Building your own home reference library with books is a frequent recommendation within the online prepper/homesteading community. While it’s easy to criticize the federal government about many things, one thing I’ve found is the US government, being a vast bureaucracy, produces a lot of pamphlets, documents, fact sheets, etc., with useful information, that are available free. Along with acquiring books, I’ve been printing out, not only recipes, but other information that I think might be a useful addition to my home reference library.
Here’s a link to an EPA Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water fact sheet: https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-11/documents/epa816f15003.pdf. Having the measurements of bleach per quantity of water to sanitize water is on this fact sheet and that might be handy to have in my prepper binder.
I’ve also printed out information on herbal remedies. Here’s information on pine needle tea from WebMD: What To Know About Pine Needle Tea. According to this article pine needle tea is packed full of vitamin C. The article lists some common pine trees, like the Eastern White Pine, as a common source for edible pine needles and that pine variety is plentiful in the eastern US. This was a resource that I think would be good to know about, considering how plentiful pine trees are where I live. Of course proper identification of any wild plant or tree you use as a food source requires learning how to actually properly identify trees. Its a skill you have to work at developing.
The WedMD article advises using an online tree identification source or a local cooperative extension expert for help with tree identification, however I think acquiring some field guides is a worthwhile addition to your home reference library. There are apps that will identify a plant or tree when you snap a photo of it, however having an actual book at your fingertips is a good back-up resource. Field guides are books designed to help you identify plants, animals, and the natural world around you and often are available in a pocket-size format that makes them easy to carry along when hiking or exploring outdoors. Most have a lot of color photographs or sketches to help with identification. Peterson Field Guides and National Audubon Society Field Guides are two popular types. Field guides are a bit pricey and I’ve not found a lot of used ones listed online that are in “very good” or “like new” condition, which is what I look for in used books. I ended up with some books in terrible condition in the past, that were listed as in “good” condition, so I skip the books listed as acceptable and good condition.
I’ve been cutting down on my news and social media viewing, because frankly, I find a lot of the content isn’t helpful in my life and so much of the stuff that circulates as “vital information” is really just hysterical drivel, clickbait or part of the continuous social media mass panic stream. It often feels like the worst stereotypical town gossips now reside online and have large followings on social media… No matter how absurd or outlandish the online rumors, there are hordes ready to pass them on. The political news and analysis is mostly drivel too, so I read some news articles, scan some headlines, then just get on with my day. I did start writing a blog post about social media mass panic drama, but it seemed way too negative and I didn’t post it. The bottom-line is if we lose ourselves worrying constantly or being consumed by fear-driven prepping activities, it’s not going to make us better able to cope with crisis situations, it’s going to lead to a lot of bad decisions and panic-driven responses.
On social media I saw a liberal lady still stuck in COVID masking hysteria recently and then I saw a prepper guy, who is always hyping doomsday stuff had a video about buying gas masks for the family. They were two sides of the same social media coin. Whatever – I am sick to death of the drama. Here’s the thing, even in the midst of war, soldiers still look for small moments of rest and relaxation – they take mental breaks, as well as read books, write letters home, play cards, etc. They don’t stay worked up 24/7, because it’s not good for them mentally. They also try to maintain small vestiges of normalcy in daily tasks, wherever they can, even if it’s only a cup of coffee in the morning. They don’t live their life worked up constantly, if they hope to survive.
Yes, I believe a larger war, beyond Ukraine is likely. There’s nothing I can do about that. Likewise, I believe serious global economic problems are in motion too, so here I agree with what most of the economic experts predict about serious global economic problems. Could an EMP attack happen? Yes, I believe it could. Would it be catastrophic? Yes, I believe it would be. Beyond taking the preparedness actions that I can afford, without incurring debt (because debt can sink you fast in economic hard times), continuing to stock up basics, learn as much as I can, and work on my health and fitness level, I can’t change any of the big things that might happen. Another thing I can do is guard against letting worrying about the future rob me of the present. Each day matters and if you let worrying about the future or agonizing over the past consume the present, well, you lose the present for living.
I don’t believe people who stay worked up usually fare well in real crisis situations. I watched videos a while back with people talking about their prepping, who were worked up over empty store shelves and they bought into the belief that the government is trying to starve them and yet, these same people kept talking about how much food and stuff they had stocked up. The reality is if you have 6 months or a year’s worth of food stocked up at home and you see some empty store shelves – it’s not a crisis in your life. I just google if there are sections of out of stock stuff in my store to see if there’s some shortage situation and I check other local stores and online to see if there’s any available there. I usually have a good amount stocked up anyway, so I wait until I can get more later. So far, I haven’t had to resort to making major substitutions, but that definitely is a possibility, if shortages worsen, as predicted.
For several years, I’ve been working at wasting less food, because I realized I was still buying fresh fruit and vegetables, plus cooking like our kids were still at home, when it was just my husband and me. Now, my husband is gone and I think about how much fresh produce I buy and how to preserve it, to avoid waste. If times get worse, we’ll all have to adapt and that’s why stocking up food and basics is so important, because we can try to assure that we have a level of food “insurance” to help see us through difficult times, as we work to figure out solutions to a crisis situation.
If severe shortages do occur, well, it’s going to take some calm and resolve to try to find things, figure out substitutions and learn how to more effectively network or barter – especially locally. If the internet’s down or cell phones, or there’s a fuel shortage, well, that could make things even harder. Building bridges of goodwill can be as vital as building up a massive personal stockpile. My Pop, who had a 10th grade education taught me that – he was always helping out people and when I asked him why he would say “Well it didn’t cost me much except a little time and everyone has a little time to spare.” I wrote about this back in 2013 in a blog post and I still believe my Pop’s brand of just offering a helping hand wherever he could is better than sitting around trying to plot how to convert my home into a fortress for a future crisis. It sure seems like some people already live stuck in a self-limiting bunker mentality, seeing ever-growing threats, while seeing less and less of the blessings and good things all around. I’d rather take the “risk” of talking to all kinds of people, not just “like-minded” people.
In a crisis a whole lot of people offering helping hands will be better than people holed up in their own fortresses distrusting everyone. I’m not dismissing the importance of self-defense or having to be careful about personal safety, especially in a crisis situation. What I’m saying is that if everyone is out only for themselves, then there won’t be enough people trying to help their community survive. It might take finding people with various skills and linking them up with other people with skill sets where they might be able to figure out various technical, mechanical, vital infrastructure stuff, etc. that will help the group survive. You definitely wouldn’t need everyone to become subsistence farmers, even though farming is a vital skill. Machinists and people with all sorts of other technical skills, medical skills, logistical skills, etc. would be vital in a major crisis too. And that’s why this idea of going it alone in a major crisis is such a bad one or wasting time figuring out who you’ll help and who you won’t help in a crisis (I actually saw social media prepper videos where that was a hot topic a year or so ago). Getting people to share skills and knowledge will be critical in a major crisis. People talking to each other can be vital for everyone’s survival, because sharing information can alert others to dangers or issues. Sharing some resources might be critical too, even if you are well-stocked, because you never know when you might need a helping hand too. Accidents and illness can strike any of us, even if we are well-prepared and have diligently stocked up food, water and supplies. People who will work together always are the most critical resource, I think.
Even with my medication shortage issues, so far it’s not a crisis situation. I can still communicate with my doctor easily and we’re discussing options as this goes. Of course, I’ve been doing some research to gather some information, in case it does become a crisis situation. In some places in the world the medications I have had access to, have not been available at all – that’s something I think about often when I think about how blessed we are in America. Heck, even having a year-round vitamin C source like pine trees at hand is a blessing and I am sure there are a multitude of other resources that abound around us outdoors, if we only take the time to learn about them.
Yesterday was a lovely sunny day here and I worked at transplanting some seedlings under grow lights inside to red Solo cups and getting them outside. I came inside feeling optimistic and grateful for a lovely afternoon. Something I want to get back to soon is starting a gratitude journal again, because when I’ve done that in the past, it helped me with working daily to focus on my attitude and practicing gratitude. I also need to work on being less judgmental, I know that. I will be writing fewer blog posts for a while, because I’m sick to death of the partisan political garbage and I’m equally sick of online drama, which is a reflection of American culture, both liberal and conservative, and I find this drama, not entertaining or informative, but a bit unsettling a good bit of the time.
One last resource recommendation, where I’ve been learning all sorts of things about early American life and culture, is a series called “Everyday Life in America.” It’s a 6 volume series by different historians, who tackle different time periods as America grew and changed. I have the first three books and am working my way through them. All sorts of common assumptions and beliefs we have about early American life are wrong and what keeps striking me over and over again, as I read more, is how people, even back then, depended on trade and various supplies from other places to survive. The idea of people being able to produce all of their own food and goods is a myth. Yes, being as self-reliant as possible is a good thing, but it’s important to remember that people, even back then, developed trade routes, built communities, established local government and also built a whole lot of churches. Often they had to turn to neighbors for help. People fare better in groups – that’s the truth. We really do need more people to commit to building One American Team again.