This guest post by Doc and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
I have passed my 70th birthday. A year ago, I ate lean meat, dairy products, eggs, and olive oil. It was an overall a healthy diet. I was a controlled diabetic dependent on medication, not insulin, statins for high cholesterol, and an ace inhibitor, blood pressure medication, to protect my kidneys from the diabetes. Last February, two sisters and two cousins contacted me about starting a program developed by Dr. Esselstyn from the Cleveland Clinic to clear a blockage in a sister’s neck and diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure in my brother-in-law. Knowing I also had the same medical issues, I was invited to join the group and today I can report that neither my brother-in-law nor I have any signs of diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure and everyone in the group has lost 25-45 pounds. It also looks as though the blockage in my sister’s neck is decreasing in size. I now know if TEOTWAWKI happens I am no longer dependent on medication for survival. First step to survival; get healthy! Then stay with the program!
Always begin prepping by assessing skills and resources. I am a long-time gardener now retired from teaching special education of children with more severe disabilities. I left the classroom at 71 years and began a backyard business of propagating landscaping plants through cuttings, germinating seed and growing herbs, perennials, and vegetable plants. I broker blackberries, raspberries, jostaberries, currants, strawberries, etc. each January and February which gives me access to affordable additional berry plants when I begin enlarging the garden this year. I am also at home with woodworking and general carpentry. I bought my “walking, talking, singing, dancing” table saw for my 70th birthday. I love tools. If I cannot be found in a store, look in the tool department. My only daughter is like me so the two of us are learning electricity, plumbing, general maintenance, and new woodworking skills together. But the main skill I have is growing food in the garden and putting back food.
As I need a diet based on grains and beans and my garden is in the process of being enlarged, I began buying 25 pound bags of winter wheat, oats, buckwheat, white rice and brown rice several varieties of beans including soy beans for soy milk and tofu. I prefer Almond milk but if TEOTWAWKI happens, Almond milk will not be available. In Arkansas, we cannot buy dry ice for treating storage grains and beans. I layered edible DE in about 6 layers in each 5-gallon tub. The amount is 1 cup per 5 gallon bucket. Buckwheat, brown rice, soy beans, and rolled oats are stored in their bags in the deep freeze to prolong their shelf life. If and when TEOTWAWKI happens, I will not be able to keep the oils in those foods from turning rancid after a while. From some of the literature, I have been told 6 months to a year in storage is all I will probably get with those foods.
While building my supply of the above staples, I started buying frozen vegetables on sale-mixed vegetables, peas, peas and carrots, baby limas, and corn. I am the bugout point for the family so I need enough vegetables for a year to allow the year’s garden to replace what has been saved. I held the vegetables in the freezer until I started dehydrating them. My Excalibur dehydrator does 9 trays at a time and the 3 round dehydrators can dry 5 trays each. Stores often have sales on vegetables and fruit in the fall. I bought lots of potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and dehydrated them as diced vegetables. Cole slaw mixes are dried as. The dried vegetables are stored in half-gallon containers for soup and additions to any cooking to increase nutrition. I often put a handful of vegetables in many of my bean dishes. I prefer one-pot meals. I bought lots of apples and some were given to me. They become applesauce or dried slices. Christmas oranges are peeled, sliced, and frozen until I start making apple/orange preserves. Any fruit I can slice and dehydrate is fair game. Grapes, I cut in half and dry flesh side up. Dehydrating grapes is much easier that way.
At this time, I am redesigning my garden to increase 20 fold. I now have the plant stock for apple, apricot, cherry, peach, fig, pomegranate, and nectarine trees to plant this coming spring. The blueberries are 15 years old, but I want to double the number this spring. I have some primocane (2-year-old canes ready to produce this year) blackberries and raspberries to transplant into the new area. The strawberry bed will be increased. I potted up 3 varieties of seedless grapes recommended for growing in NW Arkansas. They also will be planted this spring. Plus, I am growing mulberry, elderberries, gooseberries, jostaberries, currants, hardy kiwi, wild roses (for hips), and any other edible plant I can find around the cleared area. Now for the hard part; growing enough dried beans to feed me and at least four other adults using heirloom seed so I can keep seed for the following year’s crop.
I am opting for pole beans whenever possible; otherwise, I will be planting beans in blocks or wide rows. I have had tremendous production using square foot gardening planting seeds 3 inches each way-9 plants to the square foot. My raised beds are 4 feet by 8 feet. I like raised beds as they are more productive and easier on the back. A good portion of the garden will be for all the different types of beans I like and use-black turtle, pinto, chickpea, navy, northern, small red, Vermont cranberry, etc. I eat a lot of lentils, but I have never grown them. My goal this year is to learn how to grow this very nutritional food. My granddaughter’s new husband is from India and tells me lentils, dal, is the first food of babies because of its protein level.
Tomatoes are vital in prepping. I plan on using tomatoes at least 4-5 times a week in dishes. I grow mostly paste/sauce heirloom tomatoes. I want to save all my vegetable seed. Until things are bad, though, I will continue to use some favorite hybrid seeds, but not depend on them. I sauce or dice for canning and I dry a good portion of the available tomatoes. A large amount of cherry tomatoes was given to me that was too much to eat right now. I washed, blanched, sliced in half and then put the tomatoes in the dehydrator. I just chopped some for a dish a couple of weeks ago and they were quite tasty.
The soup mix as I call them all take to being grown in the raised beds. These are the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes etc. I dry most of these including some of the potatoes as this climate is not good for keeping vegetables long-term.
I will be growing Irish potatoes for the family, but my diet depends on sweet potatoes and winter squash. Both keep well in an unheated room in my house. I also dehydrate and can some sweet potatoes for quicker use. I tend to be too busy to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking.
I think about what will I do if a disaster is so serious, I run out of grains. As a diabetic, I am better with wheat, buckwheat, and oats than with corn. Yes, I add frozen, canned, or dehydrated corn to the bean dishes, but I do not eat a lot of corn bread. The family will eats lots of cornbread so I will need to address their needs. I am learning about growing grain crops by planting small areas and processing to learn what to do if necessary.
A vegan preparing for TEOTWAWKI is no different except for the increased almost double the amount of beans, grains, fruits and vegetables that are put into storage. As I eat no fat added to my foods and no eggs, baking is non-existent except for pancakes made with applesauce for oil and egg replacer for the eggs, whole grain bread, and maybe cornbread. Grains and root crops are increased or decreased to lose, maintain, or gain weight. The beans, vegetables, and fruit provide the basic foundation to the diet. I eat from my storage daily so everything is always in rotation. The doctor has been testing me quarterly and is amazed with my bloodwork. He tells me to continue whatever I am doing so I know this works for me and for 11 other members of the family.
My children and grandchildren want the traditional diet which means I also prep with their needs in mind. My late husband and I homesteaded on this property for 11 years without utilities. During those years I raised reject chicks from the local brooder houses supplying chicks to the farmers with the huge broiler chicken houses. I had no electricity so it was necessary to can the meat. Also during those years I worked a 35 doe rabbitry producing 3200-3300 kits a year to a local company. I also raised a herd of milk goats. Starting this spring, I will begin growing laying hens for eggs and new chicks and I will get a small rabbitry up and going again. Starting after the SHTF is not the way to go. I want a flock of birds and at least 3 breeding does and 2 bucks in the rabbitry well in advance. I learned the hard way; never settle for one breeding buck. If the buck dies and he might, no more kits! There is also a one-acre pond with abundant fish, turtles, frogs, etc. and a herd of about 25 deer with loads of small game on this land. The family will have the meat and eggs to eat with the beans and grains to supplement the meat. This is the difference between prepping for a Vegan and the more traditional American diet.
Here are a few of the books I go to often for reference:
‘Gardening-when it counts’ by Steve Solomon.
Any book by Eliot Coleman dealing with growing vegetables the year around using frost fabric and low tunnel hoop houses.
This contest will end on February 16 2013 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive Two cases of MRE’s courtesy of Camping Survival, A Wonder Junior Deluxe hand-mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads, $150 gift certificate for Fiocchi Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo, A Big Berkey Water Filter System courtesy of TruPrep Emergency Preparedness and a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable.
- Second Place: A $200 gift certificate for any order from their store courtesy ofShepherd Survival and A Doom and Bloom Mini Trauma Bag courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Third Place: A Bar-ricade door bar courtesy of My Locksmith, Inc.
- The Prepper's Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How
- The Prepared Prepper's Cookbook: Over 170 Pages of Food Storage Tips, and Recipes From Preppers All Over America!
- Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man's Solution
- 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness