Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are you preping?

Whether its the aftermath of the disaster in Japan, rising food and fuel prices, or just plain prudence, I don't know about you but more and more of my city friends are calling and asking me about "food prepping." So let's talk about it. Mostly I've got some links but I'd love to hear about your favorite prepping sites.

 Flock of chickens? Like money in the bank....

What's prepping? Its a methodical (hopefully) way of storing up food and supplies for various reasons including food shortages, disasters, or financial hardship (loss of job, income, etc). Or zombies.  

To be sure this is not a new idea. Many rural folks are already prepared for natural disasters and the eventuality that the power may go out for awhile. Its pretty much second nature to be ready when you live in an area where an F5 tornado may come barreling across your county, or you're enduring another round of the snow-apocalypse, or because the electric might just go out because there is a squirrel out there jumping up and down on the power line. This also makes sense for folks who grow a lot of their own food. We tend to get a big harvest all at one time - so preserving it is part of the process and is just part of farm life.

I've said before that we are not making a political statement with our funny little farming life, and we aren't doing this because we think The End is near. But these days I am feeling a little better about our position... just in case it all goes to heck and them zombies show up or whatnot. Because we buy so little food from the grocery we aren't as concerned about food prices. But if you are sitting in a cube-farm and just paid $350 for a week's worth of groceries, you might want to consider a plan for what may or may not be coming.

What's coming? I dunno, depends on if you believe the news or the doom mongers. You know I am not a doom and gloomer. I don't think that End Times are coming, that we are facing the collapse of the world as we know it, and I'm not convinced the mutant zombie invasion is on the way. Rising food prices? Well I think we all know that's happening right now. And I know from practical experience that having provisions "put by" and preparing in advance for hard times makes sense and it works.

But for folks who aren't used to it "prepping" can be kind of overwhelming. It doesn't help that most of the preppers out there are weirdos, zealots, or Glenn Beck. So where to start?

Actually....with Glenn Beck. To be clear, I am not a fan. Mostly because I don't think that any man should act like that. But he is a Mormon and they have the corner on food storage and stocking up. Why? Mostly because those of the Mormon faith are urged to live wisely, have provisions, and be prepared for hard times by prepping. I think we can all agree those are good principals and we can all learn some lessons by folks who have been at this for a while.

That Beck fella actually did a show about rising food prices and used it as an argument for folks to stock up on food items you use before the prices get too outrageous. Altho he hopped around alot he had some good information. You can watch it on Youtube here.  Others are concerned about rising food prices and unrest in the world also. I really loved it when our dear Mr. H posted a presentation from Homestead Revival here. Even our man Gene Logsdon has something to say about rising corn prices. So do your research and decide for yourself if "prepping" is something that is right for you. (I think everyone should do something, but that's just me.)

We farm folks go about this at a slightly different angle than our city friends. For instance much of our food is stored "on the hoof" - out there running around in the yard. Why do we have so many chickens for just two people? Well, we consider them cheap insurance. We'll never go hungry with a big flock of free rangin', low maintenance, self replicating, beefy-style, egg layin' machines out there. Because we home-can our own food I wouldn't go and spend hundreds of dollars on industrialized canned goods there but are some things that make sense for us to buy in bulk. So whatever your circumstance, now is probably a good time to come up with a strategy and implement your plan.

All kidding aside, if you think your government is going to help you or that the store will always be open even after some kind of catastrophe, you might want to review some of the lessons learned by recent world events. One of the most compelling data points I learned from watching the floods in Australia and the disaster in Japan was that most grocery stores only have about 3 days (or maybe a week at best?) worth of food. After that, you're kind of on your own especially if roads are impassable and deliveries aren't happening, or if there is no fuel for those trucks, or if you're like us - too far out from a population center to be first on the list.  Its something to think about carefully. Also, do you really want to be a burden on rescue efforts knowing that you could have been better prepared by doing a few simple things?

So are you ready to run right out and load up? Don't know what to do first? Here are some resources:

As far as a basic "how to", I really like this site here - these gals are approachable, make it look easy, and provide a lot of information.

Another great site has a slightly ratcheted up "ohmigosh the end is near" tone, but has a great strategy for getting a huge amount of food stocked up - by spending just $5 a week. Be sure to check out the other articles on the site including his "getting started in food storage."

Specifically for urban dwellers, I got a kick out of this video on The SurvivalistBlog mostly because of his easy, no nonsense tips about how a quick trip to the local grocery store can help get you ready for a big or small emergency. But mostly because I loved how he went to a nice grocery store barefoot and showed how to cook a rat at the end of  the video. There is also a great "ohmigosh I'm panicking and need to do something NOW shopping list" which, if anything, is a great place to start if the only thing you have in your cupboard is a half a jar of peanut butter and some soy sauce from your last take out meal.

OK now that you've loaded up and brought all those supplies into the house, now what are you going to do?  You probably need somewhere to store all that stuff. And something to store it in. One of the best inventions I've seen in the "gamma seal lid" - its a way to make an airtight seal on a regular old five gallon bucket. And I loved that their products are made in the USA.

One of the best food storage tips I heard lately was that you can get food grade plastic buckets from WalMart for $1 each by asking at the bakery. We loaded up and laughed as we passed the regular buckets in their hardware section - for $3.98 and they were not food grade. Check your local grocery stores, fast food places, and donut shops. Its a great secret and now you know.

A few other things to consider:

* Don't forget your pets and livestock. Do you have extra food on hand? Have an alternative strategy for feeding them if bagged feed isn't available?

* Don't forget medical needs of your family members. You have a basic first aid kit, right? And extra prescriptions?

* In these days of technology don't forget to have a plan for when you can't just look something up online. Lost without your phone? Maybe you should spend a couple hours making a binder of useful information. Can't cook by memory? Now is the time to get a couple books. One of my most prized possessions is a 1942 version of The Joy of Cooking. Why? Because during the war there were food rations and this book shows folks how to economize and make do when things where tight and findings were few. The old wisdom might just help you thru the times you can't just use a microwave to heat up a meal from the freezer.

* Last, don't let your supplies go bad or go to waste. Make sure you have a plan to rotate your stores by using them and then get new supplies. If you aren't the kind of person to use 50 pounds of flour on a regular basis, then be sure to donate your soon-to-be-expired provisions to a local food bank before restocking. There are hungry people in your community and if The End doesn't happen at least you know that you've helped someone else.

Another thing we learned by watching the Japan situation is that there are just some things you can't outrun or can't prepare for... but why not be ready for the things you can?  So what do you think? Are you ready to take the plunge and do some prepping?

Now get out there and load up that cart -you don't want to eat a rat do you? Rice and beans, folks, stock up!

Happy Monday everyone!


Leontien said...

Haha happy monday to you too!!!

and i will check this Glen Beck out...

And yes in Holland we used to do a lot of "prepping" here not so much... Been to busy with the farm and with blogging :-)


NancyDe said...

I am prepping, partly because of prices, partly because, even after two small tsunami in two years, we're due for another one, and because my husband wants to quit his job...also, I hate wasting money. We buy basics in bulk, but are working toward growing everything except flour (grain doesn't grow well in Hawaii) and yeast! I am learning to can. We have a bunch of chickens and a few sheep...still working on the dairy animal (husband is not ready).

Grandpa said...

I think you'll be safe pal, no matter what happens - chickens, cheese, milk, yeah, you'll be ok.

We buy cheap groceries from 'night markets'. And employees moonlight to supplement their income by trading at these markets - my theme for the letter 'N'.

Take care pal.

Life on The Farm

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

Boy howdy did you said a mouthful!

I suppose I am prepping, but not for the zombies, End Times, but as you mentioned for normal everyday distruption of services we take for granted.

Katrina, Haiti, Japan - all lessons to watch and learn from. The more I can support myself and my family the less I have to depend on some one else.

Mandy said...

What a great post! We were just talking about this the other day. We aren't thinking of End Of Days, just natural disasters, food shortages, etc. We're starting to give this more thought and action than we ever have. Thanks for all the great info!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hey Leontien! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for all the good laughs on your blog - love your stories!

NancyDe - I know several folks who made it thru job losses without a hitch because they happened to have a good store of food. And living where you do - golly if shipping were ever disrupted you'd need to get by somehow. Great work on your prepping!

Grandpa, there is a country song "Country boy can survive" which I heard the other day and laughed that... hey... I can do all that stuff. I'll stop by your place in a bit. I love the series you are doing.

Oh hey David! I was just over in your garden. My house smells like meat chickens and I was hoping that you'd be cooking something really fragrant to cover it up! Great work on your square foot garden. I used to think that being in-city I was perfectly safe.. but watching the folks in Tokyo leave for smaller towns because the stores were empty. Wow! Good lessons for sure.

Hi Mandy! Yep, I think this is the first time in my lifetime that these things are necessary. We noticed some prices rising on things we buy - like cocoa and coffee. So we started getting a little extra every time we went to the store. At least we can reduce some of our costs by buying low. The corn prices are worrisome for sure - this will effect what most folks buy in the grocery.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

You darn right I'm prepping with every thing I can do.
There is only the two of us , but hubby eats like two :o)
Being on a fixed income and older, I remember how tight things can get...best be prepared for anything.
Darn good post, if only some would take heed.

Veggie PAK said...

I've been prepping for about six months now. Everyone should. It's not just natural disasters that can affect food supply. How about transportation strikes and such? Even if such things only REDUCE the amount of food on the store shelves, people will go wild! About 15 or so years ago when our city lost power AND water after a hurricane flooded out the main pump station, it was incredible! The Virginia National Guard (I believe) was activated and soldiers were distributing water and ice out of trailer trucks in a shopping center parking lot. That went on for days, and it's something I will never forget. Stocking up on water is good, but you really need a water filtration device that will get all the nasty things out of your water. They cost around $300, but can daily produce enough filtered water for a family of four or more. I plan to get a "new Berkey water filter" for our home. They say "three days without water and you're dead".

Ohiofarmgirl said...

That's the way to get 'her done, Ginny. You'd have a lot to teach us for sure!

Thanks, VPAK. Great thoughts - no one never think that they are going to be in that position...until you're stuck out of water or food or fuel.

Mr. H. said...

Thanks for the tip on buckets from Walmart...I will definitely try that. I'm not too worried about the zombies as I think they will hit Glenn Becks compound first. And your video...rat traps and body bags, now that's thinking ahead.:) Seriously, I loved all of this information and hope lots of people see this post and pay attention. It will not be how well prepared we are so much as how unprepared everyone else is that will be one of the biggest issues we face. Sunchokes and nutty flavored fried rat all the way around for those who forget to prep.:)

Chai Chai said...

Two words - Bags of Rice! We love rice and it stores for a long time and is very healthy to eat.

It is a lot harder to prepare up here in the frozen wasteland where our motto should be "Winter is Coming". (Do you know this one?)

I figure with the goats, sheep, chickens, and soon to come turkeys we may be able to get through at least one winter on our own.

I have stocked up on shotgun shells for the impending Zombie Apocalypse - just in case.

If doom can hold off for just a few more years I will have my Highland cattle, then I will be ready.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Mr. H, I'm guessing the Beck fella won't think its so funny when the masses show up to be fed. But I guess that's better than everyone showing up here. BTW, if that's anyone's plan you should probably get a different one.

Sure Chai Chai, ou can get your cheap ammo at WalMart when you get your buckets! The frozen tundra is just "organic refrigeration", baby. You'll do just fine. I'm guessing its a long walk for them zombies to your place. And they'd freeze by the time the get there - good thinkin'.

Blue Feather Micro-Farm said...

I prep for every day disasters like blizzards, floods and forest fires. By prepping for those events, you are also covered for zombie mutant biker invasions. One event that helped us work out our prepping plan was 2 weeks without electricity when a flash flood took out a main electrical tower.

A upped my prepping about a year ago because of the economy. Since I didn't have a lot of money, I used the "one item per trip" rule. Every time I went to the store, no matter what I was getting, I made myself get one thing to add to the stash. A can of tuna, a bag of beans, some dried onions...SOMETHING. I had a very full stash within a year without stressing the family budget.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

BFMF - we always remember that our Amish neighbors do just fine without electric.. but I still freak out just a little when the lights flicker! How could I blog!?!

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