While it is completely true that I've spent years transitioning my family and myself from complete dependence on modern conveniences, and while we still enjoy those things as much as anyone else, if the power goes out for an extended period of time, if I couldn't get to the grocery store, if the faucet went dry, if there were no more heating oil deliveries, if the garbage truck didn't come down my street anymore, if I couldn't put fuel in my gas tank or in my chain saw ... if any of those things happened, my family would continue living our lives, with only some exceptions to what we do on a daily basis. In particular, we wouldn't be spending hours on the computer ;).
But if I hadn't done any of those things, and I only had twenty-one days to get ready for this catastrophic event, there are a number of things that I could do that really would only take one day to accomplish. Like planting a garden. It doesn't take more than a day to do the actual planting. Certainly, it takes a lot longer for the food to grow, but for the most part, once it's planted, there is only so much I can do to make the plants grow, and mostly, I just have to wait until they're ready to harvest.
It's not about becoming an expert in a day - or even becoming proficient - but rather about starting to plan for a future of less, and the only way to do that is one day at a time.
So, with that in mind, here is a list of some things that I could do in a day that would go a long way toward helping me to be more prepared in the event that some catastrophic event does occur.
- Walk around my neighborhood and see if there are any fresh sources of water, and if there are none, find a local source for rain barrels (or food grade barrels that can be converted into a rain barrel with a simple water spigot from the hardware store).
- Learn to build a fire. Learn how to start a fire using friction. Build a simple fire pit in the yard.
- Build a simple hobo-stove/rocket stove for cooking with minimal fuel.
- Go to the PYO strawberry (or apple or blueberry) farm with my kids, pick 40 lbs of strawberries (or apples or blueberries), and preserve them in canning jars as jam or sauce.
- Buy some seeds and start a garden - and I wouldn't even need a "garden" to do this one. My mother-in-law has started an amazing container garden and is currently harvesting four salads per day from her garden. The garden won't grow in a day, but it only takes an hour or two to get it planted.
- Acquire two rabbits - a boy and a girl - and build (or buy) a place for them to live - preferrably separately. Go to the library and find a book on breeding rabbits for meat and study up on how to take care of my new "suburban" livestock (and the bonus of having rabbits is that they make the most awesome fertilizer for the garden ;).
- Find a 5 gal bucket (which can often be aquired for free from bakeries and delis) with a lid and an unused plunger and make a manual clothes washer.
- Make a canning jar oil lamp.
- Build a bicycle generator.
- Harvest some herbs to make a tincture.
- Find a simple recipe for lye soap.
- Learn to sharpen an axe blade.
- Stop by Goodwill and pick up some books and games.
Once we set our minds to something, we can accomplish an incredible amount in very little time ... just like we can grow an incredible amount of food in a very small space. There's that saying, it's not what you got, but what you do with it, and it applies to all of our resources, including time.
In short, even if I were starting from scratch as a typical American suburban soccer mom, I could have my family pretty far along the path toward self-sufficiency in less than a month taking just one step, one day at a time.