Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Would You Do?

Imagine that right now, wherever you are at this very moment, the power goes out. The screen is black and the lights are off.. It doesn't matter why. Imagine any scenario that allows you to take this seriously. It could be an overuse of the power grid in peak summer, or a solar flare, or a terrorist attack. It could be that the hub of your grid came down due to an underground gas explosion from pipes no one took care of since 1934. It could be magic, it doesn't matter. I just want you to put yourself in that sudden and vulnerable position. Wherever you are, right now, the power went out.

You wait a while, not concerned. But a while turns into hours. The air conditioning does not work. Your internet isn't available and your phone just died. You have gone outside to try and start your car but it won't work either. Noone's cars or trucks work. You only have what is available around you, your two feet, whatever is in your undrivable vehicle and non-electric house. Think about the people around you. Are you with coworkers on the fifth floor off a highway? Are you doing algebra with your 12 year old homeschooled son? Are you on your bi-weekly commute to a yoga class thirty miles away?

Would you be okay?

I'm sharing this story because I think there are two reactions to it. There are the people who stop and consider what they would do in that situation, start grinding the gears and starting a plan. They mentally inventory what they have in their trunk, the walk home, the safest route off the main roads, etc. The other type just rolls their eyes and says no emergency would ever be that drastic. Yes the power might go out, but phones and cars would still work and why would you even ask such a horrible question?

I'm not asking if it was real. I am asking if you would be okay.

I do not think we should live in fear of such things, that would be a very dreadful existence. But to think such an event would never happen is just as dreadful. Because things do go wrong all the time and so many people are not even mildly prepared for them. This example of an EMP isn't very likely (I think at their peak every 11 years Solar Flares only offer a 12% chance of causing such a mass electronic disruption) but even so, there are diabetics driving forty minutes every day to work in their flip flops without any extra insulin in a cooler or cash in their wallets. If they had no power and could not get home? What would they do?

We are a society addicted to comfort and convenience, and that is a blessing, but it may also be a curse. To many people the idea of having to walk home twenty miles is unthinkable. They do not have sneakers in the trunk on their car, a first aid kit in the glove box, or any idea how to defend themselves or avoid being a victim. They do not carry cash or spare water and food when they leave home. Most of us just expect everything to be super all the time. We are addicted to everything going as planned.

The Titanic was also called unsinkable, shit happens.

Since becoming a homesteader—and since I am a single woman living a rural life—I have lost any illusion of things going as planned. I never drive anywhere without everything I need to leave my vehicle and walk home. I carry three days worth of food, water, a water filter and have a loaded backpack with a tent, sleeping bag, hiking boots, extra clothes, first aid gear, phone charging devices, lights, the works... 99.9% of the time this is overkill. But it has to be there. You break down sixteen miles from home out here in a place without cell reception or any houses you are hoofing it. You do not sit and wait. You go find a house, flag down a friendly truck, whatever it takes to get back to your farm and animals. I usually travel with a dog and a weapon, as well. Several weapons. And not because I expect the world to implode into a Mad Max chaos, but because it seems irresponsible to not be ready to get back to my farm. My farm is my whole life.

This is not at all how I lived, drove, or thought before I started homesteading. Not at all. But today it is. I think because I can't make myself forget reality anymore. And by reality I don't mean bills and blog comments - I mean things like food, shelter, water, and community. When you learn these things are what matter you guard them like a mother wolf.

And I urge you to consider such a situation where you can't rely on anyone but yourself and your good body to be safe. Would you be okay? What would you do? And if you think the idea is terrifying why is that? It's perfectly okay to be scared! What is important is you make small steps every day to be a little safer, a little more prepared. Because one day that storm may knock out power for two weeks. Would you even be able to feed your family if the pipes stopped running and the grocery stores were closed?

Maybe tonight you can throw a pair of sneakers, a bottle of water, some bandaids, and a powerbar in your car. If you do you are 90% better off than you were today. Maybe a blanket and set of jumper cables too? Perhaps it is time to start filling up the pantry with a couple jugs of drinking water, some pasta, and peanut butter. These are not freakish things to do and will not get you on a reality show on National Geographic. But they could make a bad day a lot safer.

So share your story. If RIGHT NOW the power went off and your car and phone did not work. What would you do? And if you aren't sure, write a fantasy version of what you would do if you had prepared for just such an event the night before. Because guys, this could be the night before.

I'll end with a paraphrased story I heard once:

If someone told you not to go to your town park because there was a werewolf there, would you believe them? "Of course not!" - you say - "Werewolves are not real!" Well what if two people told you there were werewolves in the park? What then? "No!" you say. Well, what if a dozen earnest people told you, without a sign of joking, that there were werewolves in the park. Would you believe then? Because, my dear fiend, the question at this point is not about the reality of werewolves.

The real question is: would you still go to the park? If any of this struck a chord - STRONGLY suggest you listen to this free podcast. It's called, "Holy Crap! I just found out everything isn't super!" If the name of the podcast, the intro sponsors, or the idea makes you uncomfortble still listen. This is not a whackjob with a tin hat. This is a guy helping people become personally responsible, get out of debt, quit miserable jobs and live a life of personal freedom. He's also one of the people who inspired me to follow my dream.


Blogger Robin Follette said...

We garden extensively, have a young orchard, are raising meat and eggs on pasture, wild harvest extensively, hunt and fish, heat with wood, supply our own water, and more. We own 45 acres in the middle of hundreds of thousands of acres of forest. It wouldn't always be comfortable but we'd be just fine. (It took us more than a decade to get to this point.)

July 6, 2014 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

That is great Robin! I think many of us who read here are producing food, putting food by, living smart. But are you ready to be stranded away from home?

July 6, 2014 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

missing a pony and cart, and neighbours that are friendly....

but other than that, i think we would do ok. lots of tools that dont need gas, including what is needed to get a tree down and cut it into fire wood or planks, hand pump well in the barn (yay for that when the power goes out!) pigs chickens garden and the knowledge to go with (at least beginner knowledge), and thanks to a wonderful Canadian one man play i know how to build a wicked outhouse.

i can walk for miles and keep a Steripen in my purse (a friend used it for a year in india and never got sick from the water) so i could probably get home from town.

but, the one thing a friend said when discussing what we would do if The End As We Know It (aka: when the shit hits the fan) happens is that our place in the country would be the first place that city folk would try to take.... and we don't do guns, they make me nervous...getting my bow on friday! practice, practice, practice.

July 6, 2014 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger Helena said...

Jenna, thank you for posting this, as it made me think quite hard about what I need to carry in the car--not just for me, but for my two young children that are almost always with me. Could carry my son in the baby carrier, but I can't carry my daughter also and not sure she could walk all the way back from town. If the power went out we'd be OK at home for a while, though I'd still like to see about getting a hand-pumped well, since as it is if the power goes out we have no water (we do have some stored, but a well would be helpful if an outage was longer term).

July 6, 2014 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

These are great comments!

July 6, 2014 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Kandy, I think you will love that bow! did you email me about it?

July 6, 2014 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Helena, that warms my heart. Someone emailed me on facebook about how negative posting this blog post on there was - that it was like asking them what they would do if they had cancer.... Which made me realize this person felt that no power was equal to a death sentance? No part of me thinks losing electricity is a death threat. But some peopel are terrified of having to change. Or some can't literally survive without power.

July 6, 2014 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Ken and someone else? My dumb phone deleted your comments because the publish and delete buttons are next to each other = please repost

July 6, 2014 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Ken and someone else? My dumb phone deleted your comments because the publish and delete buttons are next to each other = please repost

July 6, 2014 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm at the laundry mat this morning doing my weekly washing, I take my clothes out of the washer, cart them over to the driers, toss them in a drier, plug in a few quarters and start it up. Everything seems to be going fine so I go sit outside and read (the noise and all the spinning things inside drives me nuts). I look in periodically to see if my laundry is dry and as I'm looking my clothes stop spinning and a woman folding her clothes next to the drier with my laundry in it walks over, pops open the hatch to the drier with my laundry in it and starts checking to see if things are dry. At this point I'm thinking WTF??? But, I just watch. She sees that my clothes aren’t all the way dry, separates and untangles a few things, closes the hatch, pops in a quarter, and restarts my laundry for me. Nice. Eau Claire, Wisconsin is just like that. When I came in later to fold my stuff I decided not to say anything about it to see what she’d do and wondered if she’d hit me up for a quarter. She didn’t say a word.

I point this out because we all live in communities and humans are communal creatures. We need each other. And if the power stops working all of the sudden you’ll probably be better off in a place where people are thoughtful of one another and help each other out.

As for me, I’m at home now and unless I’m off on some big adventure I’m rarely more than 5 miles from here. My car is a luxury used for weekend adventures (It’s a hatchback with a bike rack on the roof and it’s kept spotlessly clean! Hahaha…) I can do all the getting around I need to do, including things like going fishing, berry picking, and to the local farmers market by foot and bike.

I have a couple of camping/hiking stoves and enough fuel for them to last a couple of weeks. There’s a good month worth of food in my apartment. I don’t have a garden this year, but I’m strong and healthy and know my way around a garden and a water-bath canner. It would be easy enough to barter labor for food and there’re several diversified small farms within easy biking distance of here as well as neighbors with large gardens and fruit trees. I don’t think food would be much of an issue for me. We’d have to rig up something to cook outside with, but making a home-brew rocket stove and a solar over are well within my, and from what I can tell my neighbors, skill sets.

I haven’t owned a T.V. in years and while I do do quite a bit of stuff online, it’s optional stuff. Other than being able to check in with my mom and sister frequently I doubt I’d miss it. Lack of electronic stimulation might even prove to be a benefit. There’s no A/C in my place, but it has good air flow and so far lack of A/C hasn’t been an issue. I do a lot of my reading on an e-reader, but I’ve got plenty of paper books to read as well and I know a couple of my have large libraries. So, I think I’m covered in that department.

Once it started getting towards fall we’d have to rig up a small wood stove to heat my apartment and for me to cook on or I’d have to move out. There’s no living in Wisconsin in the winter without heat. Given the choice, I’d rather barter labor and maybe an extra backpack or something for a stove and stay in my little apartment. With a little bit of work, I think this place would do OK without power.

July 6, 2014 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Mike that was great!!!! We need more like this!

July 6, 2014 at 11:45 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Also, I want this to be Michael Perry so bad. A girl can dream.

July 6, 2014 at 11:50 PM  
Blogger Fernleaf said...

If the power went out right now I'd be mostly concerned with the meat in the freezer going bad. My husband and I have been working for the past few years to be more food-sufficient and we try to keep basics like pasta, rice and beans in stock, but currently we rely too heavily on the freezer for my peace of mind. Granted there's plenty of potential food 'on the hoof' as it were right now, but we need a pressure canner and/or smoker to be able to more readily store protein for longer stretches.

You certainly made me think about the car situation though. Like another commenter I have a young son (6 months only) and if we were stranded in the car without help that could be a challenge. I always have a basic tool kit and jumper cable/tow rope with my rig, and usually a blanket, spare fluids (oil, washer, etc) and chains in the winter, but summer could use more attention. Thanks for this post Jenna!

July 7, 2014 at 12:52 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

about the bow, yup. i am getting my hands on a recurve bow on friday. Mwaa hahahahahaha!!!! im so happy!!!! i had no idea i would fall in love so easily after only 2 hours of archery practice at a bridal shower!

i also thought, thanks to a trade we did, i can now take a sheep pelt and turn it into a pretty sweater. i will never willingly do it again, but i could if i needed to.

July 7, 2014 at 1:22 AM  
OpenID thegirlwithahammer said...

Ok. lets see...

In the short term if the power went out? I'd either go to bed (since it's almost midnight anyway) or I'd go dig out a fwe candles and enjoy reading a book. I love when the power goes out!

But in the longer term scenarios you have laid out I think it would go thusly.
Walking home, even from work would rarely be an issue. I don't generally wear flip-flops. (occasionally I do but not generally and I think I could walk the 10 gravely miles in them if I needed too. My feet would just be tired when I got home.) And the walking itself would be no problem. I'm used to doing all-day-on-my-feet physical work so a 10 mile walk on a gravel road would be fine. (and it's not often really that I'm further from home!) and even if I had to walk the 25 miles uphill from the town where I get most of my food I think I'd be ok. It would suck in a lot of ways but 25 miles isn't an undoable distance.

As far as keeping stuff in my car it depends a bit which car I'm in. My work truck is the place to be if a disaster hits! I have my paramedic kit, my mountain rescue kit, generally half my closet worth of outdoor clothes (it migrates to the truck all the time!), ropes, etc. All kinds of stuff. Add it the bit of camping gear I have at home and it could be a pretty happy set up. My personal truck doesn't have much most of the time. I just drive it so rarely!

Food would be ok for a while. I've got a decent stock of frozen meat so if the power went out I'd need to fire up the stove (gas!) or the grill (or build a fire if I really had too and cook a bunch of it or slice it thin and hang it in the sun to dry. But I could get it into a more stable form than frozen. I'm also not afraid of meat thats a bit old. It's really not as big of a health risk as people generally think. And there are some interesting ways to preserve meat too. Fresh foods would be a little harder. I know some edible things that grow here but we have a short-ish growing season and plants are not my strong point when it comes to raising food. We have some local producers but if the grocery store system were to quit working I'm not kidding myself that I would actually be able to buy stuff from them. Their supply would not go particularly far. But I think I could keep myself fed for at least a while. If I have to eat pinetrees and cattails I at least know I can do that! Water would be no big deal. There is a river in town that I haven't gotten sick from yet despite the fact that I'm sure I've inadvertently swallowed enough of it while playing and swimming in it! Plus I have a goot water filter for camping so I can pump water through that if needed.

For warmth my house is pretty awesome even in the winter. As long as we get some good sun every few days (and in Colorado thats pretty much a given) the house warms up well from the solar exposure and it's built out of strawbales so the insulation is good and keeps it warm all night! I also have two short haired dogs so if it got very chilly in the house the dogs would be only to glad to snuggle under the balnkets if needed! Throw in baking a loaf of bread in the oven and teh house could be quite comfy.

So. I think food would ultimately be the trickiest part. But I think I have enough food and enough wild plant knowledge to keep going for a while. And I would certainly have a good incentive to learn to grow, find, or trade for food at that point!

July 7, 2014 at 1:36 AM  
OpenID thegirlwithahammer said...

I also have a motorcycle that I could ride that would use much less gas than the truck (so I could siphon gas from the truck and stretch my travel ability if needed) and a bike that I can ride if needed. And if it came to all that my old horse might find that her slightly lame foot no longer qualifies her for a life of retirement!

July 7, 2014 at 1:38 AM  
Blogger aart said...

I'd be screwed pretty quickly.

I used to commute 300 miles a week and in winter I had the van stocked with extra boots, clothing, blanket, tools, food, etc. I rarely drive more than 2-4 miles away anymore, I make it a point not to zip off on a moments desire to get something I don't really need and can't afford anyway.

Living rural for 16 years on a powered well with no spring or generator I always have some stored water, camp stove/fuel and wood burning capabilities for winter. But I don't can food and hesitate to freeze a lot of stuff because I've lost $100's in food during week long summer power outages.

Having lost my income 6 years ago made me way more aware of folks who live without much all their lives, it's not about the things not being available, they don't have the means to acquire them anyway.

Our societies general oblivion, lack of awareness/gratitude and habits of gratuitous consumerism makes me ill/sad. I've actually not bought more food to see what I can do with and without until the cupboards and fridge were bare. That was an interesting exercise and changed the things I do keep stocked.

Nope, not really physically 'prepped' here, tho I do know how to 'go without'. Even if I was prepped out, the scariest thing about a SHTF scenario is the people who don't even *think* about these things, *that* is the scariest part. Tho I do have guns and know how to use them.

I'd probably be OK for a month or two, would depend on the season and if I'd been stranded more than 5-10 miles away from home.

July 7, 2014 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Ken Newman said...

We would be OK. We grow our own produce and preserve it from season to season. We save seed and are self sufficient. We have enough weapons for protection and hunting ( firearms, bows and edged ). it's six miles into town and ( in our early 60's) we can do that in less than 1/2 hour on our bikes. ( why we'd go I don't know ). Water wise I have a bison hand pump that will raise water 150' feet, with a new steel roof on the house and gutters fitted to barrels we easily capture rain water. I've got a Berkey water filter system with extra filters in storage. We have three wood stoves installed ( we heat with wood ) one of them is a cook stove with an oven. ( there's also an old kitchen wood stove that came with the house in storage ). A stocked spring fed pond for fish. Easy access to wood lot and the tools to fell and process by hand if needed (with enough fuel on hand to bring in five years worth with the power equipment. Joan is a whiz at food preservation...we've cut up and canned deer. We also have a solar and stove top dehydrator.Our house is over 200 years old and has a root cellar for storage along with a huge pantry ( stocked ) and larder. Best of all we live in a solid rural community with good neighbors. If the worst happened I've stashed a full military field surgical kit ( with drugs ) plus we have a library of reference on natural healing methods. Even if we were stranded on the road away from home I think we'd be OK..we have survival skills...we forage for fun.
P.S. Back in the 70's (when we were in our 20's ) we built a two room cabin with hand tools and lived there almost four years with no electricity or running, been there done that. Don't take this post the wrong way...we're not "preppers", this is our lifestyle it has been since we got together over 40 years ago.

July 7, 2014 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Helena said...

@Fernleaf--with a 6-month-old you could keep a baby carrier (I like an Ergo or similar for distances because they're sturdy and more comfortable, but a mei tei would certainly work and would take up less space in your car) and if you're nursing then just stash an extra few diapers and you're set for a bit. If you're not then maybe some single-serving formula and bottled water, along with a bottle to give to baby.

My son is a year and a half and still nurses, but is too old to be satisied with just milk for long, so I can put him in my carrier and put some toddler-friendly food and diapers in my backpack. Still puzzling over my five-year-old--food for her is easier, but she's too big to carry and town is 7-10 miles away (depending on which part we were in) so that's kind of far for her to walk. I could keep the baby stroller in the trunk, I guess, but I don't know if she'd even fit in that. If anyone else has suggestions I'd love to hear them. :)

July 7, 2014 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger CallieK said...

I live in the heart of a big city, don't drive so I either walk, bike or take transit. I'm unlikely to be far enough away that I couldn't walk home even in my flip flops. Two gardens, one in ground, one on the roof. The one in the ground would probably get raided pretty quick as its open to an alley. I usually have a fair bit of food stored and preserved although this time of year not so much. Water would be my biggest fear. There's not much room to store it and I avoid plastic like the plague so no bottled water in this house ever. Rain barrels would be a possibly, the lake is walking distance to although I'd be hesitant to drink from it so a purifying system would be a good idea. Lots of candles and solar lights ( even the dollar store versions can be switched out to rechargeable batteries). Propane grill, butane burner to cook on until the fuel runs out, also a chiminea that burns wood and has a small grill to cook on. All of this is fine unless it's winter, in which case we're in trouble since we don't have a safe alternative heat source for the gas furnace.

July 7, 2014 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Nancy po said...

I'm a "starting a plan" person. We live in Boise, not a huge city. My hubby isn't as into prepping as much I am, so that's a challenge. I want a wood stove, no way says he. I'll wear him down, I hope :) We'd probably be ok- I have an extensive pantry, 1 55 gallon rain barrel but would freeze in the winter, or be empty. We'd survive in the summer, but couldn't garden with no water. High desert. We do have bikes, hand crank radio, lots of lanterns and fuel, cook stove, hand tools, fruit trees, 4 hens to be laying soon, I can/dry/freeze foods. I have extensive med supplies. I can sew and fix things. I should put some stuff in both cars, and will. I have pushed all this based on what I read and observe. Many people are sheeple, and I sadly sit back and watch. There's just no telling people. They just want to live their little lives and not think about possible things changing. We'd survive for a while but in dead winter it would be tough without a lot of water stored, and no heat (hence the wood stove). In the hot summer, water would be the real issue. We don't have firearms but I'm thinking about that, and hubby is softening as well. I tend to think a lot :) I have told hubby if he dies first I'm outta here, off to the sticks for me. Small town 2 hours from here, mountains with tress and lots of water for me. With my cat and chickens! Nancy @ Littlehomesteadinboise

July 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Nancy po said...

We both have bikes too, mine's getting tune up right now. Lots of bike gear/tools as well...

July 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger ebwhite said...

In the middle of Houston, Texas --21 Summer days without power after a hurricane. My Mother, over 90 years old, and I had a pantry with food that did not need cooking, a small camp stove for coffee (a priority of course), charcoal to cook the meat in the freezer as it defrosted, candles, oil lamps and a few bottles of wine.

The best story is when some government agency came to pass out ice (very nice) bottles of water (also nice) and MRE's (not so great). When the packeage for "Meals Ready to Eat" was opened the instructions said to microwave for 4 minutes. All I could do was laugh and fire up the grill for what ever needed cooking.

Now, giving serious thought to my pack for my car -- definitely will have bottled water.

July 7, 2014 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Nancy po said...

I should stock up on charcoal! Good idea.

July 7, 2014 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger Lone Pine Farm said...

I have an emergency kit in the car (a flare, reflectors, an emergency blanket, a tin bowl, emergency candles, jumper cables) plus a shovel, two blankets, extra snowpants and winter boots, and my "working on the car" clothes. I almost always wear either sneakers or flats - no sandals or high heels here. Though now I'm thinking - no food, water, or rain poncho.

Right now, I'm at work (in the library at a small research university) - I have food and my water bottle, as well as an assortment of footwear including an extra pair of sneakers.

At home, we have two 20L jugs of water, and enough food to last at least 3 days. We heat with propane, and have emergency candles. Our electric range wouldn't work, but we have a BBQ (propane) and a fire pit outside. Plus at least a weeks' food for the dog, cats and chickens. We garden, and are comfortable slaughtering chickens if it gets really bad. We have a 400' well, so we are stuck relying on the electric pump.

Our power went out two days ago for a few hours thanks to a thunderstorm. We were working outside so we barely noticed, except we had to cut the soffit by hand instead of using the circular saw - no biggie!

We could walk home from town, or vice versa (about 20 km), though it admittedly wouldn't be our idea of a fun adventure. So we'd be okay for a few days, but any further than that and we'd start running out of water. It would be extra bad in the winter, if the pumphouse (which houses our pressure tank) froze, but we could melt snow in front of the propane fireplace. We did this last winter when the power was out for a day - luckily, the outdoor temperature was hovering around 0C so the pumphouse didn't freeze!

So, areas for improvement: more supplies in the vehicles, more water at home, some more dried/canned goods, and work on our bug out bags.

Thanks for this food for thought!

July 7, 2014 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger janamama said...

Great posts! My family is in great shape for a bug-in situation and we have a car kit that would see us home if we didn't have to take more than three days to get there. The biggest issue for me right now is to build strength and stamina in order to be better off in hard times.

Also, we are actively saving for a down payment on our homestead property and building self-sufficiency skills. We have meat rabbits, a garden, hens, alternative transportation and a wonderful community. We are incredibly blessed.

Thanks for all you do, Jenna!

July 7, 2014 at 5:32 PM  
OpenID dagnygromer said...

I grew up in the Bronx in the 60's and early 70's so I never expect things to go smoothly - when they do, that's great.
Now I live in a small town in rural northern Arizona, and the power often goes out during our summer monsoon (rainy) season. When that happens, it gets nice and quiet. We have supplies, dogs, neighbors, some cash in the safe, books, batteries, etc., on hand. Not a problem.

July 7, 2014 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

I think we'd be okay on our own. I'd be more worried about other people being desperate fools than anything else as time went on. I figure about a month and they'd start venturing from either town to our prospective house and try looting and such. I do rely heavily on my husband for protection because he's able to handle guns. I have my compound bow but only have 6 arrows with field points on them. We're currently in an apartment complex and that makes me more nervous than it really should. But I think even in the long term we'd be okay.

July 7, 2014 at 7:43 PM  
OpenID roseandphoenix said...

This is fascinating. It would depend a lot on what time of year this happened, for me. I live in Nova Scotia, a province (and a strait) away from my parents in PEI.

For a short time ... I am not as well-prepared as I would like to be. I have perhaps a week's worth of food at the moment, and no great way of cooking, but I also live quite close (about 10km) from family with more resources, so I would go there with my supplies. They have a ton of outdoor gear, and I've got a fair amount of knowledge, so ...

If it were long-term, I would walk to my parents' home. Well, to the ferry -- it's closer than the bridge and I have more chance of finding a fisherman there who would help, plus there are some people I know along that route (who would be both helpful and prepared). My parents have skills, gardens, some seeds, and are getting on in age, and I would do a lot to be there for them.

I know I could walk to PEI from Halifax, which is about 225km -- that would take me 10-15 days carrying loads. I walked across England last year, so I know I can do it; I also know my Achilles tendons regret the weight of my pack, so although I can do 20+mile days, I can't do very many of them without regretting it a lot.

But what I would probably do is fit up a wagon and take all my permaculture, live-on-the-land, gardening, and most prized literary books with me, because I'd rather take an extra week to get there and have them.

And I would be very, very happy that my novel exists in paper form (at least the proof version at the moment; it comes out next week). Which reminds me to print off what I have of the next story ... :)

That's what I would do. I was obsessed with survival stories when I was about ten. I think I could still do pretty well abandoned in the Boreal forest ... though the mosquitoes!

July 7, 2014 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I'm a bit better prepared in my vehicle than I thought I was. I took stock. I have a cup of almonds, flashlight, took kit, knife, plastic poncho, and fishing gear. I wear sneakers to work anyway, so that footgear is ok. My "handbag" is a small backpack, so most of those items would fit in it for the walk home. If I was in town, that's only 7 miles (although with a wicked hill to trudge up). I could do that in a few hours I think. My job is 16 miles away so that would take quite a bit longer.
At home, water would be something of an issue, because the well pump wouldn't work and the nearest pond is at the bottom of the wicked hill. I wonder if I could train the dogs to pull a wagon? We have a garden and chickens, so we'd have food for a while and could barter some of that. I can fish, and we do have a gun if it came to needing red meat or turkey.
Cooking would take some ingenuity. The woodstove we have is just for heat, although we could heat stuff on it.
This topic is great, and I will be doing more things for those "just in case" situations.

July 7, 2014 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger sandalfoot said...

Wow again! You sure can pose the questions. And I am encouraged by the comments in reply. My husband and I are somewhat prepared. Prepared at home. Our energy comes from a wind turbine and solar panels. We have rain barrels capturing some water, and have a pond. My garden produces more than we can consume, and our pond is stocked. Our hens lay three eggs a day. We have a gas generator to take over if the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. But gas does run out..... However, if away from home, not so good. We live in a remote area where there are no paved roads. To access our home, you have to drive 7 miles of beach along the Atlantic Ocean. No paved roads, just sand roads, behind the dunes, interrupted by no roads at all. In short, if we were not at home, and our animals were, it would be tough times. But we have weathered severe hurricanes and returned home when there was no place to drive but in the surf. I think living in these conditions, you are prepared simply because you know in a heartbeat, the weather (and other forces) could do to you exactly what you have described. But we have seen that this is not typical, most of us are not prepared. Most of us are complacent. But evidently this isn't the case among your readers, your following. Good for you, Jenna!

July 7, 2014 at 11:06 PM  
Blogger Meredith said...

My husband always gives me a hard time for still having a big stroller in the back of my car. My kids are 5 and 2 so he does not think it is a good use of space since it is so bulky.
I remind him of how horrible it would be to break down and have to carry our 2 year old who knows how many miles, and make our 5 year old walk those miles.
Yes, they don't need the stroller anymore on a daily basis but I will be glad I have it if I have to haul two kids and various bags of stuff.
Since we are mostly squared away here at home, it would not be horrible for us. What would be horrible is if we were in a 'stroller-needed' situation. I keep a 'get home' bag in the car with all the stuff I think I might need, including spare shoes for all of us. Keeping up on the rapidly changing sizes for the kids is a challenge but not impossible. Plus, since I have that stroller, they won't be forced to walk.
That podcast is wonderful, by the way. I am a regular listener and I can assure anyone out there who has reservations about tin hats and Armageddon that this podcast will not have you digging a bunker in your backyard. It is a wonderful source of practical information.

July 7, 2014 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Natalie Matos said...

Very good to think on, and when I first started reading this post I thought you were referencing a show on NBC called Revolution, which is based on this concept on everything power-wise going out, very good show btw. My husband and I are working on a two year plan to get to a spot of homesteading, and in the meanwhile, you remind me that there are little things we can do to just be better prepared in general. Thank you once again for having a blog that not only inspires me, but makes me think :D

July 8, 2014 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

This has been a great conversation, and I am happy to see folks reading S.M. Stirling. I loved those books!

July 8, 2014 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Revolution, I saw the first three or five episodes, but I think I just lost interest. But yes, the idea of losing electricity would be just as intense.

July 8, 2014 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Kandy! THAT IS GREAT! I'll get back to your email!

July 8, 2014 at 12:30 PM  
OpenID milesawayfarm said...

Yes, I'd be OK. But a lot would depend on what everyone else did. Here's a blog post I wrote on being a closet "prepper", lol.

July 8, 2014 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Ken Newman said...

Anyone here ever read "Dies the Fire" by S. M. Stirling? It's a bit beyond just a power failure but it makes some interesting points.

July 9, 2014 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Have plenty of food in the pantry. Diet would be monotonous but nutritious. Have 2 pressure canners and bunch of jars/lids so could can the meat as it thawed. Water could be an issue so I guess I need to put a few gallons in the pantry. Have gun/ammo for self protection--in a pinch could provide meat should my canned supply dry up. I garden, and could expand same. But FL without power in summer? That'd be awful.

July 9, 2014 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

I would have to say I would be fine. There's plenty of food here--meat and veggies and fruit, plenty of water, even alternative light and heat sources. In recent years I've been trying to move away from freezing and more into smoking and canning mostly so I don't have to buy a bigger freezer, but also because those things would take a hit if something were to happen to the electricity and it wasn't winter.

July 10, 2014 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger ourcosyhome said...

Nearly two years ago my husband and myself plus our 5 kids(the youngest was 2 months at the time) got flooded in for 5 days in 40 degree celcius(we live in Australa).It was empowering to be honest.We live on 5 acres and lived off the land, swam in the dam to keep cool and ate from the veggie patch and pantry and cooked by fire.We are not connected to the water mains anyway so always had drinking water and power usually goes out in summer storms so we had a big supply of candles.We changed quite quickly to rising and sleeping with the sun and it was really enjoyable not to have any screens calling us.I actually learnt alot about how much time I waste with technology,I also doubled our veggie patch size and we are nearly self sufficent in veggies for 7 people.It was a good eye opener.

July 12, 2014 at 7:56 PM  

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