For those of you who have followed along, you may have noted that I spent some time working Disaster Recovery for FEMA. Now, before I begin I want to say that prior to the Katrina Disaster (which was actually a Levy issue, not a hurricane issue) FEMA was a actually out to help people. I personally feel (purely MY opinion) that after that disaster so many changes were made and red tape increased to where the only people who benefit from it now are those skilled in “using” the system. Before I sidestep into a full on rant, I’ll continue with my story.
When the hurricanes of ’04 began training into Florida I had about experience from 2 other disasters crossing 3 states. I thought myself “prepared”. Although I had seen hurricane damage after Isobell, this was different. I used GPS to locate my first applicant. All the street signs were gone. I eventually made my way to what was supposed to be a mixed subdivision – made up of mobile homes and so called regular homes along with a few that were a mixture of both. The simple truth – it was gone. Not the house, the neighborhood. The place was just scattered with piles of trash. When you focused on parts you could discern a foundation here, half a garage there. None of us knew at the time that FL would be hit with 3 more storms that summer. All of that debris would be picked up and turned into missiles before it could ever be picked up and taken for disposal. Most people were living in their cars, or the only remaining room of their house that still had most of a roof. The nearest place with power was about a 3 hr drive, and this was 2-3 days after the storm. I was among the first “help” in the area.
The family I was there to see were living in their garage – 3 walls of their home and the roof was gone. As we walked around the outside of the house I made my measurements and the couple did their best to describe what had been in the house and how it was laid out. I remember they had a wonderful white rock flower bed around the edge of the foundation. At one point the husband bent over and plucked a weed from between the stones. Suddenly he was overcome with the irony of maintaining a flower garden when his home was destroyed.
At another home, different neighborhood, the family had made a good attempt to set up an outdoor living area with rescued furniture. They had even set up a tent and still had their barbecue for cooking. When I arrived they were excited that they had finally made it through a Red Cross line and had MRE’s and ICE! Sacred commodities at this point. While I conducted the interview they’re daughter, who looked to be 13-14, finished her drink **and tossed the ice from her drink out on the ground*** Her Parents immediately disciplined her, and she was made to understand how critical that small bit of ice could be. Even if it were not used in another drink it could be used to keep food cool. In her mind the reality of their survival status had not sunk in. She was thinking in a “we’re just camping” mindset. This is a minor thing, but it comes to mind when considering including children in training and planning for a disaster situation.
The last family I’ll recall for you today had a father who had been in Vietnam during the war/conflict. He told me how he had never had flashbacks to that time. Yet, 25 years later, when he came out of his storm shelter he said it was like walking into a full on war zone and brought back all the memories and fight or flight instincts of that time. After I completed his interview, I returned to my car. A woman had parked behind me and would not let me leave. Her sister had applied for assistance a week before and still had not heard from an inspector. Not believing that I had no way of doing an interview I had not been assigned she would not let me leave. I had no phone signal – no way to call for help, no way to tell the people I had set appointments with of why I was late. After an hour my previous applicant came out with a shotgun and she finally let me leave.
As a final note, during this time I lived like my applicants – no spiffy govt compound – I lived in my car and ate MRE’s and the occasional Red Cross meal. Needless to say half my baggage for future deployments was FOOD. I was thankful when I finally found a single level motel that allowed me to stay for $50 a night. There was no electricity and the carpet was moldy from the water which had seeped in from the neighboring room that had lost it’s roof.
The main idea behind all this is that disasters hit this country multiple times every year. They don’t have to be widespread, It could just hit a few houses – your house. Then suddenly all that prepping doesn’t seem so silly.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve put in my entry for the Preparedness Pro writing contest. My entry is what initiated me to start this blog. I’d really appreciate it if you would go over and give me a vote (simply put a positive comment at the bottom of the article). While your there, feel free to check out some of the other entries.
Here’s the link. Prepper ContestToday’s the last day!
I wanted to share my souviners from a day spent “working” on skills to be more self sufficient. First of all, we live on my parents property, but our houses are about 75 yards apart past a large metal building (quanset hut), over a canal, and past my sister’s house. In some ways it isn’t that far, but for my two little ones (who will be turning 3 and 4 this summer). There are many twists and turns that can lead to disaster. They walk the path at least once a day with me, but we’ve had concerns about them trying to take the way on their own – but there may come a time that they need to be able to do it. So, yesterday I called ahead and sent them on their way. With the comfort of cell phones I knew when they had made it. The plan is that through familiarity of knowing they are expected that they are less likely to divert from the path in an emergency situation.
While the kids were visiting their MawMaw, my husband and I took the shotguns to the back end of the property and set up some targets with clay pigeons. I found that the more I aimed the worse I did! My husband bought me a Winchester 20 gauge for Christmas (the first gun I’ve owned) and it seems that some days I’m great with it, and some I’m not. I did marginally better when he threw the targets. However, I moved to quick and didn’t get it settled correctly before one of my shots – and I have a colorful reminder today.
while we were out there i confirmed that we have loads of Broadleaf Plantain if we need it, and tasted a few leaves to decide if I’d be adding it to salads or just mote it for medicinal use. Although the clay pigeons didn’t have much to fear from me, I did shoot my first water moccasin. It was in the canal by our house and I got it with one shot! I didn’t get a picture of that one, but here is a six footer my husband shot this afternoon. It was in some grass about 10 feet from our door. He came across it while hunting eggs from our chickens in the deeper grass.
He’s a much better shot than me (with a lifetime of experience) and shot it through the head with a .22. Happy for me, he also found where the hens were laying their eggs!
While we had been in the back shooting we came across a great blackberry patch. So we took the kids back out and picked about 5 cups of blackberrys (called Dewberrys around here).
So today I made a blackberry cobbler. And a jar of blackberry syrup.
All in all, we worked on skills all across the board. What is amazing to me is how shocked some friends are of what I considered just a normal day.
I have decided to start a new series that I hope will be of help for many of us. We often check our preparations to insure we have enough supplies for a given emergency. However, it is not enough to own them, it is critical that we know how to use them, where to locate them, and to have the mindset to use them without pause or undo stress. This, I introduce you to “Wake-Up Wednsday”. A series that focuses on moving from physical ownership to mental ownership.
Scenario: Power Outage Day 4
So, I have a question for you. Is your beautiful cast iron Dutch Oven still in the box? If you’ve pulled it out, did you actually cook with it? My challenge to you is to see if you can prepare a FULL meal with stored foods (no freezer or fridge foods allowed).
If you have an electric stove (like I do) then this would also mean you have to determine an alternate way to cook. I’m sure you’ve already considered what you would do: build a campfire? Use your grill? Use a solar oven? Pull out the propane stove? All of these are acceptable, yet each can have its complications. Will your pan hold up to the heat of an open flame? (This is where that Dutch Oven comes into play). Do you have something to use to get that hot pot off the flames without catching on fire?
It is all well, and good, to have thought through how to handle these options – but nothing can compare to the actual experience and the comfort of knowing you can handle the situation.
Good Luck, and I look forward to hearing your results!!
For those of us who are parents, or plan to be, the concept of survival goes beyond ourselves. The considerations which must be taken into account go beyond rice, beans and antibiotics. Many of us think of those first critical days, or months, in the aftermath of a disaster. We count our jars of chicken and containers of rice and say “We can make it”. Most of us have taken into account the need for protecting those goods from the zombie hordes. But, are we protecting our minds from the shock that inevitably will follow such an event?
No matter if you are child or adult, it is common to resist change. A big change, or loss of normalcy, can cause a downward spiral that is harder to combat. Now, throughout history, children have shown themselves to adapt to changes much more readily than there adult counterparts, but that adaptation takes a bit of time. I believe that our success or failure at continuing on is directly related to how much “normal” we can pack in our bags.
1. Meals – Although most of us store every day foods, we usually do not eat so much in the way of rice/beans. Much less, do we utilize dehydrated and freeze dried ingredients. It is best to get past that learning stage while the lights are still on. Try making a zombie meal once a week. Zombie meals are things you can put together without electricity that you can still make when mentally and physically exhausted. Now, you can’t cop out and do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Have you cooked with “real” rice instead of Minute Rice? When I lived in Puerto Rico it shocked me that it took months before I could cook a pot of rice that wasn’t mush or crispy. Do you have a stock of the seasonings you’ll need to dress up your beans? Finally, there is more to it than just making sure you can use your stores. By cooking a zombie meal once a week, it becomes normal. Your children are less likely to turn their nose up to something they recognize and the acts of rough cooking and cleanup will become as natural as pulling a trigger.
2. Recipes – pick up a journal or binder for special recipes. There are tons of recipes on the Internet for making fun extras. But, we all know the day may come when we don’t have access to that plethora of information. Put together a collection for things like chocolate syrup, homemade bubbles, and laundry soap. Once again, I would try the recipes to make sure you have what you need and that the directions are complete.
3. Games – especially if you have children, there is a concern that they will not be up to the rigors of a survival situations. It is not necessary to engender fear when practicing bugging out/in. Games can teach the necessary skills and the less fear associated with the game the more successful they are likely to be in a fight or flight situation. Games of Hide and Seek, geocaching, and berry picking are all fun yet teaches the skills which may become necessary.
The idea, is to try and maintain as much normal as possible. We practice skills such as target shooting and gardening, but it may be the simplest things we haven’t practiced which can make the difference between survival and success.
Ever had a song running through your head that you just couldn’t shake? I guess it just shows how much our preparedness level has been on my mind. Or, at least, in the back of my mind. We have a litter of pups that have hit 8 weeks and I’ve been focusing on finding them homes.
Also this week, I’ve received our first paycheck since I started consciously prepping. Now funds are tight, so I wanted to make sure that I maximized the usefulness of what money I had available. I’ve been a coupon clipper for years. I’ve even put them in my purse. Today I remembered to pull them out and use them. I took the amount I saved and put it towards an extra bag of rice, and a collection of condiments (mayo, ketchup, mustard, salt, and garlic). This may seem like an odd place to start, but I do have logic.
First of all, what’s the use of loads of rice or beans if my toddlers refuse to eat it? I also took advantage of a sale on chicken quarters and grabbed an extra ten pound bag. I plan to cook these up and can it. I did this with a bag about 2 weeks ago and figured out that for the price of two cans of chicken I can make 5 pint sized jars of chicken seasoned the way I like it. If TEOTW doesn’t happen, my husband is still happy he can make a chicken salad sandwich without me freaking out over the cost.
Something I have decided I want to invest in are Tattler lids for canning. Especially since we are going to be utilizing our stores to rotate them I think it best to not be concerned about the cost of a lid when deciding what to eat.
I also am looking in to long term food storage of a few key items. A friend of mine is a representative with Shelf Reliance foods and I figure if I’m buying that type of food I should support a friend. I haven’t made an order, yet, so if anyone has used their products I would love to hear feedback. I plan to focus on freeze dried and dehydrated fruits and a few things like the tomatoes. We grow them in the garden, but our crops have not produced as well as I like and we use a lot of tomato in our cooking.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to.
Ok! If you have been reading my blogs, it should come as no surprise that I’ve always been a bit of what people now call a Prepper. I’ve always kept “extra” food on hand. I’ve had an emergency overnight bag packed. When I’ve lived in cold climates I kept kitty litter and a survival bag in the car at all times during winter months.
That being said, much of the information I’ve found about prepping, self-sufficiency, and food storage is simple logic progression. It’s doing a bit of what I’ve always done, but on a more purposeful – larger – scale.
So here’s my questions. (Yes, I realize blogs are about statements, but I’ve always been a bit contrary and I’m always looking for an opportunity to learn.) When considering bulk and long term storage I find lots of info on how long things are good for, and under what conditions they should be stored. I also find info on “how much” pasta/beans/rice is needed per person. BUT, what does that take into account? For example: water is water. Two gallons a day per person is a straight forward storage goal. How about rice? When you see how many pounds of rice or pasta should be stored, how does that take into account the other items you are storing?
Has any found a site/resource that goes into detail on amounts for long term storage?
Now, lest you think I’m a lazy Prepper, I am doing my due diligence of research for my own family. I am planning a 1 month menu and corresponding “grocery list” to extrapolate what we need. I am also cooking from my items, such as my canned pintos and chicken, to make sure my count is accurate to what we actually use in a given meal. However:
Why re-invent the wheel?
Obviously, I am welcoming feedback on this subject. If I get some good resources I will put it together in a future post.
I remember 9/11. You know, that date where we don’t even list the year, everyone just knows what date you are referencing. I had worked the night shift and had been sleeping for about an hour when I received the first call. My sister called when the first plane hit. Thinking it was a small plane I figured it was a terrible thing for the families effected, but I was exhausted and would catch the news later. I rolled over to go back to sleep. A bit later, I received another call asking if I had heard. He said it was a bigger plane, later I even remembered that in the haze of sleep I heard him ask someone in the background if that was a second plane. None of that made it through the fog and I returned to my sleep. It was my last night shift of the week, so I woke around noon-ish and flipped on the TV on my way to letting the dog out. Wrapped in my blanket I was greeted by a view of the collapsing towers. The newsman started with “if you are just joining us now, this is the timeline of events:”.
I don’t think I moved, or breathed, for the next few hours. I had woken up to a different world.
So, why do I pull this memory out tonight? It is the closest gut feeling I can reference to describe what it must be like to wake from sleep and find that your house has burned, or been blown away, and your exposed and unprepared.
Fast forward ten years. My background is computers and business, but I’ve been a stay at home Mom for a few years and I’ve gone to sleep in regards to many world events. I’ve begun to “prep” out of a logical realization that I live in a hurricane rich zone, and we are at an income level that the slightest financial quake could take us under. Yes, I’m familiar with pandemics, polar shifts, nuclear wars, and other EOTW scenarios. I even acknowledge they “can” happen in my lifetime. But, there’s only so much you can do when you’re just getting started.
Then, tonight, I’m watching 60 Minutes. Did you? Greece may be forced to file bankruptcy. The food lines and unemployment rates that are sky rocketing. Riots. Other countries coming in to tell them when/if/how to carry out elections.
So many “financial experts” trying to tell us the recession is over. But, in my minds eye, I see a finger pushing over a big fat domino.
I recently read the article by Preppernation which challenges readers to plant a garden large enough to supply your years worth of vegetables. My initial reaction was mixed. Not about the advisability, but on if we could meet the challenge. No matter if you are putting extra away in case of some major disaster – or just realizing that prices are going up and any way we can keep from giving our money away to someone else is a help – there may come a time when this will be a way of life instead of just a season’s challenge.
Now we (ok, my husband) has had a garden every year for the last 5 years. I will admit, that between summer pregnancies and caring for small babies I haven’t been much help until last year. Then, we were all but defeated by a scorching drought and a terrible bug infestation. We never saw our squash or watermelon even flower, and our corn was only good for goat fodder after the worms and grasshoppers devoured it. My heart broke a bit more every time we shucked an ear and it was totally gone to the bugs. Our one bright light was our okra which we had bushels of for most of the summer.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We haven’t given up on gardens. If anything, we bought a larger variety of seeds this year. My husband is recently unemployed, and we will both need the produce and possibly have more time (mixed blessings?). The challenge has given me a goal, a focus.
Looking at our seeds, many of what we already buy come with more seeds then we’ve been using, so we won’t have to invest more money. We walked the yard today and decided where would work best for additional garden space. He promised me he’d have it tilled early this coming week.
So here goes: We will rise to the challenge. Produce from our own land instead of from the grocery store.
My next step in my preparations for prepping is to increase my skills, and of course to utilize those skills.
In the past I have tried my hand at canning/jarring, but I had only used the water bath method for cranberry jelly at holiday time.
In an effort to maximize dollars spent for food storage – not to mention having ready mead food I like on hand – I’ve begun learning the art of pressure canning.
Now, I don’t know about your local area, but here on the Texas Gulf Coast you can buy all the canning supplies you need at your local grocery store. Actually, I’ve noted the smaller the store the bigger the canning section. Price wise, however, chains like Krogers and Walmart can get you started cheaper. Hold up! The cheapest way to get started is to ask around. Lots of people either do, or have done, canning and have the more expensive supplies on hand. My MIL had a pressure canner on hand that she only uses in the fall, and she was more than willing to let me borrow it until I had the money/ found one I liked. This way my investment was under $20 to get a case of wide mouth quart jars and a tool kit with a jar puller, funnel, and magnet for getting the jar lids out of the hot water.
After I got started I even found a few ladies at church who had some extra jars they were willing to give me in exchange for a pint of my now famous pintos (recipe to follow).
Next, I went to my local library and picked up a few books on canning. Most seem to focus on recipes for jams and jellies (water bath method) but, I found a few that had good pictures and details on pressure canning. It was also interesting to understand how the process works. It gives you a good respect for why steps shouldn’t be skipped. Since their are also LOTS of websites that go in to details on the subject I will not do that here.
Now, to decide what to can! Do to a recent illness (I am terribly susceptible to strep throat – more on alternate antibiotic options as I learn it!) my husband was let loose on my defenseless kitchen. He decided to make goulash (ok) and try using my beloved pressure cooker for the first time (not ok). Overfilled it, not enough water, used pasta, and I had half an inch of burn to clean up once I was ambulatory (sigh). So! I decided I’d can something that my entire family likes that can make a quick meal if I’m not available to cook. Who needs a Zombie Apocalypse when strep can take you down without a shot fired?
Of course, my decision to make pintos turned out to be one of the more difficult choices available! There are plenty of recipes for plain pintos – but that won’t do. The problem with pintos is that you want them cooked enough ( and flavored well) but you don’t want mush once you’ve factored in the cook time of the canning process.
Since my regular pressure cooker was out of order (it took almost a week to get that scorch out!) I used a regular pot and guesstimated how long to cook it. Here’s how I did it:
1. Take a 1 lb bag of unflavored pintos. Wash them to make sure there are no rocks (rare nowadays but it does happen) and put them in a six quart pot with a bunch of water. Boil for about five minutes then let sit for 45 min to an hour. Drain them and put about 8 Cups of water back in the pot with the beans (supposedly this step helps lower the TOOT factor).
1 onion chopped in large chunks
2 lb Ham steak cut into 1 inch and smaller squares
3 slices of bacon grilled in small pieces
1 Tbs chopped garlic
1/2 tsp Hickory Smoked Salt ( if they don’t have it at your local grocery store it can be found online.)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
3. Boil for about 45 minutes. Beans should still be firm. Think aldente, not crunchy.
My pot filled 3 quart size jars (next time will be a larger batch now that I know it came out right). Fill, but leave one inch of head room. Add lids and screw tops.
Place in canner and pressurize at 10# for 90 minutes. Refer to classic canning directions on how to do this in your canner.
The next night, after the jars had cooled for 24 hrs, we opened up a jar. We needed to add a little water to get enough juice to have the consistency we prefer, but the texture and gravy were perfect!
Since then I’ve also taken advantage of a sale on chicken quarters. A 10 lb bag (after cooking and deboning) filled 5 pint wide mouth jars. That’s about perfect to add a jar to a pasta dinner or to chop and make chicken salad sandwiches.
As a final note: my husband makes great goulash in a slower cooker and is a great with the smoker/grill.
Hope you enjoy! And feel free to add feedback comments!