for more variety in the storage, and try to store what we eat/eat what we store. I love getting a computer & finding we are not weird. Love the fact that Mormon's are willing to give their info free & just finding like minded people. Storage can be discouraging if you let it.

Sorry for the blog. Love reading your thoughts & ideas.

Marie said...

Christy--I usually use the Fleischman's envelopes for normal use, but I have Red Star in larger packaging for long-term storage. Isn't it interesting how much we can be influenced/motivated by the ones we care about? Thanks for your comment!

Foodstr--Your situation is a hard one, because there are those who don't store because they can't, and those who don't store because for whatever reason, they won't. If they can, but don't, perhaps if you offered to store some supplies at your house if they bought them, that might open the discussion--if they have room for storage, they might protest and say they don't need you to do that, but it at least they're talking about it. Then you could mention that it costs you x/amount a week to put in emergency supplies, how much does it cost them, mention where you put your supplies, where do/could they put theirs, etc.? It's truly a difficult situation, but if they know that you are worried about them, maybe they'll get motivated to start, and if you say that you could store some for them for $20/week, maybe they'll take you up on the offer. Don't know if any of that helps, but that's what comes to mind for me...
I'm always on the lookout for new recipes, so I'll have to check the link out--thanks for your comment!

Stephanie--Thanks for sharing your experience and story--it's great that your kids learned early on to think about being prepared. I love that you are working on storage for everyone, and that someone got your shelves that can appreciate them... :)
I agree that when you think about everything involved in storage, it can be daunting, but I just try to do a little at a time, and it eventually adds up.
You bring up a good point about there being a lot of resources available out there to help it be less discouraging. Sites like by the church are out there and available to everyone for free, not just members, because, like you say, it doesn't matter who you are if you want to be prepared, and I hope everyone wants that...
Thanks again for sharing your story--great example of teaching your children young and how getting prepared can be a family effort!

Stephanie in AR said...

Yes, if you are my kid I will feed you but the younger you are the better you will be taken care of. Love the adult kids but they got to understand decisions have consequences. The grandbabies are another story.

Marie said...

That makes sense to me, but the fact that your children have been raised to think about being prepared (making it a comedy routine or otherwise) probably increases the likelihood that you have to do less for them as they get older, not more--and I'm sure they are probably passing that on to their children. It's hard to get everything you would need in an emergency, no matter what your situation, so it's always good to have other people willing to help out where necessary--the more people involved in the preparation, the better.
Decisions do have consequences...can't say it any better than that.

Anonymous said...

Nice post and Comments Marie.

Carl In Wisconsin

Marie said...

Carl--Thanks, and thanks for reading--your comments are always appreciated!

Grumpyunk said...

Good post, Marie. I haven't commented before, but thought you should hear it as I understood what you were saying.
I have a few questions about bread for you.
Where do you get your wheat and what is your method of storing it? Specifically, do you buy wheat berries or regular wheat and then winnow it and grind it.

I'm pretty ignorant about the subject and any input would be appreciated. We do have a grinder and have purchased wheat berries before and ground them. I've heard conflicting info on storage time length on them and maybe you could help me out. Thanks. I didn't see an email addy, so I ask here. A click on the name will give you an email if you wish to respond. Thanks again, Unk

Marie said...

Grumpyunk--Had to go to my best source to answer this one because I wanted to make sure that my own understanding of these terms were correct. Wheat berries and regular wheat are the same thing. Wheat that has not been ground has a phenomenal shelf life--you can see at this link,11666,7797-1-4222-1,00.html

that it has a storage length of 30+ years. Once you grind it, however, you need to use it immediately because grinding it releases oils that will cause it to go rancid within a week-10 days at room temperature. If you grind it and store it in the refrigerator, it will keep for a longer time. (Thanks Mom!)
I have bought wheat from the local emergency preparedness store that was already packaged in buckets for long-term storage, and I have bought wheat from the church cannery in bags and stored it properly in buckets, as well. (It is my understanding that non-members can go to a church cannery if accompanied by a member, so if you don't know a member, I would recommend calling the number listed in your phone book under the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and asking about the location of the cannery nearest you and for any other assistance you may need. There are many other items available for purchase at the cannery in addition to wheat, so I hope there is one near you. We love ours.)
True confessions here--I had to ask my mom what exactly winnowing is, so no, I have never done that. In fact, we have a non-electrical hand-grinder down with our wheat, but we have not yet used it--it's getting higher on my to-do list. I have just been using regular flour to make my bread, but in our conversation, my mom pointed out that getting used to eating whole wheat items is part of the preparation process.
As for proper storage, there are various ways to help ensure that your wheat remains in good shape while in storage--oxygen packets (I received some for Christmas that were purchased at the cannery) and the method my mom has used for years, which you can find in this post:

There were also oxygen packets available at the local preparedness store as well, if memory serves.
Hope this helps--thanks again to my best source!

Grumpyunk said...

Marie, Thank you so much for taking the time to help! Yes, terminology seems to be part of the confusion. You've gone a long way to helping me here. My thanks for your time and the links. Unk

hsjacobus said...

I so get this. It drives me batty that people don't prepare even with basic skills let alone a few basic essentials in the pantry for whatever they might need it for.

Our church where I live started a program where they pass a list on Sunday and you can sign up to buy things that would help build your food storage. A few ladies were assigned to look for the best deals on the items being offered and then to collect the money and pick up the items for everyone else. I have to say I didn't greet this with a happy attitude. I watched as a mother with 3 tiny children performed this task for people perfectly able to buy 2 jars of peanut butter or 2 bags of flour just as easily for themselves. Worse they were suppose to go and pick up the items from that individual and instead I often saw this same lady bring in 50 lb bags to church because someone didn't go to her house to get it and she didn't have room for their stuff and hers. I was thoroughly disgusted at this point. I thought if their so lazy they can't buy it in the first place for themselves then too bad. They've made their choice!

The church couldn't have made it easier for people, but they still didn't want to do THE WORK! The ladies over this program poured their hearts into their work and I feel they were very poorly rewarded and I truly feel sorry for them having had to work so at something that everyone should have been managing for themselves.

Good post Marie!

Marie said...

HSJacobus--That sounds like a very helpful program if people took advantage of it properly--I think that sometimes people don't store because they don't know what to store, and it seems like that kind of effort would take away some of the guess work. Of course, you need to have the room to store it for yourself in the end--it won't do any good, say, if for instance everyone's quarantined and your food is over at someone else's house...
I like the fact you mention, that food storage doesn't have to be complicated--you can pick up a little here and there, like flour and peanut butter. Food storage is work--work at gaining knowledge, supplies, and everything needed to go with it--but I can only imagine that it's easier to do that work before an emergency than during one. Thanks for your comment!