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Today is fall — prep time, too

Today is fall. Tomorrow, summer comes creeping back and by Friday it’s expected to be mid-July again. But today is fall — mild, gray, and showery — and I feel ready for it.

We’ve had a glorious summer. A rare treat for this part of the world. And I’ve been dreading the end of long, warm days and the inevitable closing-in of winter.

But no more. After the JPFO debacle and months of hard work (both work-work and house projects), I’m ready to hibernate. Ready to draw within, be idle, read books, eat soups and stews, do little, and be beholden to nobody.

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Fall is history’s time for preparedness. And just in time, the fedgov (without which we could, of course, do nothing) decrees preparedness upon us. Yes, we now have National Preparedness Month.

The irony is strong with this one. Do we prepare and be good, responsible citizens as Our Glorious Leader urges? Or do we prepare and become terrorist suspects as the FBI sees us? Decisions, decisions …

—–

But prepare we do.

Part of my preparedness this fall (thanks to you!) is preparing a solid roof overhead. Another part is adding alternative, non-electric heat — nothing fancy, just useful. Another is laying in extra food for the critters.

Yet another involves stocking a couple of treats. Because in the darkest, coldest of winter, treats make the difference between mere Stygian gloom and Stygian gloom to the point of wanting to put your head in an oven.

Some friends and I went to a presentation on the Thrive brand of freeze-dried foods early last week and while we all agreed that multi-level marketing (the main way Thrive foods are sold) is a tool of the devil, we also agreed that was some of the finest storage food we’d ever tasted. So my friends set up a Thrive “Q” for monthly orders. In August, blackberries, pineapple chunks, and real sausage bits were all on sale. So using their “Q” and without getting on anybody’s damnable List, I indulged.

I’ve never had actual meat in my long-term storage larder before. If it’s good, I expect the small can of sausage I bought won’t turn out to be so long term. 🙂

My friends, lucky them, have a super-dooper packaging machine (a chamber sealer) that can not only do regular vacuum packs of food, but also easily make last-not-quite-forever retort pouches. Since they fish, hunt, garden, gather, and scout, that machine gets a lot of use. I have a standing invitation to try it. Haven’t yet, but it’s a good answer to the question, “What’s a single woman with a small appetite supposed to do with an opened #10 can o’ stuff?”

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So … you’re already prepared. I know it. But are you upping your preps this fall? And if so, are you doing it just because it’s fall and that’s a good time? Or are you doing it because this year seems more ominous, more dangerous, than most?

What are your best prep ideas for this year and this season?

Here, BTW, is Survival Mom’s list of lists for preppers. Some useful, some less so. Decent read in any case.

Now I’m going to go don my furry slippers and have a nice, hot cup of tea.

19 Comments

  1. Kyle Rearden
    Kyle Rearden September 3, 2014 6:02 am

    I’ll second that, Claire. Although not as bad as last year, getting by with no air conditioning here in Texas is no picnic; yet, in another sense, it’s good for the soul in terms of facing “adversity,” much like my ancestors did (besides, it’s just gol’ darn expensive to run the AC for even as short as 2 hours!).

    I’m unsure as to whether storable meats are really appropriate or cost effective for the average food prep/storage. Although TheLordHumungus (on YouTube) is a big fan of stockpiling spam, I’m dubious as to whether the shelf life or financial cost are worth it. Perhaps it’s an article idea for ya, unless you’ve already written about it before?

  2. Claire
    Claire September 3, 2014 6:09 am

    Kyle Rearden — I’ve never written about stockpiling meats before. As a real long-term option it seems both potentially iffy and more of a luxury than most people can afford.

    But LOL on stockpiling Spam! Yes, I suppose it would last just about forever, given that it was never actually “food” in the first place.

    I do have a couple of stashed cans of a Spam-like substance (can you imagine; fake Spam???) that I acquired by accident by moving from the Desert Hermitage with a bag of Joel’s groceries that somehow managed to stay in the back of my vehicle. I’d be terrified to open them and eat the contents, but they’re there … waiting …

  3. Joel
    Joel September 3, 2014 7:43 am

    So that’s where those went. 🙂

    …treats make the difference between mere Stygian gloom and Stygian gloom to the point of wanting to put your head in an oven.

    Last winter I decided I’d gotten too ascetic in my food-storage choices when somebody gave me a bag of popcorn with an expired ‘use-by’ date, and eating it made me feel all decadent and materialistic. Truth was, sometimes a pot of popcorn was just what the doctor ordered on a dark, cold night. And it’s relatively cheap. So since then I’ve added popcorn to the list of things always in reserve supply.

  4. Matt, another
    Matt, another September 3, 2014 8:27 am

    Popcorn can also be ground into corn meal if need be.

  5. Pat
    Pat September 3, 2014 9:24 am

    Stockpiling meat is easy enough if you dehydrate it as jerky ― but of course you have to buy the meat first, and that surely costs money. Hamburger (which isn’t cheap) can be dried, and many cuts of meat can be cooked first, then dried. Pemmican is a great alternative. I’ve already dehydrated many vegetables.

    Am hoping to get hold of a (reasonably-priced) small freezer this fall to freeze some fresh meat and fresh or frozen vegetables, also water in 2-gal. jugs.

    I have trouble with MREs and the like ― they include flavorings and foods which I can’t tolerate, so probably wouldn’t be able to eat much of what’s in the package ― therefore have to dry or freeze my own meals.

    BTW, for those who can utilize canned meats, canned chicken, tuna and beef can be dehydrated (as well as vegetarian “crumbles”), thus eliminating the weight from carrying cans if you’re on the move.

  6. Karen
    Karen September 3, 2014 9:48 am

    At first hint and rumor of the prices of meat to come, I started pressure canning meats whenever I hit a good sale or found something good in the reduce for quick clearance bin. Not just good for stocking up for winter, but darned convenient to just pull a jar off the shelf in a pinch. The only problem with canning over dehydrating is the space the jars take up.

  7. Claire
    Claire September 3, 2014 10:00 am

    Oh yeah. Canning and drying meat. No problems there. Also retort-pouch packing.

    I was thinking more about meat being problematic for truly long-term storage, as in the “shelf life 10 years” (or more) claims some commercial storage products make.

    I love jerky making. I’ve never (yet) canned meat and for long-term storage I think there are better, cheaper, more stable proteins. But sure it’s great for mid-term storage.

  8. Jim B.
    Jim B. September 3, 2014 10:29 am

    There already are stored meats. Best place to store the meat is to leave them on the animals til you need them. What did you think squirrels and rabbits are for? : )

    Better to lay in a few sets of small traps to procure meat with.

  9. Curt S
    Curt S September 3, 2014 11:39 am

    Re meats….. the thing is, suppose there is a teotwaki that destroys civilization as we know it. Some folks have tis idea of going bush and living off the land, others go with the bug out in the boonies. Well, either way, there is a limit to what any given amount of land can produce meat wise. Say one decides to go bush, well assuming they really know what they’re doing….it is only a matter of time before they exhaust the resources there. Then they will have to travel elsewhere. In effect, becoming nomads. Sure, you can grow crops or raise cattle but just how many people that have never done that are experienced enough to do that? Even though you may think you have adequate security…..things happen. Then what?

  10. LarryA
    LarryA September 3, 2014 11:13 pm

    The only problem with canning over dehydrating is the space the jars take up.

    True only if you have a reliable source of good water. (My first camping experience was out in the Mojave Desert, where we had to tote our own H2O.) Dehydrated food isn’t food until you add back the wet.

    Claire, when you have nothing to do, do it well.

  11. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 4, 2014 6:37 am

    Curt, you must live in a city. 🙂 Why do you think all of the wild animals would be exhausted? Did you forget that they reproduce, some rather rapidly?

    Yes, the available supply of rabbits might quickly fade in NYC and Central Park (though I wouldn’t take any solid bets on it), but the many millions of uninhabited grasslands and forests out West would not see any reduction in game numbers from simply eating them.

    I’ve been shooting at least three or four wild rabbits off my back deck most every day for nearly ten years. There are at least as many rabbits out there now as there ever were, probably more. We had a nice wet summer and they are big and fat. A herd of deer numbering between 15 and 30 come through my property every day. I don’t shoot them at all, but I could if I had to. And yes, at some point I’d have to go hunt for them, but there are always going to be thousands of them nearby. Not enough people out here ever to eliminate all of them. And then we have wild turkey, antelope, moose, elk, bear, lots of other good things to eat as well. And even a few cows…

    Why do you suppose that the world never runs out of chickens?

  12. Ellendra
    Ellendra September 4, 2014 7:34 am

    For me, prep time has become get-out-of-Dodge time. I’ve been working myself to the limit but it’s still going slow. Too many health issues to make it go any faster, even my TENS unit is overworked. But it has to be done, I have GOT to get out of here!

  13. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau September 4, 2014 8:20 am

    MamaLiberty, we used to have an old ex-dairy farm in an eastern valley of Oregon’s coast range. I recall talking to an old neighbor who had been there forever. He said the deer had just come back not so long ago from the population crashes during the Depression, when everybody hunted them out. I don’t know whether I should have believed him on that point, as I have read it is near impossible to eradicate blacktails in heavy cover such as we have in the coast range, but it is a data point of some kind…

    In nature, predator populations follow prey populations. When the prey population crashes, it is hard times for the predators. Human predators are way, way above these levels due to agriculture. A sudden change in human habits, going after prey species, has got to depress prey populations substantially – until the big human die-off occurs.

    We (mostly the wife) have been canning like crazy. Our peach trees were too productive this year. I didn’t know you could get tired of peaches.

    “What’s a single woman with a small appetite supposed to do with an opened #10 can o’ stuff?” Hope you have neighbors who you can share it with, and they in turn share theirs with you. Otherwise, feed it to the dogs…

  14. LarryA
    LarryA September 4, 2014 9:07 am

    He said the deer had just come back not so long ago from the population crashes during the Depression, when everybody hunted them out.

    The Depression was in the 1930s. Wildlife management was a new concept in the U.S. Most of the species that were in trouble were the result of indiscriminate slaughter, the Army killing off “Indian food,” and market hunting. FDR signed the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937. (http://www.fws.gov/southeast/federalaid/pittmanrobertson.html)

    OTOH during the Depression nearly everybody knew how to hunt. We’ve been doing our part; last year Texas Hunter Ed instructors graduated 59,597 students, most of them teenagers. But that still leaves lots of people who have never seen meat without a Styrofoam tray.

    Between the citified folks, the human predators, and the derps from PETA the first EOTW hunting season is going to be dicey, and not for lack of game.

  15. Curt S
    Curt S September 4, 2014 4:47 pm

    Re what Mama Liberty replied to me; I was trying to make the point that say large groups of people decide to go bush….live off the land. Sure, one person would not cause that much damage to the rabbit population but large groups harvesting what could be called big game is another thing entirely. Say the worst has happened….there would be no bag limits or game wardens. The members of those groups would not care about sustainable growth of those animals and their harvesting. Do I live in a city? Well, the town I live in has a population of 3000 people. The nearest “large” city is about 130 miles away with a population of about 50,000. A city the size of Denver is over 400 miles away. incidentally I have hunted for over 70 some years. Most large cities today have a population that has no idea as to how to hunt, etc. How many city kids today know how to dress out a deer….or even know how to clean a fish? If they don’t know I am sure their parents don’t either. Then take a group of those people and turn them loose in the woods???? As the song goes, “I see a dark moon arising”.

  16. Connie
    Connie September 5, 2014 7:06 am

    About what to do with open cans of dehydrated food- I wonder if you could vacuum pack it in single servings then put it back in the cans. Or package it in single servings in a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. Thoughts?

  17. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 5, 2014 7:59 am

    “Most large cities today have a population that has no idea as to how to hunt, etc. How many city kids today know how to dress out a deer….or even know how to clean a fish? If they don’t know I am sure their parents don’t either. ”

    Exactly my point. There are not going to be “large groups of people” who suddenly decide to live off the land. At least there won’t be many who succeed. I’ve hunted for a lot of years, and it is hard, time consuming work – both the hunt and the processing of the result.

    I have no fear that the wild game will be wiped out by these folks. Now, if the dear leaders decide to nuke us, then we’ve got even worse problems. If a few people decide to go nuts and start shooting indiscriminatingly, well there ARE things the rest of us can do about it without “game wardens” and all that crap.

  18. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau September 6, 2014 5:52 pm

    Well, it’s not that Cubicle Joe is going to go out and start killing deer. It’s that those who are well capable of hunting will go back to market hunting and selling the meat to Cubicle Joe.

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