Friday, 5 August 2016

Being Prepared Part IIIb

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)

Making skills
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.

Pesky mice!
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.


  1. Quinoa= 'Keen waa' or something like that!Not that Keen on it but, if I was starving.....

  2. Just received a treadle sewing machine in its' own cabinet, not had chance to look it over properly yet, it's still in the car! My Brother who lives in Ilkeston, gave it me. He used to buy all sorts of things at car boots/auctions and thought of me when clearing out his garage business.
    So, I have not the faintest idea if it will work! I'll post about it if I do.

  3. Hallo Gill. Yes I'll join you and join in on a subject I feel is important to everyone. I have a few skills in craftwork ie sewing, mending, embroidery, patchwork etc, but the only one I excel with is knitting. My cooking/baking is ok, but after nearly 50 years of making meals it should be. I don't experiment with food, but always follow recipes.
    Something people should remember is to always be on top of housework ie washing and ironing (if you do it) as you never know if and when anything should happen. You need to be prepared and not wanting to pack something that is still needing to be washed, ironed or mended etc.
    I have a few books which are helpful apart from the Survival Mom which is helpful to a point. My daughter bought me a pocket sized book of the SAS Survival Guide, which I sometimes look into. I have also made up a notebook of my own which has hints and tips on various things I've collected from magazines and blogs. It includes things from Rhonda's blog Down To Earth, blanching vegetables etc and I've included month by month of fruits and vegetables in season, herbs and their uses medicinally, favourite recipes, health tips etc. If and when the SHTF I don't intend to carry a load of books with me.
    Another hint/tip for sewers or knitters is to collect basic patterns. Fancy patterns can always be added to the basic pattern.
    I think I've said enough for now (maybe too much).

    Joan (Wales)

  4. Sandies' Patch has beaten me to it..... Keen Wah.

  5. You mentioned Mormon( LDS)about the 3 day packs before. I am Mormon and one thing our congregation did was a sort of family camp one weekend. You only took your "grab bag" ( and a tent obviously !) and we all camped around a lake at a very basic camp site and only ate what we'd packed. So, our family ate cereal bars for breakfast ( simple to pack ) peanut butter, crackers, tinned tuna, that sort of thing. We had those army ration meals which are very expensive as our evening meal which we heated on a small hexi block stove. It was fun and a good learning experience managing on the contents of one grab bag for a weekend.

    You pick up good ideas from others. I had never seen those camping towels for example that are great for drying yet don't turn into 'orrible sopping wet things for you to lug around. I also learned you can NEVER pack too many wet wipes.

    I swop out the contents of the food from our grab bag twice a year to keep it current and in date.

  6. Bushcraft is an excellent skill to improve when we start looking at long term survival after a SHTF event. being able to improvise almost anything with nothing but a knife is always comforting. Foraging is also a skill that apart from being fun and allowing you to experience new things quite literally could end up saving your life one day.
    The SAS survival guide is a good fun place to start, as is "Food for Free" and the Ray mears survival guide is a good one to get younger people interested in the subject.
    Love what you are doing with this series of posts, helps to get epople thinking and you never know you may just convert a few sheeple! You should check out the P2S forums, there's a link on my blog for them and I think you'd find some very like minded people there and a wealth of information. Wishing you and yours all the best, Tricky Fast-SoS