Chronicle: Down t’home: Are you ready for disaster?

Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie recently compiled a list with some great advice for all of us. It is posted on its website and has gone viral on social media, including Facebook. It lists 10 things to ensure “food safety”.

Ten levels of food security

1) Keep a supply of non-perishable food.

2) Maintain a real pantry by rotating the stock.

3) Grow vegetables.

4) Hunting/forage.

5) Saving seeds.

6) Raising chickens.

7) Cultivate fruit trees.

8) Preserve the harvest.

9) Raising meat.

10) Cattle breeding.

When was the last time you heard a creature of Congress issue such a warning?

I grew up with all of the above on my grandparents’ farm, deep in the Maine forest. There was no electricity on the roads. We have all lived by these “ten levels of food security”. Each provided their own food/water/shelter like countless generations before. We weren’t starving or freezing during the Great Depression years. We didn’t depend on lettuce from the Salinas Valley or beef/chicken from the Midwestern feedlots.

For the past few decades, we’ve been lulled into the slavery of addiction and enjoyed dog paddling in hot water. The water heats up. The burner is lit. What’s for dinner?

Do you have your own water source, wood stove and woodlot, gardens – chicken coop – means of lighting if needed for an extended period beyond the fuel you have on hand for a generator? Can you support yourself for food, water and shelter? What will you do if supermarket shelves empty and trucks stop moving?

In recent years, the term “Prepper” has become familiar. People left the cities, acquired rural properties and established a more independent and self-sufficient way of life. Many live entirely “off the grid”. Many don’t, but have the ability to do so, if the “lights go out”.

We hear of people having a “bug out bag” to throw in the car; indeed, many keep one in the trunk of the car, ready to hit the road for a distant place to seek refuge if need be. It’s only a temporary respite and only achievable if you have your own bug out land, even if it’s only an acre with a water source, a way to stay dry and hot and, well, to have the “ten levels of food safety” accessible. And you have to start at least two years ago.

If you still live in a big city and have your bug repellent bag in the trunk of your car to feel “safe”, you might want to think about it. If disaster strikes, you won’t get out of Dodge. The highways will be closed before you know what hit.

And thinking that you can just hit the road and search for a forest to wander around and hide in, you’ll likely learn that any land you find belongs to someone. And they know their country. You wouldn’t go unnoticed for long. And they can’t put down a welcome mat.

We’ve all heard people complain about not being able to pick up and move or put in some extra food. And they are right. As long as they think they can’t, they won’t take action.

What man can conceive, man can achieve. It’s at we. No one is going to do it for us. We just have to decide what is more important. I packed up my kids (single mom) and rode out of California Ia long time ago. I lived there for 10 years. I saw the writing on the wall, creeping deterioration, 41 years ago! I didn’t have the means, nor the promise of a job. I just packed my bags and headed east, back home t’Maine.

After living in the city for 10 years, I bought my house here in the countryside, 31 years nownestled in the forest. I have my own good, a large wood-burning stove, a garden.

This resulted in a big additional bonus: three of my the now adult children now have their own homes here in the country, as well as their adult children with their own homes here, everything with Iand, wood-burning stoves and wells, and some with flocks of laying hens (hens, quails, guinea fowl and even meat rabbits) and garden room and six of my 13 great-grandchildren.

If I hadn’t left California, chances are most of them would be living there. It’s a nightmare scenario, I’m thankful to God it didn’t happen. (The only son who doesn’t live here lives in Florida, along with my other grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Florida is much better than California.)

But man-made circumstances aren’t the only thing that could land us in dire straits if we don’t practice self-sufficiency. Loss of income due to illness or job loss, natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires. The most disastrous would be a direct hit from a solar flare, like that of 1859, “The Carrington Event”. The sun spat out a giant solar flare that headed straight for the earth. There was no way, then, of knowing he was coming. The night sky across the world suddenly burst into flames, so bright, they said, you could read a newspaper. Many thought the world was ending.

This knocked it all out telegraph system, the only power system at the time. He fried the lines and blew up the transformers. Today, he would dismantle the whole network. Everything would be dead. And it could take months or even years to get up and running again.

There are ways to mitigate some of the damage and today’s technology can give us an idea if a solar flare is heading our way – we are late — but only a few hours and we could be helpless for a long time.

We could all take a crash course in the “10 Levels of Food Safety”.urity. Whether hit by a temporary setback like illness or job loss, a recession, hurricane, flood, blizzard or Solar eruption, we should think of being able to provide our own food, water and shelter as the best insurance policy we can have.

There’s nothing wrong with becoming more self-sufficient.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast Schools, now living in Morrill. His column appears in this newspaper every two weeks.

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