The Information Snowball, by Scott T.

My wife and I have just recently started prepping (about a year now) and were amazed to find out how little we knew, in regards to living a self sustaining lifestyle/homesteading.  We had recently moved from our big house in the suburbs where farm animals weren’t allowed, to a secluded 5 acre parcel just outside of a small rural town. We, in this troubled time are in the midst of trying to build a cabin (cash as we go) while preparing for The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI).  We started storing food while learning to garden with our newly purchased heirloom seeds.  My wife and I built a chicken coop which now houses 13 hens that are laying about ten eggs a day.  We have found our selves searching the internet constantly for information and soon a thought had occurred to me, if we lose the nternet, we are ruined!  I suddenly realized that information storage was just as important as food storage.  We have all this wheat, sugar, salt, beans etc..  But we don’t know how to turn it into edible foods!  Thus I began saving web pages on almost everything that had to do with cooking and gardening,  etc.. but the more I searched the more I realized I needed to know.  I bought a Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs, then found myself wondering how I would store so much meat without a freezer?  That led me to another purchase of a book on how to build a smokehouse and cure your own meats. 

All of this has turned into a “snowball effect” on information gathering, as soon as I learn something new, I realize the need to learn something else.  At first I began to save the web pages on my computer (file save as, for most browsers) knowing that I had a back up generator and even if the internet was down I could access them.  I created file folders on my computer such as cooking, gardening, chickens, pigs, automotive, etc… and began to fill them with any pertinent articles that I came across on the internet. Then my sister emailed me an article about solar flares and EMPs.  Argghh!  Now, we are going to really be ruined, how are we going to protect our vital information?  The next day my wife returned home from shopping and handed me two 3-ring binders with the plastic sheet protecters. I know how much printer ink cost these days, but if the founders of the library of Alexandria had an Epson840 do you think they would have quibbled about ink prices?    Who knows what the repercussions were for the loss of all that information.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation we need to protect our vital information.  Thus, I began the long process of printing all my articles and putting them into the little sheet protectors.  My wife and I made a book on gardening and one on cooking.  

This giant information snowball then had a strange side effect, it collided with our survival supplies list and actually began to dictate it.  The recipes we had downloaded called for ingredients that weren’t in our food storage.  The growing season at our altitude wasn’t long enough to accommodate some of our heirloom seeds therefore we had to research how to extend our growing season (we plan on building cold frames next year).  We had no idea on how to pump water out of our well in a grid down situation.  Until we came across a SurvivalBlog.com writing contest round five Winning article “How to Build an Inertial Well Slow Pump for Grid Down Emergencies” by TruthFirst.  You can bet that those articles will be added to our ever expanding survival book.  It is not enough however to just store articles without reading them.  You don’t want to wait until the SHTF to read an article only to find that the article requires an ingredient, part or component that you don’t have.  We have found it is best to start to try and live as self sustainable as we can now.  That way we can learn from our mistakes without the serious consequences those same mistakes would have in TEOTWAWKI situation.

I would like to share with you how our information storage got started in order to give you an example of what you might store.  Keep in mind that everyone’s survival plan is different, therefore everyone’s information storage needs will be as well.  You might have different food tastes; specialized diet requirements; geographical location; or particular medical conditions which you will need to plan for.  Our survival plan and information storage focuses on self-sustaining living since we all ready have our own property away from the city.  First, we started by identifying some of the basic needs necessary for survival.  Let’s name a few such as air, water, shelter, food, and security.  Now, lets take food as an example and break it down further into some sub-categories:

1. Food

A. Growing your own food
                        1)Gardening
                        2)Heirloom Seeds vs hybrids
                        3)Climate Zones
                        4)Harvesting
                        5)Storage
                                    a)Canning
                                                1.Pressure canner
                                                2.Water Bath Canner
                                                3.Jars, Rings and Lids
                                                4.Pectin
                                                5.Canning Salt
                                                6.Canning Books/Recipes
                                                7.Heat Sources
                                    b)Root Cellar

B. Raising Your Own Meat

                            1)Pigs
                            2)Chickens
                                        a)Various articles saved on how to raise chickens
                                        b)Various articles saved on how to butcher chickens
                                        c)How to store chicken
                                                    1.Freezer – added Foodsaver to survival supplies
                                                    2.Added recipe for canned chicken to cookbook

    I don’t want to bore you anymore with a dull outline as that could go on forever,  as you can see learning one thing can cause the need to learn something else.  I also don’t want you to think that we sit around outlining all night either.  We just start doing new things, like growing potatoes, which lead to us putting articles in our gardening book such as how to grow potatoes, how to harvest potatoes, then one day we were sitting there with like 300lbs of potatoes which led us to adding an article to our gardening book about how to store potatoes which added burlap sacks to our survival list. We downloaded some information about how to make a root cellar. We also canned  20 quarts of potatoes, so we added a recipe for processing potatoes to our cookbook. My wife then added a delicious potato soup recipe.  Another example is since we planted too late this year we had to research how to extend our growing season.  Thisin turn added an article to our gardening book on how to build cold frames, which led to the discovery of these really cool hinges with nitrogen filled cylinders that open and close the vent automatically (www.solarventworks.com).  We then found another article about how to get your green tomatoes to ripen and added it to our gardening book.   

                In closing, I would just like to say that there is no cookie cutter program for survival and that buying a bunch of random survival supplies only gives you a false sense of security.  Knowledge is the key to survival!  Start a gardening book and a cookbook. Try living off your food stores and see how many recipes you actually need, then print them off and add them to your book.   You will be amazed at how many ingredients you are missing, then add those to your food stores.  Learning how to survive takes years, it is not something that happens overnight. Don’t wait till the SHTF it will be too late! Try learning self-sustaining skills today.  Take that knowledge and store it in some three-ring binders, even if you think you will remember it.  The three-ring binders make a great reference, not only for yourself, but if something were to happen to you, your spouse, children, and group will have a wealth of knowledge to draw from.  Currently, my wife and I only have the Cookbook and Gardening Book.  However, lately I have been thinking about all the other knowledge we could need in a survival situation.  Here are a few ideas for our next books:

    1. A Maintenance Book filled with repair manuals for my vehicles, generator,chainsaws, tractors Etc… That could lead to a spare parts list like air filters, spark plugs, bar oil Etc…
    2. An alternate power book with information on how to wire solar panels and micro hydro that could lead to a basic supplies list like inverter, panels, wire and batteries.  Even if you cant afford the supplies at least you would have the knowledge necessary    to hook up a system.  In an absolute TEOTWAWKI situation it’s quite possible that you could  scavenge batteries from abandoned cars for your battery bank.

    The list goes on and on, create your own knowledge books and share your ideas on the SurvivalBlog.com forum.  Maybe collectively we can store enough knowledge to keep us from reverting back to the Stone Age.  Remember information gathering has a snowball effect. 

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