Organic Prepper: How Preppers Can Still Find Community in the Middle of a Pandemic

Joanna Miller at The Organic Prepper talks about How Preppers Can Still Find Community in the Middle of a Pandemic

The need for supportive communities in SHTF situations is something we talk about often. People know they need a support network because, let’s face it, in a long-term survival situation almost none of us can do it alone. However, one of the biggest tragedies to come from the Covid rules has been how hard it is to meet people and establish any kind of community these days. And many of us have learned things about our circle of people that aren’t overly positive during this stressful time.

Your own opinions about Covid aside, many states are greatly restricting opportunities for socialization. Some never really opened back up after the previous lockdown.

In my state, Colorado, public gatherings are severely curtailed. I still attend church, but we are no longer allowed to socialize afterward. At the kids’ activities, parents are discouraged from sitting near each other and chit-chatting, which was a major social outlet for a lot of parents (myself included) for a long time. You might strike up a conversation with someone friendly, or you might get someone who flips out over not social distancing properly.

This atmosphere of distrust is worse than any virus.

You have your friends, and then there are your “lockdown” friends

We have come together in ways I never would have expected. I don’t know what will work for everyone, but I can give an example of how a series of inconveniences gave rise to my own little group of people getting together to process chickens.

I have had a little side-gig producing a couple hundred chickens every year for meat. They are pastured birds raised on certified organic corn- and soy-free feed. I’ve learned a lot over the years, getting and training livestock guardian dogs after predator attacks, and so on. The only hitch has been getting the birds processed every year. My luck has been almost comically bad. I’ve seen a number of processors close.

I eventually met a couple, I’ll call them Andrew and Andrea, about nearby that had their own processing equipment who taught me how to process birds. I’d bring my birds over, we’d process together, and it was a social outlet as well as getting a chore done.

Then their house burned down in 2018, literally a day after we’d processed my birds.

They are still in the process of rebuilding, but in 2019 and 2020 Andrea brought her processing equipment to my house and we processed the birds ourselves. When we were at her house, Andrew would help, or sometimes they’d have friends hanging out that wanted to learn how to process. Processing 70 or 80 birds is a lot of work, and many hands make it go a lot faster.

It takes a community to process chickens

I wasn’t sure where we’d get the extra hands at my house, but sometimes problems solve themselves. My boys are in Scouts, and knowing that I have a hobby farm, one of the other parents asked if I had any big jobs her son, I’ll call him Josiah, could help with. He wanted a new computer game, and she told him he could pay for it himself. I asked how Josiah felt about processing chickens. She laughed and said she’d find out how badly he wanted that computer game.

It turns out Josiah really wanted it! I had him plus my own three children, plus Andrea helping me out. The work was exhausting but we got it all done, and it was done well. I gave Josiah $20 and a couple of chickens.

The next time around, I had another friend interested in homesteading skills come over and help, along with my three kids. Well, Josiah heard my kids talking about it and was disappointed that I hadn’t asked him to help again! He’d already gotten the computer game, but he said my chickens were the most delicious he’d ever eaten. Also, he just thought it was cool to be able to process animals. He bragged about it so much to the other boys in Scouts that some of them have started asking if they can help me next time.

Sometimes you can find community with people who aren’t necessarily preppers but who share an interest in self-reliance.

However, I’m not 100% sure there will be a next time

This year multiple groups of people parked at the perimeter of my property began honking and screaming that they wanted chickens. This went on for a couple of months in the early summer. In July, someone drove through my fence, pulling out a full 330-foot roll of fencing as well as half a dozen steel T-posts. I’m not sure that was related to the people harassing me, but it was terrifying and a ton of work to fix.

Then in August, in three separate events, fifty-five of my birds were stolen. I have guard dogs, but they do not bite people. They are wonderful at barking and scaring off all the foxes, coyotes, and eagles in my area, but I can’t have dogs that bite people. In the first incident, my birds were pastured a few hundred feet away from my house, but only twenty-five feet or so from my property line. My property is enclosed with 4-foot fencing but these people climbed it.

When I saw one morning that 40 of my birds were missing, with none of the gore that comes with animal attacks, I moved them to an enclosure closer to my house and put barbed wire on top of the fence. They came back and took 10 more anyway. I put my remaining birds in the insulated brooder close to my house; it’s in a well-lit area. However, our summer was incredibly hot and I left the small door of the brooder open for ventilation. The fenced-in run was closed but the door to the inner part was propped open.

In the morning, I saw that someone had pulled up part of the fencing and snagged five more of my birds. These people only stopped when I put motion-detecting cameras all over the brooder. So I can still raise some chickens, but I’m not sure how to raise true pastured poultry without putting my birds at risk. And frankly I cannot keep taking these financial hits.

The ordeal was so nerve-wracking. My children and I didn’t sleep normally for weeks. To have your property violated that many times is terrifying. I had been so satisfied during the shut downs and grocery shortages about raising so much of my own food, but it doesn’t matter how much you produce if you can’t keep other people from stealing it.

In times of instability, a new skill learned can create stability for some

The truth is, there will always be bad actors in any given group of people. There will always be individuals looking for a chance to steal, hurt others, and just in general cause trouble.  It’s human nature and we can’t get away from it. When we had stable rules, stable jobs, and the kids all had stable school schedules it was easier to notice people looking for trouble. That stability is gone, and I don’t know if it will come back.

However, the eagerness of my own children, as well as their friends, to have real-life skills makes me want to try and figure something out. Kids these days are so glued to screens most of the time for school; many of them are itching to get out and do something tangible. Learning how to turn animals into dinner is a total change, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it would have been for me to get help processing birds this time around.

While there are hidden (or not-so-hidden) troublemakers out there at any point in time, there are always people willing to help, too. If you are new to homesteading or the country lifestyle, five years ago trying to meet like-minded people online might have been a good idea. I’m hesitant to recommend that now. I’m pretty sure the people that caused so much damage to me found me through social media. I have friends that also have sustainable agriculture little side-hustles that they advertise online; one, in particular, has been repeatedly targeted by animal-rights activists.

Maybe it’s time to figure out a new way to find community

If you have the skills to make money with farm products, then taking the risk of potentially exposing yourself to troublemakers is something you need to weigh against the value of advertising. It’s a business decision that’ll be different for everyone.

However, if you are new to the country/homesteading scene and just want to make friends, I personally would have a hard time recommending looking for people online. There have been plenty of other articles written about not advertising your prepper status, and I wholeheartedly agree.

As the holidays approach, hopefully many of us will be calling and checking in friends and relatives. Whether it’s some homesteading project or a specific survival scenario for which you’re trying to prepare, get a feel for how interested other people are in participating. I have my one good farm friend, Andrea. The rest of my various helpers over the years have been a mixture of friends from church, Scouts, neighbors, and relatives. A lot of them live in the suburbs. You might be pleasantly surprised to find who is receptive to preparing with you.

I have lived in the same area for the better part of a decade, so my pool of friends and acquaintances is fairly wide. If you have just moved to the country, or are not so established in your community, it may be different and will probably take longer. However, the principles are still the same. Pursue your interests; be a good neighbor; if you have solid family relationships, sustain those; and things will eventually fall into place. But it is never too soon to reach out and start building your network of like-minded folks…

Organic Prepper on Liberals Burning Books

In Mainstream Media Thinks Parler Is a “Threat to Democracy” Because Libertarians and Conservatives Get to Post, Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper talks about liberal outrage over social media alternative Parler – the free speech social network. Mainstream social media tech giants have been removing conservative and libertarian voices from places like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and many others in order to stifle dissenting voices in the name of false truth. These liberals want to remove alternative ideas from circulation. This is no different than burning books – books being the way most ideas circulated before the advent of internet technology. Liberals cried out, rightly, against book burning for many decades, and now liberals the book burners. As Time magazine once said, “if you are on the side of book-burners, you’ve already lost the argument.”

After years of being censored on Facebook and Twitter, conservatives, libertarians, and other fans of free speech are making a mass exodus to new platforms. One that has really taken off since the election is Parler, which has been the most downloaded app in the country over the past two weeks.

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media and left-wing extremists are outraged. How dare the people who have been censored, deplatformed, and shut down on their social media sites move to a site that promises not to treat them like pariahs? (By the way, you can find me on Parler here: @daisyluther ) They go as far as to say it’s a “threat to democracy” because libertarians and conservatives get to post.

I mean, seriously, we can’t be letting conservatives and libertarians post their opinions all willy-nilly, right? What will happen without the “fact-checkers?”

Why on earth WOULDN’T people go to a different network?

Personally, I haven’t had access to my own Facebook pages for more than a year and won’t unless I send them photos of my passport, a utility bill, and other identifying information – because they didn’t think my driver’s license was sufficient. As well, I voluntarily archived my thriving preparedness groups because of the threat of losing both my groups, my own personal account, and the accounts of all my moderators if we let through a post of which Facebook disapproved. I wrote more about it here.

And remember when Twitter shut down Zero Hedge’s account for posting something about the coronavirus they deemed as misinformation that was later proven to be true? And how they put warnings on nearly anything the President posts? And how conservative and libertarian websites are being demonetized?

I invite you to try posting anything on standard social media that questions vaccines, the outcome of the election, the COVID lockdowns, or is pro-gun. I’ll see you in Facebook jail.

Everyone who is leaving is a crazy racist.

To hear the MSM talk about it, everyone over there has a “bunker mentality”, they’re joyously engaging in racism and hate speech, and they just want an echo chamber. It’s “not good for the country,” according to commentators on CNN.

“There’s this new social media app called Parler getting a lot of attention, because conservatives are leaving, saying they’re leaving Twitter and Facebook, going of to Parler, because they believe Parler is a safer space for them. What we’re seeing is even more of a bunker mentality in right-wing media. And ultimately that’s not good for the country.”

“No it’s not good, it’s a threat to democracy,” Pamela Brown replied, “that these people are in echo chambers and they’re getting fed a diet of lies essentially.” (source)

Incidentally, sweeping generalizations aside, there are a lot of folks over there (like me) who are not politically conservative.

CNN is not alone in their hysteria about the social media outlet. Here’s what the mainstream media is saying about Parler and the folks using it. Yes, the irony over their outrage is palpable. And yes, it does seem like they’re trying to further divide the country. Be sure to like the video and subscribe to the channel – it’s a great show with timely subject matter. (Warning: Some harsh language)

For those of you new to Parler:

If you ask questions on those videos, I’m sure you’ll get an answer.

Things to remember about social media

For those who want free speech that is not left-leaning, Parler definitely seems like a better option than the Big Tech monoliths. However, there are a few things to remember.

  • If you get to use something for free, you are the product. Either your eyeballs on advertisements or your information will make Parler money one of these days. And it’s understandable – the expense of running a platform like that is immense.
  • While the rules may be favorable toward your position right now, it doesn’t mean they always will be. Facebook didn’t start out censoring the snot out of everyone who didn’t agree with Mark Zuckerberg. The rules will evolve.
  • Don’t share too much personal information. I know you guys are aware of this, but I just want to remind you not to share the kind of personal information that would allow people to find out where you live, when you’ll be on vacation, etc. Nothing online is that safe.
  • Don’t become too dependent on one outlet. Whether you’re a blogger like me or someone who just wants to connect with like-minded people, don’t forget that you are using their platform. They make the rules and they can decide whether you can stay or go, whether you can post certain things, or whether they want to change direction. It’s comparable to building a house on borrowed land. It might be nice land, but it’s not yours.

With these caveats in mind, I’ll see you over there if you are a social media person. Find me @daisyluther on Parler and please consider checking out our forum, here, for more in-depth preparedness discussions.

Do you think a more conservative social media outlet is a bad thing?

Are you bothered by a social media platform that doesn’t conservatives and libertarians? Or do you think it’s fair and reasonable to be able to share your opinions equally?

Organic Prepper: How to Be a Producer In a Nation of Consumers

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper has written How to Be a Producer In a Nation of Consumers

In this world, there are two kinds of people. You can be a consumer or you can be a producer.

Neither one is inherently good or bad – these are just descriptive terms. You can produce 100% of your own food and have a terrible heart, one that rejoices in the misfortune of others. You can never produce a single thing in your whole life and be kind and generous. This article isn’t meant to demonize consumers or set producers up on a pedestal.

Really, most of us are a combination of each type. But we should strive to tip the balance toward producing whenever possible because when bad things happen to an economy, when long-term disasters strike, and when everything changes, it is the producers who survive.

I talk about consumers and producers a lot, and recently a person in the comments asked me to clarify the concepts and share some ideas on how to become a producer.

So…here’s what it means to be a consumer or a producer.

The Consumer

Consumers are just what they sound like – people who consume. They purchase things they did not make, eat things they did not cook, and use up resources without replacement.

The terrifying thing is that we have become a nation of consumers who produce hardly anything.

Even our workforce these days rarely produces. The workforce cleans up after others, provides services, and spends their days in cubicles behind keyboards. Most of them do not go home after a long day at work having created something of value. They go home exhausted after a day of wrangling people or data, too tired to have a vegetable garden or perform productive tasks.

Many Americans have no productive skills because this is no longer a thing that is prized in our society. Jobs in the trades sit empty. Young people these days choose to go to college to learn about literature or social justice or the theories of business instead of becoming part of the skilled labor force. Unfortunately, jobs matching these educational paths can be hardwon and many people with graduate-level degrees serve fast food to people who don’t have the time or the inclination to cook. Forbes says that 44% of recent college graduates work in jobs that don’t require the degree they just got deeply in debt to obtain.

The Producer

Producers are also just what they sound like: people who produce things. A producer is a person who grows something, raises something, creates something, repairs something, builds something…you get the idea.

Producers may have jobs in the trades. They may work in factories and machine shops. They may work in agriculture. They may work in the medical field. And not all producers have jobs that are productive. But they’ll come home and produce something.

These are the people who have gardens, who homestead, who raise backyard chickens, who can knit a sweater, repair the plumbing, change their own oil, and cook from scratch. Contrary to popular belief, a producer doesn’t have to live rurally and raise every bite of food their family eats. It’s a mindset that no matter where they are, they can be self-reliant and independent people.

Being a producer is about having skills that can be applied to your daily life. It’s about not having to call someone to help every time something requires repair or mending. It’s about being able to solve problems creatively and independently. It’s about being able to meet needs without depending on others.

Unfortunately, we have become a nation of consumers.

It’s a very dangerous tipping point when you can look around and see that the majority of people around you are consumers who produce nothing. And it’s dangerous on a national level.

If most of our food comes from China (whether to be grown or processed), what will we do if that food is no longer available?

If most of our agricultural workers are here only seasonally, what happens if they can no longer come?

If most of the items we work all day long to be able to afford to consume are made someplace else, what are we going to do if we’re suddenly isolated from the rest of the world?

Imagine the difference it would be if the only things that could be purchased had to be made from start to finish right here by people with the skills to do so. And to narrow it even more, what if the items had to be produced locally, within 20 miles due to transport difficulties?

If we could only consume what we produce here in the United States, we’d suddenly be looking at a terrible imbalance. There would not be enough for everyone. Not enough food. Not enough fuel. Not enough heat. Not enough clothing. And all the electronics and gadgets and designer items and cheap sweatshop products people think they have to have would be no more – imagine the rude awakening.

We’re going to be finding out about this the hard way, as our supply chain continues to deteriorate as the economy continues to suffer, and as we receive fewer and fewer imports like the ones on this list that used to come regularly from China.

And to put a finer point on it, a lot of people these days don’t even produce the money it takes to buy the things that others produce.

How can you become a producer in a nation of consumers?

Becoming a producer is easier than you might think. You don’t have to suddenly grow all your own vegetables and raise meat chickens on the patio of your townhouse to do it.

A lot of this is in your head.

Before you go to purchase something, think about it. Is it something you could make yourself? Is it something that will enhance your ability to produce? Or is it just a frivolous consumer item that will add no value to your life after the first couple of days? Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to buy frivolous things from time to time, but it shouldn’t be the majority of your purchases.

You must switch your mindset from buying to creating. From replacing to repairing. From shopping for entertainment to actually learning to enjoy life for entertainment. Unplug from your devices and get back out there in the real world and do the things that others have done for you in the past.

It will save you money, too.

Another thing about producing instead of consuming is that it’s going to save you a lot of money. For all things, you will spend either time or you will spend money.

Think about the dinner that you put on your table.

  • Will you spend time or money to produce the ingredients?
  • Will you spend time or money to prepare the ingredients and turn them into a meal?
  • Will you spend time or money to serve the food and clean up afterward?

You see? You have three opportunities there for production. Maybe you can grow the greens for the salad if not all the ingredients for the meal.  Maybe you can cook it from scratch instead of using things put together in a box. Maybe you can eat at home instead of going to a restaurant.

If you are spending your money to acquire something, you are paying for someone else’s time. There are no real shortcuts in this world. Someone, somewhere, spent the time to grow, assemble, and/or prepare that food you’re eating.

15 Ways to Produce the Things That Most People Consume

Below you’ll find a list of ways to produce. The list, of course, is not comprehensive. It’s merely a collection of ideas to get you started on your path to tipping the balance in your favor. And don’t think you have to do all these things at once.  Each thing you accomplish from this list can help you to proclaim, “I am a producer!”

  1. Make cleaning products. You don’t have to go buy outrageously expensive all-natural cleaning products when you can make your own out of simple, household basics. (Instructions here.)
  2. Grow food. It doesn’t have to be a huge garden. It can be tomatoes in the summer and microgreens or herbs in the windowsill in the winter. Here’s a huge self-reliance manifesto with links to more than 300 articles and books for doing just this.
  3. Sprout seeds. It’s a great way to add extra nutrients to your meals and so easy anyone can do it. (This website has everything you need to know about sprouting.)
  4. Unclog your sink. You don’t have to call a plumber for every little clog. Learn to unclog sinks with homemade drain cleaner and if that doesn’t work, try a plunger or a wire hanger snake. Last ditch, taking apart the pipe under your sink is far easier than you might expect.
  5. Learn some car maintenance. I’m not saying you have to be able to replace a cracked cylinder head, but you should at least be able to replace your spark plugs. It’s literally as easy as changing a light bulb, although today’s electronics on some newer cars can make things a bit more complicated.
  6. Use natural remedies. Now, I’m not one of those people who think you should never, ever go to the doctor or take medication – but there are many things you can treat at home with simple kitchen remedies. Illnesses like colds and cases of flu can be treated naturally, and so can ailments like vomiting and diarrhea. Here’s a must-have book loaded with remedies.
  7. Brew your own. You can get started brewing your own beer and wine at all sorts of facilities where they sell you the bottles and the ingredients. The staff will walk you through it and show you exactly what to do. After a few rounds of that, you may be ready for home brewing. Or skip all the instructions, grab a book, and DIY it from start to finish. Here are books on making beer, making wine, and making old-fashioned mead.
  8. Learn to mend. Some basic sewing skills are really useful, not so you can make all your own clothes Little House on the Prairie style, but so you can mend and rework items you already own. Learn how to patch a hole, mend a seam, and fix a hem. Once you’ve mastered these, you can move on to darning socks, fixing rips using basic stitches, and doing basic alterations on things that don’t fit.
  9. Cook from scratch. Just like in the example above, if you don’t spend your own time, you’re paying for someone else’s time. Learning to cook from scratch is really easy and you don’t have to create souffles and other fancy dishes. Start out simple with methods like roasting, sauteeing, and steaming then increase your skills from there. Here’s an article on The Lost Art of Scratch Cooking to get you started.
  10. Make your own bath products. From scrubs to moisturizing lotions right down to homemade soap, learning to create these at home gives you a lot of freedom. First of all, you know exactly what’s in them – no toxic ingredients allowed. You can adjust the fragrance to your liking with essential oils and you can learn skills that will be very valuable should we ever face a world where you can no longer buy soap at the store.
  11. Learn to preserve food. Break out the dehydrator and the canners and put back the foods you get on sale. Preserve the bounty in the summer and make delicious meals to last the whole year through. Here’s my own guide to canning and here’s one I recommend for dehydrating.
  12. Raise chickens. If your city allows it and if you have a backyard, you may be able to have a few chickens. Chickens are incredibly entertaining to watch and they can provide you with breakfast on a regular basis. They’re also a very efficient way to get rid of food that would normally be thrown away – all your fruit and vegetable scraps can go right to the girls. Here’s a primer on raising baby chicks and a guide to backyard chickens in the city.
  13. Hunt or forage. Any food that you can acquire can boost your productivity without spending a lot of money. Learning skills like hunting and foraging can be fun now and invaluable later. Recognizing things as edible that most folks would pass on by was literally the difference between life and death during Selco’s SHTF. Look for local books on foraging – the broader books are not as useful, as there will be vegetation that doesn’t grow where you live. To learn hunting skills, I find that the best way is to make friends with some people who already hunt and ask them to include you. Don’t try to pretend you know it all – use the opportunity to soak up their knowledge.
  14. Make things. Learning to craft things like furniture, needlework, garden structures, and other useful household items can really help you to become a producer. And the more you can upcycle from existing materials, the better off you’ll be.
  15. Repair things. We live in a world of planned obsolescence. So often, it is cheaper to replace things than to have them repaired…that is, unless you can repair it yourself. Stock up a library of DIY repair books and the next time something breaks, give fixing it a shot. (Bonus points if you can repair something McGuyver-style by using the things you have on hand.) ….(continues)

Organic Prepper: Food Shortages Hit China

Adding to recent warnings about food shortages, here is an article from The Organic Prepper which discusses shortages in China. Food Shortages Hit China: There Is “not…enough fresh food to go around”

Over the past few weeks, I have been writing articles regarding a coming food shortage. I’ve been pointing out that the food shortage is going to hit the United States hard but that it is also going to hit the rest of the world.

A worldwide fit of hysteria over COVID, resulting in the shutdown of the world’s economy, interruption of the supply chain, and the destruction of food products, as well as international trade wars and natural disasters, are going to collide with one another and make this winter one of the toughest on record.

China is publicly acknowledging a coming food shortage.

But while many have dismissed my claims, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that China is now publicly acknowledging a coming food shortage. (And as noted in this article, when they admit there’s a problem, it’s a BIG problem. ) In fact, China even has an anti-food-wasting campaign going on across the country right this minute encouraging people to eat half portions or at least make sure to finish their plates.

In an October 5, article for the New York Times entitled “China’s mealtime appeal amid food supply worries: Don’t take more than you can eat,” Eva Dou writes,

On the surface, China’s campaign to encourage mealtime thrift has been a cheerful affair, with soldiers, factory workers and schoolchildren shown polishing their plates clean of food.

But behind the drive is a harsh reality. China does not have enough fresh food to go around — and neither does much of the world.

The pandemic and extreme weather have disrupted agricultural supply chains, leaving food prices sharply higher in countries as diverse as YemenSudanMexico and South Korea. The United Nations warned in June that the world is on the brink of its worst food crisis in 50 years.

“It’s scary and it’s overwhelming,” Arif Husain, chief economist of the United Nations World Food Program, said in an interview. “I don’t think we have seen anything like this ever.”

Those are strong words, to say the least.

Right now, the food products in China that are facing the toughest situation are corn and pork. China’s pork industry was hit hard by African Swine Fever (at least we are told) and flooding ruined a large portion of China’s corn crops. But it’s not just those two products that are at risk. Fresh food of every kind is in short supply for the same reasons as the United States, i.e. insane shutdown policies.

China is claiming that it is not in a food crisis currently and it is attempting to reassure the population that it has enough wheat in reserve to feed everyone for a year. But the reality is different from the claims, as China’s pork prices rose 135 percent in February, and floods killed so many vegetable crops.

You may wonder how this shortage in China affects us.

Ironically, China is dependent on the United States to bridge its corn shortfall. Despite the fact that we are allegedly in a trade war with China and the fact that Americans will soon be facing a shortage of food of their own, it’s likely that the good ol’ USA will tell its citizens to take one for the team yet again and help stabilize the brutal Communist dictatorship that Americans built by shipping their jobs overseas with Free Trade.

Political unrest goes hand in hand with food insecurity.

And it’s true that China’s government may not view the food crisis as the biggest concern. Instead, it views political unrest as the biggest threat. Political unrest, unfortunately for the Chinese Communist Party, is a direct result, especially in China, of food insecurity.

Both of its major political disruptions – the 1950s and 1980s – came at a time when food was in scarce supply.

But, for now, China is attempting to convince its population to embrace austerity voluntarily and through social shaming (like America’s masks) in order to stave off the crisis a little longer. Dou describes the “Clean Plate’ push in her article by writing,

Beijing’s solution has been a sunny “Clean Plate Campaign” launched in August, with the aim of curbing food use without prompting public alarm. Like the American Victory Gardens of World War II, the campaign is as much about trying to unite the country around a patriotic mission in a time of hardship as it is about securing the food supply.

Restaurants across the nation are dishing out “half-servings” in line with the drive. Some, such as the upscale Peking duck chain Quanjude, have instructed servers to nag diners not to waste. Other restaurants are fining people for leaving too much on their plates.

At one elementary school in southern China, students must send teachers short videos of their dinner each night to verify they are cleaning their plates, according to the state-run People’s Daily. A number of university canteens are giving away fruit and other small gifts to students who finish their lunches.

Even billionaire Jack Ma, founder of the online retail giant Alibaba, has been filmed trying to save food. A recent viral video shows him asking for his unfinished crab and lobster to be boxed up to go.

“Pack it up, pack it up, pack it up!” he says in the video. “I will eat it on the plane.”

Government officials are, of course, forbidden from holding lavish banquets during this period.

This is a global problem.

World Food Program economists have already estimated that 270 million people globally are suffering from hunger this year. That’s more than twice last year’s amount. That number does not include China, the United States, and Europe as they are all considered food-secure countries.

Given what everyone can see with their own eyes on American shelves and the recent “clean plate” campaign in China, the term “food secure” is being used liberally these days.

While we may get lucky and dodge the bullet, we strongly encourage you to prep while you can.  Even if no major shortages occur, you’ll be hedging your bet against food prices that will almost certainly increase dramatically over the next few years.

Organic Prepper: Armed Conflict in America; Turning Point

Cars burn during Kenosha, WI riots.

From Terry Trahan at The Organic Prepper, WARNING: Armed Conflict in America Is a Turning Point. Are You Prepared?

I was finishing up the next two articles in the Survival Strategies series, when the world, particularly the US, started going even more nuts than it has been.

Yet another shooting and more misinformation and the ensuing riots that seem to accompany everything these days. I wrote a little bit about this on my Facebook page, but I want to expand on it.

We are at a crossroads right now that many have never seen in our country.

If you have missed the current goings-on from the last few days, here it is in a nutshell.

In Kenosha, WI, there was an OIS involving a young black man. Initial reports painting him as innocent, unarmed, and executed turned out to be wrong. As we have seen, that is all it takes in the current US climate to create a firestorm. “Protests” started, this time obviously as a pretense, as the violence soon took over. An entire car lot torched, several churches, and many businesses. An important part, which will become material later, is that many minority-owned businesses were destroyed.

The violence went on for two days/nights. Last night, the third night, was a turning point. Citizens showed up with rifles. The first reports are three shot, two dead.

Why I say this is a turning point, you might ask?

Simple, this is now an escalation that can lead to outright, open, armed conflict between groups. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe one side or the other or think the defenders were white supremacists. This is and always has been an indicator of crossing the Rubicon. Once we pass this point, it is a different game.

Now is the time to tighten everything up that you have been working on with your preps.

  • Do you have your food, water, meds, etc.?
  • Where are you a little light? Can you fix that fast, or do you need alternate planning and supply?
  • Do you have a network established for mutual support, defense, and, once again, supply?
  • Do you have barter goods?
  • Do you have medical supplies, weapons, a plan for different events that might happen?
  • Have you gamed out what might occur?

The reason I am asking these questions is twofold.

First, to encourage you to patch any holes you might have, and second, we have entered the next phase of the game.

Shipping and supplies will become short supply/high demand if this continues, and even worse if this escalates more.

On the personal front, people will start getting clannish and not accept ‘outsiders’ as readily as they might have before, which puts you in a tighter spot if you haven’t made those alliances.

We are not quite at the door of civil war.

We are definitely in a time of extreme civil unrest, and strongly in the throes of a 4th generation warfare event. The agitators, rioters, and insurgents have pushed very hard, and now, push back is occurring. This may help quiet events for a little while, hopefully giving calmer heads a better chance of prevailing, but hope is not a plan.

This could also be what launches us straight into whatever version of the Troubles or Balkanization will come out of the American culture. No matter which way it goes, this is what we have been supposed to have been prepping for, and, as there is never a dress rehearsal, we need to have it right. The beautiful thing is, we had a mini rehearsal with the initial response to Covid-19, and hopefully saw our weaknesses and worked to address them.

All of this unrest, violence, propaganda, and conflict is now leaving our major cities and moving into areas previously thought safer. Would anyone have ever predicted Kenosha WI as a tinder box that lit a broader conflict? Two months ago, would anyone have thought rioters would move into neighborhoods at midnight with bullhorns to disturb and frighten the residents? If you have studied the history of low-level conflict, terrorism, etc., you will notice this is following some very well established patterns.

Look up the recent history in Belgium and the La Terreur, and its tactics. It was an affluent, European country, and these events happened there. Germany in the 70s was a hotbed of this kind of activity.

I just wanted to send a warning and encouragement. The warning signs are there. History is at least rhyming at the moment. We need to be proactive in taking care of ourselves and our loved ones. We can no longer deny what is happening and what it might bring about.

Stay safe, keep your head about you, fix the gaps you have in your plan and supplies. Remain flexible. Don’t buy any hype or propaganda. Make sure you know whether something is true or false before you act on it. You are fighting for you and yours, don’t become a pawn for another.

Keep your eyes open, act when needed, be reserved when you can.

 

Organic Prepper: What It’s Really Like to Work in a COVID Ward

Chuck Hudson, a friend of Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper, who works at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Roper Hospital in South Carolina takes time to write about what it is like to work in a COVID ward there. Because some people still believe that COVID-19 is entirely a hoax without any patients or full hospitals, Daisy had to preface with the article with her statement about Chuck being a personal friend of hers, so that people don’t think it’s some kind of planted fake story.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by a personal friend of mine. This isn’t some stranger who wrote to me to share some story that may or may not be true. This is a man I’ve known for years who has dedicated his entire career to caring for the health of others. In this essay, he shares an average day in the COVID ward of the hospital where he works. ~ Daisy

COVID virus has turned the world upside down. From the economy of the planet to pitting neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend. Never mind the violence destroying our cities. We are all dealing with this virus with totally unbelievable numbers, huge numbers of infected people, and a rising death toll.

Yet, I look out my living room window and see green grass, flowers blooming and some kids down the street playing basketball.

And then, I go to work.

The area where our day patients come in is called 2HVT. All 14 rooms of 2HVT are now negative pressure rooms. (Also called isolation rooms, negative pressure rooms help prevent airborne diseases from escaping the room and infecting others.) All the rooms of the old Cardiac ICU, which is attached to our cath lab by a short hall, are now negative pressure rooms. 4 South on the 4th floor is now a COVID unit. 6 south, an old Ortho ward, and 5 South have been converted as well. All these conversions are in the downtown hospital alone. All patient areas of the 3, newer hospitals in the system have been converted to handle COVID patients.

Watching the news here in my new home state of South Carolina, no matter the station, it is the same thing: doom and gloom. More and more infected people from testing, talking heads pointing the finger of blame, and numbers being sensationalized. After all, “If it bleeds it leads.” It’s gotten so bad that I turn on the news just long enough to catch the weather and traffic for the morning drive from Summerville to Charleston.

But enough of that. Let me tell you what it is really like in the COVID step-down unit. This unit is for people not sick enough to need high flow O2 or intubation, yet too sick to go to a “regular” floor. (Like there is a regular COVID floor!) As with any floor, the “permanent “ nurses and techs get morning reports from their night shift counterparts. After getting the reports we start our rounds with the patients.

Wait…no, we don’t just walk into a COVID room.

It takes about 3-5 minutes to gear up before entering a room.

Step 1 put on a set of gloves.

Step 2 Put on impermeable gown.

Step 3 Put on N95 mask.

Step 4 Put on face shield. ( We 3D print the frames for these. And use pieces of acetate we get from Staples. )

Step 6 Put on 2nd set of gloves.

Step 7 Triple check that everything is sealed and in order.

Now…we can go in the room.

We try to allow only 1 person at a time in the room, unless something demands that 2 people are needed. The nurse or tech who goes in the room does not leave the room until they have completed all tasks. If the nurse or techs needs something this is where I come in. If I am not assigned a patient, I run and get things. We are runners. We run and get whatever is needed.

What about emergencies?

Same procedure.

We have Mayday bags stapled to the wall in front of each room. Each of these Mayday bags contains the following:

  • 2 N95’s: small and regular
  • “Bunny Suit”
  • Face shield (We 3D print face shields in-house)
  • 6 pairs of separately bagged gloves (sm, med, lg)
  • Bouffant hat

All of this must be put on prior to entering a room. It is mandatory. Even if the patient is dying.

Very little is talked about…so much to tell.

Even the little things that the patients and the staff endure take a huge toll on us.

A majority of our patients have lost their sense of taste and smell. Some can only sense texture and temperature. This makes it difficult and frustrating for our patients and staff. The food delivered to our COVID patients is left at the “Airlock”. In normal rooms, insulated containers can be used for the food, keeping it hot. However, food in the COVID areas must be served using only paper plates, paper cups, paper serving trays and plastic ware. We have to use a microwave to heat the food just before it goes in the room.

In normal rooms a tech, nurse or CNA brings the food to the patients. In our world, only the assigned nurse or tech brings the food. And it may be a LONG wait due to having to microwave the food just prior to going in. We have to coordinate routine care to keep the number of times a room is entered to a minimum. (I have become an expert at microwaving paper plates of hospital grade food!)

One thing the virus does that many people outside of the medical field don’t know is it interferes with the blood clotting cascade. Believe you me, as a former Medical Lab Tech (MLT) I would LOVE to go over in mind-numbing detail the 12 steps of clotting. The intrinsic and extrinsic pathway that lead to a fibrin strand…”OUCH!” (My wife just tossed a crafts magazine at me. I started describing the steps. In detail.)

So, in addition to damaging the lungs, COVID can cause deep vein thrombosis. It also causes DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation.) Post mortem exams have revealed up to 30% of early COVID patients had elevated D-Dimer, C-reactive protein and lactate dehydrogenase. All markers for clotting system problems, which has led to death by stroke, even in young people.

Some patients are in denial until the last moment.

Recently, I was helping to discharge a fairly young patient, about the mid to late 40s. As I was getting his history and gathering information on his experience, I asked how he ended up in ICU and then in my area.

He told me he thought he had a summer cold. He thought the whole virus was a hoax and refused to wear a mask. When his wife brought him in he thought it was a bad cold AND an ulcer. He complained of stomach pain, severe diarrhea, and shortness of breath. He was admitted to our COVID floor, still in denial. What he had believed was a stuffed up nose was actually him losing his sense of smell. Then he crashed.

The anesthesiologist did what is called rapid sequence intubation. The patient is given sedative and paralytic drugs. That’s it. Once they are intubated, they are put out.

He told me when they jerked his head back and he saw that the young doctor looking scared though his protective gear he knew then it wasn’t a hoax.

Good news: we ARE saving more than we lose.

Here in Charleston where I work, our average patient stay is 4 days. If they go to the ICU their stay is about double that. In the last 3 weeks we have dropped from 44% to 31% of our inpatients being in for COVID. Our percentage of positive COVID tests is at about 21%. We test EVERY PATIENT that comes in the hospital.

We have a game plan:

  • Remdesivir
  • Lovanox
  • Plasma antibodies from COVID survivors
  • Intervene and intubate
  • ECMO: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (to treat some patients)

We have a long way to go. We still have shortages of protective gear, but we improvise, adapt and overcome. Up to 170 or so of our teammates, young and not so young,  have been out with COVID. Some ended up in the ICU. Our hospital is finding ways to use senior management. A large group of nurses that haven’t been bedside in years are filling in as runners, housekeepers, and patient transport.

This is part of a corporate email from this past week. (Patient sensitive information has been removed.)

Roper St. Francis Healthcare has tested and confirmed that 46 more patients since Tuesday have COVID-19, bringing our total to 3,806 since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Once each week, we will provide additional information about our testing and which segments of the population are most affected by the virus.

In the past seven days, 19 percent of our 3,014 COVID-19 tests have been positive, which is down from our 22 percent positive rate during the past 14 days. Our overall positive rate since we started COVID-19 testing is 15 percent. We have 949 tests pending.

Of those testing positive in the past seven days,

– 19 percent are under 29 years old

– 15 percent are 30-39 years old

– 12 percent are 40-49 years old

– 17 percent are 50-59 years old

– 16 percent are 60-69 years old

– 20 percent are over 70 years old

Thirty four percent of those patients have been white, 44 percent have been Black, 5 percent have been Latino and 16 percent have been other.

The areas where we’ve seen the largest number of new cases are North Charleston, Charleston and Summerville.

There have been 3,882,167 cases nationally with a total of 141,677 deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. South Carolina has had 73,101 confirmed cases and 1,203 deaths.

Hero’s? Nah…We signed up for this because we wanted to help.

I’m not going to berate, belittle, or bully anyone over their choice when it comes to personal protective equipment. I am going to ask that you be careful. You do not want someone like me or my old Ranger bud Johnny doing CPR on you. You will end up with damaged ribs.

I’m pretty blessed to be working at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Roper Hospital. We show up to work each day to care for our patients, and we go home to rest up a little before doing it again the next day. Some of us, myself included, don’t care much for the term “hero”. It is MY job to take care of YOU if you end up in OUR hospital. It is YOUR job to stay healthy, be careful, and be smart about this virus.

The Organic Prepper: The Second Wave

Toby Cowern at The Organic Prepper discusses the second pandemic wave and some things that you should be thinking of in order to be prepared in The Second Wave: Regardless of What You Think About the Virus, Things Are About to Change

…Regardless of your personal opinion about the virus, things will change for everyone with the second wave.

First, there’s GOING to be a second wave.

Firstly, we need to accept there is going to be a second viral wave. That is inevitable. That is absolutely inevitable. Now, regardless of your feelings on how bad the pandemic is, how lethal the virus is, what you think of the statistics, or the reporting, etc. I am not going to say that’s irrelevant, but I am going to say that it doesn’t undermine is the fact there’s going to be a second wave. Secondly, for any virus that spreads in the general population spread, there is always a risk of mutations, so just because we could say it hasn’t potentially been “that bad” until now, doesn’t mean that’s the status quo, and it’s going to stay the same.

So let’s first acknowledge those two things.

Now, here’s what’s important about that. Looking at historical trend analysis, which is fairly substantive, the second wave is always going to be worse than the first, not only in infection and fatality numbers but also in overall impact. And why is that? The fact is, the number spike will largely be due to people’s actions as they come out of the lockdown of wave one.

We’re already seeing that:

  • people are (understandably) demonstrating their frustration and venting their concerns
  • gathering in large groups
  • not following certain advice to minimize the potential infection spread

That’s happening and it’s happening worldwide. It is not exclusive to any country. Many, many countries are suffering from this same problem. This isn’t speculative. You can all see this occurring with your own eyes. So these actions are going to be reflected in wave two infection numbers.

For those countries already into the second wave, you can see that wave one is being dwarfed. For those that are not into the wave two yet, don’t worry, unfortunately, you’ll catch up in time.

Government measures

Now, the control measures that the government will try to utilize for wave two will initially be the same actions as wave one, but they just won’t be as readily accepted by the vast majority of the population that came through wave one. People are tired, they are frustrated and angry, and they are scared, largely due to exceptionally irresponsible media action.

So now it gets a bit more ‘wild west’ as the policy for wave two tries to replicate the policy for wave one, but the general populace is not as inclined to comply as it previously was.

That will vary from region to region and country to country as to how vehemently these measures will be pushed back against. The other thing to consider is that people have now had far longer and got far more information to make up their mind on how they feel about certain things. People went into wave one really in the dark. They were able to look at the historical pandemic examples, but not much more. Now, people have read up and formed their own opinion, and begun to crystallize their own thought processes AND will act (or refuse to act) accordingly.

The supply chain

All the problems that occurred in wave one will reoccur in wave two, possibly with more consequences and/or potentially with a deeper meaning. Let’s start with the supply line.

The weakening of the supply lines that has occurred, the lack of certain products, the panic buying, the herd mentality – that’s all still there, and large parts still ‘unsolved’ and it’s going to happen again, it’s inevitable. Things are not “going back to normal.”

I hate to say it, but people in packs, follow very set scripts. They are very predictable in their behavior. That is why we can make statements such as these with good authority. And as much as the suppliers are trying to assure us wave one was ‘well managed’ and ‘not that bad’, reports from various places are showing the contradiction that there was, is, and WILL BE impact on the supply line.

Financial problems

Now, there’s a twofold solution to these problems we are highlighting. One is just to keep preparing to always be prepared, keep chipping away, bit by bit, keep making your purchases, keep your stocks up.

But unfortunately, a lot of people got massive economic hits in wave one. So many are likely limited in their financial ability prepare via purchase. That we fully understand and sympathize with.

Things are going to be different for most of us.

Managing expectations

That brings us to the next point, and I would apply this across the board, regardless of your current situation, is you need to start managing your own and your immediate family’s expectations. You need to start thinking in terms of this:

As supplies dwindle and prices increase, we need to eat more simply, to accept things as they are. We might have to eat less meat, or in fact, we might just have to eat less food.”

Period.

Now this is very challenging because you will still naturally want to push back to get that “normalcy.” You’ll think, “Why should I have to *insert selected discomfort here*?”

Unfortunately, far too many people in the preppersphere were preparing on the basis of:

My lifestyle is never going to be interrupted no matter what.”

When we’re into a long-term scenario, such as this pandemic, there are going to be uncomfortable impacts for everybody.

There will be a point when you will start to feel the impact after you’ve gone as far as you can in your familiar lifestyle and kept to your original standards for as long as possible. If we are being honest, many of you are already at this point.

As much as you can adjust your mental attitude early and acknowledge and start to accept that the impact is happening, or coming, and will worsen, it positions you to be far more resilient further into this pandemic. Because that, folks, is where we are.

We are a LONG way from the end of this.

We can’t relax our preparations.

I’ve been having a number of very interesting online conversations lately, and the phrase that keeps re-occurring is that we’ve been given a “slow-burning virus.” In this modern, insanely paced world, it seems that everybody wanted to have a simple, quick ‘zombie apocalypse’, and in two weeks, it’s all over. Then we kind that we go from there, rebuild, and move on…(continues)

The Organic Prepper: Why You Should Homeschool

Linnea Johnson at The Organic Prepper writes What, Me Homeschool? Here’s Why You Should Consider Homeschooling Your Children as many parents, now seeing what their kids actually learn in school as their kids work from home, come to the realization that they either don’t like what their kids are being taught or that their kids are learning better on their own and wonder if homeschooling must just be a better way to go.

Should you consider homeschooling?

Have you ever asked yourself what might possess someone to homeschool instead of getting a free education in the public schools?  Have you, friends, or family members had less than desirable experiences in schools, whether public or private?  Have you known children who were different, perhaps had learning differences, or were bullied by other children or in my personal experience, even by the teacher, and did not thrive in a classroom situation?

Here are some things to think about.

Does the classroom actually prepare kids for real life?

We spend the rest of our lives after we complete our schooling interacting with people of all ages, ethnicities, worldviews, abilities, and income levels.  Why would we expect children, who are kept almost all their days in classrooms of children and teens the same age, probably a similar income level, and with similar curriculum to be able to function effectively and happily in a world of such diversity?

Related: A Homeschooling Guide for Public Schoolers

Children are still figuring out who they are, what they believe about the world, and whom they can trust.  If a child is in the majority of a group, they will probably do just fine, but if they are different in some way, perhaps a more critical or deeper thinker, or one who needs more hands-on learning, or one who looks different, or one who comes from a different culture, or one who has different abilities, they will suffer cognitive dissonance at a young age and will be expected to respond as the majority responds.

Is cognitive dissonance bad?  Not always. That’s how we learn new things, but sometimes kids need support to help them bridge the two ideas or to decide if the new idea is one they can accept.

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values. The occurrence of cognitive dissonance is a consequence of a person’s performing an action that contradicts personal beliefs, ideals, and values; and also occurs when confronted with new information that contradicts said beliefs, ideals, and values. (Source)

Children are quick to “fix” other children who are different, calling them stupid, or ugly, or “not cool”, or clumsy, or _______… you fill in the blank.  You’re likely to harken back to your own experiences of this example of socialization, or more aptly, ensuring everyone thinks, looks, talks, and even believes the same way.

Is this what we want from a society that desperately needs creative thinking and different solutions to solve the complex problems we face?  Shouldn’t there be some freedom to think differently without being beaten down?

What are your beliefs?

Whether you believe freedom of thought is important or whether you believe your child’s natural abilities and gifts should be encouraged and nurtured, or whether you believe that the worldview of the majority is inconsistent with what you want your child to learn, there are a plethora of reasons to consider homeschooling.  In our family, we had a number of reasons.

One son had some learning differences and experienced bullying, another needed more hands-on learning than could be reasonably provided in a large classroom.  We ran the gamut between public, private, and homeschool, and experienced the pros and cons of each.  Heck, I even went on to get a masters degree in curriculum and instruction and started a PhD, became a licensed secondary education teacher, and in the course of my work experience taught everything from preschool music to English as a 2nd language, to high school technology, business, and personal finance to adult education.

To be sure, there is a best learning environment for everyone; it’s just a challenge to find it sometimes.  I wanted to be the kind of parent who helped my kids find out who they really were and to discover their natural abilities, and interests, without unduly sheltering them from others.  I wanted them to love to learn and to do it for the rest of their lives.  They took music lessons, played on teams, attended church and youth groups, did community service, and didn’t miss out on that time with their peers, but did have time to explore what really interested them and develop those talents.

Need More Reasons to Consider Homeschooling?

 Homeschooled kids score higher on standardized tests and are better adapted socially according to research. Lots of famous people have homeschooled and with good results.  Some post-secondary schools now prefer homeschooled students:

Away from the standardized tests and rigid schedules in public education, kids can let their creative sides flourish, learn about the world they live in, and, when it’s time, earn acceptance into the best colleges in the world.

“The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation,” education expert Dr. Susan Berry recently told Alpha Omega.

“Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers,” Berry said.

However, it’s not that being schooled at home advances an application.

The real value lies in what the added freedom of homeschooling allows students to do with their time.

Tell me the truth…this isn’t all fun and games

Were there challenges on the homeschool path?  Sure.  You still pay your taxes that support the public schools and buy curriculum and lessons on top of that.  Parents need to find a way to teach and care for their children through co-ops or splitting the work between themselves and others and work to provide an income.  It’s not a choice for the faint-hearted, but it can be done, and there are some significant rewards including building a relationship with your children beyond dinner, homework, and bedtime.   Your children will learn to work together, work with you, and learn from you.  You can take outings or vacations, and not just on holiday weekends…(continues)

The Organic Prepper: What I Learned During the COVID Crisis

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper talks about lessons she’s learned during the pandemic – What I Learned During the COVID Crisis.

…Here are the things I’ve learned.

Trust your instincts.

I began writing about this virus back in January when it was announced that the entire city of Wuhan was being locked down and millions of people were under stay at home orders. With that many people under a mandatory lockdown, I was firmly convinced that this had potential global ramifications.

I had come back from Europe to attend a funeral in early January and was supposed to return on January 28th. After doing the research for the article mentioned above, I rescheduled my flight for March 28th and settled in with my youngest daughter at her apartment to help out with the bills. We immediately began stocking up.

A lot of folks at that time said I was crazy – a few here on my website but more so on other sites that republished my work. I’m no stranger to being called crazy – I’m in the preparedness industry and I like guns, so right there, the mainstream media sees me as a lunatic. It no longer bothers me and I was convinced that this was going to be a big deal.

Every day from January 23rd to the present, I’ve spent hours researching as this pandemic has unfolded. I sincerely wish that I had not been correct, but here we are, still in lockdown in many parts of the country.

You can prepare fast if you’re aware before other folks are.

I had sold or donated nearly everything that my daughters didn’t want before I took off on an open-ended trip to Europe last fall. The other items were divided up between my two girls. So while the daughter with whom I stayed still had a few things, like firearms, water filters, etc., the stockpile was pretty much gone.

By the end of January, I was pretty sure that we were going to see mandatory quarantines or lockdowns here and I began stocking up. It’s important to note that at this point, you could still buy anything you wanted or needed. I grabbed some extra masks and gloves but most of my focus was on food and other everyday supplies. By the end of February, I was pretty content with the amount of supplies we had. I had spent as little as possible on “right now food” and focused most of my budget on shelf-stable items like canned goods, pasta, and rice.

For about $600, we accumulated a supply that would see us through a minimum of 3 months without leaving the house. I figured, if it turned out that I had overreacted, my daughter would use the food anyway.

I also started a personal spending freeze at the end of January. If it wasn’t an item we needed to become better prepared, I didn’t spend a dime. I was able to put back a few months’ worth of expenses while still stocking up. It helped that my daughter was living thrifty in a less expensive apartment with utilities included. I was very concerned about things like cash flow and it turns out, this has been a huge problem for a lot of people.

You can’t always have the “ideal” situation.

There were a lot of things about my situation that were less than ideal. But that’s probably true in a lot of cases. You just have to adapt to the reality of your situation instead of endlessly wishing it was different or feeling that it’s hopeless. “Less than ideal” does not mean that all hope is lost.

First, there was the situation of living arrangements. I have a daughter in Canada and a daughter in the US. My older daughter in Canada has been working longer and was better established. My younger daughter, who lives in the US, was new to the workforce and didn’t have a lot of money so I stayed with her to help out financially. Her apartment is in a lower-middle-class residential area of the city where she works. Thankfully, it is a two-bedroom and I only brought with me two suitcases.

Living in an apartment without much of a yard during this kind of event is not something I would have chosen, given time to seek alternatives. But we all know this crept up fast. Moving was not an option. I focused on hardening the apartment with plywood to put up at the windows, tripwires that could be set up quickly if needed, and sturdier locks. We got some quarantine warning signs that we could post if all hell broke loose as a potential deterrent, and I set up spotlights in the front yard. Currently, they face the stairs to the front door, but in a bad situation, they could be turned around to illuminate anyone coming up to the house instead.

I bought more ammo for our firearms and we sat down together to work through potential scenarios. We developed a “fatal funnel” in the front hallway and added “stumbling blocks” in the front hall that could be shoved in front of the door to slow down an advance. (Just cardboard boxes filled with hardcover books – nothing fancy.)

We made friends with the other family who lives in the building while maintaining our OPSEC. It’s always good to have allies and they have a better line of sight from their upper apartment.

Normally, I would have bought loads of organic food and preserved it myself, but early in the crisis, there was still a question of whether or not we’d have power throughout the emergency and there simply wasn’t enough time at this late date. My stockpile is not ideal – lots of storebought canned goods and carbs like pasta and rice – but it’s filling and versatile.  And most of all, it’s what was readily available. I was able to grab cases of canned fruits and vegetables and canned ravioli when it was cheap and abundant.

So while it isn’t our normal diet or even our normal preps, we’re fortunate to have it. We’ve continued to hit the store weekly for foods that are more “normal” but can easily shift to the stockpile if it becomes necessary.

As you can see there are a lot of things that aren’t ideal from a prepper’s point of view, but when disaster strikes, you have to adapt. So if your situation isn’t perfect, don’t just throw your hands up in the air and give up – ADAPT…(continues)

Click here to continue reading at The Organic Prepper.

Organic Prepper: All-Out Civil Unrest to Erupt?

Photo courtesy Newsweek

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper has a piece up about widespread unrest because of stay at home orders and economic carnage – Tempers Are Flaring Over Lockdown, Masks, and Money: Is All-Out Civil Unrest About to Erupt?

Across the nation, tempers are flaring over the continued lockdowns in many parts of America, and also on the requirement to wear masks in public. I wrote previously about the possibility of civil unrest over the lockdowns, and unfortunately, it appears that’s where we’re headed.

The longer the lockdowns are continued, the more likely it is that we are going to see violence erupt.

People seem unable or unwilling to respect the opinions of others with regard to COVID19, which has affected every family differently. Some are devastated by the loss of or risk to loved ones, while others are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Others are rightfully concerned about the losses of liberty that we’re seeing. All of these concerns are valid, and not mutually exclusive.

Some violence has already occurred over mask requirements.

Just over the past couple of days, there were several disturbing incidences of violence when people refused to wear face masks in businesses that required it. Whether or not you think that you should be wearing masks, violence toward employees is not the answer. People working in retail just want to keep their jobs, and unfortunately, that sometimes leaves them in the vulnerable position of having to police customers who don’t want to comply with store policies.

A physical fight erupted at a gas station in Decatur, Illinois when a customer refused to don a mask to pay for his fuel. Sgt. Brian Earles with Decatur Police spoke to the press about the incident. It seems that a 59-year-old customer got into a verbal altercation with a 56-year-old cashier when he was trying to pay for gasoline without a mask, as is mandated by the state of Illinois. The customer allegedly shoved the cashier, who said he felt threatened, and the cashier responded by punching the customer in the face. The customer was arrested and charged with battery over the incident.

In Holly Michigan, a Dollar Tree customer refused to follow the posted store policy of wearing a mask. When a young female employee approached him and let him know of the policy he responded by saying, “Here, I will just use this as a mask,” and wiped his face on her sleeve. The customer continued to behave belligerently until he left. The entire incident was caught on store surveillance.

At a Family Dollar store in Flint, Michigan, the most violent response yet occurred when Calvin Munerlyn, a security guard for the store, was shot and killed after he refused to allow a customer’s daughter to come into the store without a mask.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Sharmel Teague “began yelling at Munerlyn and spit at him and Munerlyn told her to leave the store and instructed a cashier not to serve her.”

Sharmel left the store. About 20 minutes later, she returned with two men who officials identified as Larry Teague and Ramonyea Bishop. The two men confronted Munerlyn, and Bishop shot Munerlyn in the back of the head, the prosecutor’s office said.

Bishop is Sharmel Teague’s son, the office said. (source)

Sharmel Teague and both men have been charged in Munerlyn’s death.

Anti-lockdown protests are spreading across the nation.

A lot of people aren’t formally protesting – they’re simply ignoring restrictions. Parks and beaches have been full of people who are sick of being stuck at home. Police officers are fed up with going out to break up crowds and enforce social distancing.

While some states are beginning to lift lockdowns, others are not. Protesters across the United States are demanding that restrictions be lifted. The Hill reports that protests are taking place in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, and Washington. There are also protests occurring in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, as well as North Carolina.

Protests are scheduled this coming weekend in Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Louisiana, and Wisconsin…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at The Organic Prepper.

The Organic Prepper: What We Learned Living on Our Food Storage for a Month

Kara Stiff at The Organic Prepper has used the recent stay at home orders to test living off of her food storage and relays What We Learned Living on Our Food Storage for a Month.

Before the stay-at-home order was even issued in my state, I stopped going to the grocery store. I despise shopping: the fluorescent lights, the spending of money, the inane conversations about children with strangers. It’s easy to convince myself not to go if people might be sick there. Since I have the luxury of doing so, I can leave what’s available for those who haven’t had the ability to stock up.

This is important. Stocking up when items are scarce is hoarding, but stocking up when there is plenty available is the opposite of hoarding. If I’m stocked up, I have the power to remove the pressure of my own consumption from the system just when the system is most stressed, therefore allowing others to get more of what they need.

I had never actually given our food storage and production systems a good test, though. Now I have, and I’ve learned some important things.

To be clear, my kitchen wasn’t perfectly sealed off from the world. A friend gave us some milk before the stay-at-home order, and my mom brought us some baked goods while I gave her beets and eggs. My husband bought cheese once. But other than that, we’ve been eating at home.

Organization really matters

We’ve been keeping a deep pantry for about seven years, ever since my first child was born and money was very tight. Back then it was just a giant Rubbermaid full of canned tomatoes, beans, pasta, and crackers. We called it the Zombie Apocalypse Box. It was easy to move, which mattered a lot because we moved five times in less than five years, first while pregnant, then with one small child, then with two.

Though it was mobile, the ZAB had serious limitations. First, it probably only constituted two weeks’ worth of supplementation to the regular pantry, which isn’t enough. Even worse, it was difficult to maintain because it was not easy to access and organize. I had to haul the heavy thing out and spread it all over the living room floor once a month to check the expiration dates and rotate stock. This was an impossible task when I had a baby who never slept.

As we finished building our house, the delightful prospect of never moving again sank in. I planned out the cabinet space and stocked what I figured was a month to six weeks of olives, tomatoes, pasta, coconut milk, peanut butter, canned mackerel, and other staples. I also packed some rice and beans for longer-term preservation. (More about a layered food storage plan here).

Not only is this organization much easier to maintain and rotate, but it also allows me to put a greater amount of food in an area not much bigger because the shelves make it easy to stack efficiently. Some things, though, are better off less accessible. This month I was able to keep back a bag of potato chips by hiding them from myself, and I greatly appreciated having them later.

Food storage isn’t enough

A stockpile cannot last forever, no matter how large. Humans are biological, and to survive we must have a place in the ecosystem. Modern industrial agriculture denies this. It tries to bend every flow of living energy into our own mouths, replacing resilient forests with vulnerable cornfields, swapping intricate wild networks for simple one-way streams to build ever more human bodies. Wild mammals now account for less than 4% of the mammal biomass on Earth, while humans, pets, and livestock account for the other 96%.

My family chose a parcel of land that was large enough to accommodate different levels of management. We have a sheet-mulch garden where we tightly control which species are welcome, and a fenced pasture and young orchard that are more of a compromise. Rabbits and raccoons are welcome in the orchard but not Bradford pear trees, and everything is welcome in the pasture except raccoons (geese deter them). These areas constitute only a small slice of our land, while the rest is pretty wild.

This spring, here is what’s available from our land: arugula, beets, and chard overwintered in the garden, French sorrel and a small amount of asparagus from our young patch, wild greens and onions, and eggs from the chickens. From last year’s production, we have goat, chicken, okra, and sweet corn still in the freezer, as well as pumpkins, sweet potatoes, flour corn, pickles, and salsa on the shelf. There isn’t any milk for people yet, because the first goat of the season only kidded yesterday…

Dietary deficiencies are no joke. They can have permanent effects on the body, and they sap the will to live. Some people do well for decades on vegetarian or vegan or other specialized diets, while others discover after years that what used to work fine has now ruined their health. Everyone is different, and I know of no sure way to tell ahead of time what is right for whom. Blood tests don’t tell the whole story; my tests looked normal, but my fatigue was crushing. The best I can do is try to feed us a wide variety and listen to all our bodies.

Stocking back up

When I went to stock back up before supply chains deteriorate further, only a few of the shelves at my local grocery store were sparse. Coronavirus has been moving more slowly in my state than others, so there hasn’t been panic in my lightly-populated rural area. It’s part of why we moved here: new developments get to this part of the world last.

There wasn’t much choice of flour, oatmeal, rice, or garlic. I adjusted my buying so as not to take the last thing of any type, and I swapped some generics for name brands because that was what was available, but I was largely able to get what I needed. I’m aware that may not be the case next month. In stocking back up I also leaned on local sources of food, trying to support those businesses and help keep them solvent during a difficult time.

I expected eating from stores to cost a little less, but I was surprised to be able to bring my stock of necessary items back up to full for about 70% of the cost of a typical month’s food. I would not have believed we were eating 30% of our food budget in chips, milk, butter, tortillas, fresh things like avocados and bananas, and cheese. But it’s true…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at The Organic Prepper.

The Organic Prepper: The Truth About Neighbors in Survival Situations

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper has an article on The Truth About Neighbors, Coworkers, & Friends in Survival Situations, detailing some things learned about people during this pandemic. I can think of a few additions to the types listed from my experiences, can you?

…many of us are realizing that there’s also a lot to learn about the folks just outside our inner circles: our neighbors, our co-workers, our extended families, and other communities in which we’re involved like churches or schools.

Behavior outside of the group.

While our connections with these people aren’t as intimate as those within our groups,  in some cases they can still threaten an otherwise solid survival plan. Some of the people described below may sound familiar after weeks of movement restriction.

  • The people you warned for months if not years that they needed to put some food aside, make arrangements for their prescriptions, and buy some extra toilet paper and soap.
  • Folks who know more than you now wish they did about your pantry and who’ve made it clear that they think it’s “greedy” that your family has so much while others have so little
  • People we used to really like boasting on Facebook how they snitched on somebody for some innocuous thing they felt flouted the “rules”
  • Neighbors taking a sudden and noticeable interest in your garden or your chickens
  • People in the neighborhood who are no longer working and now just sit on their porch all day and closely watch what everyone else is doing – including people unloading supplies from their cars into their homes
  • The nosy neighbor who demands that everything be “fair” and wants to take a tally of anything – people, water, supplies, guns, you name it.
  • That guy down the street you never liked in the first place who is becoming even more unlikeable by promoting himself as some kind of neighborhood watch king, handing out unsolicited advice and warnings, or maybe trying to set up “rules” by which he expects everyone else to abide
  • The people who are moving closer and closer to overstepping the boundaries of civil behavior – they’re doing small things dropping their trash in your yard or blatantly looking inside the windows of your car – but it’s an escalation
  • The co-worker who asks way more questions about your preparedness level than is really appropriate
  • The community group (church, social club, volunteer organization) that wants donations or participation in a way that is likely to threaten your OPSEC (operational security – more on that later)

You know the ones. They’re trying to get just a little too close for comfort. We’ve probably all seen somebody over this period of time and thought, “Yeah, I’m going to have to watch that guy.”

If the situation were to worsen, you would indeed have to watch that guy.

Identify “who” your neighbors and coworkers are

The people around you can be beneficial, neutral, or a threat. It’s best to determine which one they are as early as possible in an emergency…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at The Organic Prepper.

Organic Prepper: 11 Delicious Ways to Use Dry Beans from Your Storage

A week ago, we posted an article on cooking the dry beans from your food storage. Here’s one from The Organic Prepper that has recipes for using those beans in ways you may not have thought previously – 11 Delicious Ways to Use Those Dry Beans You Stockpiled. The author, Diane Vukovic, is also the author of the book Disaster Preparedness for Women.

Dry beans are one of the best disaster foods to stockpile. They are nutritious, cheap, and last for years when stored properly. But then disaster strikes and you suddenly have to figure out how you are going to use all of those beans. Eating rice and beans gets boring quickly!

I’m lucky because my family already eats beans almost daily. So, when COVID-19 struct and we tapped into our food stockpiles, our diet didn’t change much. Here are some of the bean recipes my family is eating now. Even my kids like most of these.

Tip: When building up your disaster food stockpile, think about how you will use the foods in meals. Otherwise, you could end up with a lot of foods you don’t like. Or you might end up with disproportionate amounts of food, like 30lbs of pasta but not sauce to go on it.

In my book Disaster Preparedness for Women, I show exactly how to plan a food stockpile so you can make healthy, balanced meals. The book also covers all the preparedness essentials so you are ready for anything. Get the book here.

Here are 11 tasty ways to use dried beans

Try these delicious dried bean recipes.

1. Red Bean Pasta Sauce

This disaster recipe couldn’t be easier. Just blend (or mash) 1 cup of cooked pinto beans with 1 cup of tomato sauce to make 4 generous servings. Add seasonings like salt, basil, and oregano to taste. Serve over pasta.

2. Chickpea Nuggets

Of all the beans, chickpeas are the most kid-friendly. They also don’t have as much water as other beans, so are easier to form into burgers, balls, or nuggets. I like this recipe which uses oats to hold the nuggets together. If you don’t have breadcrumbs or cornflakes you can just use more blended oats for the coating. You can also omit the nutritional yeast.

3. White Bean and Olive Oil “Alfredo” Sauce

Here’s another easy bean sauce for pasta. Just blend (or mash) 1 cup of cooked white beans and ¼ cup of olive oil or butter to make the base. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, parmesan, and a splash of lemon juice to make a delicious creamy sauce for pasta.

*You can also sneak this sauce into mac n’ cheese so your kids get more protein without even realizing it.

4. Lentil Bread

Whenever I make bread, I sneak in some extra nutrition. How? I add things like blended kale, pulverized dried mushrooms, or bean puree. The bread comes out great and my kids eat it up.

To make, remove about ½ cup of water from your bread recipe and replace it with ½ cup of bean puree. If the dough ends up being too wet, add more flour…

5. Bean Burgers and Sausages

Beans and lentils can easily be turned into burgers or sausages. All you need to do is:

  • Make sure the beans are drained very well or the burgers will fall apart. Lentils are particularly wet so I’ll squeeze them by hand to remove the water.
  •  Pulse in a food processor with some cooked veggies and seasonings. If you have egg, add an egg to the mixture.*
  • Add oats, breadcrumbs, or flour (oats and breadcrumbs work best because they absorb moisture and hold the burgers together well). Keep adding until you form a mixture that sticks together.
  • Form into burger or sausage shapes. Bake or fry.

*Egg acts like glue to hold the burgers together. If you don’t have egg, you can usually just omit the egg and the recipe will still work. Another option is to use flax or chia seeds instead of egg. These become a bit like glue when wet and do a good job of holding burgers together. I’ve got a massive stockpile of flax at home specifically for this purpose!

6. Black Bean Brownies

I know this one probably sounds weird, but you can’t taste the black beans the brownies at all. It ends up being a protein-packed treat and your kids don’t even realize they are eating beans. I like this recipe which is simple to make with disaster staples…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at The Organic Prepper.

Rainier Redoubt: Prepare For At Least Six More Months of Social Distancing

As the virus spread has appeared to slow in Washington state, it’s easy to begin thinking that things may return to normal soon. Here’s Rainier Redoubt talking about why that may not be so, Prepare For At Least Six More Months of Social Distancing and Stay-At-Home Orders.

On March 24, 2020 we asked the question COVID-19, When Will It End? In this blog post we suggested that it pays to start planning for strong social distancing for at least the next six months.

On April 2, 2020 Washington State Governor Jay Inslee extended end date of the state’s “stay-at-home” order from April 6th to May 4th.

On April 6, 2020 the Govenor and the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, announced that both public and private schools in Washington would remain closed for the remainder of the school year. The school year in Washington normally ends in mid-June, so this adds an additional six weeks of school closuers beyond the current end date for the state’s stay-at-home order.

As of April 6, 2020 there were 1,346,299 confirmed cases of COVID-19 world-wide, with at least 368,000 of those cases being in the United States. State and Federal governments must weigh the risks of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and perhaps a million deaths, against a complete collapse of the economy with millions of people out of work and small businesses never being able to recover from the financial loss.

The government must decide at what point it is medically safe to allow businesses to reopen and to lift restrictions on social distancing. Even if the government removes these restrictions prior to October 2020, we still strongly recommend caution in your social interactions through at least the end of the year.

COVID-19 is not going to just suddenly disappear. Until an effective vaccine and treatment are developed and distributed there will be a significant health risk from the virus.

In the absence of a vaccine, cure, or massive testing and quarantine, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders will need to last for months. However, the US faces a unique challenge because only half the states have adopted aggressive intervention, and done so at varying times. Even if these states achieve control or containment, they may be vulnerable to contagion from other states that were late to do so. (SSRN)
According to an article in Business Insider, Ultimately, experts say that social-distancing measures will be necessary until we have a vaccine, and that’s 12 to 18 months. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re all in our homes for 18 months, it means maybe we’re avoiding public gatherings for that amount of time or limiting the amount of travel internationally, but it’s not necessarily as restrictive as what we’re seeing now.

Click here to read the entire article at Rainier Redoubt.

See also The Organic Prepper – We Won’t Be Getting “Back to Normal.” Not Soon. Not Ever.

Organic Prepper: How to Survive Uncertainty About the Future

From Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper, What Will the Future Bring? Here’s How to Survive the Uncertainty

…Three months ago, we all had dreams, goals for the future, or at least some idea of what the upcoming year would hold for us.

I’ll bet none of us even considered on New Year’s Eve that we’d spend the first half (at least) of the year dealing with a deadly pandemic. Heck, I sat on a balcony in a little seaside village in Montenegro, toasting the new decade with a friend and some Jack Daniels, watching fireworks over the Adriatic Sea, and planning what European destination I’d be heading to next.

It probably never crossed anyone’s mind that there’d be some crazy new virus that nobody had ever heard of which would leave us under the equivalent of house arrest for months. Few of us imagined that suddenly, over the course of just a few weeks, more than ten million Americans would suddenly become unemployed.

Dreams have been shattered.

Goals have been put aside.

Lives have been lost.

Everything has changed.

And nobody knows what the future will hold.

A lot of the things we do know are horrible.

How utterly terrifying to know that we’re all likely to lose somebody we love to this virus or to a medical condition that would have been survivable if the local hospital hadn’t been overflowing with COVID patients.

We know there’s nary a roll of toilet paper to be found in a huge swath of the United States. We know that our supply chain, if not broken, is at the least, badly bruised. We know that if a person we love goes into the hospital with COVID-19, there’s a frighteningly large chance they may never come out again unless it’s in a body bag. We know that medical professionals in New York City don’t even have personal protective equipment to keep themselves healthy while they try to keep people alive. We know that yesterday in the state of New York, 23 people died every hour of the day from the coronavirus that has destroyed the world as we know it.

We nearly all know people who have been laid off. Maybe it’s someone in your family. Maybe it’s you. And if you haven’t yet lost your job, are you waiting for that hammer to drop? We all know of businesses that aren’t going to make it through months of this shutdown.

We know people who couldn’t pay their rent this month. We know people who pulled it together this month but won’t be able to pay May’s rent if this lockdown should continue. We know it’s so bad that the government has said landlords can’t evict tenants in many states – which means the landlords may not be able to pay their mortgages.

We may not know much right now, but we know that the economy is a f*cking disaster.

And we have no idea when this current purgatory will end…

We’d all like to think that one day this will suddenly be over. The kids will return to school. We’ll go back to our offices and our commutes. We won’t be struggling over money anymore. Life will return to the pre-COVID days.

But is this the healthiest way to look at the situation?

Spending all your time looking forward to the day when this is over is an exercise in frustration because nobody knows when that will be. And more than that, nobody knows what “normal” is going to look like when all the lockdowns are over. A lot of things will never be the same.

You can help yourself by learning to adapt now to changed circumstances. This will help you learn to live with the new normal, whatever that turns out to be. Major events are bound to cause major and long-lasting changes. This has happened throughout history.

In reality, the things we’re experiencing right now, while not necessarily easy, aren’t so bad. Things will probably get worse before they get better, but eventually, some form of “better” will come.

Your ability to adapt is indicative of your ability to survive. So let’s get through this lockdown and keep our mindsets positive.  Let’s get through the part that comes next.

Then, eventually, we’ll come out on the other side, ready to tackle the new normal, whatever that ends up being like…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at The Organic Prepper.