It’s January, which is typically dark and wet on the west coast. I’m spending a fair amount of time indoors by the warm fire, planning my food gardens for the upcoming season. In previous years, I’ve set myself goals such as, “grow enough garlic for one year”, “be self-sufficient in preserved tomato products (sauce, salsa, soups)”, and “provide a year-round harvest of greens and root vegetables”.
This year I’m going to focus on a different angle of self-sufficiency for our household. It’ll include growing a lot of organic food, and preserving that harvest, but I’m also going to have a heightened focus on preparedness. Are we ready to take care of ourselves if food and water supplies were interrupted today? What if we had to fend for ourselves for a week, or even a month? How long could we go without needing to shop for supplies?
Certainly, it would be ideal to be prepared for a year of self-sufficiency but I’m going to start small and build from there. Water is at the top of my list, and probably yours. Do you have a supply stored? And how could you store more?
We’ve got a 500 gallon stock watering tank in the front yard, which is fed by our carport rain gutter. Would I drink it as is? Not likely. So I have plenty of water filter replacements in my pantry, the ability to boil water on a camp stove and bleach on hand, which will all help make water potable. We also have water stored in wine carboys and domijohns, when they aren’t busy fermenting grape juice. On a smaller scale, you can fill mason jars with water when they are emptied from your pantry. There’s no need to buy plastic water bottles, if you don’t absolutely have too, in my opinion.
If the power goes out for an extended period of time, how will your household handle it? We can stay warm with our wood fireplace, and cook on either our gas range, the propane barbecue (always have a full spare tank on hand) or the little butane camp stove, so my freezer full of meat and frozen fruit is my the next concern. For this very reason, I tend to have less food stored in my freezer and instead, opt for canning and dehydrating a lot of our food. My pressure canner will be a definite food saver in an emergency, when I have to quickly preserve meat that is thawing from the freezer. We also own a portable power generator that will run for 6-8 hours on a jerry can of gas but thats a short term fix, and would be difficult to maintain for any length of time.
I need to make a list of what we would go through daily to make sure that I have a sufficient supply of those items and/or the ability to make them. Starting with mornings, our coffee supply is always stocked up but can I grind the coffee beans without power? Will I want a cream substitute, if there is no access to fresh dairy? We eat toast, so I always have plenty of yeast, and 10-20kg of flour on hand to make bread, but how about muffin making supplies like butter, baking power, soda, and salt? I need to keep that up as well. Oatmeal, eggs (we have a few hens) and fruit (frozen & canned) can also be part of our breakfast routine.
Lunch & Dinners are usually a salad, or vegetables, with meat, soup or a sandwich. I have a variety of soups canned in the pantry, and enough individual ingredients to make some from scratch. Tomatoes, corn, pinto beans, and something I call “Humble Beginnings” which is a plain combination of onions, garlic, carrot, celery, and a bit of stock that I’ve canned. It can be transformed into many different meal directions. I need to keep my stores of nuts, rice, pasta, crackers, popcorn and potatoes, onions, garlic up. I also never want to run low on oils and vinegars, which can dress up many things to make them taste better.
Food aside, I think its important for all of us to make a list and stock up on what our family will need in case of an emergency, or for a lengthy power outage. Personal medications, a stocked first-aid kit with antibiotics, toiletries, emergency backpacks, always a full tank of gas in the vehicle, pet food, cash, blankets, flash lights, tools, tarps etc.
I am very keen on growing food all around our home instead of lawn, but I realize it won’t help me for very long, if I don’t plan to for prolonged survival in all areas of my life. This is my focus for 2019 “to be able to take care of myself and my family”, no matter what might come along.
If you carrot all, lettuce help each other out by brainstorming more ideas for being prepared in many aspects of life.
Until I see you again, turnip the beet 😉