Unease.

I’ve been reading Rural Revolution and similar sites for years, so I’m pretty familiar with preparedness themes.  And if you spend too much time on some of the more “out there” prepper and economic sites, it can make you a bit paranoid, which is something I try to guard against.  I’ve always figured there is a prudent level of preparedness everyone should have given that natural disasters and the like can and do happen.  Keep plenty of canned goods stocked in your pantry, have a rotation system for your canned goods, make sure you’ve got batteries and bottled water, yada yada yada.  If you’re reading my site, chances are you already know all this.

And on a separate but related theme is homesteading; interest in permaculture and the popularity of having a small-holding with a big garden, fruit trees, and small livestock such as chickens seems to have increased in the past five years or so, and this is no bad thing.  If you’re a lefty-type who worries about “global warming”, homesteading is good because it’s the ultimate in “grow local” and saves fossil fuels.  If you’re the libertarianish sort, the independence of homesteading is appealing.  Personally, I just love being outside working in the sun and dirt, so it’s been more of a hobby for me.

Yet over the past year, I’ve developed a growing sense of unease.  It really started last spring when we began house shopping.  A number of years before we’d moved from expensive Ann Arbor next door to cheaper Ypsilanti and bought a small house in order to save money for our eventual move out to the country, and last summer we made that move onto ten acres.  We had originally wanted around five acres, but this sense of unease, this sense that I wanted more land for food and fuel production, increased with every home we looked at, and we ended up doubling the amount of land.  We now wish we’d bought a home in a cheaper and even more rural area with even more land and a ready-made barn (we have no barn at present).

That sense of foreboding grew stronger toward the summer’s end as current events became even more violent and disturbing, both at home and abroad.  Part of my reason for going back to work full-time in the fall despite my husband’s preference that I stay part-time was so that we’d have money not so much to save but to invest into tangibles and infrastructure.  I couldn’t really put my finger on what was worrying me; current events were crazy, but aren’t they always?  And aren’t financial predictions always sort of dire?  I decided not to read economic or preparedness sites for a while.  Yet my unease grew, and I began to meet others with the same unease, who interestingly are from all different backgrounds and political persuasions.

Last month Frank and Fern’s post Gardening As If Your Life Depends on It caught my interest because of the number of people who commented there saying that they too had developed this sense of unease over the past year.  I tried to leave a comment and chime in but because Blogger hates me and marks 80% of my comments as spam, I was not able to, but my comment was that no one points to any one event – the debt situation in Greece, the increasing power of the Islamic State, massive third-world immigration, race riots – but the cumulative effect seems to have unnerved people.

I’ve tried just laughing it off – oh the internet, we’re all just telling each other ghost stories and giving each other the fun-creepies.  Right?

I’ve tried to go back to the Bible for some verses to quiet my unease:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25-34)

To be clear, I don’t think preparedness is unbiblical, since we are supposed to care for our families:

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1Timothy 5:8)

The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. (Proverbs 21:20)

…but the anxiety and unease is perhaps not the attitude God expects us to have.

Yet still I have this weird sense of foreboding, like everyone is collectively holding their breath and waiting for something big to happen.  It feels different to me now, though I can’t say why.  It just feels like everything is about to change, the way you can sometimes feel when a big storm is coming even when the sky is still blue.  It feels like an Ass is wearing a Lion’s suit and an Ape is pulling the strings.

So I pray and try to give my anxiety to God and I stock up on canned goods and frozen items when there’s a good sale and I work my garden and I try not to worry and wonder, but I worry and wonder all the same.  The days seem evil, but then the days have always been evil and there is nothing new under the sun.

Even so, come Thou, Lord Jesus.

On women’s role in preparedness.

Fern, of Thoughts from Frank and Fern, wrote a good post recently about Women and Survival.  She writes one particularly important point:

The most important thing a woman can acquire that will increase her chance of survivability in a disaster, economic collapse, societal collapse, martial law, or any other situation that would involve a question of survival, is a good man. A man that will not only protect and care for her, but a man that will teach her how to protect herself and her family.

 

If you read my current quiet little blog or if you used to read one of my old, larger blogs, you already know that I believe the purpose of Woman is to be a helper and companion to Man, so I liked that Fern wrote this:

[…] Now, with that said, you also don’t want to be a burden and always expect someone else to protect you or take the lids off of jars for you.

Learning how to protect our homes and families while our husbands are away or busy is an important skill to acquire.  In addition to that, knowing how to help provide food for our families, both in times of peace and times of trouble, is also a valuable skill for women:

If you are able, grow a garden this summer. A very serious, productive garden. Preserve as much of it as you can.

The other thing women can do is teach the family’s children useful skills.  I’ve been busy with getting a very large garden in, but yesterday when one of our daughters expressed an interest in having her own garden, I took her right off to the store and let her pick out the plants.  She wanted some pretty flowers, but I also instructed her in choosing food plants for her little plot: she has two rhubarb plants, four basil plants, and a peppermint plant along with her flowers:

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Go read the rest of Fern’s post, as I think it is instructive for women.

 

Helpless

I was raised vegetarian but about four years ago I started eating meat. The problem was I had no idea how to prepare it, so I spent some time watching videos about how to prepare various kinds of meat.  At one point I bought a whole fryer chicken to cut up and bake with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic, but first I watched a video on how to properly cut apart the whole bird into wings, thighs, drumsticks, breasts, and so on.  The video was just some country guy in his mid to late 50s on YouTube, and while he was demonstrating how to cut the bird apart, he noted, “‘Course, when I was young, we didn’t go down to Walmart and buy us a bird.  We jes’ went out and got ourselves a ‘yard bird’. That’s what we called chickens ’cause they was jes’ out in the yard.  So you’d go on out and get yourself a yard bird if you wanted fried chicken.”

That sounds pretty straightforward but stop and think for a moment – would you know how to just walk outside, catch, kill, butcher, pluck, clean, and fry a chicken right now in time for dinner?  If you are like most modern helpless people, including me, you would not.  When and why did we become so helpless? Continue reading

Prudently Prepared and Un-Panicked

Supposedly we’re in for a winter storm later tonight, so I’ve been thinking about the topic of preparedness again. We’ve moved since last year at this time, and we’re in a much better situation for riding out acts of God, nature, or terrorism. We have propane in a large tank for heat and cooking – currently a 500-gallon tank but we’re thinking of moving up to a 1000-gallon tank – so we aren’t reliant on gas lines. We have a well and a septic field, so no longer are we reliant on city water and sewage. And although we’re still “on the grid” in terms of electricity, we do have a whole-house generator that runs on propane, so power outages due to storms or other problems don’t trouble us much. We have a good-sized kitchen pantry that we keep stocked, plus an extra freezer and refrigerator in the basement.

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We’re pretty well set to ride out short-duration catastrophes. But as the news media yammers on about tonight’s possible storm, it seems like a good time to repost something I wrote and published elsewhere last year.

From Kill Your Television, Stock Your Pantry:

A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (Proverbs 27:12, NLT)

One of the downsides – or is it an upside?  I’m not sure. – of not having what Keoni Galt calls tell-a-vision is that you don’t find out when it is time to engage in mass hysteria until everyone else is already in full-on panic mode.

Let me give an example.  We live in Michigan and sometimes the weather here can be bad in the winter.  I grew up in the Grand Rapids area, so I’m used to dealing with heavy snowfall, unlike my compatriots here in the southern part of the state who seem to flip out over five inches.  I noticed yesterday morning when I checked a weather website that we were supposed to get heavy snow today – possibly up to a foot, but I’ve learned to take forecasts like that with a grain of salt because they are often exaggerated and will say things like 6-12 inches possible, which means we might get 4.  Anyway, a possible foot of snow is worth knowing about, but because I don’t have TV, I did not get the Everybody freak the hell out! message.

Coming out of church yesterday evening, my husband left directly to go to work in his car, and I said to our daughters, “We need to stop by the store to pick up some eggs because we’re out and I need one to make dinner.”

Eldest daughter replied, “Oh, didn’t you hear?  There’s a blizzard coming later and there are mobs at the stores and almost no food left.”  Why no, I hadn’t heard, as a matter of fact.  I felt a sense of unease.  “Come on, let’s go.  We need eggs.”  So off we went.

When we arrived at an out-of-the-way grocery store that I thought might not be too crowded, we were greeted by a waiting line of cars to get into the parking lot…at 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday night.  I waited patiently, got a spot, and the girls and I trudged in through the slush.

We needn’t have bothered.  There were no eggs to be had, nor bread, nor fruit, nor vegetables.  All milk other than whole milk was gone – lucky for me, people are still dumb enough to believe that low-fat milk is healthier for them, so at least I was able to get a gallon of milk.  There wasn’t even any toilet paper on the shelves, all because we might get a foot of snow today.  I saw two obese women empty an entire shelf of Little Debbie snack cakes into their shopping cart…because Little Debbie will lead you through the storm safely, ladies, right?  I asked the cashier if it had been like this all day, and the poor, exhausted woman nodded and told me it had been worse earlier, with people arguing over loaves of bread.

Why do people act this way?  There are two reasons.  First, people panic when the TV says to, which kind of makes you stop and wonder a bit about just how much influence we have allowed it to have in our lives.  How much do we unconsciously do and think because that is what the TV tells us to do and think?  Think about how the weather forecast is portrayed on television – it should be a fairly mundane part of the newscast, right?  It used to be that way; when I was a little girl, the meteorologist was always a staid, calm man in a suit explaining something that, to my five-year-old ears, sounded like windshield temperatures, making me wonder why anyone cared what the temperature of their car windshield was.

But forecasts aren’t like that anymore.  There are fast moving graphics, weird sound effects, announcers saying things like Stay with Channel 7!  Storm Team 7 is on the job, tracking the Blizzard of the Century!  and a good twenty minutes of hype, with fluff stories involving interviews with customers buying snowblowers – in fact, the very last snowblower, oh god Bob do we have a snowblower, why didn’t you get a snowblower?! Why did I marry such a terrible, no-snowblower-having man?? – at Home Depot.  What is the point of this?

Well, the more freaked out and emotional people get by the news coverage, the more they watch it; they don’t want to miss any detail.  Why?  Because their emotions are being manipulated – they are being induced into a state of panic in order to get them to continue watching because a large viewership means more advertising dollars.

The second reason people respond this way is that they have not properly prepared for a state of emergency.  Preparedness means getting your ducks in a row before, not during, a crisis.  The reason I did not have to panic and start clearing shelves into my cart at the store yesterday was because I’m already prepared for a short-term emergency.  My husband built a pantry full of shelves for me in the basement, and I keep it well-stocked with canned goods, bottled water, paper products, extra batteries, and the like.  No, we couldn’t live out of our basement for a year, but neither do I have to try to fight my way through a mob to get the last roll of toilet paper on the store shelf with a blizzard on the way.

If you haven’t done so, I highly recommend reading the article The 7 core areas of preparedness by Patrice Lewis.  Patrice runs a preparedness/homesteading blog of her own, Rural Revolution, but this article was originally published in Backwoods Home Magazine.  Here is what Patrice says are the seven core areas and what you need to consider.  She writes:

Food

This is obvious. I don’t mean you should stuff your freezer with TV dinners, either, because if the power goes out, they’re gone. Consider purchasing staples you enjoy eating (rice, beans, oatmeal, etc.) and learn to store and prepare them. These have the added advantage of being dirt cheap. If you want to take the next step, learn to can. Properly canned food lasts years without refrigeration, and canning is a valuable skill as well. Alternately, buy lots of commercially canned food.

Along with storing food, you should have the means to prepare it. Your options will be more limited if you’re in an urban high-rise apartment (where you can’t install a wood cookstove, for example), in which case your food will have to be pre-cooked (such as MREs) or otherwise edible without cooking. Eating unheated soup or beans right out of a can might not be the most pleasant meal, but at least you won’t starve.

Water

Without water to drink and wash, you’ll be miserable (or dead). At all times you should have a minimum of 20 gallons stored in your home. Look for options to secure larger quantities of water (roof runoff? storage tank?) as well as ways to sterilize surface water such as bleach, iodine, or filtration.

If you’re preparing for a minimum of three months, then your storage space for water will be huge and will probably take up far more space than most people have available. That’s why you need the means to purify water. A non-electric water filter (such as Berkey) might be part of your water storage efforts.

Heat

We live in rural north Idaho not far from the Canadian border. Heat is a major concern for us. How can you heat your house if the power goes out? Everyone’s circumstances are different – you probably can’t install a woodstove in a Manhattan apartment – so think through the alternatives that will work for you.

Be careful about ventilation when considering your heat sources. Endless people have been asphyxiated due to carbon monoxide poisoning because they chose the wrong option to heat their living space. Some buildings have windows which will not open, and this must be considered when thinking through your heat sources.

Lights

You don’t want to be in the dark, do you? Everyone can afford an oil lamp or two. Don’t bother with those pricey containers of scented lamp oil, either. A gallon of kerosene is less than $10 and works just fine.

While flashlights and batteries are nice (and necessary), you’ll go through your battery supplies very quickly if you depend on them exclusively for lighting. Remember your Rule of Three: plan to have backups to your backups. You should have candles, oil lamps, perhaps battery-powered LED lamps, or other light sources.

If you’re “bugging in,” consider blackout curtains for your windows that will block light. Alternately, a roll of black plastic and duct tape will work (as well as being useful for other purposes). No sense advertising how prepared you are (OpSec!). But remember, sheeting your windows in plastic will trap carbon monoxide, so be careful.

Sanitation

What happens if you can’t flush your toilets? If you run out of diapers or feminine hygiene products? If you don’t have toilet paper? Think about what kind of reusable alternatives you can substitute for pricey disposable items.

Find reusable versions of disposable sanitary items. Cheap washcloths from the dollar store can act as reusable toilet paper. Use cloth instead of disposable diapers. Try washable feminine napkins instead of disposable. Of course, these reusable versions require a means to wash them, so think through your options. For short-term preparedness, it might be better to stock up on disposables.

If you cannot flush your toilets and an outhouse isn’t possible, a five-gallon bucket lined with heavy-duty trash bags and a toilet seat may be your next best option. Wood shavings, sawdust, or ash can be sprinkled in the bucket after each use to help control odors.

Medical

Can you doctor yourself for minor injuries? Do you have a good stock of your prescription medicines? It doesn’t cost much to pull together a comprehensive first-aid kit. It might be harder to stockpile prescription medications, so this is something worth discussing with your doctor.

Now may be the time to take a refresher course for basic first aid. You might also stock up on medical items you may not otherwise consider — burn dressings, tape closures, compression bandages, and lots of over-the-counter pain killers.

Safety

What happens when too many people suddenly want to be your best friend post-bleep? What should you do if you live in an urban area subject to rioting and unrest? Some people interpret “safety” to mean they should have an arsenal of guns. Others think they need a secret rural bug-out location. However you interpret it, identify prospective dangers for your circumstances and think of how to mitigate them.

Personally, I believe every family member old enough to handle a firearm should be taught safety factors and target practice. Adult members should also have holsters (either concealed or otherwise) for ease of carry during “bleep” situations. I recently purchased a bra holster which will make concealed carry very simple and comfortable (and invisible).

Safety should be more than just firearms. It also includes such things as situational and strategic awareness, home and property security, communications, and local relations (friends, neighbors, community).

Just like nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, so too no one expects a sudden state of emergency; nevertheless, unexpected events do happen, and when they do, people panic because they are being manipulated by mass hysteria cues being screamed at them by their TVs and because they have not prepared.  But if you are prepared, and if you turn off your yammering tell-a-vision, you will not need to panic.

Oh, and how did my trip to the grocery store end?  Well, feminists are certain that careers rather than babies are our salvation, ladies, but in this instance our littlest daughter saved the day.  As I stood fretting at the empty dairy case about not being able to make the dish I had wanted to make for dinner due to the missing eggs, she cried, “Mommy, I see eggs! I see them!”  Sure enough, there they were; she was just the right height to peer into the bottom dairy case shelf and notice a little half-dozen carton of eggs pushed to the very back and unnoticed.  I grabbed them, we checked out, and dinner was just as I had planned it.

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And so here I sit, cozy and calm, watching the snow fall.  Won’t you now join me in a little sing-a-long, dear readers?

I am gross and perverted
I’m obsessed ‘n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed
I’m the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can’t look away
I make you think I’m delicious
With the stuff that I say
I’m the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I’m the slime oozin’ out
From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don’t need you
Don’t go for help . . . no one will heed you
Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold

That’s right, folks . . .
Don’t touch that dial