being prepared

Having a “solar generator” is the next big thing!  And I had one, a Goal Zero Yeti 150 (which I’ve just sold, another story).  Basically, this is just a portable power pack that can be recharged via a solar array. Also, via your car and your home 110v electrical system.  BUT it can be charged via solar panels so it is not just portable, but allows for Glamping.

Today had a flat tire.  Fortunately, made it to a gas station, tried pumping in air, it leaked out about as fast as I pumped it in. Time for a tire change.  This is a fancy dancy new car, modern technology.  Friend and I, two women in our mid-60’s, neither of whom have ever changed a tire. First, read the manual which was so Germanically over technical it was difficult to understand.  Got out the parts, blocked the wheels, read the next stage.

Gentleman comes over to help.  Takes one look at the jack and says I’ve never seen one like that. and off he goes.

Fortunately, about then, my knight in shining pick up truck shows up and takes over the task of the tire change.

Now comes the fun part, we have to pump up the space saver spare.  The car even comes with an air compressor.  Can we figure out how to get to the battery to hook the damn thing up.  NO.  The women couldn’t figure out how to access the battery. The men couldn’t figure out how to access the battery.  We couldn’t figure out how to get power to the damn compressor!

Fortunately, we were at the gas station, they did have an air device that took credit cards!  Yes, it costs that much money to pump a tire with air.

the fun of figuring out how this tire worked is another story.  BUT the moral is, if we had been on the side of the road we would have been SOL because we couldn’t have used the air compressor, unless we had PORTABLE POWER!

BE PREPARED!

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making and preserving dried foods

using the slow cooker, 2lbs of white beans, with bacon and left over pulled pork, other seasonings.  Measured out enough to fill one pint canning jar.  that was laid out on one drying sheet.  Then did 3 other sheets and one can for the fridge.  One pint jar is enough for sides for 2 people, or a big meal for one person.

wet, straight out of the pot

when one side was dried, or pretty much so, flipped and continued drying

 when completely dry, measured how much one sheet equaled as a dry cup.  since I know this was a wet pint, know I need one cup water (maybe a little more) to rehydrate one cup dry.

 all four cups of dried beans in a canning jar with lid.  Oven canned this; let it sit open in the oven while heating to temp, put the lid in for a while for the sealing compound to soften. then top on and screwed down the ring.  This pic taken before it was cool. when completely cool, lid sealed.  jar labeled and put away!

thoughtful rambling part 5

This is the end . . . at least the end of this rambling mumbling free thought essay.  Tomorrow am supposed to pick up a package of bees and need to get those in the hive right away.  Have more work to do in getting the garden ready. Fortunately, didn’t plant anything else outside as we had FROST this morning. am also getting ready to Ebay my Goal Zero Yeti 150 and Nomad 20 solar panel, along with 2 of my Gun Tote’n mama carry purses.  And am WAAAYYYY behind on my office work.  So what else is new!!  On to new things . . .

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When the SHTF, whether it be a little or a lot, until we get our bearings, it will be hard. We will have to have resolve to face difficult situations.  We will have trouble adjusting to the idea that the normal no longer apply.  It may involve saying NO to people in need.  We may have to be secretive to people we have called friends.  We may have to use a level of force to protect what is ours.  There is nothing wrong with that, just that in recent years we have become programmed, especially women, with the idea that self-protection is wrong.  If you have a year’s worth of stores, and your neighbors have none, you don’t want to see them, or their children, suffer.  And if you have a year’s worth of stores and the electricity is out for 2 weeks, there may be no harm in sharing.  BUT, you will have to replace that year’s worth of stores from YOUR pocket.  And next time, when it might be a flu outbreak that has everyone locked inside for 3 months, they will be looking at you again to share.  And you might not have enough for everyone for 3 months without shorting your own family!  When you say no, your friendly neighbors might not be so friendly, feel they are entitled to what you have worked hard to put away for your family.  It’s a dangerous and slippery slope which we like to assume we’d never have to go down, but if a real SHTF situation comes along, you will!

So this is the area I’ve avoided for so long, weapons. You might need them, you might not.  Again, nothing wrong with being prepared.  But even more than weapons is the resolve behind them.  The ability to say NO and mean it, to support it. You will have guilt.  That’s okay, guilt won’t kill you, but you and/or your family might die if you give up your supplies!  If you don’t want to resort to weapons, that is your choice.   But don’t think that stepping aside and saying “help yourself” will save you when someone with a weapon comes for what’s yours!.  And are you willing to trade your family’s well-being because you were not prepared to face down a person with more resolve than you?  If you think that you have saved yourself by giving up your stores to the guy with the gun, you will rethink that when all you have to offer your children is a sad face.

Think I’m being extreme? So is this whole game.  If you even think that S**T can happen, so can the rest of it.  Its why we call it SHTF, or EOTWAWKI.  It’s the real game changer.  Don’t you think that the families in New Orleans, during Hurricane Katrina, were real surprised when they were told to get out of their safe homes, leave behind their supplies and, oh yeah, turn over your weapons by the friendly local Police or better, the National Guard.  Those who were otherwise prepared found themselves hungry, dirty, empty and poor in the same stadium as all those who were at the mercy of the elements.  With nothing of their supplies left in their homes when they finally got back! When it comes to the common denominator in a SHTF situation, we all sink to the lowest when the Government steps in to help.  That’s why you see so many of the Prepper forums and especially the Survivalists, eschewing the government’s help and programs.

If you have read to here, you are thinking, and wondering what it’s all about and hoping you’ll find some real answers somewhere. So here are my answers.  Educate yourself.

It doesn’t take much to find out how the people of New Orleans endured during Hurricane Katrina. It’s easy to find out how many people have been stranded on Georgia highways during winter storms. Or how often, for hours, people find themselves stuck on northern highways during storms, after an accident.  How long cities on the southern and eastern coasts have found themselves without power after a Hurricane. Or northern states have been without heat and power after a vicious winter storm or spring flood.  This is your start.  Being prepared for that possible 18-24 hours trapped in your car, or that 7-10 days without heat and hot water. Can you change a tire?  You might get stuck for hours waiting for help during a rainstorm on a major U.S. Highway! Watch what happens with supermarkets and other stores before, during and after those events to see how they handle the situations, how quickly they get restocked.

Know your own area. What shelter is there, where can you get help. How long does it take for emergency aid to reach you in a non-critical situation? Do you have natural resources? Do you know your growing season, what is suitable to grow. Can you wild harvest foods or healing herbs? Is there “stuff” to salvage? How quickly does your neighborhood turn when the lights are out for a few days. How do people feel about those they think “have” vs the “have nots”? How will they feel about you if they think you “have” and they “have not”?

You may think, it can’t happen here. That’s why there were so many people still in their homes when Katrina hit New Orleans.  That’s why people move shore side in the southern U.S. and are always surprised when their homes get hammered by Hurricane winds and waves.  How many times have you see the Mississippi flood through towns. How many times have you seen people lamenting what they have lost when a flash flood roared through their town in (fill in the blank). All those people thought it could not happen to them.  Ever.  It can happen to anyone at any time.  You might be prepped for World War III and lose it all in a fire!  S**T happens all the time.  Saw on the news this morning some car, wrong way driver, chased by police, rammed through the gate at an air force base and crashed into a F-18 parked on the runway.  Earlier this week, someone we knew had their car totaled and ended up in the hospital after someone driving under the influence hopped a median at speed and crashed into them head on.  There have been people shooting random drivers on interstates all across the country. S**T can happen anytime, to anybody, at any place.  Back in the day, our mothers used to make sure we had enough money for making a phone call and to grab a cab home when we went out on a date.  It never hurts to be prepared, be it cab fare or a year’s worth of food and water.

Continue your education. Look into what is happening with the economy.  Look at what’s really happening with health care.  Look at how many people are really unemployed (not what the government says).  Look at our Constitution, and decide if you want to follow its tenets and if you think the government should too.  Whether you agree or not, realize that there is a large segment of our population that disagrees with you.  What problems can you see developing from that?  Look at how people are reacting to immigration, to social programs, to the level of the nation’s debt.  What do you think will happen if China, now having economic difficulties of their own, calls in the money the U.S. Government owes them (worldwide economics, the nations of the world borrow from one another).  Look at what is happening to the nation’s water supply.  How do you think food supplies will be affected with the ongoing drought in CA?  If you live on the West Coast, it’s a direct link.  If you live on the East Coast, hear a lot of your produce is already being imported from other countries.  Do you think that’s good, and a safe, reliable source?  How do you feel about so much of our food being limited in source, or being polluted with chemicals? How do you think that is affecting your health? See there is a 400% increase worldwide in Type 2 Diabetes.  Autism is on the increase.  Cancer is more common.  IBS, Crones disease, all on the increase. What are we doing to ourselves?

Read up on Civil Forfeitures.  Don’t think the “powers” will come knocking on your door for your supplies, if they are willing to seize your cash, car, and home in good times?

As you learn the answers to these questions, you will know why Preppers and Survivalists are secretive. It’s why they don’t tell anyone they have weapons, cash, food or other supplies. It’s why they come off as being a bit paranoid – cause they are.  Trust does not come easily, nor should it.

In the beginning of the Jarkarta Epidemic, the hero is cautious about who is and who is not friend. He does have a couple of guys who stand by him and his decisions and help him out.  He offers some of his supplies to them, and in return, they offer him physical and emotional support.  That same trio moves forward as a unit in the next story, but all are better prepared when that SHTF event happens, if nothing else, in their mental attitudes.

And in the end, it is our mental attitudes that will get us by. All the supplies and weapons in the world will not help if you don’t have the mental attitude to hold them safe, to use them, and to refuse giving them up.

On the other hand, mental attitude will help us cope and persevere when things are not going our way. Will help us look at situations and their solutions, and our alternatives. To enable us to figure out what we can offer to those who can help us so that they will be willing and eager to make us part of their plans, even if we have no supplies or lack skills.

My personal journey of actually doing began those many years ago while learning skills living in a NYC apartment. Then there was my partnership 30 years ago with my sweetie that moved me into my first house. That led to a flower garden, then a veggie garden, then to drying and canning my own harvest.  There is no BPA in those glass jars you use for “canning” fruits and veggies. The jars and rings are re-useable, if you use Tattler lids, they are too.  No cans to throw away. Less waste on so many levels, along with higher quality than you can buy.  We heated with wood, which led to learning how to cook on the wood burning stove.  And making sure we had food on hand for when the snow got deep or the power went out.  And each step led to the next step.  Sometimes I feel like a hoarder, having so much that we don’t regularly use, but am trying to bring each of these things into our life style.

Will be the first to admit, though, that when things get busy, I’ll order Chinese takeout or Pizza. I hire someone to help clean my home.  We have a person we hire (only when he wants the work) to help around the property.  Someday I may have to do without this help.  Or someday they may be part of our “community”, gathering to help each other. And I do like my cars.  And I like Amazon Prime (and I also admit that on line shopping is destroying “main street, USA” more than Walmart ever did!).

I don’t expect to change anyone’s minds, hopefully just help you look a little outside the box. I know that writing this helped me to look into a little more rounded supply base and to rethink some of what I’ve been doing.  It helped me solidify some of my own thoughts on the subject, and plan for my next level of preparedness.

May it have been equally useful for you.

 

thoughtful rambling part 4

A bit of  a break between 3 and 4.  garden, have a package of bees coming, and the usual alligators

=======================================================================A few other recommendations:

  1. Learn first aid. In my two favorite modern post apocalyptic stories (The Jakarta Epidemic and Perseid Collapse by Steven Konkoly) no one gets a serious injury without there being some sort of professional medical aid at hand. Even in the big shoot out scene, the marines show up in time to render first aid for a number of gun shot victims. There were medical emergencies in Earth Abides and people died. And neither book had dental emergencies. These will happen. People will fall and hurt themselves. People will make a mistake when using the axe to chop wood. A tree will fall in the wrong direction. Someone will eat something that wasn’t properly canned, or wild harvest something they shouldn’t. Worst case scenario, gun shots and broken bones. You may be lucky to have medical care and supplies available. You might not. This is a case of Be Prepared! Dental emergencies: A tooth with break, cavities will form, a crown will come off. There are some OTC products to help cope with pain, re-attach a crown, pull a tooth. Learn and acquire and be prepared. There is nothing wrong with buying a good first aid kit to keep in your car. But for your home, go through the list of what’s in that first aid kit and buy full size packages of the contents and keep them in one place in your home. Get a small bag at the thrift, or check through your old pocketbooks or backpacks and make this your major first aid kit. Keep it stocked and in one place. If you ever have to “bug out”, just grab and go. Even if you are staying in, it will be in one place where it can be easily accessed. When you need bandaids, that’s where you go. When you need antibiotic ointment, an antihistamine, an antacid. It’s all in the bag. Just be sure to keep it stocked, just as you would your medicine cabinet.
  2. Storing oils for cooking, making cosmetics. Most vegetable oils will go rancid. Not sure about the shelf life of Crisco solid shortening. Ghee (refined butter) and Coconut oil have long stable shelf lives. Ghee is expensive to buy but easy to make and store. Coconut oil is also expensive, but buy on line or on sale when you can. Both can be used for cooking, both can be used to make skin lotions and lip balms and other such products. You really don’t want to be using rancid olive oil or other for your cooking or skin care products. Stinky, stinky, stinky. BUT rancid oil can be used to make oil lamps – look that up on line to see what I’m talking about for easy oil lamps.
  3. String. Cotton twine, or jute, but cotton is good for making wicks as well as tying things. Shred it to make Firestarter.  You can even knit cotton twine to make storage bags, cloths, weave it into cloth to make clothes if you have enough! Cotton twine is biodegradable and useful in the garden. Rubber bands dry up, stretch out, eventually break. String and twine existed long before glue and rubber bands. It’s the original and still the best.
  4. Money. It’s hard to put together cash, but despite what many of the pundits tell you, cash or metals will still be useful. If it’s a temporary SHTF scenario, people will take cash over plastic or checks. Prices might be up 800%, but they’ll take cash. If the world is starting to tumble, you might want to make that last crazy run to the hardware store or the camping store for some last minute supplies (you don’t need the grocery store, you’re prepared, right?) and cash will be king! When we start to come out of the apocalyptic haze, having cash on hand will put you to the front of the new supply line. AND personally I believe that we will continue to use cash at some level for barter when you need something from A, but have nothing else that A wants.   It will have a different value, but the purpose of cash money was to create a common denominator for barter and it can become that once again.
  5. Think of practical things like bleach and contraceptives. Unless you are cleaning up after little kids or sick adults, you probably don’t use bleach from one year to the next. SHTF, even for two weeks, and you will have messes that need real cleaning. You may have to prepare containers for holding water, or even purify water (that rainwater off your roof is full of bird and squirrel pee and poo!). Bleach to the rescue! And yes, contraceptives. There is always a mini baby boom about 9 months after any black out. If it’s a longer SHTF scenario, a flu outbreak say, this is not the time for pregnancy. And yes, you may find other uses for that stuff too. Always think outside the box!
  6. Keep everything together. If you have some camping equipment, make sure it’s in good shape and keep it with your other stuff. First off, even if you want to go camping for fun you know where everything is and you know what condition it is in. Secondly, should an emergency mean you have to bug out, you know where everything is for grabbing in a hurry. Keep copies of your insurance, our driver’s license, your important ID papers like birth certificates and passports in the same place along with some extra cash. Always keep your vehicles at last ½ full of fuel. Why you have to leave in a hurry could be as simple as a neighborhood fire. You’ve seen them on TV, families huddled under blankets on cots in some gym, being fed by the Red Cross. A little prepping on your part and you are in a hotel, with hot and cold running water, and real food in your belly.
  7. Keeping fit. This is not go on a diet and lose a bunch of weight. This is keep fit. If you have to shovel snow, inches of it, can you? If you have to walk carrying a gallon of water (8.54lbs) plus another 20 lbs of gear, how far can you go? If you have to cut and carry wood for your stove, will you be able to do it? Just the bending to plant, weed, and harvest the garden requires a fair amount of fitness. Are you there? have you ever picked up and moved a full canner?! Washing clothes by hand and then carrying the wet laundry to hang is WORK. Our pioneer ancestors worked hard and it was mostly physical labor. SHTF, that’s where we’ll be again. If you are stuck in a snow storm, you need to dig out your exhaust pipe so you don’t pull Carbon monoxide into the car. You may have to shovel out your tires, you may have to push your car. Power down for a week, you’ll be carting, shoveling, carrying, working. Be fit!

thrift bargains

know I’m always talking about the thrift shops.  Quick trip out today, and always make the rounds of my thrifts cause you never know what you’ll find – like a large glass canister of mixed beans for $3.

As it happens I have BIG feet – guess I’m earning that nickname from my childhood – steamshovel shoes.  Wear between a woman’s 11 and 12, and believe me those sizes are hard to find.  In men’s shoes, that’s about 9.5 -10.  easier, but not always feminine.  So when I see shoes I like, I buy them, not when I need them.

IMG_0712 (1024x624)

from left to right: men’s size 10 waterproof boots, made in China (bummer) $20, slippers, made in Mexico, size 43 $4, sandals size 42, $8.  can almost always go a little smaller in sandals as I can let my toes hang over if necessary.  The woman at the check out was very sorry she didn’t have bigger feet as she LOVED the boots.

thoughtful rambling part 3

Whatever you decide to do, know your tools! While my neighbor has solar assist hot water, we had to remove our system because it was more nearly 30 years old and decrepitated beyond repair.  So now we will have to figure out alternatives and make do (see Green Wizadry) .  On the other hand, have what is termed a “solar generator”.  This is a misnomer.  They are power storage units.  Since my eyes begin to glaze over and the brain shuts down when the conversation turns to building one, have gone the easy route and bought one.  These units have all the transformers, adapters, converters, etc. already installed.  Just hook up whatever power source you are using to charge it, and then plug in whatever you are using to drain it.  While I live in a very sunny area, even northern climes can use solar assist, and adding a wind turbine gives you even more options!

Again, know your tools. The first one I bought, thought I could just charge it and store it for an emergency.  NO.  It has to be used!  Most of these units, this is a Goal Zero, use old fashioned Lead Acid batteries and they only hold a charge for so long.  Have seen only one unit, so far, that  is the newer Lithium batteries – you know the ones, that catch fire and blow up!  And with the Lead Acid batteries, if you can, keep the charge on it while you are using it!  Ideally, you won’t drain it that way, and it will be a steady source of power.  On cloudy / still days though, you might drain it and then have to wait for it to recharge to start the cycle again.  The particular unit I bought, Yeti 150, is also too small for some of what I’d like to use it for. Maximum draw is 80W, so my 150W water pump is a no go. It will power a DVD player, but would like to be able to use it to pump water from the creek into containers (bringing it all home on my electric tricycle!), as well as to use it to recharge the battery on that electric tryke!  Again, know your tools.  Wasn’t paying total attention when I bought it and neither were the sellers, all of us thinking that Yeti 150 meant 150W, not 80!  Need to upgrade to the Yeti 400 to get that 150W!!

And it can be fun learning to use your solar cooker and/or rocket stove. The solar cooker can be used to reheat something, like a slow cooker for making rice.  The rocket stove for boiling up stuff without heating up the kitchen on a hot summer’s day.  Make it an adventure while learning something new.  Solar cookers even get hot enough to purify water!

Barter will be an important part of any SHTF scenario, whether someone asking for some water while stuck in that huge blizzard highway mess, someone needing some food or candles while the power is out in the neighborhood for 2 weeks, or people with nothing while the entire city is in quarantine during a flu outbreak.

Can I take a shower at your house if I bring over some canned tomatoes or some eggs? Oh yeah, never mind that, have a little pop up shower cabana and a solar hot water bag to make my own shower.  Put a tub at my feet and I can recycle that water.  So can I come over and do my wash if I bring those canned tomatoes, some eggs, and 2 pints of canned beef?

Prepping is also expensive, even if you are not buying solar panels, and technological upgrades, tons of books, etc.. For some, just being able to put away a few cans of veggies and a couple of bucks is hard.  And though the prices have come down, here is an example of costs: Just purchased a 100W ‘flexible’ solar panel for a little under $200.  A rigid one was a bit over $100.  While a highly portable, folding one was $500.  Not too long ago, the basic rigid panel would have been close to $500!! The flexible one, though more expensive, has good reviews and the nature of the material made it lighter than the rigid one and that makes a difference for me.  The portable one would have been even easier to use, but the $300 difference just put that out of the picture.  Also know from experience with a smaller folding unit I own, that any dirt on the surface, once folded, they scratch each other.  Something else I recently found out, how much power you lose through the wiring!  You want the shortest possible wiring from your panel to your storage device.  That can make a difference in how many panels you get, where they are mounted and where your batteries are.  You might need two or three extra panels to make up for the power loss through the cables.

And now you know why my brain shuts off when all this stuff gets thrown around!

Personally, we’re doing okay. We still don’t have enough money put away for a “comfortable” retirement, if the S does not HTF!  Nor do I have enough supplies if it does.  Although, we can probably hit our stores to help instead of withdrawing money we don’t have.   And instead of saving money, am putting it into those cans of veggies, canning jars and lids, and other supplies.   The food will always be useful, like when I’m too old to make the trip to the supermarket! But there are always things we are buying that we really don’t use, don’t even need, on a regular basis.  These things just sit. That’s why I was so charged about getting my mangle (wringer) for $7.99 instead of $140!

But back when we were skimping along, always had extra cans of veggies on the shelf. Watch for sales.  Periodically there are sales on canned goods.  Look at that in the same way as making sure you are putting away a $5 bill every week (and do I wish I’d had that foresight back 40 years ago!) and buy 4 cans this week and 4 cans next.  Shop in the thrift shops and garage sales.  My Presto Canner was $50 (and I know that could be expensive for some, but new they run between $75 and $125 depending on where you are looking) and while I invested in a new gasket, that was it for all the service it has given, and continues to give. Originally had purchased an American Canner, and that was nearly $200, and doesn’t hold as many small jars as my Presto (which is tall enough to double stack). Had a $15 bread maker that I used for YEARS!  Even found a Goal Zero solar panel at the thrift.  Brand new.  Its only enough to charge my kindle or phone, or my super flashlight, but that keeps them working without tapping into my Yeti, so it can be doing something else.  I’ve learned to knit and sew, which lets me take advantage of deals on fabric and yarn at the thrifts or garage sales.  Sewing lets you make alterations.  We live way beyond our means thanks to the thrifts!!

Buy online in bulk when you can. I can buy a “case” of Bob’s Red Mill coarse Corn Polenta/Grits (4 bags) for the price of 2 from our local health food store, WHEN they have it. Dry can a few pounds of beans for storage, or buy that 2 lb bag for the same price as a couple of 15oz cans, cook it and can up 8 or more pint (16oz) jars, seasoned as you want, or not if you prefer. **As I write this, have just cooked up a pound of white beans, cost $1.69, in the slow cooker with some bacon and left over pork plus onions, garlic and other seasonings. 4 pints of that are now being dried for compact storage, vs canned.  There was a 5th pint which I just put in the fridge for use in the next day or two.  That’s vs. $1.39 sale price for ONE 15oz can of the same.  

Buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself for a big $$ savings! Buy a roast and cut steaks, grind out your own hamburger.  Buy fruit in quantity in season when it’s cheapest and preserve it.  Dry apples and strawberries for a nice snack later.  Can or freeze fruit.  Cherries, are probably the most expensive fruit we see, and in season that $5.99/lb can drop to $2.99 or less.  Yes, its work to stand and pull off the stem and cut out the seed.  But that investment can give you cherries on your shelf for months.  Can the fruit, or dry it.  Slowly, you will start to see the shift in your grocery bill.

** a note: Supermarket had roasts on sale for $2.99/lb. Choice of Bottom Round, Sirloin, or cross cut (or whatever that weird cut is called) Cheaper than the stew meat. Cheaper than the cheapest ground beef. So I bought three.  One will get frozen as is. One will be ground up to be hamburger and one will be cut up to be stew beef.  OR  may cut up and can that third one.

Buy your next pair of shoes at the thrift and use the difference to buy something for your larder. Once you start getting into thrifty buying, you will find yourself often getting twice the quantity for the usual shopping dollars.  Like everything else, it requires a strict budget.  And if something happens, something ordinary and every day, like losing a job, or illness, you will have something to fall back on to keep your family fed, and maybe even find yourself with a new skill that you can share.

Watch your thrift stores for “sale” days. Yes, even the thrifts have them.  Of course, some thrifts are better than others. Some sell clothing by the pound, others by the item.  My Goodwill has senior Wednesday when everything is 25% off for seniors.  Every week, one of their “color tags” is 25% off. On Sunday, that color tag is $1!  On that dollar day buy extra towels, quilts, blankets, sheets.  Towels, quilts and blankets can be used to cover windows to seal out drafts, wrap a hot pot to make it a slow cooker or yogurt maker,  cover over veggies to protect them from the heat or cold, throw in the car for putting on the ground in case you have to change a tire. A blanket or quilt can be made into a jacket or coat!  Sheets can be used to make curtains, or a simple shift or nightgown depending on the quality.  Even in good times, you’ll find use for those things.

Can’t afford books? Lots of free stuff on line.  Print it out, or write it out. Download PDF’s onto your smart phone if you have one.   Borrow magazines or get them from the library for more info.  Free on line groups to help you share info, low cost workshops abound that will bring you home a new skill.  Lots of Prepper blogs, like this one.  I highly recommend Backwoods Home magazine, Countryside and Small stock journal (although it’s moving into the Mother Earth News direction – more popular culture.  It’s still a useful magazine if you will be planning on keeping real livestock), and lately have discovered American Survival Guide.  It is an EXPENSIVE magazine, but liked the real content of its articles.

Last two issues, there was a good article on what to carry in your car for winter emergencies. Another on making your own high protein, high fat, emergency winter food for those same emergencies (like trail mixes, food bars), or for carrying with you when doing outdoor stuff. Both issues had articles on field (HAM) radios. Good article on making oil lamps, your own wicks, candles.  They don’t seem to be always pushing high end stuff or the latest gadget and gizmo.  Articles about guns and knives, but they don’t seem to dominate the content – even if they do dominate the ads!

Don’t get fooled by the latest craze among companies catering to the prepper and survivalist; the monthly grab bag, unless you have money to burn. You will find yourself spending from $25 + for a box of “stuff” that will end up being exactly that, STUFF.  After a year you’ll have between 12-20 different fire starters, a few whistles, a compass or two, maybe a knife and a package of some fancy bandaids!

And that is something else to watch for. Prepping and Survivalism are becoming BIG BUSINESS.  It brings some innovation, but it also brings lots of useless, made in China, trash.  Just another scam from someone looking to make a buck off your fears.

Oh yeah, and an awful lot of Prepping information is geared to the men. There are more and more female bloggers, shooters, and the like speaking up. But the gear, the magazines, the forums, are aimed to men.  Women have a more practical bent.  An example, can openers.  Men keep touting the old army little metal thingy that’s only a step above using your knife to open a can.  Have one of those in your emergency pack is okay, but there is nothing to stop you from at least grabbing a wheel opener (top or side) and keeping several at home, in your bug out spot, in your bug out bag.  The old army opener was great for ripping open knuckles and fingers.  It requires a certain amount of strength to puncture the can lid and keep the leverage going. The woman will look at that thing and whip out her old stand by kitchen can opener and be done with the job while the guy is still hammering the point into the top of the can!

Yes, guys, its small, its light weight, and won’t take up a lot of room in your bug out bag. And of course, you are carrying CANS in that bug out bag, right?  Of course not.  So keep a regular can opener with your canned goods and don’t ask your lady to rip up her hands using that thing!

The woman is thinking about things like sheets and towels (she better have that sheet on hand so she can whip up a few bandages for her guy after he’s sliced open a finger with that army can opener!). She’s the one debating things like rags vs paper towels – where will you wash the rag? Where will you throw the paper towel away?  Oh yeah, you can burn that paper towel as fire starter or just burn it “away”.

Even saw men’s jeans treated with Silver to be a Faraday cage to protect electronics in the guy’s pocket. But have they made a similar purse or jeans to protect the woman’s electronics? No!

Also addressing to women: have seen on line instructions for making basic women’s underwear from old tee-shirts, as well as making sanitary supplies from old shirts and towels. Before you start making UGH faces on either of those,  think of it as practice and saving money!  I personally used homemade sanitary products for the last 10 years or so of my cycle.  It was a relief not to have to worry about buying and disposing of same!  PLUS saved a whole bunch of $$$$ that was then available to spend on other things.  And the soak water was recyclable as plant food!  If someone in your family is making the icky faces, you can remind them that they can stock up on product, but when they run out, they can resort to the time old methods of shredded bark and moss!  BUT, don’t forget those pads are some of the best for patching up a bad bleeding wound.  So do keep some on hand!

Another $$ saver, making your own cotton rounds for removing makeup, etc. SHTF, you won’t be able to buy them.  Looking to limit your “footprint” by reducing your contribution to landfill? Make them.  Because in the meantime, you are working, you are dating, you are wearing make up, you are going on with your life.  Saw an article about making them using old flannel from shirts or sheets.  Cut the rounds, sew them.  For me?  I’m crocheting my rounds out of heavy cotton string then hot washing them to shrink them tight and soften them up.  Either way, reduce, reuse, recycle!

For all this information, and more, ask around. Find your food Co-ops.  Find blogs and Facebook groups.   There is (or was) a great canning group on Yahoo groups.  They were Mormon women.  Now Mormons are tasked with maintaining a year’s worth of supplies at all times.  So who better to ask questions about what and how?  Some places have Mormon centers where you can rent their real canning equipment – yes real #10 cans.  Lurk and gather information.  Determine who is helpful and who is full of S**T.  Who would you pick as friends?  Then, ask questions, ask for help, and it will come as we all know the more we share with you now, the less we’ll have to share when the SHTF!