Thursday, January 29, 2009

Communication: What's your plan B?

Starting last Saturday or so, our phone line became staticky, if that's a word. Not just the "wow, you sound like you're in Jamaica" static, but the "I think that's a radio station but I can't tell if they are singing or talking" static. Not good. Inconvenient. Annoying. And all that. So a repair person was called, came to the house, tested the line, left a number, and left. We picked up the phone. Still radio-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-static. So the repair person was called again. There was no improvement until this morning.

To be fair, the static was inconsistent--sometimes you could tell who you were talking to, and what they were saying, and sometimes you couldn't. The most monumental of these problems came yesterday, right before school. Someone from the school called, and I heard someone speaking, and used deductive reasoning to figure out who was on the other end of the line. Thing is, I couldn't be sure I was right. I finally explained that our phone was acting up, and said that the person should call my husband's cell phone. I'm pretty sure that the speaker on the other end said that they would do that, and the conversation was over.

I was fortunate in this instance because I knew where my children were at the time--with my husband, who was driving them to school because of the extremely cold weather we have been experiencing lately. Hence, I also knew where my husband was (which was helpful because he was in the proximity of the situation and had a phone that worked). Suffice it to say that if you have already (correctly) surmised that I am somewhat of a worry-wart, you can imagine how I would have felt if I thought there was an emergency involved, and there was no way to take care of it quickly. So, I am extremely grateful that the timing was such as it was. I still wanted to make sure that my husband had been contacted, and that he knew to talk to the teacher I thought had called, so I went to the computer and texted him a message. When we did talk to each other (for some reason, though the static was still there, we managed to make do when his cell phone was involved) he told me that they needed extra help in one of the classrooms that day, so he was able to tell the teacher (yay, I was right about which one had called) that I could come in. Situation handled. But definitely not in the way that we would ordinarily have handled it.

What if it had been an emergency, and normal methods of communication were not available, as in this case, to even learn about the problem? I outlined my plan B, but I think that this experience has highlighted the fact to me that when ordinary communication services are disrupted, you may end up with a problem whose solution is not food, water, warmth, etc., especially if the people in your group are separated when the emergency strikes. There may be people not in your immediate group that you would worry about in the case of an emergency--what's your plan B when it comes to communication when ordinary means (such as phones and even cell phones) don't work out?

Sometime this morning after I checked and heard the roar of a thousand seashells over the phone, I checked again, and our line had finally cleared up. Not a problem now, and I'm grateful for that. Would it surprise you to read that now I am going to look up more options that would help with the communication portion of emergency preparedness? I can only think of one option at the moment that would help with emergency communication in the midst of a crisis, but it would have to be set up well in advance. I'll save the only one that I've heard of for another post, and leave you with the question: (hoping, of course, that you'll end up giving me more options :)

What do you have set up in terms of communication methods in the case of an emergency, and how does it work?

Hey, if you share, we'll all have more options. Gotta love more options... :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flour + water + salt, etc. ...

Ok, you may remember that I have a semi-phobia for killing yeast, among other things, that has greatly hampered my desire to make bread. Then I found this recipe, and it is very good, both in the taste category and the alleviate-my-guilt-for-not-learning-to-make-bread-loaves category. The problem with the roll recipe is that it requires some things that may not be readily available in my food storage supplies, such as butter and eggs, so I decided to get serious and find out what kind of bread that I could make with the really basic ingredients that are staples in my food storage. Today was the day. I headed over to the Hillbilly Housewife website and tried the Beginner's Bread recipe.

One of the things that I heard that made me feel that I could gauge the water temperature so that it wouldn't be too hot, and hence destroy the oh-so-useful yeast, was that you should make the water about the same temperature that you would like to end up with when you are testing a baby's bottle on your wrist. I don't know how anyone else gauges it, but that tip has served me well so fact some of the rising today went a little quicker than the recipe indicated. Of course, I am not the most patient of people, so I made sure that my kitchen was somewhat warmer than it usually is to help the rising process along.

Everything went pretty well through the initial stages--just had to add a couple of teaspoons of water to the dough before letting it rise, and it didn't take too much coaxing to get it to fit in the loaf pan in a reasonable shape. Letting it rise in the pan was really quick, and I didn't let it go an hour before putting it in the oven because it was getting big enough to make me nervous. Once it was in the oven I was afraid that it would hit the upper coils, but all was well. The cooking was kind of quick too, but the top was golden brown, so I took it out. This was when I had the biggest difficulties, because despite the shortened duration of baking time, the loaf had evidently become quite attached to the pan--to the point that it was necessary to help it out around the edges, even though it had been greased really well. Because of this "help", part of the bottom of the loaf was left in the pan. Glass half empty: the bread slices were rather short and squat rather than regulation-size. Glass half full: it was immediately evident that the bread had indeed cooked all the way through, except for a very small strip on one piece that was questionable. Pan all the way empty: the loaf is now almost a memory, except for a couple of slices.

So there's a win in the bread category, really in more ways than one--the bread was edible, and the ingredients--water, yeast, oil, salt, sugar, and flour-- couldn't be more basic. The recipe now resides in my emergency notebook, and is one answer to the question, "Now I have all this basic food storage--what do I do with it?"

Well, upward and onward. Thanks to Hillbilly Housewife for providing the recipe! I'll let you know how it works out when I make bread with flour that I've ground from my wheat storage--yeah, yet to happen. And I've been eyeing some tortilla recipes.... :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The more information, the better...

Well, if the purpose of inventory was to worry that I didn't have enough of something in storage, it worked--would it surprise you if I mentioned that our emergency preparedness purchases this week consisted of rice, rice and more rice? Yeah, at this count, it really is only rice in the running... :)

One of my older polls consisted of the following question and answers:

How do you share information about food storage?

I don't talk about food storage with other people 20%
I talk about food storage with people who have the same mindset that I do 54%
I share a blog with the world to encourage others to improve their food storage 25%
I have e-mailed people about the importance of food storage 20%
I belong to a food storage group who does group buys and has members who help each other prepare 8%
I have taught classes on food storage 11%
I talk to anyone I can about food storage 20%
I have written letters/newsletters about food storage 5%

Thanks for participating in my polls, and thanks for the work you are doing in getting prepared and/or getting other people prepared. It's not always easy to talk about food storage or to get prepared ourselves for a variety of reasons, but it is encouraging to see that people are doing a variety of things to help themselves and others to make progress in this area.

One thing that I find encouraging is that there is now an American Preppers Network, and that as a result, a lot more people are writing about topics that will help people to get more prepared for emergency situations. I have linked to them on this page, but I won't have room for all fifty links, so I will leave up the links that I had before this network went up, and you can link to the American Preppers Site for updated information. A lot of the states have been spoken for, but some have not, so if you want to get involved, and blog rather than talk about emergency preparedness, this might be for you. If your state's website has already been claimed, I'm sure that the blogger in charge would appreciate your input. Even if it is not your state, I'm sure that contributions on any topic that applies would be appreciated, and if (like at Idaho Preppers, hint, hint :) you are willing to post but want to remain anonymous, you can send in a comment, and it could end up showing up as a post with the credit given to your blogger name of choice. At any rate, there is a lot more information showing up, and shared information that will help in an emergency is always welcome.

In the end, if you don't want to blog/talk/whatever about emergency preparedness, I hope that at least you are doing some preparation for you and yours. After all, actions speak louder than words.... :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What does your dinosaur look like?

Not too long ago one of my children announced that there would be dinosaur-drawing as a suitable way to make use of some rather large poster paper that I had purchased for a project. All fine and good, and the creativity began. What was a little surprising to me was that the undertaking entailed drawing the remains of a dinosaur--the fossilized bones in all of their archaeological (at least according to a child) detail, not a huge rendition of a spotted/striped/purple prehistoric creature in a stark habitat. What really surprised me was that when the child showed me the final results, the bones had been drawn one by one, cut out meticulously, and taped together to form the dinosaur. A lot of thought had gone into the artist's rendering, and the dinosaur that emerged was distinctive and something of which the child (ok, and the mother in this case) could be proud. Amazing what people can come up with when they have limited resources (common household items like writing utensils, paper, scissors, and tape in this case) and are left to their own devices.

It occurred to me that the dinosaur project in this case is a lot like putting together our food storage and emergency supplies. Let me count the ways:

1) Everyone has to have a motivation to build their food storage, just like my child found motivation to "build" the dinosaur. The motivation for the dinosaur was the possibilities seen when presented with a huge blank piece of poster board. What are the possibilities that you see that will motivate you to build up your emergency preparedness supplies? Some that I see have been mentioned before, but they might not be the same for you: pandemic, transportation of goods that we are used to purchasing coming to a halt, crops not producing due to weather, etc. Your motivation (or lack thereof) when you see possibilities of an emergency will greatly influence what your food storage looks like, in terms of what you store and how much you store. For example, if your focus in on surviving a pandemic, one of your supplies may be a humidifier, while if your motivating concern is surviving the winter weather in the case of a power outage, your preparation money may go to heating supplies. Whatever the motivation, I certainly hope no one who has the opportunity leaves a space in their house that could be used for storage as a blank canvas...

2) You are always able to identify a dinosaur. I really can't think of an exception to this--dinosaurs may look really different when you do a side by side comparison, but I don't remember ever not being able to say that I understood that the drawing or creature on a show, etc., was a dinosaur. With food storage, there may be differences when you put the supplies side by side, but you will always be able to tell that it's storage, because we all need the same basics to survive: food, water, shelter, warmth--you get the idea, though in an emergency the needs might not come in exactly that order. The "building blocks" of our food storage are going to be the same, even if you decide to store your water in a 55 gallon water drum, and mine is stored in much smaller containers. That's one of the reasons that I'm so glad that there are more and more people putting information out about their own food/emergency storage methods--you can store what will work for you, cook what will work for you, and prepare the things that you and/or the people for whom you would be responsible for in a crisis situation would need. Though the details may be different, the underlying materials will be very similar...

3) Finally, the details, and the real reason that motivated me to write this particular post. If you are still reading, the little things of your emergency food and supplies storage are going to be what set your final product apart---what are the meticulous portions of your food storage/emergency supplies that will make a difference to you and yours if you find yourself in the midst of a crisis? Are there particular products that you use that would make life easier in the short term if they were available during emergency conditions? I'm not talking about medical supplies--those are essential supplies that hopefully everyone will manage to have available no matter what the situation. But for example, is there a particular lotion that works especially well on someone's dry skin? If any lotion will work, a preferred type may have the added benefit of improving morale in a difficult situation. I've mentioned this before on this blog, but are there particular brands of food that would serve not only to feed you and/or family in an emergency situation, but to comfort them as well? Is there enough variety of things that your group likes so that you can stave off appetite fatigue as much as possible? If the answers to any of these, and others that you may think of is yes, then you know what the details of your "storage dinosaur" could be, and it is this type of preparation that will set your particular storage apart from that of others.

Of course, you need to work on the basics at first, based on your situation and what works with your financial situation. When comparing the dinosaur drawing to emergency supplies, some people may be able to build a dinosaur immediately, complete with colorful details and a nice habitat. Some may only be able to put together the bare basics, one little fossil at a time. Whatever the case, if you have started your emergency supply storage, you no longer have a blank canvas, no matter how small your emergency supply "dinosaur" currently is. Do what you can--a little at a time, or if you have the means, as fast as you can. If you haven't started your emergency supply project, think about the possibilities that motivate you, and act accordingly.

What does your emergency preparation dinosaur look like? Is it almost finished, or a pile of fossils waiting to come together in usable form? As long as it looks like it will see you through hard times, it's the dinosaur that you need--after all, this isn't an art contest.... :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inventory: A beginning

Well, we have started our inventory by counting the number of buckets we have of certain staples, and then multiplying the number of buckets by the number of lbs. that said staples are supposed to weigh in the buckets. Many thanks to Davilyn over at Today While the Sun Shines, who has a list of food storage sizes about half-way down the page in the right hand column of her blog (ex. a 5-gallon bucket would hold 35 lbs. of wheat). If you have questions on amounts like I do, you might want to check it out.

This was the easy way to start for me, because the way that I think is that I won't touch those buckets until absolutely necessary, so they really are the long-term storage items. We have more staples to store properly, with the buckets that we need to use for said storage, so really it is just a matter of getting it done... I'm a little disappointed with the numbers that we have, but it's a nice start, and one of the things that we really need more of is rice. I've read somewhere lately (sorry that I don't remember exactly where to give credit) that rice is one of the things that practically no one is allergic to, and is easy to digest for just about everybody. This could be a factor if, say, someone you are responsible for or are trying to help has wheat allergies. Sometimes these allergies only become evident after a certain amount of exposure to the wheat, so if the allergies show themselves after you have tried to subsist on your food storage for awhile, at least with rice you are likely to have an alternative that will come in mighty handy...

Also, tonight my husband emptied and refilled one of our 55-gallon water drums. Apparently, they are easier to empty when the floor is dry---when he went to empty the second one, it was, shall we say, not as cooperative as the first one was when he tried to tip it. Hence, one down, and one to go in that category. Hopefully, the floor will be dry enough in the morning to make the task a little easier. You need a lot of water to cook those rice and beans...and let's face it, for a great deal of other things as well...

So the buckets are pretty much accounted for (and I'm very glad that they are present) and the next step will probably be the #10 cans for inventory purposes. Ah, organization. It's a lot easier to obtain and/or maintain when you start from the beginning, but hey, I'm just glad that we have something to count.... :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A #10 can of the humor, please....

Food storage stuff first, humor next----priorities, priorities... :)

So, in that light, first, thought I would share this article that I just found on the internet about things you should watch out for when shopping for food. Some things, like the smaller portions for the same price have been mentioned before, but you can never be too careful when you are trying to get the most bang for your buck...

You may have noticed that my current poll is about where people obtain their emergency supplies. One of those places may be the supermarket, which is the subject of the article linked above, but there are other places as well, some of which are in the poll choices. Wherever we get our food storage/other emergency supplies, I hope that all of us are working on it, even a little bit at a time...

Just thought I'd leave a couple of sayings I found amusing today--when you're planning for emergencies, you might as well take your sense of humor along, right?

"A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing."--Emo Phillips

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one heck of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult." -E.B. White

"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death." - Harold Wilson

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." - Woody Allen

Have a good Saturday!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Recognizing the problem is the first step...

Well, something like that anyway--maybe it's admitting the problem in some cases, but in possible medical emergencies, I'm sticking with recognition as a vital initial occurence. I received an e-mail the other day on how to recognize if someone is having a stroke. According to this e-mail, at least one neurologist has stated that the effects of a stroke can be reversed if it's caught early enough. The problem is catching it early on, and for that, you need to know what you're looking for. A stroke is an emergency, and must be dealt with immediately if you want to avoid further emergencies resulting from increased medical problems, ongoing care, and the financial emergencies that would accompany such circumstances. So, I am justifying posting this under emergency preparedness because knowledge is one of the best things that you can "store" to both avoid and deal with emergencies.

Here is a portion of the e-mail cut and pasted (gotta love that feature) and then spaced the way I like it (sometimes presentation is everything :) :


Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.

T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)(i.e. It is sunny out today)

R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue.. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other,that is also an indication of a stroke.

I checked this information out at, which reportedly separates rumor from fact, and their entry on information like that in this e-mail is here. While their entry concerning it is longer, they confirm these facts, while pointing out that the "crooked tongue factor" is not as easily determined as the first three. But the first three are easy to identify, so if someone's having problems, time is of the essence to have it checked out...

Thanks to whomever decided to get the word out about strokes--I'd give credit if I knew who was responsible. Hope we never have to use it, but information like this could make a big difference in someone's life if they are having a stroke---knowledge can be a very powerful tool when time is a factor in dealing with emergencies--you know, useful knowledge is just a good thing to have all around as part of our emergency preparation... :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One person's scrap lumber...

is another person's firewood. Remember that relative that saved us from what would probably have been a pretty pricey plumber's housecall by getting our water valve to work? Remember that I wrote that this relative's building his own house? (Well, if you don't remember, I guess that about brings you up to speed now... :) Well, we got a call last night and a delivery of some scrap lumber to feed our ever-hungry wood stove. This was actually generosity on the part of said relative, because he has a wood stove too, but what I like in this scenario, besides the welcome firewood, is that a resource wasn't thrown away, or left somewhere unused to collect dust. It has left me thinking about resources in my house that could be put to better use.

I have seen really good examples of putting resources to use in other blogs. Most recently was a post over at Coffee with the Hermit, where he talked about the fact that he struck gold when he took the initiative to make use of a household resource. Sure, it took a little effort in the hunt and find category, but he came away with a valuable food preservation option-- after all, the less you waste, the more you have in storage for later. It would be hard to estimate how much Chris over at Johnson Family Farm has done in terms of not wasting scrap wood--he uses it for projects all the time, and there's another valuable resource used, and not wasted. Interestingly enough, when I just went to get the link at his blog right now, I see that he has an idea for making the most of your dryer heat--they apparently don't waste a thing over there.... :)

Well, just some examples that other people have set for me that have started me thinking. I need to consider how I could better use some of things that are being wasted around here. After all, why do nothing with your resources when you can do something productive...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Avoiding an emergency altogether? Priceless.

Well, this is perhaps one of those experiences with a lesson whose moral everyone else already knows, but bear with me--if you didn't know, you might spare yourself an emergency...

When we had owned our clothes dryer for what felt like a relatively short time, it got less and less effective at doing its intended job--we had to run clothes through more than one cycle in order to dry them, though eventually they did get dry. Not a good scenario energy-wise, or energy bill-wise, or even patience-wise. So we finally bit the bullet and called in a repairman to find out what the problem was.

Turns out we had a burned-out element which needed replacing, but from what I understand, that was not the only factor contributing to the problem. I know about the lint screen that you are supposed to clean out after every load. What I didn't know was that about every year or so you are supposed to clean out the entire hose that is connected to the dryer, because the lint filter, helpful as it is, doesn't catch all the lint that decides to separate itself from your fabrics. In fact, the repairman informed us that not only was build-up of lint in the dryer hose contributing to the slowdown of the drying process, but such build-up can cause a fire. I'd call that an emergency. It may not be a likely emergency, but I doubt that anyone will stand in the laundry room discussing statistical probability while it happens to them. My husband now cleans out the dryer hose every year or so now--and it feels good to know that we are making our home a safer place to be. Hopefully this is a case where it will always be an emergency averted. Have you checked your dryer hose lately? You know what they say about prevention...

Dryer lint, you may ask? You may think that I am stretching for blog subjects, (which may sometimes be the case) but one of the things that led to the story about dryer lint was this post, found over at Survival Lady's website. (Thanks, Survival Lady!) Talk about a cool fire-starting kit, and one of the main components is.... (drum-roll please)...dryer lint! I have yet to put one of these together, but I have purchased a tin in which to place the components. Soooo....if you are into statistical analysis and figure the probability of a fire is not enough to clean out that dryer hose, maybe you'll do it for the sake of a few good fire-starting kits...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How to write a better blog: Water purification part 2

Well, the long and the short of writing a better blog is to have more and other people write it--in this case in the form of comments. Just in case you are not a comment reader, I will share some of the comments on my last post, "Water, water, everywhere" (though I won't include all of them--you have to leave people wanting more, and maybe this will turn some non-comment readers into comment readers... :) which were basically full of more information than I gave out. Thanks everyone! Now on to further information, since that is what we are all craving (besides water, of course):

---The McKeachnie Family shared the following link and information: "

It's a compact, light weight (less than 1 pound), award-winning water purifier. We have one that we keep in our 72-hour kit and we love it! We store water as well, but we feel much better having this product."

This product, or one like it, now that I have a starting point for researching this kind of thing, is going on my list as a must-obtain item. Less than one pound is hard to beat if you can only take what you can carry in an emergency situation. I will probably get a couple of replacement filters to go with it, seeing as how I'm a worrier... :)

--Carl in Wisconsin added this information, especially important to remember because he stresses that you need to use bleach with no additives for water purification:

"Marie, I have to toss my 2 cents in on the water issue. When using bleach even clorox bleach you must make sure it additive free, no scents, no nothing, but bleach. I buy Farm bleach at my local Farm store in 4 gallon cases for under $5.00. I went over to Wendy's excellent site and noticed that the warning about additives is kind of buried at the end.

I add 13 drops to a 2 litter pop bottle or 25 drops to a gallon.I have 4 55 gallon food grade containers in the garage ( probably frozen right now) with only bleach as a preservative. I would use this water for Non-potable applications like the toilet...etc

I would check again with my original Clorox link for amounts of bleach/ water you are planning to use for human consumption--they are considerably less than those Carl cited, and as mentioned, the water he talks about is not intended to be used for drinking water.

---Stephanie came back more than once, and answered my question about using bleach past its prime potency with this excellent link. In her original comment, she mentioned pool chemicals, which are dealt with, along with numerous other methods of water purification (including solar!) via a comment left later...

-- a six-page document put together by Connor. He has kindly included a link to his information in his comment and said that I could share, so I leave you to access it through the link provided there--his is the last comment besides mine in the comments at this writing. ( I wasn't sure how to transfer it correctly here....sorry. But believe me, it is worth checking out.)

Thanks again, everyone---I learned a lot (as usual) from the information you were willing to share. Hopefully Connor won't mind when I add one of the final sentences in his document here:

"Please do not consider this information to be comprehensive; you should still do your own homework!"

Please be sure that you use any kind of water purification system carefully--it's better to learn now so that you will be able to use them safely later. Some of the systems (such as chlorine /pool chemicals) would likely be my very last choice for water purification if they made my list at all, because they scare me, (there's my worrier side again) but I still like to know all my options. Please research thoroughly and use carefully any method that you decide to use.

I could probably find a way to add that phrase about homework to just about any blog post that I write--there is still so much out there that I need to learn, and the information that I do put out often leads to comments that teach me a lot. Thanks to everyone that comments--I really appreciate it. Sometimes, I find out that you have done a little more of my homework for me--at least in this case it's just helping, and not cheating.... :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Water, water, everywhere...

and not a drop to drink. Or something like that, as the saying goes. What do you do if you are in an emergency, and you don't know if the water available is good for consumption?

My first choice would be to boil it, but what if, for whatever reason, (temperature outside, no/ low on fuel sources, etc.) I don't want to boil it? One option is to use bleach, but do you know the bleach/water ratio for safe drinking water? The directions for using Clorox bleach to purify water can be found on the Clorox website here. They can also be found in my emergency notebook, seeing as how they are the newest addition.

Wendy, over at iPrepared, has many posts on water storage, two of which can be found here, and here, where bleach is also mentioned. (The information about water storage on her site is even more extensive than these links, so I recommend that you look thoroughly at her water storage posts...) She recommends storing 28 gallons/person. Having water in storage is important, and will tide you over in the short term, even if the emergency you're facing turns out to be one of long-term duration. Using bleach is one alternative for purifying water if/when your water storage runs out, and I need to research other water-purifying alternatives, because somehow I just can't see a gallon of bleach making an appearance in our 72-hour kits if there are any other options. Yeah, still so much to learn....and when I figure more out, I'll probably post about it.

Also, this reminds me that bleach is a good addition to emergency supplies for other reasons, too--cleanliness is essential if you want to minimize the chances of illness in an emergency--illness that can come from many causes. You might want to check out the Clorox website for other uses and dilution information--it is highly likely that such information will find a home in my notebook as well. (Insert usual disclaimer that no one I know works for Clorox, and I am supplying this information as a starting point for doing whatever other research you think necessary in your situation.... :)

Please get some water in storage for you and/or the people for whom you would be/feel responsible for in an emergency situation. If you have it in storage, you don't have to worry about what is coming out of the tap, at least not initially. As noted, I need to do more research on water purification methods, because you can live longer without food than you can without water...

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....