We had beans for dinner last night ... and Boston brown bread. I'd never made brown bread before. The recipe calls for cooking the bread in tin cans, but when the only tin cans one has in the house formerly held dog food .... I decided to make the bread using the "cans" most of our stored food comes in ... that is, pint-sized mason jars ;).
The batch made six pint-sized loaves of bread. We ate two of them yesterday - one for lunch and one for dinner, and a third we had for lunch today (with our beef stew, cooked on the woodstove, but more on that in a minute ... ah! Suspense :). The other three jars I sealed and have stored for later.
As we were finishing up our dinner of baked beans that slow-cooked in the crock-pot all day, the lights winked off.
The electricity came back on about 4:30 pm today (Friday), just under twenty hours after it went out. Deus Ex Machina was in the process of loaning our generator out to the neighbors, because we have everything we need and would have only used the generator for the freezer ... but not until we needed to, which wasn't, yet ;).
Both Deus Ex Machina and I have recently finished reading Alex Scarrow's Last Light. I made him read it, because I needed someone to talk to about the book. He's such a good guy ;).
He read it, and we talked about it, and as I suspected, most of our thoughts were pretty much the same. Whether naive or not, we both believe in the ultimate goodness of people, and we believe that most people, even in that situation (where the government has gone on national television to advise the masses that there is likely to be some scarcity for a few days), would not degenerate so quickly into the barbaric behavior that was described in the book.
What really surprised us both, though, was stuff like people drinking river water without first doing something to make it safer to drink. I guess I just have a really hard time believing people are so stupid and careless and ... short-sighted.
Even in the worst of our schools, the average person has had both basic biology and health class, and we ALL know enough about microbiology to understand where disease comes from. We all know that drinking, potentially, contaminated water is dangerous, and that to make water safe to drink, most of the time, simple boiling is enough. It was just hard for me to believe that, even in the worst case scenario, people would so fully lose their senses.
It was a very good book, though, and it got me thinking about what I would do, if I knew for certain, that *it* was all over, if the President came on the television and told us that all of the world's oil reserves were compromised, and we would need to start relying on the small reserves and oil fields on our own soil (which is not even enough to power our current transportation infrastructure for a day) and that as a precaution, rationing of all food, water and fuel would commence immediately.
If I knew, what would I rush out to buy?
I wouldn't go to the grocery store. We may not have enough food to do us for a year, but between what we're going to grow, what we currently have access to through nearby farmers, and what we can forage, we'd probably be okay in that respect.
So, what would I get?
Personally, I'd like to power down a little more slowly than what we experience when we have a power outage. It would be nice to have access to my computer, for my girls to be able to enjoy a DVD, for us to be able to keep our freezer running until we've had the chance to eat all of the food in there. So, I'd find some solar panels and battery chargers and set-up a small power-generation plant.
Then, I'd head over to a place where I could buy winter coats, snowpants, and good, quality shoes and make sure I had at least one set of winter gear, one-size-up for each family member. I'd probably go to one of the sporting goods stores for these items, and while I was there, I'd buy a few more pieces of castiron cookware and another camp latern ... and maybe one of those really cool Berkey water filters ;).
Then, I'd go and buy a couple hundred yards of fabric, needles, thread, patches, yarn, scissor sharpeners, and any other clothes making supplies I could think of.
Then, I'd head over the hardware store, and I'd buy several gallons of paint, a couple of really good snow shovels, another ax, another bow saw, several pounds of nails, a good file for sharpening things, and if I could find it, a manual drill.
Then, we'd probaby go to the grocery, and most of the food would be gone, but we wouldn't be there for food for ourselves. I'd buy all of the dogfood they had in stock, because those damn dogs aren't eating my chickens or rabbits ... or us ... or each other :). If they still had any sugar or nuts or chocolate or coffee or tea when we got there, I'd buy that too.
At home, we'd fill up every container in our house that has a lid with water from the tap. I'd also fill up the rainbarrels from the hose outside. I know that sounds silly, but if we didn't know for certain there would be rain within a few days, it would be good to have stored 150 gallons of water, plus all of the bottles and such.
Other stuff at home, we could do a little at a time, and as we would likely not be going anywhere, time (for once) would be on our side.
We might have the starving hoards coming to our door, and when they do, we'd give them one of the bottles of water we'd saved. When we ran out of bottles, we'd have the Berkey filter, which we could fill with water from the brook. If they could find something to hold the water, we'd give them some.
As for food, we'd take them back in the woods and show them what they could eat ... and maybe I'd be able to spare a loaf of bread or a couple of biscuits.
The thing about Scarrow's novel that most disturbed me was the self-centered attitudes of most of the characters. Yes, things were awful, and it was scary, and things got very bad, and then much worse. But it happened so quickly, and I have a very hard time believing that it would degenerate so far, so fast.
But the real thing is that we have to stick together, especially if things get that bad, that fast, and I know that I could never cower in my house while I listened to thugs beat and ... worse ... my neighbors. I'd be over there, even if it meant the thugs did the same to me, because the truth was that, in the book, eventually, the thugs did it to everyone, but if the people had banned together, from the beginning, maybe the thugs wouldn't have been successful. There is safety in numbers, and if we don't fight for each other, if we allow ourselves to lose our humanity so that we can live just one more day, as far as I'm concerned, there's not much to live for.