Being prepared with dried beans

 

BE PREPARED!

It’s the Boy Scout motto – Be Prepared!  If we stop our busyness for just a moment and look around, we will notice that the world is not a substantial place.  It seems permanent but it is not.  It can go up in smoke at any time.  It is for this reason that we make emergency preparations. 

There are some who balk at the idea of being prepared because of the notion that we should not live in the future.  This would be truer for monks.  For householders who have a duty to protect the wellbeing of family, prepping is a noble cause.  On a small scale, we prep every time we buy toilet paper.  We are preparing for future events and so we stockpile a month’s worth of the paper.  Squirrels prep when they bury acorns and nuts for the winter.  We purchase house insurance to protect us from the possibility that our house might be destroyed by fire in the future.  It is the same idea with car insurance – protecting one’s self from a future cataclysm via automobile.  That’s what prepping is – we are buying insurance.

WHAT CAN GO WRONG?

What could possibly go wrong?  We could have World War III, massive earthquakes and tsunamis.  We could have a coronal mass ejection (CME).  What is a CME you might ask?  The most powerful CME on record was the Carrington Event in 1859. A CME is an event in which our sun fires a massive burst of energy from a spot on its surface.  This burst is laden with charged particles that, if powerful enough, can fry our electric grid and smoke computer chips.  Most CME bursts happen on an area of the sun that is not aimed at the earth and so the charged particles fire harmlessly off into space.

Such a powerful Carrington type storm occurred in 2012 but was not projected toward our planet.  But every so often, there is an unusually powerful discharge and it is aimed at the earth.

More frequently, we have smaller discharges which can disrupt the power grid temporarily and stifle radio communication until the storm passes.  Often, satellites are shut down during these storms to prevent damage to sensitive electronic equipment.

When the Carrington Event occurred, there was not much that was electrical and nothing that was electronic and so it was of no serious consequence.  The energy was so intense that the aurora borealis could be seen as far south as the Caribbean.  Miners in the Rocky Mountains thought it was morning and began preparing breakfast even though it was still the dead of night.  It fried simple telegraph sets which were no more sophisticated than wire wound around a metal core.

Less severe storms occurred in 1921 and 1960.  Today, one of these storms could take out electronic chips which were not in use at the time of these storms.  

Power transmission linesIf a Carrington Event were to occur today, the item of greatest concern is our power grid.  These are the large metal towers that hold the wires that transfer power from one part of the country to another.  At the ends of these towers are massive transformers that step the voltage up to 115,000 volts or higher and the back down again to usable voltage at the other end.  These cross-country power lines will act as enormous energy absorbing antennae which would gather enough energy from the CME to melt the transformers at either end.  These transformers are not manufactured in the US and there is currently a 2 year wait to get one.

No one can say how much of the world’s electric grid would go down in a Carrington Event.  Maybe some of it – maybe all of it.  If the damage is widespread there will be very serious consequences.  Those living in cities will not have water because there would be no electricity to pump it.  A human being can only live a few days without water.  If the damage is limited to localized spots, then it is possible to truck water.  If it is a larger area, say the western half of the United States, most people in that area are going to die of thirst within 4 to 5 days. 

Nor will anyone be able to evacuate because there will be no electricity to pump gasoline into their cars.  There is a possibility that many cars would not run even if they did have gasoline because the CME can destroy computer chips in the car.  Car computers are often in a metal can which protects it by making a Faraday Cage but the wiring that runs to the computer is not protected and can absorb energy causing the computer to be rendered useless.

No one knows how long it would take to restore power.  We would not have many transformers in storage and getting them and shipping them or even manufacturing them is difficult to impossible without electricity.  Certainly weeks, more likely months and maybe years. The power outage could be world wide.

A Carrington Event would fry the computer chips on the satellites.  Computer chips (and all solid-state chips) are quite vulnerable to damage from external electrical energy sources.  This is the threat of an EMP in which an enemy country explodes an nuclear bomb in the atmosphere.  It knocks out everything that is electronic.

WHOOPIE WERE ALL GONNA DIE!

Worst case for humans is the only people left are bush dwellers in remote areas who live entirely off the land.  Some may contend this would be the best case for the planet – for Mother Nature.  Maybe this is how Mother Earth goes about cleansing herself of the destructive humans. 

There is a blessing in contemplating our own eventual death:

"When death comes, we are helpless. The constant remembrance of the possibility of death is the best way to learn humility. Humility is surrender; surrender is bowing low to all existence. Then there can be no ego. Once you become egoless, there is no more death."     - Amma, Awaken Children, vol. 7

If the power is out in large areas for even a few weeks it will be catastrophic because of lack of water.  If the grid is down for months or years, we are catapulted back to the 1800s before electricity when food was grown by the use of horse drawn ploughs.  Who is ready for that?  Maybe the Amish.

If the power is down for a year or two we can mostly certainly kiss our posterior goodbye.  In that case, prepping can only forestall the inevitable but that plan is not without merit.  We can pray for the earth and the departing souls.  If the grid is down for weeks or a few months we might survive by being prepared.  If it is down for a week or two, then prepping will have definitely been a valuable exercise.

HOW TO PREPARE

Waterwell bucket

The first consideration is water.  If you live in the city you can buy cases of bottled water and stack them in the corner of a room.  If you have a garage, you can buy some food grade plastic 30 or 55 gallon barrels and store water in them. Often these are available on Craig's List for cheap. If you have a bathtub and $20, you can get a WaterBOB which is a big bag that you put in your bathtub and then fill with water. You will most likely know when the CME will hit because it takes about 30 hours for it to arrive at the Earth. Fill the WaterBob from your tub faucet and it will hold about 100 gallons.

PulleyIf you live out of town and have a water well you are in good shape.  You will want to purchase a special bucket that can be lowered into a tube well (usually a 4" hole) to draw out water. You will also want to buy a pulley and enough nylon rope (3/8” rope on a spool) to raise and lower the bucket.  Nylon rope is cheap and very useful so buy a big spool.  Be sure to tie off the upside end of the rope so it doesn’t fall into the well and disappear.  You will also want to make a tripod over the well from which to hang the pulley so you will need three posts and a way to fasten them at the top.  This can be done by lashing with the rope.  You can buy these emergency well buckets on Ebay. Of course, you will have to pull your existing pump and pipe out of the well to do this. If you have a very deep well this could be a problem because of the weight. It is fairly easy to do if your pump is at 200 feet but no so easy at 600 feet. The pipe is full of water and that makes it especially heavy.

Figure a gallon a day per person (being conservative you could use less).

Food

One pound of dried beans that is then cooked would feed one of us for how long?  Two days?  So maybe 200 pounds of grains and beans for one person for one year or 4 people for three months.  Dried grains and beans are definitely the storage food of choice because so much food is contained in such small packages and, if stored properly, will keep for 30 years.  In contrast, a can of beans is maybe one meal but the same amount of dried beans, when cooked, will be 4 meals.  Nothing you can buy in a can or package will keep for very long (except Hostess Twinkies which have a shelf life of 15 years :-).  A grain or bean is in Mother Nature’s most excellent storage package and we can’t improve on it.  By comparison dry grains and beans are also much cheaper than processed packaged foods.

The least expensive route is to buy beans and white rice at Sam’s Club or Costco.  These normally come in 25 and 50 pound sacks.  Very inexpensive.  They are not organic but in a cataclysm, organic is the least of our problems.  You can also buy grains from the local feed store such as corn, oats and millet also very cheap.  If you want to ramp up, you can order bulk organic grains and beans on-line or through your local health food store.  Don’t store brown rice.  It has been partially milled and it will go rancid in a few years.

For very long term storage, you will want to store your grains and beans in plasticBucket sealed airtight buckets.  You can buy these from Lowe’s or Home Depot and they even sell the airtight lids.  One bucket and lid will cost you about $5 and hold approximately 35 pounds of grains or beans.  You will need a big rubber mallet from Harbor Freight to pound the lids on.  After you fill a bucket, toss in 3 or 4 oxygen absorbing packets then put on the lid and seal them in the bucket.  This will remove oxygen thus promoting longer storage.  The packets come in a plastic sealed pack and once you open the pack, the packets start absorbing oxygen.  Get all your buckets filled with the lids waiting on the side so you can finish them off quickly by tossing in the oxygen absorbing packets and pounding on the lid.  You can see how to do this on YouTube.  These buckets will stack nicely in your bedroom closet or garage.  Try to keep them cool. 

If you want to make flour out of any of your grains, you will need a hand powered grain mill. Don't buy a cheap one. They don't work very well.

Condiments

Long term storage condiments include, salt, sugar, tamari and balsamic vinegar.  You can also put up ground spices such as turmeric, cumin and cinnamon.  Honey will store indefinately. Dedicate a bucket or two for these condiments. If you had to eat rice and beans for a year, these condiments might be appreciated.

Medicine

The US Airforce did a study and determined that most prescription drugs have a shelf life of about 10 years.  The author has used pharmaceuticals that were older than that and they were still good.  You can stock up on most of these by ordering them on-line from overseas such as an Indian pharmacy and it is legal to do this for your own use. There is nothing wrong with these drugs and they are not counterfeit. Thyroid medicine is a prime example of something you would want to stockpile.  You can legally order these for your personal use without a prescription from offshore pharmacies under U.S. Code 21, Section 331.

The most important item to stockpile is MMS.  This is the most profound healing compound ever discovered.  It is dirt cheap and will cure most anything.  The story of MMS is too long to tell here so go to this link to read about it:  MMS

You may want to put up some ibuprophen, Tiger’s Balm or other OTC remedies.

Cooking

We have water, food and now we need a way to cook it.  A rocket stove will cook your food by burning small bits of wood like sticks.  You can make one of these easily out of cinder blocks, tin cans and, if you are a welder, you can fabricate a more substantial one.  These are amazingly efficient stoves and YouTube is full of people showing you how to make them cheaply.  You can also buy them on Amazon. 

Consider buying a two-burner propane stove from Harbor Freight or Amazon.  Get the model with the automatic spark igniter.  Get and store a couple or three small 5 gallon propane bottles like you would use on your bar-b-q grill.  Propane will store indefinately and can be harmlessly burned indoors just like natural gas. Make sure you have a proper connecting hose.  One of these bottles of propane will cook your food for a couple of months.  Have a rocket stove as a backup.

ToiletToilet seat

You can purchase a toilet seat for a 5 gallon plastic bucket at Amazon. Keep it outdoors like having an outhouse. If you throw a shovel full of dirt on it each time you use it, it will have very little smell and can even be kept indoors. Use this to poop. Pee can go on the ground. Don't forget toilet paper.

Cell Phones

The cell phone towers will probably go dead after some time but may run on backup batteries or generators for a while. You can get a cheap fold out solar panel from Amazon to charge your cell phone. It might be useful for a few days to have your cell phone.

LightingFlashlight

You will want to stock up on candles. Tea lights are cheap and one tea light will last about 3 hours. A problem with tea lights is if you want to blow one out before it is finished it is hard to get it to light again. For this reason, have some big candles as well. One can easily relight one of these if you only need it to burn for a short while. Get a few flashlights that can accomodate lithium ion batteries. These are super bright, small and the Li batteries will keep their charge for years. Amazon has these. They don't come with the Li batteries so you have to order those separately. Don't forget to get a couple of packs of cigarette lighters (e.g. BIC).

GardenVegetable garden

If you have the space for a garden it’s not too late to get started.  Many city dwellers have converted their front and back yards into astonishing gardens yeilding thousands of pounds of produce. Here is a good book: Gardening When It Counts.  It takes some time to establish a garden and this has mostly to do with the condition of the soil.

Conclusion

If you put up a little rice and beans you have maybe spent a couple hundred dollars by the time you get your stove squared away.  That’s darn cheap insurance!

Books

Here is the ultimate bible on prepping:  Dare to Prepare

Dare to Prepare 5th Edition 5th Edition

 

Dare to Prepare

 

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)

 

Gardening When It Counts

 

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