Self-reliance one of your goals?
Encouraging people to prepare for hard times ahead is easy, but the actual road to self-reliance is not. It takes time and money. Both are hard to come by these days. So I have a few suggestions where to start.
Buy extra food whenever you have a few extra dollars to spend.Stock up on non-perishable goods. Keep them in the coolest room in your house. Temperatures between 40-50 are best. Make sure you date the can goods and other packaging so you can rotate your food stock. Focus on those foods that are staples in your diet. Make sure you watch for sales, especially case sales.
If you can afford it, buy a freezer and a half or full cow from a local butcher. If you can find it, it’s best to buy one that’s grass fed and has not been given hormones or antibiotics. You can do the same for a pig. If you hunt…all the better. We actually have more than one freezer. The less you open the door, the better. So we use one freezer for our daily meals and the other we rarely get into.
Next, start a garden if possible. Learn how to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Big or small doesn’t matter; it’s the doing that’s important. Purchase only Heirloom seeds. Most seeds purchased at the grocery stores or nurseries are hybrid seeds. This means they will grow this year, but you can’t harvest seeds from the produce and save them for planting next year. Why? Because hybrid seeds are sterile. There are many places to purchase Heirloom seeds. I use Annie’s Seeds. http://www.anniesheirloomseeds.com/ I purchase extra seeds also. They can be stored in a cool dry place 35-40 degrees for a very long time. I figure I can use them to barter in the future if I need to. At the end of the season, you can harvest seeds and save them for next year. A good book on saving seeds is recommended. I’m still researching this and will let you know when I get one. (Maybe someone will suggest one.) Make sure you have a good rake, shovel, hoe, etc. It would be a good idea to have a couple of extra handles for replacements in case one breaks.
After you have these things well in hand, move on to canning. Purchase the necessary water bath canner and a pressure cooker. If you have to choose between them…purchase the water bath canner first. It is less expensive and you can still get a lot of processing done with it. Start small and work your way up. There are many good canning books. I would suggest getting a few. You can look up instructions on websites, but a good book right at hand can be used for years. (And what if the internet goes down?)
When things turn bad, purchasing jars (or anything else) will be difficult. I suggest purchasing jars, lids and rings ahead. If you figure a family of four opens 2-3 cans per day to make dinner 365 days a year. You will need 730-1095 jars per year. Add to that some for breakage and I figure on 1200+. You can get resealable lids from Tattler. http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/ we canned two kinds of jelly, peaches and apple sauce. This year we’ll can more of the same and add a few others.
Dehydrating is next on the list. You can store a lot of food by dehydrating it. The dryer the better. Again we’re still in our research phase, but we plan to dehydrate potatoes and apples this summer. There are several good units on the market.
When you feel you have a handle on food, move on to other supplies…including sewing, toilet paper (I’m not going back to leaves if I have anything to say about it), medical supplies. Recently, we had our grandchildren for a few days, I realized when my grandson came down with a fever I didn’t have any children’s Tylenol. It’s important to make sure you have what you’ll need for all ages. Don’t forget splints, bandages, antibiotic ointments and aspirin. My husband recently read somewhere not to forget the multiple vitamins. If you are not eating as well as you should this will help you stay healthy.
Everything takes money, but this preparation is very important to your future self-reliance. Start small and do the best you can. In future blogs, I’ll make more suggestions on our road to self-reliance.