So we've started to stock up on items for our bag. It will take a while I'm sure. If money is no object no time at all, if less so, one item at a time and you'll soon get there. That's really the easy part, but you can't always throw money at a problem and it could be argued that there are some circumstances when money will be of no use at all.
What are the practicalities of say, leaving your home for a while? This will depend on how much support available form the community/government, but you should consider the possibility of that safety net not being available for a few days at least.
Sounds obvious, but can you use all the contents of your bag? If the situation has called for the Grab bag, the contents are pretty basic, if you have assessed that you will need to be away for a little longer and maybe camping out, alone in the dark in the pouring rain with a couple of upset children is not the time to read the instructions to equipment. Perhaps you could have a practice scenario (without terrifying the children, make it fun!)
So what if you don't need to leave your home, but are thrown on your own devices.
If you are "lucky" enough to have the space to grow and preserve and stockpile and stack and burn wood and practice self sufficient crafts then so much the better, you have the skills that will be useful, nay essential, "Come the Day" (in America this is called SHTF- "s**t hits the fan") I know that I don't have to tell Self Sufficiency buffs this
But what if you haven't land/garden/allotment/workshop? You can still prepare yourself and those you love for tough times by -
Building up your skills set.
Cooking - where do I start with this? If you can't cook, now is the time to start as Come the Day Macdonalds and Pizza Hut will be closed! Don't bother with "posh" stuff like sushi, unless you live by the sea and even then you are unlikely to be able to roll it, wrap it and dip it in a fragrant sauce - rather think prizing limpets off rocks and eating them raw.
For the purposes of surviving you should look at basic stuff that keeps your tummy full, your energy up and with a dose of vitamins and minerals to keep you as healthy as possible. At this stage this can be fun, so learn some cooking skills while you have the luxury of time, ingredients (and money?). As a minimum, learn to make bread either with yeast or soda bread or flat bread. I promise you that once you have learnt this skill you will be so proud of yourself and you will impress no end of people!
Learn to use different carbohydrates, especially as they store so easily- such as rice, cornmeal, oats, quinoa (how DO you pronounce that?) cornflour, pasta and wheat as different types of flour.
Practice some simple meals from scratch that use just one pot. While you are likely to have some ready to use sauces in your stash (and quite right too) these wont last for ever, so learn to make a basic tomato sauce, to which you can add spices and flavourings to make chilli, curry, bolognaise and a basic white sauce to add herbs onion, cheese etc.
Learn to make these dishes using basic equipment that does not require electricity other than to cook and preferably can be cooked over an open flame. Though I know that there are plenty of people who have kitchens bursting will all sorts of unnecessary gadgets that took a huge amount of environmentally unfriendly resources to make and run these pieces of eqipment are and actually knives, lemon squeezers and mincers by any other name! If you can afford them, why not? but learn how to do those tasks manually too.
While you are having fun learning new skills in the kitchen have a go at preserves - jams, pickles, wines, juices, whatever, just get the skill theory under your belt.
I could write several posts just on cooking, but what I really want to do is just give you a flavour of what you need to consider and what is possible. As a minimum, practice simple meals that you can make with the contents of your cupboards.
I know several women who make the most wonderful crafts, quilts and the like who have never made a pair of trousers, a child's nightie or a simple top, who have never replaced a zip or darned a hole in a sweater. I guess they have never had the need nor the interest. To these women I would say build on your skills and ensure you have a skill for Come the Day. To those men and women who don't sew, you can either attend a night class, or a knit and natter group, learn to hand sew or buy yourself a sewing machine from as little as £30, with some real bargains on Ebay and then use good old U-Tube tutorials. To be truly self reliant you could buy yourself a treadle or hand powered machine. I remember feeling pretty smug sewing with my treadle machine when we were without power for six days a few years back (I have an electric machine too)
Sit down and consider all the things you buy regularly. What would you struggle to do without? When the shelves are empty can you make these items yourself ? Soap, something to blow your nose on, loo paper, feminine hygiene products. Go on. give it a go and see what you come up with. ( I would really like to know !)
I would also suggest that you use your local library (as long as it is still open grrr) and borrow a few well chosen books about self-reliance, useful crafts, make do and mend, basic cookery/preserving etc. Then you can decide which book you feel will be worth buying. Is there anybody out there in blogland who would like to share a basic list that they have found useful?
Then there are Doing skills.
Seriously consider what you might have to offer if things really do get tough. There are skills that you could develop now that could be so useful in the future. If you are a "townie" what do you have to take to the table if you present yourself at your friends/relatives homes in times of need? I watched half an hour of a new reality programme called "Eden" the other night. I couldn't watch for long as I found myself shouting at the screen, but the programme does demonstrate how difficult it can be to live with others and how people soon resent folk they see as "passengers". This is more a subject for my next post.
This post has been long enough, so-
I thought I would introduce a couple of pictures that have nothing to do with the subject, to break up all this script. When collecting a swarm a couple of weeks ago we found that we already had tenants in the spare brood box we had ready to house a swarm.
And here is the swarm taking itself in to join their queen. (once we had cleaned up the frames!)
Back soon with part IV
Hope you will join me and join in.
Welcome to the 3 year Challenge. Great to see you here.