Monday, March 30, 2009

For such a time as this

I've been thinking lately about the current economic crisis and what the implications might be if it gets worse and lasts for years. As you know, my parents both lived through the Great Depression and their families, like most rural people, came through it OK. They weren't living high on the hog by any means, but they weren't starving either. So, what does our generation have in common with the generation of 1929? I'm afraid to say, almost nothing. The 1929 generation had been raised with certain values and societal expectations that we don't have anymore. Women cooked 3 meals a day from scratch, could improvise recipes (read a depression era cookbook for examples of this), sewed, mended, preserved food, relied more on folk wisdom and remedies, gardened and butchered. I'm speaking in generalizations here, obviously Mrs. J.D. Rockefeller wasn't knitting socks and canning peas. ;-) They were able to withstand a decade of hardship because they came out of the corner swinging, so to speak. Contrast that with the 2009 generation, the intervening 80 years have seen huge changes in almost every area of life. Most women don't cook from scratch, can't sew or mend, don't preserve food and would be helpless in the face of illness. And when was the last time you knew of a man walking 5 miles for a dollar a day?

The average grocery store will sell out of food in 24-72 hours from the onset of a crisis. Imagine if there was a complete collapse; a countrywide Katrina. There will be no food and without electricity there will be no water for most people; massive amounts of people would be dead within a week. I think the best prevention any of us can take if to look at your particular family and make a plan for what you would eat including how you would cook, how you would drink, how you would do laundry, how you would stay warm and how you would treat illness and injury. Keep in mind that in a total collapse there would be no fossil fuels, so a plan that relied on kerosene heaters, for instance, would be worthless. Likewise, if you cut your own firewood with chainsaws you will need a backup plan. I'm not suggesting that everybody switch to a non-electric lifestyle tomorrow, but what I am suggesting is that you have a workable plan. Figure out what you're going to do about your food situation and begin to implement your plan. Start today! Figure out how you're going to wash clothes and work out the kinks now, before you have to rely on it. Make a checklist and prioritize. To make a plan to grow a garden, but not have the seeds in hand won't work.

Look around you at the people you see everyday and think of how few of them are prepared. Massive starvation/dehydration within a week. A week. We have this time graciously given to us to prepare, we shouldn't be afraid or go into panic mode but rather take the first steps. And, if no calamity should ever happen, the time hasn't been misspent. To take responsibility for one's own family is never a wasted effort. The Mormons have the teaching of having a years worth of food stockpiled for their own families. That's a really good idea, I think. There are many companies who specialize in selling large quantity freeze dried foods for long term storage, so even if you aren't in a position to garden you can still have food available.

As Christians we trust that God is watching over us, but we also have a responsibility to help ourselves. There is a story told of a man in a flooded area who was forced to take refuge on his roof. Neighbors came by in a boat and told him to get in, but he wouldn't, God had a plan he said. The waters rose higher and the Coast Guard came along to help him evacuate but he wouldn't go. God would save him. A helicopter came as the water rose to his neck but he wouldn't grab the ladder they dropped for him. He would trust his God. And he drown. When he got to Heaven he asked God why he hadn't saved him and God replied "I tried. I was the neighbor, the Coast Guard and the Helicopter crew."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some days you eat bear........

Some days you eat bear and other days the bear eats you. That's our catch-phrase for "you win some, you lose some". I have been suspecting for a while that our bees were all dead; the hives were placed facing South and were pretty well protected, but they have been eerily silent of late. Our suspicions were confirmed today when I opened the hive to find scads of dead bees. Our weather comes from the North and West but this winter we had weeks of howling wind and snow blow up from the South. That has never happened since we've lived here and I worried at the time that the bees wouldn't survive. We wrapped the hive to try to forestall a disaster but it was all for nought. They basically starved to death. Since bees cluster to keep warm and can't really move when cold, they can starve when there's food 6 inches from them. We found several frames still partially filled with honey like the one below.

So we pulled them out and brought them in the house. The children cleaned the dead bees from 3 boxes worth of frames and brought them in the house and will do the other 3 tomorrow. Mice love to nest in empty bee boxes and feast on the wax, so we needed to take the wax frames out of temptation's way. ;-) Now the house smells wonderfully of honey! Of all things farming, beekeeping smells the best, it just permeates the air and fills your lungs with the sweet, earthy scent of honey.

I finished off our second gallon of syrup today and have been thinking about making maple jelly. Maple jelly on toast, maple jelly with peanut butter, maple jelly on waffles with whipped cream............. I've never tried it before but it gets rave reviews, so maybe I'll experiment.

I am going to draw the syrup winner this weekend, so be watching for your name!