Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Can't vs.Won't

In my current poll, right now finding a place to put food storage, and convincing those around us that food storage is necessary are tied for the highest percentage on my list of food storage challenges that people deal with. Here's another reason for those who may need a little more encouragement to get going when it comes to food storage: Why don't you do it just because you can?

There are some legitimate can'ts when it comes to emergency preparation and food storage. Among those that come to my mind are the following:

--Finances. If you are in a situation where you cannot afford to put any supplies aside, etc. then you can't. I would imagine that it has happened to everyone, at one time or another, that there simply weren't funds available to them to buy any (or extra) items. If the funds aren't there, you have a true (though hopefully temporary) case of can't.

--Space, as in space for supplies, or space for a garden. If you can't find space for storage, or you have no land for a garden so that you can perpetuate your storage by growing your own, then to my way of thinking, that is a can't. For example, in this article about a location in Britain, some people have no land for a garden, and they simply can't grow one because there is little or no place to do so. They can't grow a garden until they can find someone to give them an allotment of land, so their ability (can factor) is dependent on someone else's decision. Personally, I hope that someone with authority helps them out with that.

--Governmental restrictions would cause a can't factor. In the Family Home Storage Pamphlet, it is mentioned in the opening message that in some locations, you may not be able to legally store large amounts of food. As always, if you can't you can't. Although this is not currently the case in the U.S., since I don't know who reads my blog, if you are outside the U.S., and governmental restrictions apply to you, you are in a can't situation.

There are probably other scenarios that other people can think of, but these are the ones that I immediately thought of. There is can't. And then there is won't.

I'll come clean with a won't of my own, that I should turn into a will. Back in the day, when I was in 4-H, I learned how to sew. I did ok with my projects at the fair, but I disliked sewing. Not merely disliked it, but really, really, really disliked it. Hence, I have let my sewing skills lapse to the point where I would not be surprised if they were now non-existent. That almost sounds like a can't now, doesn't it? Here's why it's not:
--I have access to people who could help me learn how to sew again.
--I have a sewing machine that I received as a gift after I got married that I have never used. I have never given it away, either, because I know that there may be a day that I will need it. It is a pre-owned machine, used by someone who has worked in the past as a professional seamstress, so I am sure that it is a good machine. I could even ask her how to use it if I were motivated enough to actually open the thing up.
Yeah. Pretty much a poster case for won't. Yeah. Not a good thing.

So, what does that have to do with emergency preparation? Well, for one thing, if I decide that I simply won't change my mind and learn/renew sewing skills, I have lost the chance to develop a valuable skill that could be a big benefit in an emergency situation. What if transportation is interrupted for products such as clothes, and my children outgrow what they have? What if I need to know how to sew for other people so that I can use it as a bartering tool? What if prices rise to the point that it would be more cost-efficient to make our own clothes/bedding/dishclothes/needed items, and I need to sew those things out of pure economic necessity? How much good is " I could have learned how to sew" going to do me then?

When applied to food storage, how much good is " I could have stored food then," or "I should have listened to (name of personal "food storage enthusiast" here) when we could afford food/food was available", going to do then? There are times when you can't do much about the can'ts in life. Won'ts are only a problem until you decide to turn them into wills.

And sometimes you may not be able to drastically change the can'ts, but you might be able to improve your situation a little. For your consideration:

--This article gives some pretty good ideas about how to stretch your food budget. Hey, where I shop, beans went up $.10, but you can still buy them for $.88 a bag. If you can save even a dollar and can spare it for food storage, you might want to start there.

--You might have to get creative in terms of space when you are looking for places to put all that food storage. Speaking from personal experience, food storage doesn't make a bad base for a bed--I remember that a lot of the time when I was growing up, my mattress was placed on boxes of food storage that were covered with a dust ruffle. (Still wondering why Mom is my best source? :) I've seen other ideas out there--boxes of food storage made into a table, for example--sometimes creativity is the key.
--Another idea from my best source--if you have limited gardening space, consider buying a bag of potting soil, poking holes in the top, planting some seeds, poking some holes for drainage, and letting them grow. Sometimes, it may not be ideal, but you can work your way around some of the can'ts.

Mark Twain said, "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." I think the same holds true for people who may be on the fence or against emergency preparation or food storage for whatever reason: those who won't prepare will have no advantage over those who can't. Why not prepare because you can? What won't you do to help prepare yourself and your family to survive and/or do well during or after an emergency situation? These are personal questions, and as I have indicated, I have work to do myself. But sometimes just thinking about what we should do leads us to do what we can...


riverwalker said...

There have been times when I didn't have money to buy food but where there's a will there's a way. I just went out and found somebody that needed my services and bartered for what I needed. I helped someone in their time of need and they helped me.

Cooperation and not confrontation is the best way to go.


BTW, My wife is an expert seamstress and if you need some sewing tips let me know and I'll see if I can pry some of her sewing secrets loose!

Ryan said...

Good points. My biggest single issue is space. After that issue is resolved I do need to get going.

Ron said...

What a great post, Marie. There is a huge distinction between can't and won't... yet the lines are blurred for so many.

There really are so many ways around reasons for not doing things, especially in this country.

I get twitches every time some American tells me that they "just can't make ends meet." Hmmmm. Go see how the rest of the world lives. Then, see if things maybe aren't so bad around here, after all. :)

Getting creative in the face of challenges never hurt nobody. :)

I enjoyed your post... thanks.


Marie said...

Riverwalker--I agree wholeheartedly that cooperation is the best way to go. I hope that people didn't take this as advocating confrontation--I just want people to think about what they can do while everything is still possible and/or available, because there are so many factors that can change quickly, and I wish everyone would get prepared.
I, too, have found that many times what goes around comes around, and that people can be very generous to each other. My compliments to your wife--I have very little patience when it comes to sewing, so any tips that would make it faster and/or easier would be welcome! Thanks for your comment!

theotherryan--You are not alone in the space issue, especially if you are trying to do long-term storage. Some of the food items that would last the longest can take up a lot of room! Good luck with that, and thanks for your comment.

Ron--I think one of the things that I worry about most is that because there are so many factors that could change our society, (i.e. the weather, gas prices, the economy, etc.) some of the things that make it easier to prepare right now could change, and even our cans will turn to can'ts because of those kinds of changes. Right now we have opportunities, or, if we are creative, like you say, we can make opportunities. Thanks for your insights--I also feel that we are very fortunate in the U.S.A.

riverwalker said...

Sorry I gave the wrong impression with my comment. What I should have said is that many people become resistant to change when it gets thrown at them and they get confrontational about the issue. Hope I cleared up the point I was trying to make. I just wish there wern't so many head strong people out there and that they would take a little time to think about what's really important.


BTW, It's a really good post and got me to thinking about some of the stuff I may be doing wrong without realizing it!

Marie said...

Riverwalker--I appreciated your comment because when I looked back at the post I saw the possibility of someone taking it differently than I intended it, and it gave me a chance to clarify what I meant. So your comment helped me out--thanks again!