“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard....


One nice thing about keeping vast quantities of items you actually use,  is that you never have one of those moments where you realize you just used the last bottle, or bag,  or roll, or widget.  Keeping a full store room also enables you to avoid going to the store for long periods of time if you don't feel like going.

The longer you live this way,  the less chance there is of suddenly needing something you have never needed before. You actually develop your own supply system, whether you use spreadsheets, or paper lists, or whatever system works for you.

It is perfectly true that if you wait until people have reason to suspect some unusual event is about to occur, you may wind up empty handed.  Here in the mountains it's bread, milk, and kerosene.  Kerosene heaters are a primary backup for people who use electric heat .  Bread and milk seem to be obligatory though I have no idea why.  If the weather radio says the magic word "ice" then it's every man (or woman) for themselves. News of an impending asteroid strike could hardly generate more panic.

There's a reason for it.  Ice means no power.  Most of our power lines are above ground, and they go pretty quickly when we have an ice storm.  Ice also means no transportation. We have absolutely no way to clear the secondary roads, and for the main road in and out of the county there's only two ancient dump trucks which put salt on the highway. If we have salt. If the drivers can get to the county shed.

If you live up high, or if you live way back in the woods on a "possum trail"  it can literally be two weeks before a bad ice storm finally melts off and lets you get out. I tried to go down the trail in my 4 wheel drive Jeep after one. The Jeep spent the next 9 days catercorner across the road, with the front end wedged up against a tree.

Late in the 1980's, there came a big blizzard that left three to four feet of snow here. That's a lot of snow. A few days after, before the snow melted, we had an ice storm that laid down 2 to 3 inches of ice over it. If the Science Fiction channel ever needs a plot for one of their cheesy disaster movies, they should look into that event.  Nothing could move. Not even the farm tractors that are the last resort here.  Finally, after much trial and travail, the National Guard got some M113 tracked vehicles up here but by then it was too late for some of the older people out in their little single wide trailers down windy twisty roads through the forest. The power went out, and then they ran out of kerosene, or wood, or whatever their heat source was.  That particular episode was one of the things that got me off top dead center and made a believer out of me. I was not then very well equipped, made some basic decision making errors, and we had a really hard time. I had a wife and two small kids, and I told myself we'd never be caught totally unprepared again.  Over the years I've refined my techniques and philosophy but the basic thread remains the same. If something happens, I'm going to sit it out safe and warm,  sitting tight up here where I'm prepared.




23 comments:

  1. Hey off topic, but there is a new survivor man show on the Science channel September 6th st 10pm.

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    1. What's it about? I'm always up for a new survivor man show. I heard Les Stroud was doing a couple more shows this year, but I haven't heard what they are going to be about.

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    2. Looks like more of the same, just a new place. I'm pretty sure I'll watch it.

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    3. I know I will. I really like Les Stroud and his shows. I've even got some DVD's of shows he did before he had his contract with Discovery Channel and became "Survivor Man."

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  2. I think that the main reason that people start to prep is because they have children. Nothing motivates better...

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    1. I'm sure that's true. It's a long road but you get better at it as time passes. During that first big storm we lived through here, I thought I was really clever to put all our meat from the freezer out on the porch, where snow was banked up. But the next day, it had all been gnawed down to a nub by the woodland creatures, and what was left was so chewed up I was afraid to eat it. I look back on some of the things I did when I first came to the mountains and I'm humiliated, these 30 years later.

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  3. I know what you mean about power and getting snowed in. It usually doesn't last more than a day or so here though. Our road is about the last one graded but I have never seen it so bad the big four wheel tractors couldn't get out.

    Still power can go out for days and days and has a few times. My biggest fear about getting out in that stuff are the idiots more than anything else.

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    1. Since the big snows come in winter, the mountains here are usually largely deserted, just the full time residents here. They just don't drive in snow, not unless it's an emergency. The roads are all very narrow, have steep grades, and sharp curves. It's too easy to go over the side and down the cliff, then they find you a week later with your nose gnawed off and your eyeballs plucked out. Those that absolutely have to get to work and aren't up to driving, like nurses, are the recipients of a free taxi service provided by stalwart young men and women with tricked out off road Jeeps who are only too happy to be out driving down the middle of the road with the Sheriff's department's blessings. We'd be lost without them. In the rest of the year, they go out and drive on the old closed forest service roads and make everybody mad as hell, but winter snows give them a more constructive outlet for their sport.

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  4. I would not be much better off using kerosene. I become so ill that my fever is around 104, and my chest fills with congestion. However, I have many, many blankets. I would probably cover myself so much that I would die of hyperthermia! The power has only gone off once in the winter here. It was 12 F. Thankfully, it was just a minor problem with a few homes involved and was solved quickly.

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    1. Blogger doesn't like you, Parsimony. I keep trying to write a reply and then it tells me somebody else is editing my reply (highly unlikely) and deletes it. Here's try number three.

      Would a wood stove, or a portable propane heater work? You might keep yourself alive at that temperature by getting under blankets, but the pipes in your house will freeze and break. Worse comes to worse, you could get one of those small, gas generators and hook it up to an "oil" heater, those that look like old timey radiators. You could only run one but it would keep the chill off a bit.

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  5. I know for many years, my dad always hated ice storms in the Carolina's. They were worse than the snow that fell a few times a winter. I am fortunate that I learned valuable lessons from him for dealing with this so if I do move up to SC, I can live ripple free. Glad to see you back blogging.

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    1. I appreciate that. I'm not getting into any firestorms this time so it should be a calmer place to visit. ;-)

      South Carolina is a good place. I like the people there. Maybe you could find a nice spot just off the beach on the coast. Then you could enjoy the ocean and there's hardly ever snow or ice along the coast, though it happens once in a blue moon.

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  6. G'day Harry,

    Down in my neck of the woods I don't have to worry about blizzards, in fact I have only seen & touched snow 2 or 3 times in my life. Here the big danger is bushfires, we are surrounded by National Parks and crown land and the last big fire was only a kilometre or so away before it was contained. The smell of burning gum trees is real nice in a campfire or the fireplace but when you see the columns of smoke getting denser by the minute, visibility starts dropping and it gets hard to breath and then burnt leaves start to fall to the ground around you; that really gets the heart pumping.

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    1. Greetings!

      I watched news coverage of some of the fires there. It was pretty grim. People got trapped because they were taken unawares or waited too long to flee. A forest fire is my one big worry. I live on a mountain top surrounded by forest. In all the years I've lived here, there have only been two fires close to me. I can handle storms, snow, ice and all that but if a fire comes I'll just have to load the dogs and the ferrets in the truck and leave. Everything I have, all my supplies and equipment, everything I have painfully acquired over 30 years, would be gone. My buildings are all wood and the roofs are all cedar shake. When I see the fires in Australia, or those we have every summer out West, it really worries me.

      Tania is from Australia and she told me she'd never been in the snow in her whole life. It's hard to imagine you folks don't get snow. I wonder why? Must be something to do with the air currents or the altitudes, I guess. I read a New Zealand blog (written by an Estonian!) and they have snow where she is. Might be a good place to visit one winter.

      Do you have something like a weather radio that alerts you to fires?

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    2. Harry,

      You are pretty much right, as Australia is mostly desert or semi arid and has the lowest rainfall of the 7 continents (besides Antartica)the climate is ruled by the hot air of a subtropical high pressure belt which moves north & south with the seasons. The long droughts that we get are caused by the El Nino - Southern Oscillation, which is a fancy way of saying when we get droughts South America gets rain, and vice versa.

      Also because we are separated from the polar region of Antarctica by the Southern ocean we don't get the freezing snaps of Polar air that the Northern Hemisphere gets in winter.

      For fire warnings the NSW Rural Fire Service has a very good website that I monitor during the summer months.

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  7. I have been keeping a stockpile for a number of years, thanks to having a large pantry to store goods. I find that it is easier to have things on hand than running to the store all the time. I buy in bulk when I can. I think we could survive easily for a month should something drastic happen :)

    No threat of ice storms here lol. Only occasionally do we lose power, maybe once or twice a year.

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    1. Tania,

      The further out you live, the more you need to have everything in quantity. You're doing right keeping stocked up. I don't know how it is in Australia, but here a lot of families have seen the bread winner lose their jobs abruptly, with no warning. When that happens, having a lot of food on hand takes at least some of the immediate burden off the husband and wife because the family can at least eat.

      No snow and no ice storms? Most of the time I think of both those events as nuisances, but I wouldn't want to never experience them. On the other hand, I just saw on the news where some hideous crocodile gobbled up another camper. That, I wouldn't want to experience! :-)

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  8. Growing up we only went to town once a month for groceries and it usually worked out that the food stamps just showed up and they were giving away some cheese and peanut butter. Man I loved that cheese!
    This firmly set into my brain that if we didn't stock up, or make do, we would be screwed. I remember during bad weather neighbors would have their kids walk over and ask for toilet paper or eggs... I vowed to never let that be me. Especially when some of those neighbors were a mile or more away and there was 6 feet of snow in the road.
    I suppose I was fortunate that I learned this stuff early on in my life, old dog/new trick issue.

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    1. Sounds like you had it rough, man. People say life is the best teacher. I had it too easy, and I was pretty much a Sheeple until I got into the Marines. Thank God for that, I don't think I would have wanted to be the me that would have existed without the Marine Corps. They taught me life is root hog, or die hog. When I left the Marine Corps, I had the basic instinct to survive and I had the real world experience to know that in the end, everything is up to the individual.

      I figured you had some kind of tough experiences in your background, but I didn't realize it was from you were a kid. That's rough.

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  9. When it gets real bad there isn't really anywhere to walk to where you could buy anything. You have to be ready when on your own.

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    1. You're right. If you need it, then you'd better have it on hand. If you don't, then you'd better be able to do without it. I don't have any neighbors and I'm getting too old to walk down to the hard surface road through the snow to a vehicle. Most of the time, it wouldn't help anyway because the road is buried under the snow.

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  10. Once in 1993,the "s" word was mentioned here in N AL, I really did need milk and bananas. I went to a huge grocery store in town, but not to buy out the place. There were no more carts or hand baskets. The twelve lines were all stretching down the aisles to the meat dept in the back of the store. I stood for hours just to get milk and bananas that I clutched. The milk got warm and those last three bananas in the store got dropped several times.

    Most of the South was without electricity, but I had electricity while my friends had none for a week. I had my milk and bananas, so did not feel deprived. I had more than enough food to last a week and marveled at the people who had three carts of groceries. Did they not have anything in the house?

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    1. There are a lot of people who don't have more than three days worth of food on hand. No water stored, no tp, no diapers, no feminine hygiene products, not enough of their medicine to get them through. Even here, where you'd think people would know better. When the bad storms come, I hear the volunteer fire department sending kids out in their privately owned jeeps to go get Granny Hawkins because she is out of her heart medicine, or go pick up Mr. Doorweiller because his heat is off and he hasn't got any backup. I listen to the scanner and I think "that person has lived here all his life and he is out of medicine?" If you have warning this shouldn't happen. There are just people like that.

      Panic is part of it, too. I've been in the grocery store and watched people loading up , and there's a definite air of "I better buy this before there isn't any left."

      You lead a pretty spartan existence, getting by on milk and bananas. The less you need, the better off you are. I tend to be on the "spoiled and hoggish" side and so I keep a lot of comfort foods in the supply room. Don't really need them but they make me feel good.

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