Monday, June 29, 2009

Emergencies don't come when you expect them

I heard a story recently that haunts me still, and I expect will continue to haunt me. I hope I don't mess up the details--my impression was that this event happened quite awhile ago, and this account is according to memory, with no intentional errors or disrespect:

In a rural area, there was news that some local members of the community were killed while driving a wagon over the train tracks. Everyone in the surrounding area knew the people who died, and everyone knew about the place that they crossed.

The people who died also knew about the dangers of crossing the tracks. They had done it for years, and knew that it was necessary to exercise caution because a train could hit them. They had crossed for so long, however, that they didn't exercise caution this time. Maybe when they first started crossing the tracks they did, but as time went by, and nothing bad happened to them, they let their guard down. When the accident happened, they weren't worried enough about something bad happening to take the precautions needed in order to cross the tracks in safety.

An investigation was made into the accident, and at one point the driver of the locomotive was interviewed. They asked him if he thought that the people who died saw him coming. He answered that yes, they did see him coming. When they asked him how he could be so sure, he replied, "I saw the looks on their faces."

Just like the people who were crossing the tracks, we have been given plenty of warnings that we need to have emergency preparation items and food storage in place. The nature of the emergency, whether it be natural disaster, job loss, disruption in the food supply, pandemic, or personal financial issues is at best secondary. The result of any of these or other emergencies is the same: if we don't prepare, we are going to be in trouble.

The thing is, like the people in the story, we go along and we hear the warnings, but for many, many, many of us nothing has happened---yet. Hopefully it never will, but it is more likely that there will be sometime when you/I/we will need to use the emergency preparations we have put into place. Please get all the food storage and emergency preparation items that you can gather, within your means, into order as quickly as possible. I have gone over many of the possible scenarios where emergency supplies could be needed in past posts, and most likely will continue to do so in future posts. You/I/we need to prepare now, while we can.

Some people may think about current events and think, well, the pandemic hasn't done what they said it would do. The economy isn't as bad as some said it would get. My job/company/position is secure. I have savings. This isn't tornado alley. You get the idea. Looking back on your/my/our reasoning for not preparing when we see the emergency upon us will not do any good. The actual reason we need to use our supplies doesn't matter--in the end we need to be prepared to provide water, food, shelter and security for ourselves and our loved ones, regardless of the particulars of the situation.

I still have work to do, so I don't write this as a perfectly prepared person. Exactly because I still have work to do for me and mine, the help I can give to others will be limited. Consider it cyber-begging if you will, but please, do what you can to get prepared in terms of water, food, shelter and security emergency supplies.

I don't want to be haunted by the looks on the faces of those who are not prepared when an emergency is upon us, and they have no safe way to get through it. Prepare now so that you can safely navigate through an emergency. At best, you will have no emergency, and can use your supplies at your leisure. But if you end up needing your emergency supplies for an actual emergency situation, you'll be glad that you heeded the warnings.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Progress is good

Um, yeah, not sure which exact strawberry I took a picture of last time, but some of the strawberries are getting more and more red, and that's nice progress to have. Hopefully we'll get to them after they're ripe and before the birds do...

Also making progress, this time in the backyard, one of our potato plants:

There is now also additional space in our garden, in which has been planted more beans, more corn, and some cucumbers. It all adds much, we'll find out at harvest. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

A small percentage of something is so much better than a higher percentage of nothing

In a conversation I had with a salesman, it came up that at times, he has to reduce the price of what he's selling in order to get the business and make the sale. Reducing the price of the item(s) he sells lowers his commission. He then said along the lines of, " A (lower) percentage of something is better than a (higher) percentage of nothing." He's so right. That saying has emerged in other conversations, but I was thinking about how it applies to food storage.

If you are like me, I like to have things done. That's why, for a longer time than I care to admit, I put my food storage on the shelf and walked away. I didn't want to use my food storage. If I used it, I would have less, right? So I put it there and felt pretty good about the numbers, but had very little to no idea about what I would do with it if a crisis hit. Rice and beans were good in theory, but didn't make an appearance on the dinner table until I decided to get serious about the actual preparation of food storage. Practical application trumps the dream of self-sufficiency any day.

Back to the percentage thing--I'm pretty sure that those concerned with being prepared for emergencies (you have no idea how much I wish that meant absolutely everyone) would like to be 100% prepared. Well, ummm...the bad news is that in my personal opinion being absolutely prepared for everything is not possible. The good news is that you can be absolutely prepared in some areas, though. And that's where the lower percentage of something undeniably beats a higher percentage of nothing.

I think that sometimes, people think they will do things all at once, and usually the time for that will be sometime in the distance future. They may think that they will save up for an entire year's supply of food, when they could just purchase needed items little by little---they want the 100% prepared version, which, since it is not in their hands, is essentially 100% of nothing.

Personally, I think that a smaller percentage of something in our possession, even if at the beginning it only amounts to a three-day supply of food, is far superior to having nothing on hand. Set goals for yourself if you are just starting out, and don't let food storage overwhelm you. You can get a 3 days' supply to start out with, and chances are, rice and beans won't even be on the menu at that point. Then move on to 3 weeks. Then to 3 months. Then to 3 years. (Yeah, I was just checking to make sure you were paying attention--would love to have 3 years' supply on hand, but still working on that year goal....)

There are still things that I need to work on. Here we are in June, and I still haven't completed my inventory and worked out a system that works for me where that's concerned. Part of it is just that I don't think about that particular aspect of it enough. I haven't worked enough on the 3 month supply as opposed to long-term storage. We all have our areas that we need to work on (hey, if I'm alone on this, be kind :) but we can up our percentages if we set realistic goals and work on them. And it is that we might not be able to do tomorrow, so we better do it today.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

(Green) Strawberries

Well, everyone in Idaho knows we have been having a good rain season here--raining, raining, and did I mention raining? We really need it, so no complaints here. I just kind of forgot to go out and take a look at the strawberries until someone in another state mentioned theirs. So I went out and hurray, the strawberry plant pictured above is progressing in my front yard. Somewhere amidst the flowers that are also in my front yard. Gotta love strawberries---or at least know someone who does...

Sometime in between the rain showers the corn, pumpkins, cucumbers and beans have been planted. It still is pretty cool out, so hoping we get a better harvest than last year.

Not much to post about--recently purchased some more soap (hand and dish) for the storage, as well as the occasional additional can of Spam and the like. Still increasing the size of the garden for planting later.

Changing the subject entirely.... I have heard about EMPs and need to do more research on them. Over at Preparedness Pro Kellene Bishop is doing a series on them, (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 are up as of this writing) so you might want to check it out. I know that I link a lot to other blogs and websites, but just trying to share what I've found---knowing where to find the information is sometimes half the battle. I had already put in a request at the local library for the book, One Second After , before I saw this series, so I wouldn't be surprised if I posted something about them sometime....the more we know, the better prepared we'll be.

Monday, June 15, 2009

HSBA anyone?

I'm just wondering if there is an Heirloom Seed Buyers Anonymous (HSBA) out there. If so, I might have to consider joining....

Thanks to MatthiasJ from over at Kentucky Preppers Network, who left the following comment on my last post, where I made clear the fact that I didn't understand the designation "organic" when it came to buying seeds:

"Heirloom seeds are specific breeds of plants that have been passed down that are good quality. Non-hybrid means you can reuse the plant's seeds to grow more plants. Organic seeds have to come from organically grown crops to be certified organic. "

I do not recall ever having bought seeds of the organic variety, but it's good to know. I thought that heirloom seeds and non-hybrid seeds were the same thing, so that I could use seeds from the resulting plants for future planting. Still hoping that's true, since on Saturday I found a veritable jackpot of heirloom seeds at a hardware store. So why the talk of an HSBA? Well, the seeds, for the most part, were kinds I probably wouldn't have bought except that I was on an heirloom seed buying spree...

For example, previously I would not have looked twice at this particular variety of cucumber:

I do not recall ever having seen yellow cucumbers before, or even knowing that they existed. Cucumbers in my experience are long and green. But like I said, these are heirloom seeds...

I did get some heirloom seeds for corn, but I also got the following seeds for planting crops I had not even thought about, like this:

and this:

Mostly I wouldn't have thought about these particular kinds of seeds for various reasons, such as the fact that I know that some of them aren't that kid-friendly (speaking for my children only...ahem, cough, cough, pepppersss, cough) or I'm just not familiar with cooking with them (rhymes with begchant) or the aforementioned factor that I didn't know that they existed. (Mentioned the round yellow cucumbers to my best source (Mom) and she said something like, "Oh, yeah, those are good." Makes you wish knowledge was hereditary...) Doesn't mean that I can't use them and learn all of these things. I may try some of these this year. Or save them for later to add to my garden variety...

Thing is, we already have enough seeds for this year, but as Carl from Wisconsin mentioned in his comment on my last post, heirloom and non-hybrid seeds can be hard to find and/or really expensive. Good luck on your quest to find the seeds you need/want, and if buying heirloom seeds is an addiction, I'm sure my husband thinks I'm a candidate for HSBA.... :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adventures in seed buying....

Well, went out some time last week to purchase more seeds. What I found out:

---Apparently, there is a difference between "organic" and "heirloom" seeds. Since I was lookng at a single brand at the time, the most striking difference I was able to detect was the difference in color on the packaging.... :) Well, I did manage to purchase the last heirloom package of pumpkin seeds that I saw, and that was truly what I was after, so mission accomplished.

---The seeds I saw that were marked "organic", "heirloom", or otherwise were remarkably well labeled by that company. Otherwise, labeling was hard to impossible to find. There were the occasional packages that were clearly marked as hybrids, but if memory serves, for the most part there was some kind of name or number on the package, and no indication of whether the seeds were hybrid or not. There was plenty of information on how, when, etc. to plant the seeds, but no indication if the resulting plants would have seeds you could use to grow the same kind of plants next year. Either they have a code I just plain don't understand, or they don't feel it necessary to share such information with the general seed-buying population. When I give them the benefit of the doubt, it is probably just a case of me needing to find more information...

---Just because someone is working in the gardening section of a store, it doesn't mean that they know if seeds are non-hybrid or not either. Asked someone there, and they had no idea, making me feel better about myself information-wise, but also leaving me unclear on whether or not the cucumber seeds I was purchasing were exactly what I wanted. Oh well. We can grow cucumbers this year, but I'll have to look elsewhere for non-hybrid seeds for storage.

Do you have seeds? When I saw the packages from the company previously mentioned that were clearly marked "heirloom", I actually picked up a couple of seed varieties that we don't usually grow just so we would have some on hand. I don't know if we will end up using them this year, but it's good to have them and not need them than the other way around. (Seems like I've written that before. Quite possibly more than once... :)

We got our corn and beans in in between rain showers, but still have quite a ways to go to finish planting our garden. Hope everyone else's gardens are prospering....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Alleviating the self-inflicted guilt trip: made some recipes

Ah, yes--it was a good weekend for using evaporated milk. Oh, and finally getting around to using recipes from the sites I already posted about. This blog can be a good motivating factor--I said I'd get around to it, but it seems like I get around to it more quickly when I've already mentioned it...

On Friday we had a breakfast dinner, so I made this coffee cake recipe from over at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. For the milk I used evaporated milk (with lemon juice), which made me feel even better about the whole adventure. I kept thinking I should get up earlier in the morning to make it for actual breakfast, but alas, it didn't happen. However, given the positive reception it received, I can see that happening in the future...

For dinner on Saturday, we had creamy chicken enchiladas, the recipe for which is found over at The Prudent Homemaker. Used evaporated milk, as directed. Also used cheese, which I don't have in storage, but I could have if I were to use this process detailed over at Preparedness Pro. (There's also a chicken enchilada recipe in the post for the process link that I will likely try in the future. You know what they say about variety... :) The thing I need to work on next is to learn to make my own tortillas, so that it is truly a food storage recipe that I can just make anytime. Always something more to do....

Both of these recipes were labeled "keepers", so into the emergency notebook they go. Thanks very much to the Harried and Prudent Homemakers and the Preparedness Pro for the information. Now I just have to work on getting the supplies in so that they can be part of my 3-month supply menu rotation. Slow but sure....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Will work for food

Ok, not exactly a direct exchange. More like working at a local farm and being given the opportunity to purchase produce at a really good price. And not exactly me, like the post title implies. More like (ok, exactly like) my husband doing all the work. But hey, fortunately for us this food storage thing is a combined effort.

Last night my husband went and worked on a local farm. It was a volunteer effort, and they were boxing potatoes. When he came home he had a 50 lb box of potatoes that he bought for $10. So now I have a 50 lb box of potatoes that I need to store downstairs and use before they get soft or grow so many eyes I'm afraid to go into the storeroom. Hmmm....or I could just use them. Thing is, we like baked potatoes, but not so much the heat it takes to bake the potatoes in the summer. Guess I'll go in search of a good potato salad recipe, or crockpot recipe, or hashbrowns....something. That's the thing about potatoes--so versatile. :)

And hopefully I'll have reason to use fresh potatoes more often than just baked, because we got ours planted. (This is the part where I should probably leave out the fact that so far they are the only thing that we have planted, due to recent weather....but we will remedy that soon.) I have instant potatoes in storage, but growing our own will hopefully allow me to put something back in the storage room instead of only taking things out. That's the plan, anyway. Sending good thoughts out to the potato portion of the garden....

In case you missed it, on my last post MatthiasJ, from over at Kentucky Preppers Network , left this link on preparing a 3 month supply for College Students. Excellent ideas that apply to anyone who is preparing, really, and the ideas are low cost. Double plus.

Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker also left some good ideas that aren't complicated. The 3 month supply doesn't have to be fancy, but hey, if you can make it fancy, more power to you.... :) I go for simple myself.

Thanks to them and everyone who leaves helpful and encouraging comments. Now I'm just hoping that I'll get more potato ideas in comments this time.... :)