Cold Weather Emergency Preparedness

The first weeks of 2018 have created a range of cold weather issues which highlight the changing nature of the environment in the 21st-century. There are a number of steps that can be taken by a family looking to become prepared for the increasing problems with extremes of cold weather seen from parts of the Deep South to the most northerly regions of the U.S. over recent months.
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Homestead Skills That Transfer Over To Survival Skills

If you are lucky enough to live on a homestead, there’s no doubt you’ve probably learned some very impressive skills. Homestead life can be tough, it can be challenging, but it can also be highly rewarding, especially when the skills that you’ve learned can be put to good use elsewhere.

It’s interesting to note that there are a lot of homestead skills that can be transferred over to survival skills. This means that if you fancy becoming a bit of a prepper, you should already have a lot of skills and knowledge that will help you to get through a survival situation.
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Gettin’ Down on the Mountain

I guess everyone thinks Jon and I have just lost our minds. Well, my immediate family does not seem to think so, but they have probably already lost theirs too. Jon’s friends think so. A few of them have said so. One of his of buds texted him this youtube video a while back. He said it reminded him of Jon. Neither of us had heard of this song, but instantly fell in love with it. It is now my ringtone on my iphone for Jon.

 

Gettin’ Down on the Mountain by Corb Lund – CD Cabin Fever
Do your family or friends think you have lost it?  If so, I’d love to hear your stories. We personally think anyone is crazy if they do not get back to some basics and learn to do for themselves some.

Thundersnow and Power Outages

Just 4 days after my post, Is It Spring Already?,  we had snow, thundersnow to be exact. Have you ever heard of thundersnow? It is simply a thunderstorm with snow instead of rain. It is not a common thing. This one was a doozie! The thundering was loud and plentiful and the lightening was bright! Have you ever heard that 10 days after thundersnow there will be another snow? I always have. I guess we will wait and see.

It has been raining pretty much non-stop since Monday. Everything everywhere had standing water. Yards, field, and some roads were looking like lakes. Thursday afternoon the wind was really strong. It had the potential for some serious downed trees and power outages. The lights flickered a few times. So, I filled the upstairs garden tub with water and told everyone to charge all of their electronic devices now in case the power went out.  We had one flicker long enough that the TV did not come back on by itself.

Then, Thursday evening’s temperatures dropped changing the rain over to sleet and quickly to snow. It was some of the biggest flakes I have seen in a long time. Several of my facebook friends within 30 miles or less were reporting power outages. Luckily, we never had any power outages this time, but it is good to be prepared.

Our primary source of heat is an electric heat pump. The home is also equipped with older electric baseboard heat that we do not use due to the lack of efficiency.  I do check them once a year to make sure they are working in case we have to rely on them if there is ever an issue with the heat pump. I did rely on them for a couple of weeks about 6 years ago when the heat pump went out in February and had to be replaced. The power bill tripled from just 2 weeks of use! Still it was nice to have a backup and much better than freezing.

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Battery Organization

As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently created an extensive First Aid Kit. Then I was in a quandary trying to figure out just where to put this large tackle box and it still be readily accessible. This prompted me to do a little organizing before my vacation ended and I headed back to work after the New Year. I found a few items that were not used, old, expired, etc that I just threw out. This cleared up a little room in various areas under the sink and in medicine cabinets, but still I needed more room for this large First Aid Kit. My only other viable alternative was to put it in our spare closet that we recently revamped into a pantry.

Our new pantry is filling up quickly and has become a pantry/DP closet. Many of the items like canned and boxed food I really couldn’t do much with as they are already pretty tidy. However, there was this one area of the shelf that constantly irritated me…..the batteries!  I had originally stacked them the best I could, but some of the packaging is not in simple square easily stackable boxes. I have attempted to buy batteries in semi-bulk sizes so they are not so expensive per battery.  But sometimes we just don’t have the extra money to buy the bulk or I could not find the sizes I needed (AAA and D) in bulk sizes for long lasting shelf life. So, we had several packages of batteries in that normal every day battery packing. You know the kind you see them hanging in on the aisle near a register in a store? They just don’t stack well.

During this same time frame I came across this pin on pinterest on battery storage.

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Where to Begin?

When we first began to seriously consider becoming more self-sufficient, it became obvious that it was going to be a huge undertaking.  The process of going from a typical suburban family to a self-sustaining, well prepared family seemed very daunting to say the least.

First of all, let me say that neither my wife or myself are what you would call patient people.  We do like to get things done right now and do not do very good at waiting.  I for one have been very bad at working long term plans.  So this little personality quirk could have easily ended our homesteading before it began.  Once we came to terms with the fact that this was going to be a very lengthy process, we determined to break it down into small, more manageable chunks.

When it comes to disaster prepping, there are three critical necessities that have to come into play.  Food, water, and shelter are the three basic necessities needed to sustain life.  Without these three things, there is no chance of surviving and sustaining through any disaster.

So there you have it.  You just need a plan with an unlimited supply of water, food, and a concrete bunker.  No problem at all.  Just go online, point and click, it will all show up UPS tomorrow, right?  If only it were that simple.

We determined that our house would suffice for shelter for the time being.  While it does need some modifications, those can come later.  Leaving us to focus on food and water.  For our family, the amount of food and water needed is a rather large amount,

To make this huge change happen, we had to break it down into smaller, more do-able chunks.  The wife created a spread sheet (she likes spread sheets) to track supplies we need for two weeks and the amount we have on hand.  Supplies such as food, water, candles, medical supplies, batteries, etc.  We basically made an educated guess about what we would need to survive reasonable well for two weeks with no electricity in case of an emergency.

We realized rather quickly that the cost to fill up even this small two week supply list was out of our budget.  Our easy answer?  Every time my wife would go grocery shopping she would buy a few extra things to fill out the list.  So given enough time we will get our two week list filled.  Once there, we will expand the list to a month and so on.

The necessary storage space to keep the amount of supplies needed to survive for long periods of time is rather large.  This makes it necessary to develople a plan for replenishment of the staples of life, food and water.  Water is still in the planning stage, but food was a simple fix, start a garden.  Starting a garden would give us a way of replenishing our food supplies and help lower our food budget.  A win-win situation.

The only problem was that this was more of a long term plan.  It would take a few months at the least to see any produce from our garden, and most likely a couple of growing seasons to get all the kinks worked out.  So starting the garden became one the most important things on the list.  We can’t make it to a point where we can grow enough food to provide for our family without getting it started.

We worked out a list of what we would need for a short term supply of two weeks and began filling it.  This would make us much more comfortable in any short term emergency, and give us something to build on.  Also, with our lack of patience, this gave us a goal we could achieve in a reasonable amount of time.  At the same time, we started our garden which will, hopefully, lead us to being much more self-sufficient.

Why prep?

There are a number of reasons people prepare for disaster, but all comes down to one thing. You know there’s only one person you can count on yourself.  Whether it be nuclear holocaust, zombie apocalypse, natural disaster, the downfall of civilization, or an economic collapse, the person best suited to keeping you alive is you.

The government has proven repeatedly that it is too inept to effectively protect citizens in case of a disaster.  Some would say recent events show it is even incapable of protecting itself from itself. You have a duty and responsibility to yourself and your family to protect and to provide for them.

Even if you do not subscribe to the doomsday prophesies that motivate a lot of people to do this, the rising price of food, gas, energy, and well everything should help get some people started on a road that will get them better prepared while saving some money on the family grocery bill.

Many of those same reasons motivated us. There are too many signs to impending economic hardship, if we are not in one already, too many natural disasters (hurricanes and earthquakes are occurring at rates we have never seen before), and too much uncertainty of the future for us not to do something to get our family a little more prepared.

It was for these reasons we began researching to develop our own disaster prep plan.  It turns out there is an abundance of information available if you just start looking for it.  We ordered a few books that looked like a good place to start.  Luckily there is a lot of individual feedback on books to help us make our decisions.  The books we found to be good sources of information are included in our recommended reading section.

And there is always the Internet.  I have spent uncounted hours searching and reading on the Internet.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of websites with great information about disaster prep online.  Now be warned, everything on the Internet is not true (duh).  But with a little common sense and cross-referencing, you can put together a lot of very useful information to help you get started on the path to being more self-reliable.

Location, Location, Location

Location is important not just in business, but also in gardening. Hopefully some of my mistakes will help someone.
It wasn’t until fall, after “the great harvest of 2012” did I test the pH of my soil. As it turns out, at least some of my problems stem from acidic soil, or a very low pH. Yes, if I would have followed the advice I had read I would have known this before I planted, but people only learn from their own mistakes, most of the time.
Pine trees, it seems, drop lots of pine needles. Pine needles are useful as mulch, and in compost, but do tend to be a little on the acidic side. So I guess, it wasn’t the best idea to plant a garden surrounded on two sides by very tall pine trees.
Why did we decide to put the garden there in the first place?
Before I explain that to you, I must go back to last year around Thanksgiving. We were trying to decide where to put the Christmas tree. After exhausting any option that did not require completely rearranging the living room (not even sure there was one) I suggested the front porch. Naturally, she didn’t find this as amusing as I did, but since then it has become an inside joke.
So, back to why we put our garden in a spot half surrounded by pine trees. Well, it was the most remote corner of the backyard, and we wanted to keep as much of our back yard as possible. When I suggested putting in the front yard (I am a bit of a smart-alack) the wife said that was too redneck. I suggested we could put a fridge on the front porch to make it match. “Right next to Christmas tree?” followed by something I will translate into, “We are not putting anything on the front porch but rocking chairs”.
So the garden went in the back yard. Surrounded on two sides by rather tall pine trees that make our soil rather acidic.

Pantry Shelves

When it comes to being prepared in the case of a disaster, storage space plays a key role. We have always been aware of our limited storage space, but when we began disaster prepping this limitation became a huge issue.

A quick look around the house lead us to the conclusion that there was only one area we could convert for a little of our storage needs. We have a walk in closet in the bedroom that has been converted into an office. This is the same closet we crammed a deep freeze in, but that is covered in another post.

 

The closet, which is now referred to as the pantry (Ann has always wanted a pantry) was pretty much a catch all for overflow of our extraneous crap. So we went through it all and got rid of anything we found less important than storage space for our families survival. Most of it got thrown out or given to Goodwill. Some of the important things got relocated.

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Zucchini, Laserdiscs, and Meat On Sale!

The kids may riot soon if we force them to eat any more zucchini! To be quite honest Jon and I are getting a bit tired of it too and I love fried zucchini! It blows my mind how much produce can come from 8 plants. So, now we are going to take a little break from the eating of the fresh zucchini and just freeze it.

 

 

Which brings us to our next dilemma. Where to put all of this frozen bounty? We decided that we needed a pantry, but where?
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