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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 14, by Christopher Young

Bought The Farm 

Sunday night drew to a close. The sun set in the west, and the excitement of the day was drawing to a close. Sammy had been caught in the act, his parents knew something was wrong, but wasn't sure what. The details were now revealed. Sammy had been trading food for sexual favors. The family's food storage had gone down, faster than predicted. Since they were now hosting Chris and Gomer. And since Sammy had been feeding his girl friend, and sending some home to her parents.

And as darkness fell. Brenda lit the oil lamp on the dining room table. Sam turned on the radio. To his pleasure, the station out of Cleveland was still broadcasting. The cheerful song came through the speaker, and brought a welcome relief to the day's stress.

The announcer came on the radio, and started to tell of the news of the nation. More infrastructure had been damaged by the riots, and the fire bombers. The President was continuing to remind people to remain calm. Do not take the law into your own hands, but to call the police if you see anything wrong. This was getting harder to do, as the telephone network was completely destroyed. A few small town telephone systems were operating, but very few. And there was no long distance communication any more.

The United Nations had been called in, and they had set up feeding centers in all major cities and areas. People were encouraged to report to the UN for relocation, and for emergency housing. Of course, the relocation was voluntary, but all civilians were expected to obey the orders of the UN troops. The troops were also performing a house to house search for weapons, and other dangerous items.

After several minutes of depressing news, Sam turned off the radio. Said to the gathered family "Lets check out the farm, tomorrow. Since we're the new farm owners, we really ought to go have a look. See what's there, what can be used." All around the table nodded, in agreement.

The same radio broadcast was heard across the nation. One or two of the satellites in orbit were working, and a few stations still had some diesel fuel for their backup generators. By this time, most broadcast stations were operating only about an hour in the morning, and an hour after dinner, to conserve fuel. The reactions across the nation were varied. Most folks just sighed, and decided to cooperate with the UN. A few people decided that the freedom of the nation did not permit outside forces to be giving us orders.

At Gomer's compound, the radio over the kitchen sink provided the same news to Heather, and the five assembled children. The music was a welcome relief. They had come home from church, and changed into play clothes. After the Presidential announcement, it was time for the Heather Announcement, which was that it's bedtime for kids.

Bedtime was also the case, in homes and apartments across the nation. Night time was a change in schedule, but did not guarantee quiet for the entire nation. things that go bump in the night used to be just a tree hitting the house. Now, with the nation at risk, things that go bump in the night could be UN troops coming to take you away, or it could be terrorists with petrol bombs. It certainly was a different world out there. And not for the better.

As Chris nestled in for a night sleep, the lumpy sofa cushions reminded him that he'd rather be in his own bed. Gomer was fine in the chair in the living room. He had first shift, so he took out he ear buds from the video game, so he could hear anything going wrong. His sensitive hearing would let him know if anything was wrong.

Morning arrived, sun shine came in the windows. In Tennessee, the sun shine came in full force, hardly a cloud in the sky. As the sun came in the East windows, it blinded Jade and Madison with its razzle dazzle. Jade turned away from the sun, and pulled the covers over his head. Few more minutes sleep. Madison had been dreaming of pink ponies. She had been riding down a forest trail, with the green trees bending over to brush her long, blonde hair as she gently and effortlessly guided the pink pony down the trail. A handsome prince was on the balcony of a castle, waiting her arrival. Servants had been laying flowers on the trail, so her horse had softer path. As she started to wake, she extended her arm, in regal elegance, and turned to her handsome prince. Her eyes focused, and she saw Jade, trying to sleep in a bundle, curled up under the covers. At that moment, Jade cut loose with a ripper of a fart, and Madison realized she really needed to pee.

It wasn't much better, in Ohio. Chris had been dreaming of his old days in school. Chris had been the science nerd, and had spent his school days designing electrical circuits, and chemical reactions. Never did quite manage to make nitroglycerine, but not for lack of effort.

Chris got up, and tried the water in the sink. Fortunately, the water was still running. Headed off the bathroom, for his morning routine. There wasn't a lot of use, to shower. After all, his clothes were nearly a week old. But, still, there was the old tradition. The water was bitter cold, so the shower was very brief. Battery powered shaver still worked, and tooth brushes work without electricity.

Electricity was a modern convenience Heather enjoyed. She knew enough to only run the generator a couple hours a day. Morning was electric time for about an hour, to cool the fridge, and run the dish washer. The fridge and freezer had been good at holding the cold, and there was plenty of refrigerated food. The farmer down the road had provided them with eggs, and some of the folks at church had been home baking bread. they were happy to trade for other supplies, and so Heather had a good stock of food in the house. Breakfast cooked up in a couple minutes. And the five children came down the hall, having woken up by the sweet aroma of food.

Brenda was a bit handicapped, trying to cook any kind of breakfast. The pantry was looking a bit empty, and Sammy's romantic adventures had not helped, any. What was left, was some canned goods, and a bunch of macaroni and pasta. Brenda announced to the gathered family, that there was only a couple days food left in the pantry, and we'd best to be making the best of it. Sam replied that today we'd best check out the farm.

Chris and Gomer had not been to the farm, so they politely agreed. Since it was a road trip away from Sam's, Chris decided that he and Gomer should pack what they came with. On the small chance they didn't return. Chris asked Sam for the directions to the place, even though they would follow Brenda and Sam, in the Model A. The farm was about four or five miles away, out in the country. Sam had good maps of the area. Since he knew the road well, he let Chris have the maps. Had copies of the map, anyway.

Leaving Sammy and his sister at home, the traveling band of misfits loaded into two vehicles. Gomer looking even more depressed, without a Ford to drive. And being a passenger, again. Brenda started up the Model A, and headed down the road. Chris followed at a safe distance. To kill some time, Gomer got out his video game, and put the ear buds in. No sense in paying any attention to this mess.

Creative ways to finance your prepping

Original Article

photo credit - Civil Defense Museum

Many people delay getting started on their food storage and emergency preparedness purchases because they feel that they don’t have the money to do it. It doesn’t have to be purchased in one sweep, folks, and even the tightest budget will often give up a few pennies if you squeeze it hard enough.

1. Barter excess fruit from your trees or vegetables from your garden for foods you don’t grow yourself.

2. Barter labor for food.
a. Talk to a farmer to see if you can work in exchange for meat, eggs, milk, etc.
b. Most CSAs offer reduced prices in exchange for working on the farm.

3. Barter skills and services you have for food items. Some ideas – sewing skills, haircuts, woodworking, accounting/bookkeeping, computer programming, web design, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, painting, etc.

4. Ask neighbors and friends if you can harvest the fruit from their trees. Offer to give them a portion of the fruit that you then can or dehydrate.

5. Cook with fewer processed foods. Learn how to cook from scratch instead. Use the money saved toward long term food storage. (you’ll end up eating healthier in the long run, too!)

6. Eliminate a high cost low nutrition food from your budget (common items are soda pop, cookies, other snack foods) and use that money toward long term food storage.

7. Eliminate a restaurant trip and use that money toward long term food storage.

8. Reduce your entertainment budget (turn off the satellite or cable tv, eliminate a movie night, etc) and use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

9. Reduce your reliance on costly cleaning solutions and make cleaning solutions yourself with inexpensive ingredients such as castile soap, borax, vinegar, and essential oils. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

10. Watch the grocery store sales and be prepared to buy in bulk when prices are low.

11. Consider a bulk purchase with friends or family members to buy food at a lower cost. Repackage the foods to store in convenient sizes for your family.

12. Learn how to preserve food yourself – canning, curing & smoking, dehydrating, etc. Foods grown and preserved yourself are usually much less expensive than commercially prepared foods.

13. Eliminate out-of-season foods from your menus and use the savings toward long term food storage. Food is always cheaper when it’s in season because less of the price involves fuel costs.

14. Consider using cloth napkins, cloth kitchen wipes (substitute for paper towels), cloth diapers, etc. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

15. Turn down your thermostat or turn up your air conditioner by a degree or two. Use a programmable thermostat to lower it while you sleep and raise it when you awaken and most people hardly notice the difference. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

16. Switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

17. Hang your laundry outside on a clothesline instead of using your electric dryer. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

18. Buy used items instead of new. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

19. Eliminate that second (or third) car. Instead use public transportation, bikes, or walk. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

20. Instead of buying expensive baby foods consider making your own. A simple food processor or blender can create pureed foods for your baby. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

21. Shop around and see if you can lower the cost of your auto insurance. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

22. If your checking and savings accounts have associated fees, switch to no-fee accounts. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

23. Consider buying your meat in bulk by purchasing a side of beef or a whole hog. The price per pound is much lower than buying in small servings at a grocery store. Not only do you save money, but you also have a head start on your food storage! You can contact farmers directly or consider buying at auction at your county fair.

24. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The cheapest foods are often the least processed foods. Buy from the produce, meat, and dairy departments more and less from the inner aisles. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

25. Have a vegetarian meal once a week and save money by not buying as much meat. Use the savings toward purchasing preparedness items.

26. Plant a garden. You will not only save money on your grocery budget that you can use toward long term food storage but it will yield food as well.

27. Plant berry bushes and fruit trees. Even the smallest city lot usually can fit in a few raspberry canes. Dwarf varieties of fruit trees don’t take much space and larger lots can handle full sized trees. You can also sell the excess fruit!

What are some of the ways you've been able to alter your budget to permit you to make preparedness purchases?

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The Kid’s Emergency Boredom Buster Can

Original Article

Kid's emergency boredom buster can
Here’s a fun idea for the non-foods section of  your food storage.  Suppose your emergency lasts longer than you expected.  You’re stuck in your house without electricity or quarantined for whatever reason.  What are you going to do for entertainment?  Storing entertainment is not high on the preparedness list, but can be a lifesaver especially if there are children around.  A few years ago we put together emergency boredom buster cans for the kids.  We had the cans sealed at an emergency preparedness fair, but you could rent the can sealer from an LDS dry pack cannery and seal your can at home.  Or put your boredom buster supplies in a clean paint can, mylar pouch, small bucket, or just a box.

The concept is pretty simple–it’s “surprise” supplies in a can to keep the kids (or yourself) busy/preoccupied.  I honestly don’t remember everything I put in the cans.  You want something that will take up some time and be a good distraction from the emergency situation. Maybe a model or equipment for some skill they could learn.
Here are some things I do remember putting in the cans:
Puzzles (in a baggie with the picture from the box)

Yarn, crochet hook, simple crochet directions

Non-hardening clay

Small printed word puzzles, mazes, coloring pages

Colored pencils and hand sharpener

Small frisbee

Some hard candies

Card games
I’m sure I put more in–I guess we’ll all be surprised if/when we ever open them!  When deciding what to put in your cans, consider your children and their likes/dislikes/abilities.  Also think a couple of years ahead.  I put crochet stuff in the can for my littlest one and she was probably only 3 at the time.  Remember some things won’t “keep” well–like crayons or regular play-dough or batteries.
Because we packed these at an emergency prep fair, they were adding the mini can openers to the bottom of the can.  You sure wouldn’t have to go to that trouble, but do make sure you’ve got a manual can opener on hand so you can get it open!

Once you have it packed, put it away in the long term food storage.  It’s pretty easy to stash it in the back of the food storage room and forget about it (just like those 10 year old peaches on the back of the shelf at grandma’s).  This is not a high priority preparedness item, but just being able to pull out something new will be a huge morale boost and/or distraction for the little ones.
What else could you put in a boredom buster can?