In the past, if we wanted vegetables we drove through the forest on an old dirt road. After we forded two creeks, and passed a waterfall, we eventually popped out on a paved road. There is a nice little country store there, where they sell every kind of vegetable you could want, all locally raised. The price is negligible.
Our needs are easily met there, so our current experiment with growing vegetables is being done with an eye to the possibility that the little store may not always be available.
We have a farmer's depot in town. This is a big store, with lots of warehouses and sheds. They sell everything you could need for living in the country. Tools, feed, seeds, medicine. The whole spectrum. Before Walmart I bought just about everything there, and I still purchase a lot of our materials at the farmer's depot. If it were to go away, along with all the other stores, I can get hay from people I know. I'd need to get by with whatever tools and materials I already had on hand though, which is why I am so careful about keeping my inventories up to speed.
As I've mentioned before, we buy case lots of canned goods, paper products, spices, and other items at the discount grocery in North Carolina. We're well provided for with storage space, since the whole purpose of our home here was to enable us to be as self sufficient as possible. Storage space is important and we made sure to plan for plenty of it.
In 1999, I got three hens and two roosters from a friend. Today I have sixty something chickens. That's way more than I need, and they produce more eggs than my greedy dogs and cats can eat. So there are a lot of fat dogs and cats around the place now. But in a crunch, the eggs and chickens would come in handy.
I know I've talked about dried, smoked country hams here before, but for long term storage they are superb. Keep them hanging in a cool, dry place and they will not go bad. The protein level is high, and the fat content is low but there is a little fat on them, which is good for bad times. They aren't cheap, but you need some meat stored away and it has to be stored in such a manner that power to run your freezer is not required.
When you consider water storage, remember it has to be in a climate controlled space. This sheet of ice on the rock face is normal for winter here. This past winter, when we had many days of sub zero weather, heating storage space became even more critical.
You have to back up your heating system. I use electric oil heaters in the shop, the barn, and the apartment. But if the power goes out, I can use propane heaters in all three. If the propane runs out, I can switch to kerosene heaters.
In the main house, I use propane heaters as my primary, and the wood burning stove and fireplace as my secondary. That may seem backwards, but when it's freezing cold outside it's nice not to have to go out on the porch and bring in wood. We have fires just for the pleasure of it, as well. This next winter I may have to rethink my priorities, depending on what I wind up spending to top off my propane tanks before winter comes. Right now, propane is reasonable at $2.67 a gallon.
Miriam and I like living here. It has it's rewards, and it's challenges. For the most part, it's a matter of getting everything done before the bad weather comes. Sometimes it's hard keeping up the buildings, vehicles, and handling all the logistical aspects of what you need to make it here. I think it's worth it though.