I have been asked to speak at Papyrus Books in North Adams this evening. Northern Berkshire Transition Town is sponsoring me. They want me to talk about the basics of getting started in preparedness. The timing is good as I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I’ve been going over my own organization and inventory. It’s really easy to get off track and these periodic updates are important for plugging any holes you find. Sharon Astyk has an excellent post at her site that’s generating a lot of buzz. She’s doing a real life redo, looking at how to upgrade her home  systems to make things run more smoothly, how to get her budget back on track and how to reduce her energy consumption. Can I just add that when Sharon thinks she’s using too much energy and not getting enough done, it can make a girl feel a bit incompetent. Still, it was a really good post and got me excited about making some changes.

I’m going to speak as I would (and have) to my own family. I will suggest that they take on one thing at a time. Have one week’s worth of food put away. This has to be food you can prepare without using any electricity. A small camp stove that uses a propane cylinder is a must-have. Then you can make oatmeal with dried fruit or just add water pancakes for breakfast, canned soup or mac and cheese for lunch and any number of casseroles for dinner. This is not how any of us should eat but I’m talking about the absolute basics for getting through a short-term emergency. Then work on two weeks and then three. Make sure you have water. A gallon a day per person for sure and think about water for flushing if that’s an issue. Think about keeping warm. Warm clothes and wool and down covers for the beds will get you through a bit of really cold weather. A couple of hurricane lamps, matches and lamp oil will g ive you some light. Don’t forget a can opener. Once these things are in place, it’s time to look at the bigger picture like alternative heating systems and stored food.

I can’t say often enough how important it is to begin with cleaning and organizing you house. Get rid of the clutter and you will find space and money you didn’t realize you had. I was in the home of a relative recently. She claimed she had no space and no extra money but you couldn’t move because of the toys. She could have had a tag sale and found some room to breath and her kids would have been better off.

Bruce and I are talking a lot about how to proceed from here. We are debating what animals we want to add, how to enlarge our garden and what trees and bushes to add. We are also making a decision about our heating system and investigating the plan to reopen our old well. The windows are in upstairs (beautiful!) and the space up there getting organized but we are still a work in progress. But that’s going to always be the case. I’ll never be “done” and I don’t want to be. The energy that comes from this work is what keeps me going. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about Sharon’s post.