Sunday, September 18, 2022

Prepping Starter

 Let's talk preparation.  First, we'll look at personal/family preparation, both for short (3 day emergency supply) and long term ( 1 year).  then we should talk about group or team preparedness.  In the case of the Church, let's talk about how our local Ward can be more prepared for long term or catastrophic situations.

As a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have been hearing about food and other supply storage all my life.  President Brigham Young was the first to present this wisdom to the Church and it's developed almost to the stage of being a commandment.

There is a story, that I can't confirm, about one of the Church Presidents; I think, President Benson but, once again, I haven't found a confirming reference.  Anyway, the story goes that he was attending Sacrament Meeting at a small ward while on vacation.  The congregation was breathlessly awaiting the words of a Prophet.  He walked to the podium and asked for a show of hands as to how many had their years supply of goods.  Very few hands went up.  His response?  "If you won't listen to me about this simple thing, why should I waste my words on anything else?" (or something to that effect).

Whether the story is true or not, the sentiment is correct.  Since the mid 1800's, we have been counselled to have at least a years supply of goods stored for emergencies.  Actually, it has been as much as seven years supply, then two and now one.  How the expectations for our obedience have fallen!

 My Grandmother had cans of wheat, powdered milk and many other food storage items stored.  There was little room under any bed in the house as the space was taken up by preparation storage.

When I became older I saw the wisdom of this kind of preparation and tried to keep up at least a years supply of food in our house.  

Is this in preparation for Armageddon?  Is this in preparation for Biblical famines?  If so, the counsel came a bit early as we haven't seen any national or international failures which required use of our storage.  So, has it just been alarmist, world ending talk?  A waste of our time and effort?

No, my Brothers and Sisters.  This has always been wise counsel.  Remember Genesis, Chapter 41.  Food storage during the days of plenty resulted in having food available during a famine.

I have used my storage more than once, with job endings and family crises.  Then, you can take into account the hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, floods and all the other natural disasters that can happen in the blink of an eye and cause us to put our preparedness to use.

Again, it's just good, wise counsel;  incidentally, from the Prophets of God.  Always a good source.

So, I've talked you into it.  But your cupboards are bare, your pantry dusty and little used.  Where do you start?

As I write this, I'm frustrated by the complexity I'm getting into.  For every suggestion, there seems to be three more tangents I want to veer onto, each leading to another three or four tangents.

My problem is that I've been doing this for many years and I have a lot of interest in it.  I'm one extreme.  At the other extreme is one of my best friends.  He goes to the grocery store almost every day and the only thing he has stored are leftovers in his fridge from the last time he went to the store!  Oh, he's got a couple of boxes of cereal and some pancake mix and syrup.  Things he can't use up with one meal, but you get the idea.  If something happened that shut the doors of the grocery stores, he'd be on the road, trying to get to my house!

Let's first discuss an emergency supply.  Let's call it a three day supply.  What would you need if there were an earthquake and you had to wait for the authorities to recover and bring more normalcy to your area?  Food, of course.  You can easily buy manufactured three day supply kits today and most of those are adequate.  

Here's the way I did it.  I got a big tote.  Something I can toss into my pickup and drive away with.  In it, I put cooking and eating utensils, Bisquick, some of those rice side dishes, some cans of chili, some dried fruit, granola bars and a good first aid kit, a flashlight, radio (extra batteries for both), shovel,  belt knife with sharpener, a hatchet, sewing kit and hygiene kit.  (As an aside here, we're back to how badly I want to skew off into a tangent.  What do I put in my first aid kit?  What kind of cooking utensils do I pack?  I could go on and on!!)  I have two full changes of clothing, with emphasis on utility, such as heavy shirts, jeans or G.I. pants (Clothing is one of Uncle Sam's best things), dry socks, gloves, a warm hat and a jacket. 

By now, your tote is probably pretty full.  But, with it you need a sleeping bag, tent, camp stove and fuel.  Food and clothing you need to pack for each person.  You can get by with one of the tools and radios and so on for each family group.

Now, make this fun!  Plan a camping trip with your family.  Go with just what you have packed and prepared and see how well your preparations go for a couple of nights using JUST what's in your kit.  Take paper and pencil to keep a good list of all the other things you want in that kit!

I also have a backpack in each car with a slightly reduced version of the big three day kit and I have gone on camping trips where I just used what I had in the car with me, as if I became stranded in my vehicle and had to wait for rescue.

Now, let's think about your years supply.

In the beginnings of the Klondike Gold Rush, men were going into the Alaskan/Canadian wilderness woefully unprepared, with nowhere near enough provisions or gear and it resulted in the Mounties rescuing (or burying) many.  Thus, in 1897, the Canadian government ordered that each prospector entering that area bring with him a years supply of goods.  Not just food, but also clothing, tools and other supplies they would need.   It was called "a Ton of Goods" and the order was strictly enforced.

Although our food preservation and storage technology has vastly improved since 1897, the Klondike list is still a good place to go for an idea of what you might want to begin to collect.

With this "basics" kind of list in mind, still the most useful list you can make is the one you take to the grocery store every day.  What do you and your family like?  Buy a little extra, each time you go shopping, and store that extra in a separate area than the goods you are using daily.  As the "extras" start to add up, begin using those and replacing them.

I think, in the interest of brevity, I'll just tell you about my own system and system to be.

Incidentally, those "use by" dates are a guideline: not so much an absolute.  In most cases those are "lawyers dates" as much as safety dates.

But, food isn't our only needed item for a year, is it?  How about clothing, soap, batteries, entertainment items, first aid supplies, tools...anything you use on a normal basis might be something of which you should have extra.  How about medications?  I know.  The doctors and pharmacies aren't agreeable to "hoarding" your meds but maybe you can figure something out.  Speaking of hoarding, remember when the Covid hysteria first hit?  The runs on toilet paper and paper towels?  On one hand, that was kind of a dumb thing on which to focus but those ARE items you need to have in your storage.  I have a years supply of the toilet paper that I like and a big bag of a cheaper goods, you know.

I have canned goods of multiple kinds, fruit, veggies, meals (Chili is a big staple for me) and such things.  I have sugar, salt, rice, beans, flour and wheat.  I have a grain grinder that I can use either by hand or with electricity.  I have hand cranked meat grinders as well as electric food processors.  I have chainsaws but I also have hand saws, whip saws, hacksaws...lots of saws.  Axes, hatchets, shovels, rakes, pitchforks and a brace with bits. 

I am one who can quite comfortable live on beans, rice and cornbread with some nutritional supplements to round things out.  Bacon, pancakes and eggs are nice too and then I like a hit of chocolate once in a while.  Fruits and vegetables are a nice addition to a boring diet while spices, onions, peppers and that sort of thing make it "living", not just "surviving".  See how I start getting more and more complicated?  

I have been an EMT and my first aid closet is extensive.  It would take a page just to list all that stuff.

Gasoline, batteries, propane, camp stove fuel.  Oil lamps, Coleman lanterns and the fuel and mantles for each.  Hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, toothpaste.

Two freezers full as well as what is in my fridge in the house.

Two 55 gallon barrels of water as well as a bunch of filled water bottles.  You have to figure a gallon of water per person per day so I don't have a years worth of water...yet.  

I have a tri-fuel generator that will power the basics in my house for a while.  Solar panels keep a battery bank charged up for power to the freezers.  Another solar system stores power for my radios, a computer and my surveillance cameras.

Speaking of radios, when the cell phone towers go down, how do you keep in contact with your family?  Hmmm?  Old fashioned CB radio is my first go-to but I also have other radio options as well.  Just those blister packed radios from Walmart are better than shouting down the street!

You get the idea.  I want to be as self-sufficient as I can be.

Update, 11-20-2022

Ran across this on Facebook the other day and it looks like a good idea to me.

Now, let's examine a group setup, which is always best.  For our discussion, I want to address this as a Ward organization and kind of tailor it to the rural Ward in which I live.

Some of our Ward members are farmers.  Bet ya more than one of them has an off-grid well, running irrigation.  There's a good water source for the Ward members, right there.  Even those of us stuck in town could haul water from one of those back to our homes.  

The Ward building could be a good shelter in the event of flood, earthquake or other mass situation.  A place for all of us to run.  Our local county government has the 4H building and rodeo grounds buildings designated for such an occurrence but we should plan to be able to take care of ourselves.

Other Wards have communications specialists and there are some good Church radio nets out there so that we could keep in contact with Stake and even regional leadership.

In our Ward all walks of life are represented.  We have plumbers, carpenters, farmers, security specialists, mechanics, nurses, electricians.  We can easily band together and support each other, just as did the early Church.

So, to conclude.  Start with putting together your three day emergency kit.  Maybe just put together an overnight emergency kit for your car, then work your way up.  Buy a little extra food whenever you go shopping and just put some aside.

Learn how to do more "from scratch" cooking.  Get and use some two way radios.  Use your kits.  Practice your emergency responses.  Coordinate with friends and family.

As the Boy Scouts say:  "Be Prepared".

Update: 10-1-2022:  "In watching the news about Hurricane Ian and the Florida damage, I'm kind of revising my prepping ideas just a little.  More like improving than revising.

In todays' world, a loss of electrical power is a major issue.  Many of the people in Florida will be in serious trouble, even if their homes were untouched, because they won't have electricity available for quite some time. 

 My family lived in a world without such ubiquitous electricity and electrical appliances.  But electricity hasn't been that common in Montana for very long anyway.  

Here is a quote from a Great Falls Tribune article, published July 12, 2014:  "By 1939 the REA had helped to establish 417 rural electric cooperatives, which served 288,000 households. The actions of the REA encouraged private utilities to electrify the countryside as well. By 1939 rural households with electricity had risen to 25 percent."

For most of our country's history, there was no electricity in many or even most homes.  Actually, it wasn't until 1925 that half of all American homes had electricity and most of those were in the cities.

So, my point is this:  I will continue to work to make at least my basic electrical needs be independent of the power grid, for emergencies.  But it is also, I think, a good idea to put a fair amount of my prepping effort into having the ways and means to live comfortably without ANY electricity.  Lamps and lanterns, hand powered tools and that sort of thing.  I have some but I haven't focused on it much.  That will now change.

A great resource for prepping ideas and exercises is