Wednesday, 23 December 2015

12:05 – We’re pretty much finished getting the downstairs finished area ready for use. Barbara is currently unboxing books and transferring them to the bookshelves. My office, the larger of the two downstairs bedrooms, is still cluttered with stacks of boxes, but we’re gradually getting those unpacked. Eventually, we’ll install bookshelves on the walls in here, and probably one of the 5×2-foot freestanding island shelving units to store more kit stuff. There’s a large closet, which is currently about a quarter full of long-term food storage, roughly a person-year’s worth. When we get time, we’ll transfer another six or eight cases of #10 cans of Augason LTS food into that closet as well.

Barbara thinks we already have plenty of stored food, and in one sense she’s right. As I’ve said many times, I don’t really expect a catastrophic SHTF situation, at least anytime soon. I expect a continuing slide into dystopia. But there’s a very real possibility that a trigger event like the power grid going down or severe widespread civil disorder will kick things over the edge, and supermarket shelves will quickly empty and stay empty. If that does happen–and I’d SWAG there’s maybe a 10% chance per year that it will happen–I want to be in a position to feed not just Barbara, Colin, and me for the long term, but also family, friends, and neighbors. Fortunately, we’re now living in an area that produces much, much more food than it consumes, and that production is very diverse. Everything from beef and dairy cattle to grains to vegetables to fruit to poultry. That production would no doubt be seriously impaired by a grid-down or other severe long-term emergency, but even in a worst-case scenario the area should be able to feed its current population.

It’s a drizzly, foggy day here, with thunderstorms predicted for tonight and tomorrow, so we’ll stay indoors other than running a couple of errands sometime today or tomorrow. Barbara also wants to make up a double batch of no-knead bread dough today, which we’ll bake tomorrow. A double batch will yield four standard loaves, which should carry us through the holiday. Longer, if it turns out that our guests don’t care for the moister loaf that the no-knead dough produces. But the bread freezes very well, so it’s not a problem either way.

Barbara has been doing it for years, and I finally decided to start keeping a list of books I’ve been reading and videos I’ve been watching. Most will focus on prepping, because I’m reading/watching a lot of titles that apply to the prepping book I’m (still) working on. Here’s the first entry. I’ll try to keep doing it.

  • Jericho (TV series) – By far the best of the post-apocalyptic TV series. The science isn’t perfect by any means, but the writers manage to hit all the high points and cover all the issues. There are only 29 episodes, but all are worth watching/re-watching. It’s currently available on Netflix streaming.
  • Lights Out (novel) – David Crawford’s post-EMP novel is large and heavy enough to use as a doorstop, but it’s one of the best PA novels I’ve read. Again, it manages to hit all the high points and cover all the issues.
  • Lights Out (non-fiction) – Ted Koppel’s book lays out the threats against our power grids, and the nightmare scenario that would follow a long-term grid-down event. Koppel focuses on the threat of cyberattack against the grids, but acknowledges in passing the threats from an EMP attack or a solar CME.
  • Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival (non-fiction) – Angela Paskett’s book is the best single volume I’ve found that covers long-term food storage. What few errors there are are minor, and she does an excellent job of covering the issues.
  • Survival Mom (non-fiction) – Where Paskett’s book is deep but not broad, Lisa Bedford’s book is the opposite. It’s a prepping primer that attempts to touch on all of the important issues while not burying the reader in detail.
  • 100-day Pantry: 100 Quick and Easy Gourmet Meals (non-fiction) – Jan Jackson’s book addresses an issue that gets too little attention: how to cook appetizing meals using all that LTS food you have stored. The “gourmet” part is an exaggeration, but Jackson does an excellent job. She assumes that you may be cooking from stored staples but with access to some fresh foods, but she also presents LTS alternatives for when you don’t have access to fresh dairy products, meats, herbs, and so on. We actually own two printed copies of this book. When I got the first one, Barbara flipped through it and said it looked interesting. Some time later, she asked me where it was because she wanted to try cooking some of the recipes. I couldn’t find it, so I ordered another copy. One of those copies will live in our kitchen as we try some of the recipes over the next few months.

Enough for now. More next time.