Prepping Under Pressure

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I know many of us have started storing dried goods, candles, batteries, wood etc.

We started keeping a cupboard full of non perishables many years ago after the 1987 Storm. We lived in the back of beyond, running a smallholding and found ourselves without electricity for three weeks. Three freezers full of meat, vegetables, Pies and soups had to be used up as soon as the freezer was opened. It got us to thinking of the old ways of preserving.

For us pickles, jellies, fruit and pates sealed tight with clarified butter was the way to go. We also stored tins of stewing meat, tuna, pilchards and salmon. We had a large vegetable garden and greenhouse. We had plenty of wood for the woodburners and as we had ducks for eggs, goats for milk and cheese, we thought we would always survive.

However, we sold the small holding, moved to Somerset and found that living in a town meant a whole new way of thinking. We didn’t think we would have to revisit storage.

For a start we thought at our elderly age, with a row of the best shops five minutes walk away, we would not need to have a large store cupboard. Oh how things change.!!!!

Two years ago, when this scam began we realised that most people were so fearful they would do anything to avoid coming into contact with anyone who wanted to live freely. Even our farm shop stopped taking cash for a little while. They lost so much custom they reinstated their tills. The butcher always took cash but the small corner shop had a glitch so we stopped going there and used our ‘exercise’ hour to shop at Lidl which did upset me as I believe in supporting small local businesses as much as possible. We very rarely buy anything off the internet and never use Amazon – sorry SB.

Due to this sudden change forced upon us we started to look at a small storage cupboard. ‘Just in case’. We live in a converted skittle alley slammed onto the back of a pub, with our front door directly on the street. We have the smallest of courtyards, which used to be the outside ladies loos and therefore has drains and sewage pipes running beneath. Only fake grass grass and terracotta pots. How on earth do we grow food. We watched with growing despair at those who constantly said anyone can grow food. Even on a balcony in a block of flats. Well, yes you can if you get eight hours of strong light each day and enough pots to make growing worthwhile. What about those of us who have three hours of sunlight each day and the rest of the day in shadow??? Not to be despondent, we looked at what could be grown in shade, what could be grown indoors, what could be grown quickly and then bottled up. NOT MUCH…….

OK, let’s think outside the box. What can we store bearing in mind we don’t use flour or eat potatoes. On doing my research I found oats has more nutrients than flour and can be ground down to make a type of flour for flatbread. It is also good as porridge, fruit toppings, and making stuffings for meat. Not to mention a shelf life of 10 years. We cleared out a wardrobe in our tiny second bedroom and ordered 20kgms.

Next we looked at dried beans. Again a good source of nutrition and many types are sold freeze packed. A five year life span. We ordered a few kilograms of chick peas, lima beans, black eyed beans and also green lentils. Again all these foods can be used to thicken soup or replace other starchy root vegetables.

We eat lots of nuts. Not peanuts. Real nuts. Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds which are extremely high in protein and other essential nutrients like vitamin A and E. Brazil nuts also contain high levels of antioxidants and selenium which keeps the thyroid healthy. Selenium also supports the body’s natural iodine.

Talking about iodine we decided that a drawer of medication was essential. Plasters, bandages, colloidal silver, clove oil, tea tree oil, olbas oil, and of course whiskey. We also included ivermectin, NAC, star annis, aspirin.

During our discussion on the medicine drawer we started to talk about herbs. I returned to my research on growing food in shade. Silly Billy me……herbs. Good old fashioned fresh herbs. Parsley, rosemary, thyme and lovage all grow well in shade. As long as they receive 4 hours per day of bright light or sunshine they will survive. Herbs grow in pots and can be moved around as the sun moves. All our staple herbs survive winter weather as long as snow is brushed off and parsley is protected with a little fleece. I grow parsley all year round in three pots in our courtyard anyway. I also have a rosemary bush in a large pot too. Herbs are also medicinal. Parsley is loaded with vitamin K, A and keeps bones and eyes healthy; bay leaves are good for a healthy immune system, digestive aid and can stop Diabetes II. Rosemary is high in manganese which helps the healing of cuts and bruises, reduces risk of most cancers, whilst mint is good for memory and brain health, upset tummies.

I asked a friend to make me a corner planting tier and placed it in the sunniest corner of the garden. I have planted sage, bay bush, thyme and parsley. My rosemary and lovage have been potted up to larger pots and my mint is in a large bucket. I use lots of mint and do bottle the leaves in vinegar for winter use. I have also stored sugar, honey, salt, vinegar, stock cubes, spices, washing powder, tinned meat and fish and obviously loo rolls

We also bought some plastic jerry cans to store water. We did a trial run with tap water and with unfiltered rain water. We left the filled cans for three months. The tap water actually tasted better than when it went in. We did add two charcoal squares to each 5 gallon can. (£4.00 for eight squares from local iron monger). The rain water tasted slightly sweet but was a greyish colour. We were not unwell. A friend does collect rain water and drinks it without filter so we knew we would be OK so long as bird poo or dead things aren’t collected too.

We have no real storage for logs but thankfully we are friendly with a local saw mill and they had been cutting up ash. They gave us access to the cuttings which are around six inches long and one inch diameter. All free. We have six large sacks stored under the stairs along with two baskets of oak logs. A neighbour has given us the use of the back of his garage to store the rest of our ash ‘sticks’. We can get more if needed but we are aware that if the going gets tough our neighbour may want access to our sticks. Our wood burner is very small. Our sitting room is also very small. We do not light the woodburner often because the house is actually very warm. However, we know the power cuts are going to mean cooking and heating will have to be achieved via our stove.

All in all I think we can survive this winter. We have plenty of wool blankets and indeed thermal underwear. We are also old enough to remember unheated houses and the beautiful patterns of jack frost on the windows in cold weather. I also remember a permanent pot of beans and mutton on the range my mother used to cook on. A coal fired range cooker until they had a modern electric cooker installed when I was around 10 years old.

We have purchased a solar panel and already charged up four batteries. My husband is a morse code user and has two other ham radio chums who also use morse so we know we can keep a contact if we need help. The best and maybe unusual thing we began was a meditation circle here at home. We invited four friends who are within walking distance of our home to create a weekly meditation circle. We have a pot luck meal together afterwards and chat about everything and anything. We decided to create this small forum last year after lockdown because two old friends had told us how isolated and lonely they were due to family breakups and living out in rural areas. Face Time wasn’t enough to keep them strong and one friend had contemplated suicide. This concerned me enough to consider emotional and physical contact was as important as storing food and keeping warm. Our meetings have turned into much more than a social evening. We have become a support to each other in unimaginable ways. We know that whatever happens we are able to get to each other and comfort each other.

The biggest difficulty for us is cash. We use it all the time and have stashed some away. If digital currency is introduced and forced on small businesses then unfortunately within months those local businesses will fail. But these concerns are for another day.

Mr M and myself are more secure and fearless than we have been in many years. We know we will survive and we know humanity will come through these terrible times. We have faith in God and ourselves. That is the nub. Lack of fear is the door to true freedom.

© Mojo 2022