(Continued from Part 1.)
For many of us, the following are well-known concepts that we try to implement in our day-to-day living. I share my spin on them. I don’t cover OPSEC in this series because there are individuals with far more security experience than I, who can speak to it. Suffice it to say, I have implemented layers of security.
The Basics: Water, Shelter, Tools, Energy, and Food
Water: If you live in an urban or suburban area, your sources of water are very limited. However, you can get smart about water storage, storage containers, water filtration, and even identify alternative sources of water. You can identify lakes, streams, reservoirs, and even dig a shallow well, as long as you have developed a method of hauling, filtering, purifying, and storing the water. Even if your area doesn’t “permit” rainwater catchment, develop a system to do it anyway. It won’t matter what the rules are should SHTF. Even in my situation where I have 2 wells on the property, I experienced a complete failure of the system that lasted about 2 weeks. We loaded 5 gallon buckets in the truck and made numerous trips to an available spring to fill them. We used buckets of water for flushing toilets, filled the bathtub for bathing children, and filtered water for drinking and cooking.
had a larger portable water tank and cistern on site so I was able to pay to have a truck deliver 500-1,000 gallons of potable water while we waited for the well repairs. The things I had on hand that made the “emergency” less of an emergency were lots of buckets, a Berkey water filter, bleach, knowledge of where a couple of local springs were, and a working truck. Before I moved to the country, I stored at least 50 gallons of water, in 1 gallon jugs, in the basement. The rule of thumb is 3 gallons per day per person for basic drinking, food prep, and sponge bathing. That does not account for washing clothes, flushing toilets, or anything else that needs water. At this location, I have a lot of farm animals to water, so things can quickly spiral out of control when there’s no water. The other day my pipes froze and I did not have enough water stored to cover the basics! I got lazy. Don’t do that. Attend to your water needs as a first priority in your planning.
Shelter: I assume all who are reading here have a place to live and if not, may the Lord hear your prayers. My idea of Home has changed dramatically. I no longer put money into the perfect looking home. It’s kind of sparse, actually. I buy furniture from the thrift stores and refinish where possible. I invested in really good mattresses for the beds because without good sleep, a person cannot function in a stressful environment. My choices are very easy on the budget and I know that you can’t eat decorations.
My focus in the Home is structural integrity, the ability to keep warm or cool, the ability to sanitize, running water and flushing toilets. That’s the baseline. Everything after that is gravy. I have a septic system, which makes me independent from the local sewer services (and no sewer bill). In regards to heating and cooling, my preference is a perfect 72 degrees, Ha! So I’ve learned to acclimate to cold and hot weather without whining and crying about it. I wear cool cotton clothes in the humid heat of summer and wool hats, socks, and mittens in the frigid cold of winter. I’ve learned to start a fire and keep it going. I’ve learned to not depend on the convenience of the central air system in the house. Firstly, it keeps costs down, and secondly, it forces me to acclimate to climate changes with ease. It will be worth your while to address all home maintenance issues posthaste in this era of the shortage of Everything.
Forget about “redecorating”, ladies! Your kids or grandkids need to eat. Do as much as you can yourself rather than hiring help, because if you don’t have those skills already, then you may need them later. Having said that, for me help is essential. I have located local help for the more difficult things on the farm and feel very blessed to have done so. But, I try to solve problems myself first – in the least, that helps me identify what kind of help I actually need.
Tools: For the homemaker, focus on tools that will allow you to keep things going for a very long time. I replaced plastic cooking utensils with stainless steel and bamboo, for instance. I have CorningWare dishes (least likely to break over time). Having a good set of knives and a way of sharpening them is critical. I have baking and cooking pots and pans that can go in an oven, on a stove, or on an open fire. The modern cleaning products and cleaning tools are not all that necessary. A good broom and dustpan, along with rags and homemade cleaning products will do wonders for your budget.
I have opted for “hard floors” – no carpet in this house. Very easy to clean and requires no electricity. For the man and his workshop, I’m no expert and many of you can chime in, but for everything you need to fix, make sure you have extras. As a woman, my tools include a drill, hammer, wrenches, screwdrivers, crowbar, nails, screws, a garden tiller, sewing supplies, a pitchfork, a couple of shovels, a hoe, a wheelbarrow, among others. I personally cannot manage the weight of larger tools. I keep a supply of duct tape, twine, zip ties, batteries, necessary car fluids, etc.
The point is that tools are more important than a vacation or a new car. Consider my words “tough love” for those of you who have missed the annual vacation due to the “pandemic”. Once you get involved in “prepping projects”, it becomes interesting and fun. Because I have located “Help”, my extra tools come from the “Help”.
Energy: I don’t have a handle on alternative sources of energy at the moment, much to my chagrin. My home is all electric and that’s not a good thing. I have a large fireplace and plenty of hardwood to burn, but it’s not efficient. Keeping the home warm enough in the winter requires electricity, as does the well pump, etc. In Idaho, I invested in a cast iron wood cookstove. I don’t have that here. I dress in layers during the Winter and don’t automatically run the furnace – I dress warmly and then, if I’m still cold, I turn the heat on because I can. If I should not be able to run the heat, at least in this climate where I currently live, I won’t freeze to death. The summers are so hot and humid, it will cause you to faint, and the local authorities actually tell people to run their air conditioning on certain exceptionally hot days. I definitely run mine, but what happens when I can’t?
Thinking through ways to stay cool leads you to realize, again, how important water is. Quick and frequent showers, misting yourself with a spray bottle of water, wrapping damp towels around your neck, can keep you cooled down enough should you not be able to run the AC. I noticed that whole house generators are in short supply with a 6-month wait. I’m investigating adding propane or solar as backups. I cannot ignore the energy conundrum if I want to remain independent.
Food: Some of the biggest shortages in food that we are seeing are: all processed foods, beef, chicken, dairy, potatoes. If you’ve not learned to “cook from scratch”, now is the time. There are so many good cookbooks and youtube channels that teach the needed skills. I made a rule for myself some years ago, and I break that rule from time to time but not often. I do not buy “processed foods” and that includes things like crackers, cookies, cereals, baking mixes, etc. I’ve become a regular Azure Standard customer and buy just about everything I need in bulk. I invested in an electric grain mill, even though I need to also purchase a manual one (on the List).
I learned to make various types of breads and can make delicious pastries. I purchase beef from a local rancher, raise my own chickens for eggs and meat, am planning on planting a lot of various types of potatoes this year, have a 1/4 acre garden planned, and have purchased a family milk cow. If you cannot grow your own food, you can at least minimize food insecurity by purchasing basic foods in bulk and learning to cook from scratch. Beans and lentils are the best meat replacement in terms of protein and fiber. As well, search out small farmers and ranchers in your region and buy direct from them. It helps them tremendously and your loyalty to them and their farm will help you both should things get worse. Many are open to bartering, so keep that in mind.
All my time, money, and energy have gone into the aforementioned basics, so now I can turn my attention to the List of Lists and start fleshing out all the other little things. Everyone is different, but my goal is to be able to close the gates to the property without needing to open them for a very long time. Hence, the 7-year food plan, and the plan to become self-sufficient.
(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 3.)