Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where It All Began

   Thinking back and reflecting on just how and why my wife and I started in “prepping” takes me back to the early years of our marriage in the mid-1970s. Although the term prepping hadn’t yet been coined, a movement of self-sufficiency and ‘back to the earth” type living was taking place. It basically involved simplifying your lifestyle, living a more natural existence and returning to a wholesome and healthy way of life, while at the same time rebelling against the assault of harmful chemicals in “processed” food that was being touted as safe and convenient for the American family.   
   There were several elements in our life that really set in motion the primitive notion of prepping. At the time, we would have never thought that our experiences back then would come in so handy and be so important for today’s environment. Here are a few simple factors which influenced not only our thinking, but transitioned us into the “prepper/self-sufficient” mindset. Perhaps you have experienced or are experiencing similar situations like ours.

    The back to the earth movement was far more that just a buzzword of the ‘70s. It was an idea that we could live less expensive and provide a healthier life for our families if we grew our own organic food on a little piece of rural land. Publications like Mother Earth News, Prevention Magazine, and Organic Gardening and Farming paved the way with new ideas, instructions, and valuable information needed for growing garden vegetables without chemical fertilizers; raising farm animals for food production; preserving and storing your own food to last throughout the year, and treating minor health problems and concerns with natural and herbal medicines.  
    After my wife became pregnant with our first child, I became the sole provider for our family to-be. At that time, I was working for a state agency which paid only once a month. Gone were the days of a two salary income and in came the stringent budgeting plan. We found shopping for groceries and paying bills with only one income a challenge; however, being paid only once a month made it even harder. Although the paycheck seemed like a lot of money when we received it, mid-way through the month, our money was nearly gone and as was most the food in our pantry. Thus, a change had to be made and a new way of purchasing food began.
     We started buying all of our groceries—food and non-food items—all at one time. Although it may sound simple, it took a lot of careful planning, calculating, and many disastrous months to learn exactly how much we needed to last the entire month. And when we blew it--we went without until payday. We also learned how to keep expenses down by buying large quantities of non-name brand items at a time when “bulk” foods didn't exist, and added some creativity to help extend provisions throughout the month
     Here’s an example that worked well back then.  When purchasing milk, most families normally buy a gallon or two, and when they run out they pick-up more at the store--no problem, right? Well if it’s not in your budget—or your finances have run dry near the end of the month, it was a problem and you simply had to go without. That’s hard when you have small children. We solved this problem by purchasing several gallons (4 or 5) at one time and froze them. Milk freezes and thaws quite well—just shake before serving. However, as the children grew, our freezer space didn't. My wife creatively extended our milk supply by adding one gallon of reconstituted instant non-fat milk (not powdered milk but crystallized milk that dissolves instantly.) to a gallon of fresh, thus turning 4 or 5 gallons into 8 or 10. The cost difference between instant milk and fresh was quite considerable and you could not taste any difference once mixed. So much so, that although my father-in-law swore up and down he could detect “that instant stuff” immediately, he never knew he was drinking half and half at our house.
    Another important factor in our evolution toward self-sufficiency, I realized, was the effects the book “Eating May Be Hazardous to your Health” by Jacqueline Verrett had on my wife and I. By this time, our daughter was nearly two and we were expecting our second child. Immediately upon reading this book, my wife went to the pantry and began throwing out everything that was either processed or had any preservatives or artificial ingredients listed on the package. The fear of God had settled into her and she decided to learn how to cook healthy from scratch—no more boxed anything! Once again, a new way of purchasing food began and the realization that stocking-up on the “essentials” was far less expensive and lasted longer than processed food. Besides, who wouldn’t like to come home to the aroma and taste of home-made bread? Today, our pantry has bags of dried beans, canned tomato sauce, and freshly dried herbs to make home-made chili, rather than opening canned chili which includes beans, meat, tomato sauce and other things you may not necessarily want in your body.

   Therefore, throughout the 36 years of marriage, my wife and I have continued to practice what we learned in the first few years. We’ve kept a supply of necessities and storable foods always at hand. Even as Y2K approached and the airwaves were full of talk about computers collapsing, banks closing, disruption of supply chains, and the need to stock-up on food, water, gasoline, and other necessities became an urgency for others, we merely added some fresh stocks to our larder. Were we perfectly prepared? Probably not! Could we have weathered out six months of disruptions? Yes. And most importantly, we learned quite a bit about long-term food storage and the how’s, why’s, when’s and not-to’s in the process.
   So as the world’s conditions at present brings forth another “urgency for preparedness”, if you haven’t started, there’s no better time than right now.

Now let’s get prepping,
Dr. & Mrs. Prepper

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Welcome to Preparednessnow!

As a Boy Scout, I took the motto "Be Prepared" seriously, and  now numerous decades later I still have the compass and the Official Boy Scout pocket knife. The knife, like the times when I was growing up in, is much simpler than today's fancy multi-functional knives; a can opener, an awl, a combination screw driver/bottle opener, and one large blade was all that was needed. The knife is still functional, as is still the legible motto "Be Prepared"on it's handle and that is the focus of this blog.

The endeaver of this sight is to help the reader with the "being prepared" part of Preparedness for these difficult and interesting times. We will have some "how-to's", some "how not-to's", and probably some "what was this guy thinking-to's", as well as some insightful quotes and Biblical inspirations. Mrs. Prepper will throw in some of her thoughtful insights and probably a recipe or two. 

This is a new venture for us, so please be patient. We look forward to hearing from you about your own preparations, or any comments, questions, and/or suggestions. So grab a cup of coffee, sit  back, and lets enjoy ourselves.

Dr & Mrs Prepper