Monday, October 10, 2011

Everyone can learn a new practical skill

Knowledge is Power

Not everyone around us is convinced that they should be prepared for food shortages, it's a fact. Despite religious counsel, government suggestion and local emergency management officials who regularly warn people to have either a 72 hour kit or 7 day supply of essentials. In BC even the electricity company, BC Hydro, was selling 72 hour kits at one point. Doesn't that give you a hint? I've heard some people say that if all hell breaks loose then they'll just steal their neighbours food or that the government will provide. But if we look at something fairly recent in history like Katrina, the government could not react quickly enough so they imposed martial law in an effort to protect infrastructure and to keep people from banding together.

So where are you on the prep scale. Let me be quite frank. in my opinion there are only really 3 places on the scale. Prepared. Preparing. And in Denial.

Prepared. You have a 1 year supply of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities and the necessary tools and skills thereafter to provide for your family. You can build a home, hunt, grow a garden, harvest wild food and protect your loved ones. Your supplies are secured in multiple locations and you have a long-term plan for the future should the worst happen.

Preparing. You know that the threat is real and are actively working each week to stock your supply of food with the most practical and nutritious foods so that your family stays healthy. This does not involve a lot of prepared foods that ate high in sodium but lacking in micro nutrients and fibre. You rotate your food supply so that nothing becomes out dated, swollen, rotten, bug infested or attracts rodents. You have a plan of what you want, you have an inventory list of what you've already got, and you've got a water source or stored water to last 6 weeks that's refreshed every 6 months (we recommend picking dates you'll remember so we do ours in October and April). You take the time to learn skills. Maybe it's something like sourcing your own firewood. Can you tell softwood from hard? Or how to grow a cabbage. Maintaining your tools and their proper uses is always important because a good tool makes work easier. Preserving food is another way you can learn a valuable skill that helps feed your family while taking advantage of wild food that's free for the taking. But a word to the wise, be sure you know what you're eating in advance so that you're
not roaming the hills with your stomach rumbling and eating the first thing that looks edible, there are plenty of things that can make you sick or kill you, some toadstools for example. I love this time of year for it's mushroom supply but I'm not going picking here just because I don't know how to identify the edible local species. One thing we are going to do though is go cranberry picking. I might take the kids out to enjoy an afternoon in the sunshine gleaning cranberries from the fields just east of us in Waterville. They're charging $1 per litre so it should fit within my $20 budget for this week and it will teach us about cranberries. If you lack the financial resources to store large quantities of food all at once you still have the best resource available to you. Your mind. Fill it with useful knowledge and skills. Knowledge is readily available, especially with the internet and libraries can be useful too. Skills can be traded for food. Still try to store food, but learning a practical skill will be helpful to a community too. But one thing you must do it get some hands on practice. Skills in your mind are not the same as actually doing them with your hands. An author can make something sound easy and then you'll experience lots of frustration and splinters while perfecting the skill. Practice first before assuming you know how to do something.
Denial. You think that preppers and these 'hippy types' are all nuts and that should anything unexpected happen your family, friends, neighbours or the government will provide anything you need. Well, I don't know about you but I don't want to be a burden on my family. If this is your belief then I wish you well in the future and hope that you are right and that nothing bad happens to any of us.

We all have our own free will to choose what we want to do. And to be honest, most of the people who read this blog are actively learning back to the land skills and/or preparing for a future that might not be as easy as the lifestyles we currently have. A community of people with diverse skills and a vision of the future that makes plans for different eventualities is what I want to build. First as an online community sharing experiences and ideas. And then as a physical place people can come, a teaching school of practical skills where people can get some knowledge and hands on experience so that they can go and share the knowledge with others. There are so many skills that we've forgotten in our rich nations over the last 100 years. And not all of it can be found in books because it was something that was just taken for granted by our ancestors and not written down. Oh, and for the record, this is NOT my store room. Mine has a lot less packaged food and maybe 2 boxes of stove top. I'd rather save the space for more calorie dense and nutritious foods.

And no, the vast majority of preppers and back to the landers are not hippies. Frankly, we're not interested in the 'free love' movement and are too busy tending our farmsteads to even worry about that. It seems to me that every time I cross a chore off my To Do list another one gets added to the bottom. I bet it's the same for most of us.

I see lots of ads online telling us to buy this product or this book that will tell us everything we need to know to be prepared because the end of the world is coming. And I have to wonder if they're just selling things to make money and not to benefit mankind. Scare tactics in marketing work. Well, I'm thinking that when my book is finally out I'm going to offer it as a PDF for cheaper so that it's available to more people. And then if they deem it worthy of keeping, they can buy a physical copy. I prefer to have actual books so that they are available when I want them and I'm not at the mercy of my laptop battery.I don't mean to scare anyone but I do wish we'd all be prepared. For our family it's a real struggle as we're not exactly rolling in money, but when I can't buy something I still try to learn something useful and practice the skills I've already got so I don't become rusty. The only thing is that the more I prepare, the more I realize I'm not as prepared as I want to be. I still believe that we should be hoping for the best but planning for the worst. Getting ready mentally, spiritually and physically will give us all a sense of greater peace and security. Having knowledge and skills also helps us to not give in to panic but to maintain a clear head and make good decisions. This is really important in times of turmoil or crisis.

Now is not the time to panic. It's the time to get ready. Once the ship is already sinking, it's too late to prepare. None of us really knows what's going to happen to oil and food prices in the coming months and years or how long our employment will last. Life is full of unknowns. So what are you doing to prepare? Let's share some ideas. Comment below and I'll compile a list of the ideas to be added at the end of this post. Here are a few of ours.

Have a plan
Buy a new good quality tool once a year
Looking for a farm to buy
Buy books with useful information
Practice cottage craft skills
Learn how to grind and use wheat
Practice growing a garden
Trade with my neighbours and local farmers
Read and know what's going on in the world

1 comment:

  1. Try thinking " how would i do this without power?" about frequent activities.

    Learn how to butcher and process/preserve live stock and game

    learn how to save seeds.

    Build a smokehouse

    i could go on forever :-)