Thursday, January 17, 2013

Assess, Plan and Learn

Before I moved out to the bush (as we up here call it), in many ways I had a "country attitude". Often, I did my laundry by hand, even though my friends couldn't understand why. I walked, even when I didn't need to. Buses were plentiful and friends would often offer a ride. But I chose to walk. Even the winter that I abandoned the warm, stuck bus to walk home over 3 miles away. I would explain these choices by saying I wanted control over what I could in my life. I couldn't control when I worked, or much of the world around me, so I controlled what I could.
I still feel the same way.
As I write, there is a jar of sprouts quietly growing on a shelf, full of nutrients that the grocery store produce just doesn't have any more.
There is a butane stove, complete with bottles of fuel, out in the shed. We have a brand new propane stove here in the house (thanks to the folks!) with lots of propane outside; but still, it's good to have a back-up. Many of you know I like to have back-ups. The trick is to assess, plan and utilize.

Assess what we have for cooking, food production, hygiene, water, heating, entertainment; whatever we'd need to survive being stuck inside for a week or more. Up here, that could mean a big snow storm or a road being flooded out. I recommend that you assess your own areas for the most likely emergency that might keep you stuck at home. The more prepared you are, the less impact the situation will have on your life.

There's a part of my town's history that applies here. Many years ago, a main road washed out in the spring break-up. It just so happened that a few towns-women were expecting and wouldn't you know it, a couple of them went into labour. According to the local story, those that went into labour had to be air-lifted to town, where the hospitals and doctors were. While this is a bit of an extreme example, it does underline the need to be prepared to not get to town. Childbirth is a unique situation, and different for everyone, but think about your family or your situation for a moment. How would you fare if you could not get to a grocery store or a bank for a week. What about two weeks? Three?

I like to play a little "game" with myself, "what if".
What would we do if the well ran dry for a month? (Which isn't unheard of out here the way our summers are going) I need to come up with a water plan. Rainwater harvesting, collection and storage then becomes something I need to learn about. We don't have gutters or very many rain barrels, so as I see it, that's where I need to start. Get gutters installed, which means, for me, buy them and learn how to install them. Did you know that each 1mm of rain = 1 Litre (L) of water per square metre (m2) of roof area? So a three bedroom home has the potential of redirecting quite a lot of water! So I think rainwater collection is pretty important. This then involves making sure we have rain barrels. So far, we only have two good ones, so clearly a priority this spring is to get a couple more large ones. Developing the spring down the back is a good idea too. I think having a couple of back-ups when it comes to water is prudent.
Some of you might remember we had pump issues this past summer, and we were very lucky to have the saved water we did. Water took on a whole new importance for me. So, I've assessed what we have for water, seen a need, and am now working on a plan to improve our water situation.

So what if we can't get to a grocery store for over a month?
Again, not unheard of up here.
So, we've assessed what we eat that can be grown, and we have a plan to grow what we can, and how to best preserve what we grow. I've made connections with local hunters that are willing to share some of what they hunt, and I've done the research so that I might get my fishing license this spring. Wild fish is not my first choice when I'm hungry, but I know it's not terrible either. No one in our large family is a vegetarian, we all enjoy meat. Local fish is easy to obtain and can be pressure canned for preservation. For us, this makes sense. At least while I work on a plan to raise a pig for meat.

Everyone's situation is different. Our needs may all be slightly different. But I am a firm believer in the simple fact that no matter where we live, country or the city, no matter what country you call home, we all need to make sure that if our "normal" lives are disrupted that we try to minimize the upset to our families. People that are prepared come through crisis better than those who wait for someone else to do something.
Play "what if" with yourself. Imagine there is no one else to help you coming for at least a week. Assess what you have, and how you can improve upon that. Make lists if you need to, write it all out. But keep a level head  during it all. Panic and fear never helped anyone who wasn't a cave dwelling two-legged.

Be realistic, but honest.
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.