Monday, December 18, 2017
I am changing my blog to a new site, a new look, and a new writing style. The name will still be Easy Living the Hard Way with the basis of homesteading skills. What's new is information at the forefront. Record keeping has entered the picture. Currently, I am working on a flexible schedule for the entire spring with many posts already researched and outlines in the works. I decided to get serious.
I kept thinking that life would give me a break and I would get to be just grandma. I thought demands would change, that things would slow down and I could get serious about writing. They have not and are not likely too. What has changed is my mindset. I had a serious scare the end of November. The doctor was sure that I had a cancer that would give me three years tops. Tests thankfully disagreed. It made me think, reevaluate. Promptings led me to do research and discover a high possibility that I have a rare genetic mutation with dispositions toward benign tumors and eventually a high risk of developing cancer in certain organs. Two doctors concur so I will be visiting a geneticist soon to test for this mutation on my genes.
The end of November I lost my sweet brother in law to cancer, a seven year battle. The message that time is not our own penetrated. In the L.D.S. church, we talk about Good, Better, and Best. That we need to choose to do what's Best each day. We can become entangled in doing good things but never accomplish what matters most.
I have decided that life won't be giving me a break but I can change how I spend my time. I am forming a plan for my health based on hours of research to help ward off cancer in the future. This mutation is not just about me, it affects 50 % of a family line. In the past, my medical research has greatly helped myself and my extended family and I pray this is the answer our family has been looking for. It is critical I continue researching for generations to come depend on it.
I want as part of my legacy to my family be the knowledge that I've gained. I'm call the 'Walking Encyclopedia' by family, friends, and those who have conversed with me fairly briefly. Funny how they all coin the same term. It is probably the result of my Autism.
Join me as I open the door to a new chapter in my life.
My blog, e-books, and patterns to come will be part of this legacy I wish to leave. My family has requested for quite some time in written form the knowledge I've gained through research and practical application.
I decided to share it in this new blog, in e-books, and for fun, patterns that include homesteading skills. Come and join me to see what's new. The site will be up and running in January. More details will be forthcoming as the time nears.
Friday, December 15, 2017
Oh what do you do in the winter time when all the small waterers are froze?
- Forcefully plant your Muck boot in the middle of the pan to bust through the crust which soaks your boot, sprays water all over your pants, coat, and glasses, which promptly freezes leaving you chilled and blind. Done that many times.
- Lift rubber pans (always use rubber in the winter time.) and hurled them to the ground with force - spraying water everywhere including your glasses, coat, and pants. Know that one well too.
- And of course throw those frozen solid rubber pans as hard as you can toward the ground over and over to break out the ice. (Do this responsibly in an area away from the walking paths as it will over time changed as the sun melts it creating a hazardous ice ring for man and beast.)
- And when their is only a couple inches froze, broken the water with the wooden end of the pitchfork.
Put a few ping pong balls in to keep the water open it said. Supposedly a gentle breeze moves them about and keeps the water from freezing. I laughed. My neighbors would ask me if I'd take up golf.
I did come upon a promising one though. Fill the inside hollowed area of a tire with bubble wrap and since I had the larger size rectangular shipping bubbles, I used them too. Then you place a rubber feed or water pan inside, not allowing it to touch the ground which would conduct the cold upward. A block of wood does the trick. Voila, an insulated tank meant to hold the heat of the suns rays into the night.
I rushed out to check how it worked after a frigid night. What a disappointment, I had not only water frozen solid to the very bottom of the rubber pan; but the pan was stuck solid to the tire too.
Good thing I did not put tires around the other water pans. They were frozen but only about half to three-quarters.
But why did this experiment not work? I came to realize that the insulation kept the warmth in the tire and away from the pan inside. Too bad because it looked so neat and nice and made stepping into the waterer more difficult for the goats which meant the water stayed cleaner.
I wondered why the tire work so well for the person who recommended it on the internet? Could it be that we live in Wyoming? Is humidity, and wind a factor? We had 67 mile an hour wind gusts the other night. Not common, but not unusual either.
So does windchill have any affect on water? The answer I found is that it will cool it more quickly but only to the temperature of the air but no lower.
Even though this was not the answer to our problem. I've got another experiment to try. With snow in the forecast for the days leading up to Christmas and temperatures plummeting, we will have just the weather to test it.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Check out Boyd Craven Jr an anonymous reader of my blog said. They thought he might just be able to help me with my meat rabbit project. Thank you anonymous reader for the direction. I read some of Craven's blogs but what was most helpful was his small book called Beyond The Pellet (Feeding Rabbits Naturally) which he wrote with Rick Worden. It has sent my mind off into many directions and its inspiration will change the diets of my rabbits and hopefully the feed bill too.
Presently I feed mostly hay and pellets and there is a place and time for pellets acknowledges Boyd and Rick. When you begin it is helpful to leave the feed program up to professionals. There is so many other areas of rabbit husbandry to learn. BUT commercial companies have profit as their bottom line and so what they use to make up the nutrient list is not always what is in line with our values and standards.
I have to admit that the biggest motivator to change right now is that I'm currently feeding 19 rabbits. With 50 pound feed bag costing over $ 17. That $17 dollars is used up in a hurry and it is not the nutrient base I'd like. Beyond The Pellet helped me see how I could feed them more naturally and economically.
I have a premium quality orchard grass/alfalfa mix hay harvested just ten minutes from our home which I will continue to use. Because the rabbits seem unsatisfied with just the hay I am feeding some pellets. It is hard to take it away from them when the rabbits do everything but cartwheels when they see me headed their way with it. I've wondered what exactly are in these things to incite such a reaction? I'm still wondering as the label reads like the back of a cake mix - lots of industrial mumbo jumbo and that can't be good but what should I substitute?
Now with a little knowledge under my belt thanks to Rick Worden and Boyd Craven Jr. and some internet hopping, I'm ready to shop at the feed store. Natural in Wyoming's barren winter landscape isn't possible so their ideas for fresh will have to wait until summer. Until then I'll use Storey's rabbit grain formula and slowly weeding out the pellets so I don't upset tummies.
Meanwhile as I wait for summer, I'll plan my garden with the rabbits in mind. I can grow more lettuce, add kale and such along with pruning parts of the plants such as broccoli leaves and cabbage leaves for them with out damaging the plants. Hubby thinks we need to move the greenhouse construction up the list of to do's to needs done this spring or summer at the latest. He's right.What I never thought about was drying food for rabbits. Thank you Boyd and Rick. What a good idea. They name some herbs that would be a great addition fresh and dried too. I have some dried zucchini, I wonder what they will think of it? A greenhouse, cold frames, and dried food would all be ways to add nutrition and lower food bills. That would be a great addition in the winter.
I see that there is much, much more I can do to become increasingly self-sustaining in my rabbit operation. I can cut costs while producing a healthier meat for the table. Some ideas came from the Beyond The Pellet book while others spring boarded off from it. I'd highly recommend reading this book. It really makes you think.
Monday, November 27, 2017
Squeeze and pull, that's what they do on the old westerns to milk a cow but that's more likely to get you kicked than put milk in the bucket.
First of all don't pull.The action does nothing but make the dairy animal uncomfortable and simply squeezing will more likely send the milk shooting back up into the udder than down. There is a bit of a trick to getting the milk out but hardly rocket science.
Proper milking is done by first encircling the teet with with your thumb and forefinger in the fashion shown in the above picture and lock them together. This keeps the milk in the teet from retracting up into the udder.
Then pretend you are playing scales on the piano. Encircle the teet as much as possible with your middle finger and press against the palm of your hand.
Then do the same with your ring finger and in doing so you will force the milk downward toward the orifice and out into the bucket.
Don't let your pinky come near the orifice. This is an open passageway and bacteria from your hands can find its way into this inside the udder.
Release your grip but don't take your hands away. Simply grip the teet once more between the forefinger and the thumb to contain milk into the teet once more and play the scales with the fingers. I guarantee you will make music - swish, swish, swish. Do this in a rapid manner and before long the pail will be full.
To strip, don't encircle the teet and pull downwards like in the movies. This will bring your fingers in contact with the orifice. Remember that is a big no, no. Simply milk as before but reach higher up onto the udder and lock your forefinger and thumb and play your scales. The udder will be soft and saggy so this will be quite easy. If you feel your goat has not let down her milk fully then bump her in the udder firmly but lightly. I'm never as rough as her kids. It might take a few times but be sure and wait a moment between each one and check to see if the spout fills.
Then if that fails to bring her milk down then massage the udder. This has never failed for me. Milk a bit and when it is barely coming out, message once more. This is particularly effective on nervous new milkers or new to you milkers.
Now go inside and enjoy that wondrous milk. It is within the first hour that goat milk is super high in antibacterials. I often drink it warm at this time to take advantage of that.
Saturday, November 25, 2017
"Put the eggs pointy side down in the carton." was what my grandmother told me and that was how the eggs came from the grocery store. I figured there must be some scientific reason for it. Then I recently discovered commercial cartons have eggs pointing up and down. When did this change take place? It could have been years ago for all I know. But why this shift? Is this a sign of laziness and lack of pride in a companies product or have the rules changed due to scientific discovery?
I had to find out. The answer of course is Grandma knew best. If you store eggs pointy side down, you will increases their shelf life. This is because there is an air pocket in the wider end of the egg. This pocket of air helps keep the moister in the porous egg shell from evaporating. The narrower end, where the egg white is closer to the surface of the shell, is then tucked down inside the carton which aids in protecting that section from evaporation. So indeed it does matter which way you store your eggs but only if you are storing them for long periods of time. Maybe this is why companies are packaging there eggs every which way. Then again maybe it just speeds up packaging and time is money.
The story changes when you wish to store eggs for hatching. Always store large end up so you don't risk displacing the air pocket. A chick naturally forms facing the wider end toward this pocket. On the twenty first day, hatching day, it will pierce the air sack with its egg tooth and take its first breath. This is when you hear peeping inside the egg.
I love this moment!
Friday, November 10, 2017
Ducks may of done me wrong but I have an idea they might be back in the future. There are some great benefits to raising ducks according to research. My timing for raising duck was poor so I'll wait a while, think things over more, and I would not be surprised if they don't return in a few years from now when the rabbit and chicken self-sustaining set up is running more smoothly. Until then, I'm going to do some more research and some serious thinking.
These are the points so far that have me thinking duck:
(a.) Duck lay better than chickens in winter. Just learned that ducks often begin to lay in February so maybe I was a bit hasty in getting rid of them except I desperately needed their coop and realistically, I'm not ready for them. Since that is after the winter solstice and light is increasing, I'd guess that is why the timing. So I'm going to think and watch my chickens to see if I need duck eggs to fill in a gap.
(b.) Ducks have a larger egg yolk than chickens but when I measured Sasha's egg yolk and one of my Rainbow hen's they were equal in size but they lay extra large eggs. Keep in mind that the bulk of the nutrition in an egg is in the yolk. That is why a chick or duck forms in the egg white and the yolk is they food source.
(c.) Duck eggs are alkaline and chickens are acidic. That is a biggy. It is one of the reasons why we have goat milk because it too is alkaline so adding duck eggs would be a really good combination.
(d.) Duck eggs have 6 times the Vitamin D and 2 times the Vitamin A than a chicken egg, more protein too. Other than that pretty much the same as a chicken's egg in nutrition. With having to take 5000 units of vitamin D a day to stay at the lower end of normal and my husband 1000 units that could mean we could go off of supplements part of the year or at least reduce the amount.
(e.) Duck eggs have twice the cholesterol that chicken eggs do but have more Omega 3 fatty acids so don't be turned away. The whole cholesterol and its bad side affects is on debate right now. Cholesterol is far more complex than they first thought and cholesterol does play an essential role in the body. It is the basis of all hormones. Anyway you look at it more Omega 3's is a good thing.
(f.) Duck eggs are richer in Albumen which makes cakes and pastries fluffier and richer.
(g.) Duck eggs are typically larger than chicken's.
(h.) They handle the cold better and forage better than chickens. I can testify to those two things.
(i) Duck egg shells are much thicker and I mean much thicker. It takes a pretty good wack to open them. This gives them a longer shelf life of six weeks in the refrigerator. They will keep up to six weeks in the refrigerator. As a side note of interest, the shell is much smoother than a chicken's. If you have ducks and chickens in the same pen, this is a way to tell the eggs apart if both lay the same size of egg like ours do.
As for flavor, we prefer chicken eggs slightly over duck eggs but there is not a huge difference in them. So taste is not what pulls me back to considering ducks again in the future. What keeps pulling me back to raising ducks is that their eggs leave a more alkaline atmosphere in the body. Cancer feeds on a acid environment and with it so prevalent in our society, that is a big deal. We definitely need to start changing our diet more in the alkaline direction. The other important factor is that we did not loose a single duck to predators last summer and fall. We did loose quite a few chickens. We have the last two years. I read in one site that raccoons are a duck's main problem. We definitely have those, just look at the claw marks by the latch on our chicken coop. Then there is the down. Something interesting I discovered when processing nine ducks of several breeds so stay tuned.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Instead of just telling you how to do something. I'm going to begin explaining more of our motivations for what we do. I prefer to think of our journey as trying to become more enlightened. We try to be realistic and see things for what they are. The past prepare us for the future and gleaning things from what once was make us more whole. Some would call some of our thoughts - doomsday but I prefer to think we are realistic. We may prepare for disaster but we pray it never comes.Yet, we know that history repeats itself and that patterns tell us that rocky roads are ahead.
What will happen when WWIII arrives? Will life at home be the same as the last world war? These two questions have been roaming around in my brain for a long time. I’ve done some research over the years about WWII and how the home front fared in England and in the USA. Most of you probably have heard of Food Stamps and Ration Cards that were in effect with price controls placed on goods in WWII. But did you know that twenty million Americans were on the verge of starvation despite a greater number of jobs and higher wages? One has to wonder why especially when we were having bumper crops despite a 17% reduction in numbers of people on farms? One reason was that the food we produced was spread between US civilians, the military, and our Allies, the military taking priority. Another is many of the ships laden with food were lost to opposing forces whether sank or stolen. And 5 million widows were left alone to care for their families and that took its toll.
A total of 12,209,238 Americans were in military service by September 2, 1945 which is 9 percent of the 131,028,000 population. Interestingly, Germany had a grand total of 22,000,000 serving in some capacity out of 69,850,000 and that was 31 percent. I'd say the difference being war was abroad and not on the home front despite the battle in Hawaii.
Today our population in the USA is 324,910,953. So doing the math if things were the same, there would be 8,610,140 million near starvation. But things aren’t the same. Today, gardens are simply a summer treat or a money making project. People want served. Even mechanics have their oil changed by someone else. In my childhood days, dad’s changed their own oil and fixed things around the house. My dad did and I can remember how that made me feel – secure. Later like everyone else, he hired everything done. It is the fashion.
No doubt WWIII won’t be the same as WWII in a vast number of ways. IN part because Wars are not fought in the same manner as before. How will this change things? I don't know. I do know that the mindset of the people during WWII was different. They had done without during The Great Depression and knew how to sacrifice. They were humble, appreciative, and they were from the do-it-yourself era. These people had confidence. “I have done hard things and I’ll figure out how to make it through this too.”, was an attitude that I see now only in older farmers and ranchers. Replaced is a sense of fear. Ask someone what they would do if they had to be responsible for any or all of their own water, food, warmth, clothing, road repair, transportation, sewer, protection etc. if war came to America? See the panic flash across their face especially if you ask in detail. I pray it never reaches our shores but realistically know, it could come.
In WWII Washington Carver, in an agricultural tract promoting home food production, encouraged citizens to grow a garden. He called it a Victory Garden in an effort to boost morale. Twenty million gardens were planted creating 40% of the vegetables eaten by families. Many ate healthier than before the war. Lawns were tilled up, flower boxes converted to vegetables. Today, how many would grow a garden especially of the magnitude to produce 40% of their vegetables? My observance is that people are happy to eat poor quality food as long as they don’t have to produce it themselves.
In WWII 95 percent of the clothing we wore was being manufactured in the United States - now, none. Even of the 2 percent some claim is made here, parts like fabric, button, etc. are still purchased elsewhere. Even if something is totally American made, the parts are manufactured from all over America and shipped to one spot to be assembled. Great now but if like in WWII gas and tires are rationed, then those goods all of a sudden become expensive and scares. Today, “Made in the U.S.A.” is most often stamped on heavy equipment or the circuits that go inside other products than on televisions, toys, clothes, and other common items found on a store's shelves. Companies have moved toward high-end manufacturing. Less costly goods have moved overseas where the labor costs are far less. This is the items we use most. It (seems like) China makes most of what we buy. China is even finding their way into our food market. We know of their low standards especially in food and yet we buy. What if in WWIII we went to war with China- a scary thought? As this thought passed through my mind, I was curious so I looked at various country's military and how they were ranked and why –interesting and unsettling. Some of the most unstable countries are the most prepared for war.
No, things won't be much like WWII. Far fewer of our needs are manufactured in America and even fewer created in our homes. Americans do not have the same mind set. What exactly will come to pass and when, I don't honestly know. I do know that the more we prepare, the more secure we feel. Peace of mind is worth a lot. It matters not whether it is a loss of job, health, natural disasters, or war, we can "ride the river" as John Wayne says and stay afloat if we are better prepared financially, skills wise, and have stores laid up for a rainy day. So I don't think it hurts to think, 'What if?' if it motivates us to create a more personally secure future.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Things aren't working out so great with the duck project. What I read and what has happened, doesn’t jive. Only one hen laid any eggs. She did so for two months and then quit. I did get the one egg a day and on occasion two like promised. But two months of eggs is hardly enough to keep me excited about their egg laying abilities especially when my pullets are laying very well. Neither is the fact that Eva (the Swedish duck) is just two weeks younger than Sasha (who is a black Swedish duck) and she showed no signs of starting to lay. What's up?
Ducks supposedly lay well in low light conditions and during the cold of winter, much better than chickens. But, do they lay in the winter when they don't lay in the fall? I doubt it. If they aren't going to lay eggs then I've no use for them except the table. If I feed them fall, winter, and most of spring, then they are simply a drain on the budget.
In the summer they were great bug killers and weeded the garden some but that time has come to an end. I've been impressed with their foraging abilities but nothing else economically. That means soon they will become a money pit. They may be fun to watch but fun doesn't cover the expenses and money is getting tighter and tighter.
The young chicken's thin tin house won't do for long with temperatures dipping regularly into the 20F at night and I desperately need the insulated duck coop to put them in. We have housing plans for the chickens but the work won't likely happen until after Christmas. That leaves us really short on space. Once again I put 'the cart before the horse'. I should have researched more thoroughly but what has surprised me is that experience and research is not matching up. What has gone wrong?
These ducks came from the feed store and a gal who had too many on her ranch. Don't know if it is just Swedish ducks or ducks in general that the articles and catalogues exaggerate their virtues on. As far as articles on the internet it is pretty much pet owners who write. Though there is much to learn from them, economically they aren't concerned so that part is left out. Our ancestors had them so there has to be virtues I've yet to discover.
I've hit the internet again and pondered, what do I want from ducks. There a many breeds to choose from. They aren't all alike. Some fly well, others don't, some lay well or so they say, some forage well, and I will attest some are winter hardy. My ducklings loved the snow last spring.
As I read once more my poultry order catalogue, I found a statement that said that certain breeds of their ducks do not lay as the optimists elude to. I like honesty. They did state that for pure breeds, the Khaki Campbell is the best for egg laying. The hybrid Golden 300 does even better. I had to ponder, 'Is having pure bred important to me?' That led me to the question, 'Are hybrid ducks like hybrid vegetables in that they do not have offspring that are true to the likeness of their parents.?' Ducks having ducks is important for us.
1. That led me off on a marry chase to find out the answers. What I found out is purebred is not what I'm after. What I want is performance. The Golden 300 supposedly lay around 300 eggs a year, better than chickens. They are like the Black or Red Stars Sex-Linked hybrid chickens. They lay well but aren't broody or great mothers. So having offspring in not in their realm unless you use an incubator or have a hen or different breed of duck set on the eggs. Then you could get offspring. What they will be like is another question. I do know that by carefully selecting the offspring that are most true to the parents you can change the hybrid to a more pure line. You can in vegetables anyway.
2. What does hybrid mean? I found that it is breeding outside a species for instance my Swedish /Pekin duck crosses I picked up. If you cross Aylesbury, Cayuga, and Rouen Clair then it is not a hybrid since they are all in the same species - Mallard. That cleared up that question.
What all this hard thinking has done for me is leave me with more questions than answers. I have realized I need to end the duck project for now. I emphasize now because as I read about the health benefits of the eggs and think more on their other virtues, I have a feeling they will be back. For now, I will continue thinking and researching. Our rabbit and chicken set up needs a great deal of work for it to run smoothly. The greatest lesson I've learned these past few years is that a self-sufficient set up is far different than simply raising chickens for a few eggs or for meat. The same goes for meat rabbits. We have a great deal of building to do and a need to invest money in equipment.
When they are up and running like we'd like, I'm coming back to ducks. My time with them has not been wasted. I truly believe that, "In all labor there is profit." I've learned quite a bit what to do and what will not work for us. I am realizing what I want from a duck project. I'm formulating goals. As I figure out just what we want, I'll share my ideas with you. Meanwhile, I've have to figure out some great duck recipes. I've nine awaiting in the freezer. The processing did not go as smoothly as it could have. Learned a bit there too. Yes indeed, "In all labor there is profit."
Saturday, October 14, 2017
I assume besides entertainment over what is this crazy lady is doing now, you have some yearning for self-sufficiency or you would not be reading this blog. My question to you is can someone be truly self-sufficient? The answer I feel relies on what you define as self-sufficient. Television programs, like the one on Netflix about the trappers in Alaska, define it as living with a finite amount of products manufactured by others for a period of time in isolation. Others in magazines and on the news define it as growing a garden, and raising some livestock. Still others think emergency preparedness makes them self-sufficient.
But what does self-sufficient truly mean – “able to provide for or support oneself without the help of others”. That is what the dictionary’s defines. Note the part where it says supports oneself without the help of others. So is it really possible to support oneself completely? Does anyone really provide their own food, clothing, transportation, housing, warmth, and tools all on their own? Some say no… others yes. I say yes, and no. Yes, if one is in the perfect location, with the perfect amount of skills and talents, and exceptional cooperation from Mother Nature to provide your needs when you need them.
Does that ever really happen? For short periods of time but definitely not going to happen for long periods of time or where we live. Mother Nature is rarely predictable. The weatherman sometimes changes his mind three times in one day. It is going to snow. It’s not. No, I think it is. 10 out of 10 of the most destructive hurricanes on record occurred in the last 10 years and weather is predicted to become more and more unstable. I've heard everything under the sun from we are getting hotter to we are on the edge of a mini ice age. They all look at limited data. Climate Change many experts say is blown out of the water by present data. I believe it is political and financially based. The mini ice age is a debate over what will become the most influential on our weather, sun flares or pollution? Me, I say Mother Nature has always changed and cycled and the Lord has said that she will become more unpredictable in these last days. Let's see... scientist or the guy who created the universe? For me the answer is easy. And on every website I looked at for threats to our power grid, weather came up number one.
This places emergency preparedness way up on the list of self-sufficient needs. A disaster could leave an area in need for a short period of time or for months with financial devastation lasting for years after. Hurricane Sandy left some without power for months afterwards. Numerous disasters all during a short period of time, like this fall with the fires out West and the hurricanes down south, have left resources and money spread thin. The government who was in part responsible for the fires out west, because of poor management, has decided to ignore the devastation all together in favor of the hurricanes which they had no part in creating. It is political as other than California, those hit hardest have little political clout. We learn from this that help is fickle and unreliable. FEMA came to the small town we used to live in when a tornado hit only because nothing else was going on. From them I learned that help is available beyond shelters to those who are best prepared financially through insurance and being out of debt etc. I interviewed the director at the sight and he told me they were not there to bale out those who had not prepared. They were there to provide immediate shelter and low interest loans to qualifying applicants much like those applying for any bank loan. For a short period of time, usually a year, they would provide some with low cost trailers as temporary housing. Shocker, yeah, many thought they would help them replace their home and belongings out of the goodness of their hearts. Government has no heart, it is a bureaucracy.
Lesson learned - take care of yourself and prepare. When I look at our own situation, I see much need for improvement. We are precarious in a number of areas. We are no longer out of debt since we moved to a place that over time would provide us with far greater opportunity for independence. We have far more individuals that rely on us financially and physically. We have no backup as a power source beyond electricity. If we had propane and a propane kitchen cooking stove with a battery lighter for the oven then cooking and the wood stoves would take care of us pretty nicely for we have a source of light with candles and lamps. The water well is a big issue as it is run electrically. It needs a backup power source. If we don't travel and have supplies on hand, we could sit pretty good. Paying the bills on the other hand is a problem. I'm working on that. We need far more of a financial reserve. Ours has been exhausted.
Big risks for us is a wild fire, we sit at the foot of a mountain range; and a heavy snow that lasts for weeks on end. Tornadoes don't plague us like the area we were in but their is a slight chance of an earthquake. Riots are hardly a problem since we have so few living near us and they tend to be the older generation, along with ranchers. Our threats are not necessarily the same as yours and so you need to evaluate where you sit.
We live where Red Cloud once roamed and so I’ve questioned how did the Native American tribes in America before the Nina, the Pinta, and the Sana Maria exist? We think of them as being very nomadic and simply living off the land. They became those two things but originally most were farmers. They stayed in one place year round. Most lived near the coasts. A few in the more interior areas were more nomadic due to Mother Nature. You know, summer pastures and winter sheltered area. When the Native American societies were in their decline due to outside pressure from pioneers, they became more nomadic, war-like, and raiding parties were more common thing where they stole what they desired. Trading of course was common. In the truest sense of the definition, they were not self-reliant.
Is this the course of civilizations? Our daughter and I looked into groups of people during WWII who were displaced and groups earlier in history which lived in small societies. What we found is that groups with fewer skills, like those during WWII who by this time relied more and more on others, created part of their needs, traded for some, and then stole the rest. See a pattern? Those who had a broader work ethic and a greater number of skills, create as much as they could themselves and then traded for the rest. Preparedness gave them the ability to live a higher moral standard. The key being they were capable of fulfilling a large portion of their own needs. The reason for each group remaining in close proximity to one another was safety in numbers - a larger defense group. The day to day survival was up to the individual families. If you think it will go back to a butcher, a baker, and a candle stick maker, look again. We basically already have that. Of course others will help those in need. First they have to have something to give. Personal survival will more often than not trump serving others. Look at what has happened recently in Puerto Rico. Many of the skilled such as rescue workers, physicians, etc. stayed with their families. Part I'm sure was due to safety issues. When their own survival needs and those of their families is met, then many will reach out. In dire circumstances it has always been the nuclear family group that determined the level of their existence or their extinction.
Look at yourself and think what you have and need to survive in a wide spread disaster or war. Evaluate your skills, supplies, financial situation? How vulnerable are you? Look around you. What shape are your neighbors in? I think most of you know how they will react. Will they be looting and committing crimes or banning together to solve problems? In an EMP outage they figure 9 out of 10 will die. No electricity was what our great grandparents knew and yet, most of us will not survive. It seems kind of crazy. They don't expect an EMP anytime soon but it is a good example of how different we are from our ancestors. To me we look pretty helpless as a nation. Sad isn't it?