What if you only had ONE week before SHTF?

Looking at my calendar, I see that the London Olympics open in a week.  It got me to thinking that it is a pretty significant event on the world stage and with the world situation the way it is, it could provide an opportunity for something bad to happen.  So pretend you have this one week’s warning that some kind of shtf event is about to occur.  Are you ready?  What do you need to do to be about as ready as you can be? 

Actually, this is not a bad exercise to run through 3 or 4 times a year.  Kind of gives you a good checkpoint or baseline to work from. 

For me, I am squaring away and making sure my current position is solid as possible.  Am I ready, NO!  Can I be a little better off by this time next week.  Absolutely!  So what are the immediate things that will improve my situation in just one week:

  • Purchase a few extra beans, rice, flour, and other staples from the store this week. 
  • Hit the buy-one-get-one sales at the local stores. 
  • Refresh my water storage.  Maybe buy a few extra cases of bottled water.  (Some places have it on sale for $2.50/case this week.  $10 will go a long way). 
  • Purchase some emergency seeds off of eBay.
  • Postpone the purchase of a solar power system and purchase some extra rechargeable batteries and another solar charger.
  • Purchase a few of the solar landscape lights (to be used just to provide enough lumination at night to get around the house).
  • Pick up some more toilet paper. 
  • Buy some packages of frozen vegetables and run the dehydrator all weekend. 
  • Purchase a couple of boxes of .22 ammo

Actually, this is not much different than a typical week with the incremental improvements.  The only things out of the ordinary are the seeds and solar items.  Still, it looks like a big week ahead. 

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“Boy, you sure eat a lot of beans at your house” ….


“We sure do” is the response I gave the check-out lady at Wal-Mart.  We then got into a discussion about how many different ways she ate beans back during the WWII era, and she passed along a few tips with how to keep the gas down.  (She said just a pinch of baking soda will do it.  Not too much, or you will have a volcano on your hands).   With all the company and other distractions we’ve had, I hadn’t had a chance to keep up with my prepping efforts.  So I decided I would go shopping at lunch and pick up items for the emergency pantry.

 I was especially looking for flour and corn meal, since the price is expected to really sky-rocket because of the drought.  I half-way expected there to be limited amounts available, but I was really surprised.  There was plenty of corn meal, grits, cans of corn, etc.  So I guess it hasn’t really dawned on the rest of the masses yet.  What did surprise me was the increase in the price of beans.  The split green peas I had been buying for $.75 are now up to $1.29 and other dried beans had gone up as well. 

So after the beans, corn meal, flour, and other canned goods, I decided to go over to the sporting goods section, especially to see if there was anything good on clearance.  I always check out the ammo as well, and I was caught off guard by the limited amount they had.  I knew most of them weren’t as well stocked as before, but I was really not expected them to be totally out of .22 ammo.  As far as the other ammo, let’s just say that the other calibers they did have were not stacked more than two deep. 

I guess the surprises are not so much that these things are unexpected, it is just the pace at which they are happening.  Time seems to be growing short.

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A little more progress ….

We’ve had sporadic house guests for the past couple of weeks, and I have been working a lot on home improvement projects, so I have not been able to prepare posts like I normally do.  At first I didn’t think I made a lot of progress, but in retrospect, I did accomplish a few things this past couple of weeks.  

Accomplishments and Lessons Learned since my last post:

  • I am continuing to play with my dehydrator.  Nothing around here is going to waste.  Peaches or apples starting to go a little soft, dehydrate them.   On the weekends or when I have a day off, I usually buy a bag of mixed vegetables and dehydrate them. 
  • During one of my trips to the home improvement store, I picked up a Eastwing Sportsmen’s Hatchet.  I’ve had my eye on one of these for a long time, mostly because it is one piece of solid steel. 
  • I picked up some poison ivy while cleaning out some weeds and such from my back yard.  I decided not to go to the doctor right away, mainly to see what I could do to clear this up on my own if I contracted this during a shtf situation and didn’t have access to a doctor.  I don’t know if what I did myself, or if time by itself, or a combination of the two is what cleared this up.  The first 4 days, I hit it real hard with the calamine lotion and topical anti-histamines.  That really didn’t seem to help a whole lot, but I kept at it.  I also read an article regarding Fels Naptha soap.  This supposedly cuts the oils that cause the reaction.  For the next 4 days, I scrubbed the infected areas with the soap and continued to use the calamine lotion.  So after 8 days, it seemed to be going away.  Today is the 10th day, and I only have a few red splotches left.  So I am going to buy more bars of soap and increase the calamine supply for shtf.   Fels Naptha soap costs a little over $1 at wallyworld in the laundry section.  Apparently this stuff is a great stain remover as well which makes it a dual use item. 
  • Even though I successfully gardened most of the time I lived up north, I have learned some hard lessons with my first attempt here in north Florida.  I got my plants out a little late, so the heat has not been a big help.  I also learned a lot about how much the sun patterns change in my back yard.  Areas that received plenty of sun during the spring seemed to not get as much once we reached the summer solstice.  I’m already making changes for next year and for my fall crops.  
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The $98 trade-off.

Been out of pocket for a while.  Went up north to visit family.  While there, I did pick up some canned goods that I found much cheaper than I can purchase at home.  And on the way back home, stopped at the Frost Cutlery factory outlet in Chattanooga.  I was able to pick up another Marbles machete.  Had a great visit with my family and was able to pick up some good supplies, so it was a good trip all around. 

The $98 trade-off. 
The wife has been wanting to buy a deck box to hold our outdoor chair cushions and other items.  Although I don’t disagree that it would be nice to have a deck box, I have been resisting and  basically delaying.  Today, I was looking for some particular supplies that I needed, so I decided to go to the local ACE Hardware store.  It is attached to a Dollar General store, so after I completed my purchases at ACE, I stopped by DG.  It struck me that the $98 that I spent between both places was the amount that I would have paid for the deck box.  So, what trade-off did I get?

  • 3 ½ lb axe (I discovered that my other axes had developed legs, so I was in desperate need of at least one). 
  • 21 inch bow saw packaged with a 7-inch folding saw
  • Butane for refilling lighters
  • 4 bottles of Gatorade
  • 2 cans of chicken
  • 3 cans of roast beef (building my inventory for the 100 day pantry)
  • 2 cans of ham chunks
  • 4 bandanas
  • 2 packages of sanitary napkins
  • Triple anti-biotic ointment
  • 12 bars of soap (plan to open these and put them in an open box in my storage shed to dry out.  This is supposed to extend the life of a bar of soap dramatically) 
  • 4 large tubes of Colgate toothpaste
  • 2 tubes of diaper rash cream
  • Vitamin C tablets
  • 6 cans of cheese sauce
  • Container of Creole seasoning
  • 2 rolls of packing tape

The point of all of this is that prepping is a lot about priorities and choices/trade-offs.   For example, if you eat out 2 nights a week and spend $30 each time (which is probably a low amount), think about the preps that you could acquire for trading one night out.  $30 would buy 2 nice steaks you could throw on the grill , 10 pounds of rice, 5 pounds of beans, a couple of boxes of pasta, a few cans of chicken, chicken bouillon, and frozen mixed veggies for the dehydrator…  So you’ve placated the wife, and got enough supplies to feed you for two or three days if shtf. 

BTW, it rained this afternoon and the wife wasn’t thrilled the cushions got wet.  I decided not to tell her about her trade-off.

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What a great week…..

 What a great week.  I wasn’t sure that it was going to turn out great, but it did in the end. 

I bought a book, The 100-Day Pantry by Jan Jackson.  When I first got it, I was immediately disappointed as it seemed just another recipe book.  But after reading through it, my eyes were opened.  If you really look closely, it will provide you with all the ingredients you need to feed at least 4 people one nourishing meal for 100 days.  It also makes the assumption that there is no extra water, so all the recipes will use canned items like chicken broth instead of mixing bullion with water.  I took one day off from work and went through each recipe, putting the major ingredients in a spreadsheet so I could analyze and determine how much of each item I needed.  In the end, after the analysis, I felt a lot better about what I have on hand and how long I could feed my family.  If there is anything that is a major gap, it is the canned beef that is I need.  Canned chicken, tuna, ham, etc. are easy enough to come by at a reasonable price, but the beef is a different story.  Canned roast beef is $4 a can, and about 50 cans are needed to follow this plan.  That adds up quickly, so if you should probably think about canning your own ground beef.  In addition to that, there are several things I need to acquire, but these will be manageable.   This is probably way below more seasoned preppers, but for those just starting out and those more intermediate, I would recommend this as a resource and a good plan to follow.

I bought a food dehydrator last weekend and thought I would try it out this weekend.  I bought two packages of mixed frozen vegetables.  I was able to put both these packages in a pint jar.  I will use these in soups within the next 6 months.  The wife even got excited and is wanting me to do various fruits for here to take to work.  I was even more encouraged after talking with my mom.  She told me she was on the last package of apples she dried 20 years ago and only stored in plastic bags.  Needless to say, I am very excited at the prospects of dehydrating lots of things while I can still get them cheap and store them away. 

For Father’s Day, one of my kids bought me a book on multiple ways to preserve food.  The cool thing is the wife got into it and we talked about all the things we need to do.  I told her about the need to can ground beef for my 100-day Pantry plan and she readily agreed.  Next stop Wal-Mar for a pressure canner!

So a few things are falling into place.  Now all I need is a little more time to get them done.

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Getting a few things done this week

Been raining most of the week here in the panhandle.  Pensacola has been getting slammed.  I keep several old 5 gallon buckets beside my garden plot to catch the rain water and they are all over 1/2 full.  The garden seems to like the rain water much better than water out of the hose.  I’ve got one rain barrel hooked up to the gutter system on the sun room and it is full.  It’s amazing how much water you can collect.  I really need to get the gutters on the rest of the house.   

Anyway, I did continue to work my plan and get a few things done this week. 

  • Picked up four oil/kerosene lamps and one lantern as part of my alternative lighting plan.  I’ve got lots of candles, flashlights, and batteries, but this has been one of those items that I had been putting off.  Anyway, i jumped into this with both feet this week and started picking up lamp oil at the local Family Dollar.  They have it very cheap and I will pick up a more bottles of lamp oil or kerosene as I find it at a good price.
  • During one of my limited reading sessions on the net, I ran across a great article regarding the multiple uses of baking soda during a shtf situation.   (Article can be found here:  SHTF uses for baking soda).  I promptly went to Sam’s and picked up a couple of bulk bags for my supplies.  This stuff is amazing. 
  • With the stuff coming in from the garden, I picked up a dehydrator.  This will be especially great mid-term storage for the herbs, peppers, corn, and other items.  As I mentioned before, freezing is one of the things that I am avoiding.  We plan on getting into canning, and the dehydration will provide us another immediate option. 

All and all, not a bad week and moving forward with the plan. 


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We ain’t coming back; lessons learned:

This weekend, I’ve been running exercises to see how fast I could get things loaded and ready to leave if I had to.  I’m of the mindset to bug-in for most scenarios, but there could always come a time where we need to leave.  So in addition to the bug out bags that are always at the ready, I wanted to gauge what it would take to get us ready to go in a get out of Dodge (GOOD)/ we ain’t coming back scenario. 

The parameters:

1)      Approach this as we will not be coming back home ever

2)      This is one of those scenarios where no matter where we go, the conditions are just as bad.  We just can’t go to our parents or brother’s house.  It will be just as bad, if not worse there. 

3)      Only one vehicle will be used

4)      Each family member was responsible for their own clothing choices

I learned several valuable lessons that will make the next time a little smoother and hopefully better. 

1)      I recently went through an reorganized all my supplies and equipment.  The organization is good for an stay at home situation, but if I have to leave quick, it leaves a lot to be desired.  I store most things in buckets or Rubbermaid containers with labels as to the category and contents.  The tendency in this exercise was just to grab all the containers, after all, we are not coming back.  So my space was rapidly filled up by a lot of stuff that would provide only a short term benefit.  For example, my Base Camp category contains items such as camp stoves.  Do I really need the propane camp stove, or would I be better served just taking the DeadWood stove.  The lesson here is to create and load my base set of containers focused a GOOD scenario and cross reference on the other containers so I know where to find it.  This way, we just grab anything with GOOD on it and will be comfortable knowing we have bare necessities.  Anything beyond that will be gravy.   

2)       My food storage is not organized for GOOD either.  I need to create some containers focused just on GOOD.  I will start with a 10 day focus and build up from there. 

3)      Checklists were not clear.  With this initial exercise, I had to stop what I was doing and either answer a question or show how to do something.  Again, a GOOD –focused organization will help, plus, after running through this, things are clearer so next time it shouldn’t be an issue. 

4)      One problem I spotted right away was if someone wasn’t home or out of town.  I need to devise a way to reallocate tasks quickly.  

5)      Our clothing choices were poor.  The rest of the family packed only for the current season and didn’t think long term, plus, it took way too long to pull stuff together.  Boots and wool socks were severely lacking. 

6)      We didn’t think about seeds or basic gardening items

7)      Ammo is heavy.  You will have to make some tough choices regarding number and type of firearms as well as amount of ammo.

8)      Water is heavy.  My goal was to carry 7 gallons of water per person.

9)      Somebody is always watching.  I told the neighbors that inquired that it was a family camping trip.  Fortunately it rained so no one gave it a second thought when I started unloading.  Next time, I will pull the vehicle around back.   Not only that, but the containers you use should conceal the contents and be weatherproof.  

10)   I forgot the topo/backroads maps. 

11)   I forgot the important documents and the digital backups. 

12)   Our personal choices could have been better.  For example why would we need hair spray or gel.  Or handheld video games.  Precious battery resources will be for flashlights, not games. 

13)   Need to acquire some new skills and knowledge.  For example, we can only take so much toothpaste.  Baking soda is a good alternative during a bug-in, but what happens when both of those run out.  How will we maintain good dental hygiene when the good stuff runs out.  I know what to do, but getting my family to accept it could be problematic. 

14)   Predetermined destination with supplies as well as caches along the way would be ideal.  I need to spend some time researching potential areas. 

15)    The family is probably going to be in some sort of denial and paralysis. 

16)   Leaving as a matter of life and death may not improve our chances. 

17)   What would we do with the house and all the supplies and food we leave behind?      

These are by no means all the lessons learned, just the ones that jumped out at me initially.  Just know that it isn’t as easy as it looks on paper,  don’t underestimate what it will take, and don’t overestimate your capabilities.  As Eisenhower said; “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”.

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