Yesterday I shared a blog post that I wrote almost a year ago about how to have resilience when the world economic system seems to be failing all around us. A year later things look even bleaker. Many experts are saying its not a matter of if the monetary system will fail entirely but when. We drove to Vancouver to visit our new grand child 10 days ago, and witnessed the depression in the rural areas and then a complete boom in the city. It seemed unreal crossing the Great Divided that separates all of BC from the lower mainland at the junction of Route 5, Highway 3, and the number 1 highway at Hope. Suddenly there were massive road construction, new buildings going up, and “Help Wanted” signs on the doors of the retail and fast food businesses. But this seeming rich and thriving economy was an illusion. The construction we were seeing was fueled by government spending, not a thriving economy. The jobs that were advertised were minimum wage, part-time, no-benefit jobs. The restaurants were pretty empty. The stores and malls pretty quiet, too.
Economies that are fuelled by government spending, tax cuts, and bail-outs are not thriving economies. They are economies that are about to implode.
This week we witnessed unprecedented disasters that struck our Southern neighbors. A freak thunderstorm that took out power and caused death and destruction through the East coast. A wild fire that wiped out homes and livelihoods in the middle of the Bible Belt. Drastic drought that threatens food security to over 75% of the USA, following on the heels of several drought years already. Initially, a year ago, I didn’t want to talk about gloom and doom. You don’t come to the internet to be frightened or to fuel despair. I talked about prepping so that you could go a few days without access to a grocery store, or modern convenience. This isn’t how I live. I stock up in the Fall when the harvest comes in and prepare for a year — canning, dehydrating, freezing food, as well as getting my wool sheared and my yarn ready for weaving, and making clothes. But I didn’t want to overwhelm you. So I only talked to you about getting a week’s supply of food and supplies stored for an emergency. Don’t do what I say, do what I do.
There are religious groups that advocate having a year’s supply of everything on hand, just in case. My church doesn’t do this. But the homestead lifestyle means that you prepare in the time of plenty for a time of scarcity. Harvest and preserve in summer to eat in the winter. Its not about independence, its about wisdom, and being prepared so that you are free to serve others, instead of being dependent on others to serve you.
1. Start a garden — even a garden in pots on a balcony or on the window sill.
Lots of you have told me that you can’t garden because you live in an apartment, and you are physically unable to garden due to time constraints, and due to pain and debility. Fair enough. But I want you to consider the storms and fires that we witnessed in the last week. The folks in the East were very unprepared. The storm came without warning. People were seen trying to saw fallen trees with steak knives. Gas stations and grocery stores were closed because the power was out. Today there are still homes without power a week later and soaring temperatures, too, that makes survival difficult for those who are unprepared.
Consider if you need to move in order to have a balcony or a windowsill to garden on. Some people raise enough food to can and share in a space the size of an apartment balcony.
Help a gardener who is overwhelmed with weeding in exchange for a share in the produce. Even in our own area, there are gardeners trying to keep up with the planting and weeding, who would welcome help in exchange for a share in the produce.
Stop buying prepackaged food and start buying staples, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meat from local farms. Preserve the food in season and you’ll have food all winter. What you can’t buy locally, buy in bulk — in full size bags. I bought a 50 lb. bag of shelled sunflower seeds in September last year, and used it in place of tree nuts all year. The bag ran out in June. I thought initially that our small family of 3 would have trouble using all those sunflower seeds, but I added them to salads, baking, and even as a topping for vegetarian casseroles and curries. Don’t think that because your family size is small you won’t use up the food.
If you truly can’t use a full size bag of some staples start a food co-op with some local families and do a group buy. You reduce the cost of the food and encourage more families to prepare. Many bulk food companies will give you a discount if you are a registered food co-op or a business.
Don’t store bulk food that your family doesn’t or won’t eat. Don’t store soy beans if your family hates soy, no matter how easy it is to make soy-milk and tofu. (Hey, I speak from experience.) Use the money instead to buy food that your family actually eats.
3. Plan for Food storage
When we lived in an apartment we stored food in the closets in cans, to keep out critters, under the beds, and couches. If you are just starting out you can plan your furnishings to allow for storage. If you’ve been around for a while you may need to adapt what you have for what you need.
4. Have a bug-out plan.
What would you have done if the Waldo Valley wild fire was in your neighbourhood and you had to evacuate. The threat of wild fires is real in our neighbourhood. Every summer there are lightening strikes or human caused fires in the forests, and many threaten residential areas. If all your food storage is at home and your home is threatened, your preps are gone. Have some food storage away from your home, too, if you can plan for it. At your grand kid’s house, or at the cabin, somewhere outside your city where you can go if you need a refuge, because of a disaster. Dried beans, rice, and dried veggies in a critter proof and water proof container, along with cooking pots and water storage is enough to get you through a couple of weeks. Load up your little Boler trailer and have it prepped, if necessary to feed and house you if you have to evacuate. And don’t forget to prep your bug-out bag.
5. Have a buddy plan.
Do your prepping in company. One family prepped but alone is a challenge but get another family in on your plans and prep together. Evacuate together. You will have partners to pray together, and play together. You will be able to encourage each other in a disaster. And help each other stay calm. If you live in the US there are prepper groups that can help you in your prepping and in making a bug out plan. But if you can get one other family together you will be better off.
6. Prepare yourself spiritually
Learn to know God and to talk to Him. Read the Bible — its the instruction manual to live a successful life and its God’s love letter to you. Memorize scripture now to give you peace in your time of need. God doesn’t make bargains with people, but he does forgive and he does give help. Don’t think you can make a bargain in the middle of a disaster, “God if you’ll just get us through this hard time, I’ll go back to church.” Doesn’t work. But God will help you in your time of need, if you turn back to him with your whole heart. Do it now and start to know Him better, and you will be prepared in the next emergency.
Some of the Bible verses that help me in trying times, from the Complete Jewish Bible:
You who live in the shelter of ‘Elyon,
who spend your nights in the shadow of Shaddai,
2 who say to Adonai, “My refuge! My fortress!
My God, in whom I trust!” —
3 he will rescue you from the trap of the hunter
and from the plague of calamities;
4 he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his truth is a shield and protection.
5 You will not fear the terrors of night
or the arrow that flies by day,
6 or the plague that roams in the dark,
or the scourge that wreaks havoc at noon.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand;
but it won’t come near you.
8 Only keep your eyes open,
and you will see how the wicked are punished.
9 For you have made Adonai, the Most High,
who is my refuge, your dwelling-place.
10 No disaster will happen to you,
no calamity will come near your tent;
11 for he will order his angels to care for you
and guard you wherever you go.
12 They will carry you in their hands,
so that you won’t trip on a stone.
13 You will tread down lions and snakes,
young lions and serpents you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he loves me, I will rescue him;
because he knows my name, I will protect him.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him when he is in trouble.
I will extricate him and bring him honor.
16 I will satisfy him with long life
and show him my salvation.”
And Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
3 Therefore we are unafraid,
even if the earth gives way,
even if the mountains tumble
into the depths of the sea,
4 even if its waters rage and foam,
and mountains shake at its turbulence. (Selah)
5 There is a river whose streams
gladden the city of God,
the holy habitation of ‘Elyon —
6 God is in the city.
It will not be moved —
when daybreak comes, God will help it.
7 Nations were in turmoil,
kingdoms were moved;
his voice thundered forth,
and the earth melted away.
8 Adonai-Tzva’ot is with us,
our fortress, the God of Ya‘akov. (Selah)
9 Come and see the works of Adonai,
the astounding deeds he has done on the earth.
10 To the ends of the earth he makes wars cease —
he breaks the bow, snaps the spear,
burns the shields in the fire.
11 “Desist, and learn that I am God,
supreme over the nations,
supreme over the earth.”
12 Adonai-Tzva’ot is with us,
our fortress, the God of Ya‘akov.
7. Learn the self-reliant skills now that you will need in an emergency
Don’t wait for the next disaster to strike. Turn off the TV and read a book to learn the skills that will help you. Survival skills, woodcraft, sewing, knitting, crochet, net making, trapping, herbal medicine, how to garden, First Aid, Food safe. Learn how to can, how to dehydrate food, how to preserve food by lacto-fermentation. Make a list of all the skills you need to disconnect from the corporate culture and reconnect with your own survival, and tick off the ones you have already mastered and make a plan to add to your skill set. I want to weave a sling and learn how to use it. I want my daughter to be sling savvy, too. What’s on your list of skills you still want to learn.
There’s other benefits besides survival. When you learn a new skill your brain sends out new neuro-pathways and you gain in thinking abilities, and your brain stays young and fit. Join the homestead Kindle Book Club and get free Kindle books every day that will help you learn these skills. Although the club costs a few pennies a day, the books are free for a limited time only.
8. Forget the stock market, invest in livestock.
There was a program on CBC this week comparing the prepper advice to buy gold (for bartering when teotwawki happens) or buying chickens. Get the chickens and the eggs. If you live in an apartment consider joining up with an inner city farm group, or make a friend of a local farmer with chickens. This isn’t about being a customer of a farmer but about being the friend of a farmer. Work at changing the by-laws of your city or neighborhood to allow for milk goats and chickens. If you have space and can put a chicken tractor in your backyard, go for it. Farm fresh eggs, even in the city, are a different product that factory raised eggs. Plus from a rooster and a few hens, you can build a flock of chickens to feed a neighbourhood.
9. Get out of debt.
If you are in the middle of a disaster then survival is the most important goal, but if you are between disasters, getting out of debt should be your first priority. You may need to make sacrifices to achieve freedom, but its worth it. Downsize if you need to, to pay off your mortgage and your car loans. If you are free from debt, you are free to choose the job and the lifestyle that you want and need. With debt you are not free, because you have to keep working to afford to make payments. Plus having debt leaves you in fear — fear of inflation, fear of job loss, fear of uncertainty. When you are debt-free you can do anything you want, live anywhere you want. You are free to say, “Take this job….” and you are free to serve others — even free to follow a different path than the one you are on right now.
My daughter is a student at Moody Bible Institute. She is determined to do her full degree without debt and the school encourages this thinking. Students at Moody are the missionaries, and pastors of tomorrow. But debt will kill their ability to work as a pastor or a missionary — you can’t live on faith if you have bills to pay. Maybe you are still paying off your college loans. Get the debt gone asap, and you will be amazed at the freedom from fear that you experience and the freedom to live differently.
10. Make friends
One of the biggest illnesses in our modern lives is loneliness. We can be in the middle of a crowd and feel lonely. We can be part of a religious group and feel lonely. I see it all the time at church, older woman standing alone while married people talk among themselves. Teenagers unconnected, without friends, hoping for someone to connect with them and let them know they are loved. Friends help you get the things you need. Friends give you someone to help, too. People in community are healthier and live longer. If you are isolated now, find one other person to be friends with, or another family. And start to build the relationships that will help you both in a challenging time.
Don’t wait to get your prep on. Begin today. And tell me how you’re doing. Join my Facebook page to get help in the journey. I teach you self-reliant skills every day to help you on your way. Leave a comment.