"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
I must say, living for 2 1/2 weeks without water certainly teaches one a lot about how important indoor plumbing is to our society today. I try to be prepared for most emergencies but I was totally unprepared for going without water longer than one would say... in a snowstorm.
It reminded me of an article I read long ago that I thought was brilliant. The person writing said the human makeup seems to indicate that if one does not prepare for an emergency... it won't happen to them. Deny it could happen. It won't. Ummm... yeah, right. It just might and when it does, it could happen so fast there is no time to prepare.
Which brings me back to what I have been writing about for years (decades, really). That is the difference between living a Pantry Lifestyle and what today we would call being a Prepper. Not that being a Prepper is a bad thing at all. But it takes more than buying stuff and stocking up to live through life's inevitable bad stuff.
I am of the first generation when women were taught learning to cook, do housework, garden, etc. were not at all important. We were told in high school that true liberation meant leaving our kitchens and going to work in an office. So I did. Go to work in an office.
Except my love of cooking and learning about how natural foods could help my husband (who had already gone to the Mayo Clinic before we were married) would keep me grounded. Also, being the child of an older mom (who went through the Great Depression) would have an affect long before any school teacher. That generation knew a thing or two about the need to be prepared!
Realizing Hollywood is the master of editing to make people look stupid... and realizing the few Prepping shows I saw most likely had people chosen for their "uniqueness"... I realized these people were most likely prepared for The End of the World As We Know It but umm... Monday? Tuesday? Wednesday? Etc.?... not so much.
I know there were decent, sane, people on some of the shows I didn't view (after having been turned off by what I did!) but everything was about beans and bullets. About preparing for WWIII (which could very well happen) or 2012 (which I knew could not happen for it was not Biblical).
The true Pantry Lifestyle starts first with a relationship with Jesus. Not our yoga class. Not Oprah. Not listening to a TV Evangelist (although there are two or three good ones out there). No... the Bible and Jesus. Throw in some really good Christ centered music (whatever your favorite genre) and you are starting with a foundation that will be an Anchor when the hurricane force winds of adversity are raging.
I have learned that as important it is to deepen your pantry as much as you have room for and you can afford (and I hear from so many of you who are in our position, finding yourselves living on a limited income due to circumstances), having skills and always learning is just as important.
I am planning another list of great books for the Pantry Lifestyle. Soon. There is always something to learn that will help you in the good times as well as scarcity. That is one of the reasons I love books like The Homemade Kitchen* that I just reviewed. While it contains recipes, the author shares a lot of techniques that are important to putting together a good menu with basic ingredients.
Knowledge is just as important as stocking up... and experience is the glue that holds it all together. For instance, my husband went to a couple of food pantries last week (he now goes instead of me as the lines form at least an hour before the door opens and I cannot stand that long). He always brings home a variety of food. Think "Chopped" for the limited income family.
I had to immediately throw out a few items of fruit and veggies as I knew they were bad. But a container of "bitter greens" that was sold as a salad was just beginning to wilt. I knew exactly what to do with them. Last night I poured some olive oil in a cold skillet and added thick sliced garlic. I slowly warmed the olive oil so as not to burn the garlic. (When I do this, I always make more than I need for that dish.)
When the olive oil was just beginning to add some color to the garlic, I removed the garlic and most of the now garlic infused olive oil. I added the entire container of bitter greens and stepped back as I knew they would spit and sputter and complain about their hot bath. They were sauteed about two minutes until they wilted completely. I always find it amusing how a large bunch of green turn into two tablespoons cooked!
When they were finished cooking, I transferred them to a plate and added a little more garlic infused olive oil back to the skillet. Then I added sliced new potatoes I had steamed already and the garlic that I had removed earlier. When they were browned a bit, they were ready.
All of that... every step along the way... was learned from watching good cooking teachers (most of them on PBS), reading excellent cookbooks, taking cooking classes when I as younger, and getting my mother to show me certain favorite dishes when I was first married (she did not use a recipe!).
I wish I had done more canning and dehydrating (like my South Dakota friend who amazes me with her skills!). I have tried to be good at sewing and have even made some decent quilts in the past. But other than simple hand sewn mending, that gene seems to have skipped me as it did my mother before me.
There are some things we will be good at and others... not so much. But that is okay. I have learned to try new skills and quite often all that is needed is a little knowledge. Basic mending skills. Basic First Aid skills. Then... learning more indepth in those areas for which God has gifted.
My husband is good at fixing things because he tried to learn the various skills through the years. Which really came in handy when we have no extra money to hire a professional. He can do almost anything with wood (having a Master's Degree in Wood Science) and most handy man chores. But his knowledge of plumbing is limited and his electrician father long ago taught him to leave that to the professionals!
My daughter's degree is in Interior Design but the University made the design students learn at least a little of basics such as plumbing, electricity, etc. as that degree program was also Pre-Architecture. She can be quite the handy woman to have around! Not to mention her skills are helping design the new house. My son? He is Tech Support for all things computer related.
Together and with our friends thrown in (Linda's husband is great at fixing washing machines and such!)... we get by pretty good as long as there is no catastrophic breakdown. Like a pipe coming in from the well that breaks.
There is no one who has all the knowledge they need and it can take a lifetime to become really, really good. I've been gardening awhile now and each year there is something new to learn... usually by what failed!
If one simply buys canned goods, or dehydrated food, or generators, or beans, or rice, etc... and gains no knowledge or experience... they will be in trouble eventually. I'm always concerned about people storing seeds for an emergency who never even planted herbs. Same for storing wheat when one has never made bread from white flour, much less grinding wheat and eating 100% whole grains.
If they have not learned to trust God in the good days, how will they trust Him if their world is falling apart (and a job loss can do that!). The verse under the photo is one of my very favorites. I had it typed out and taped to the front of my refrigerator one year when in a serious trial situation.
Which is why, when I think of all things "Prepping", I lean more towards the farm women I knew when growing up than any docu-drama-reality TV show. The rural women of past generations were ready for winter because they knew how to be ready. And they all knew they would need the fruit, veggies, and meat that had been preserved. They used the potatoes and onions and winter squash and apples stored in the cellar.
For this was their life. Not something they planned for someday or just in case. Stuff not only may happen... you can pretty much depend on it. And the more you know... the more you will not only survive but flourish... and be a help to others.
* The Homemade Kitchen is available... here... and yes, it is an Amazon Associate link. I thank you very much. I have it on the coffee table to read through more today!