Wartime women (and men) were resourceful – that’s a given. But how prepared were they all for the deprivations of war? Largely they grew a lot of their own food, knew how to store it and had the basic ability to fix and repair items when they broke, or could reuse or re-purpose them – flour bags into dress for example. In addition, they did not spend their money foolishly (or use credit). Of course I doubt that they all had stockpiles of food, blankets or clothing, and we know that many people had to learn from scratch how to raise rabbit sand chickens, and even how to grow and store vegetables. But many did. My grandparents did. And I know that after the war, when they moved to Australia, my grandparents always had a veggie garden, chickens until they were older, and a full pantry. (They also kept their cash under the mattress and in a tin in the garden, just in case the Germans came again).
Canning for Victory, WWI Poster
Now, I hope that we are never faced with times like those again, but even in this day and age it does not hurt to be prepared. You may not believe in global warming or peak oil (or even zombies), but anyone can be hit by illness (or a local epidemic) , job loss, a transport (and thus supplies) strike or an extreme weather event.
Here in North Queensland we have just had a near miss from Cyclone Dylan – and even then our power was out for two days. (It turned out the power connection on the street had issues, and we had no neutral coming into the house, and 120 volts going through our taps, so it could have been a lot worse.) Anyway, despite having tins of beans, candles and bottles of water, I felt unprepared. With four children at home to feed and clothe (and buy new school books for), I haven’t worried too much about getting the recommend ‘Cyclone Kit’ ready. I always figure I’ll just jump in the 4WD and go. Wrong! The wind and rain here were so strong, I didn’t want to go outside. I need to be prepared to stay home without power and water, and prepared to evacuate if necessary.
So the slant of my blog is going to change. I will still look at history and try and learn from it, and the women during WWII, but I also want to record and share my attempt at becoming more self-reliant, and prepared for an emergency. I also want to learn some survival skills, and instill some of these skills into my children – what if the cyclone hit while they were at school, for example, what would they do and how would they cope?
If you have ever watched some of the BBC reality history shows where families go back in time (Turn Back Time, the Family, or Coal House etc) you will have seen how modern people cope, or don’t cope, with the harshness of conditions in the past. I don’t want to be the mother who sits in the chair and cries, or the one with the whingy children nobody can stand.
So I need to start prepping. Slowly. Cheaply. I’ll just do one small preparation a day. If I don’t have any extra money to purchase something, then I’ll work on a new skill like tying knots, or sorting out the pantry, or even read a blog or book for inspiration. My first goal is to store up four weeks supply of food and water. Sounds easy, but just how much do we, a family of six, two dogs, a cat and three chickens, need for four weeks?
To start with I am turning to Wendy DeWitt. She is a well-known and respected lecturer on preparedness, and specifically food storage. She has created a food storage method around planned meals to suit each family size. You can find her on youtube, and you can also download a copy of her “Everything Under the Sun” book on food storage. Wendy generously shares her wisdom and experience by offering this book at no cost, but you can also get a copy of her DVD here.
Day One – read Wendy De Witt’s book and others, and make a food storage plan