Further yet, in the “ooh, shiny!” files, letting me wander further about the Interwebs and letting you know what I’ve found:
There’s another blog out there that has struck my fancy; it’s from a homesteading family (well, the mother of said family), blogging about the trials and tribulations of getting established. It’s well-written, with a good amount of tongue-in-cheek humor; the author is quite honest about her own shortcomings in “farming” know-how, but is willing to plow ahead. More importantly, much of what she has written describes what my family is going through right now. I’m going to contact her for permission to quote from a post or two; when I do, I’ll link to her site.
In other news, I ran across an ad for a list of “37 Critical Items You Should Hoard.” Apparently, it’s an over-priced DVD of absolutely basic information; many out there have decried it as a “scam,” or of “using scare tactics to make money.” One person did provide a list of “100 Items to Disappear First” (from store shelves in an emergency). Fair warning: the site is rather right-wing “out there;” most of them are, though, it seems.
Going through the list, a couple of things leap out at me. First: they had to kind of cheat to get to 100 items. Why separate “shaving supplies” from “hygiene”? Why have two line items of snack/treat food? Second: the list is a bit randomly ordered. Not really a problem, but it offends my mild OCD a little… Why is “honing oil” listed with “axes and saws,” not with “sharpening stones”? “Feminine hygiene” listed at #24, and “Men’s hygiene” at #49? Third: while all useful in their own way, a number of the items are impractical to store, or “incomplete” as listed. Having piles of gas cans is okay, I suppose–there are lots of potential uses for them–but I’d as soon have them full of gasoline. (Actually, I’d sooner yet get used to not needing the gasoline…) Likewise, with propane tanks. A generator is good, but I’d rate solar panels and/or a wind turbine as better–no gasoline, much quieter…
Of much more use, in my opinion, is the smaller list at the bottom of the page, from a survivor of the war in Sarajevo. Definitely a point or two to make you think a little. I had to chuckle at the last bullet on his list: “Slow-burning candles and matches, matches, matches.” I think it highlights our dependence on the more modern conveniences.
While I’m absolutely not averse to matches, and I do intend to have a store of them (as soon as we have things somewhat settled, and can re-build our stockpile), I’m also fond of older, simpler technologies; in this case, flint-and-steel. A bit of char-cloth, and a fire is easily started. The technique is pretty simple (there are plenty of “how-to” videos on Youtube); it’s actually how I prefer to light my charcoal grill–it starts the fire for cooking, and keeps me in practice with the skill. I hope to begin experimenting soon on a “recipe” I found for “instant-light kindling” (from a medieval French manuscript, no less!) that could be a substitute for matches. (I’ll report back on it after I’ve played with it a bit.)
In keeping with the theme of the past few weeks, I’d also submit that a number of the things on the “big” list could be made, then bartered for. I’m a brewer, vintner, and baker; I dabble in cheese-making and meat-smoking. All of the products of those hobbies are “salable” commodities in the collapse; the “raw ingredients” are/can be grown and/or raised locally. I’ve got skills to trade, as well–I’m a fair hand with woodworking. That’s useful not just for the “big” things (houses, etc.), but also smaller items: if there’s no electricity, you’ll be air-drying your clothes–do you have enough clothespins? I can make more. It’s the little things…