Prepare ... Don't Panic!
With so much bad news, catastrophic predictions, economic turbulence and political and global unrest coming at us from almost every possible angle, what’s a Farmgirl to do? DON’T PANIC, that’s what!! In true Farmgirl spirit, preparation, as always, is the key. Let’s talk candidly about ways we can prepare for life’s possible speed bumps, and then meet whatever challenges confront us with confidence. Join Mountain Farmgirl Cathi Belcher as she prepares for an always uncertain future, and then relaxes … not afraid to let life just “Bring it ON!
Today is the Tomorrow We Worried About Yesterday
Howdy Farmgirls … how are things in your world? I’ve talked to more than a few people lately who have expressed concern over the future and what it might bring. As if the headlines in the papers or the top stories on the nightly news weren’t enough, we have movies like 2012, and predictions from the ancient Mayans to Nostradamus that would have us all believe that uncertain times – even end times—lie ahead, possibly within our lifetimes. This is nothing new, but as good a motivator as fear can be, it is not the most effective way of dealing with uncertainty. My husband, whose personality has always been much more ‘laid back’ and 'even' than mine, always reminds me that most things we worry about never actually happen. Rather than wasting precious time and energy fretting about such things that may never come to pass, somehow it’s better to prepare for the worst, hope for the best and enjoy the gift of every moment of every day that we are given. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Don't waste your life in doubts and fears: spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it.” Wise words that I could do well to remember more often ...
That being said, I might not be the absolute most perfect person to talk about this subject; after all, I went more than a bit off the deep end right before Y2K. But then again, with such a perspective, being now much older and hopefully wiser, I might be just the very one to share some lessons learned -- as well as some skills we all need for uncertain times! For a bit of personal history on this subject, we need to go back to the year 1999. That year I read everything I could find about how the world was going to come crashing down around my ears as computers worldwide melted down at the dawn of the new century, bringing us all down with them. It’s embarrassing to remember the great lengths to which I went to ensure that my family and friends would survive the dark days which were about to come.
During this time my church community seemed to belong to one of two distinct camps: those who felt that the whole idea of Y2K was ridiculous and went blindly and blissfully along with their lives completely ignoring it; and the rest (sadly, I admit belonging to this latter group) who felt that disaster was imminent. And so it was that at the 11th hour of 1999, I found myself in a real panic. Despite the perpetual voice of reason from my very rational husband, who kept trying to reassure me that the world would not come to a screeching halt, I was busily making preparations for the End Times, stocking up on food and water, seeds and supplies, even cashing in my IRA account. (Gee, did I really do that?). I’m not proud of the fact that fear was my biggest motivator, but in my own defense, I had 4 precious little children at the time, all of whom I wanted to see safely into adulthood. Much of what I did was perfectly in line with what any homesteading wife and mother would have done to keep her family safe in any potential emergency … even if some of it was definitely ‘over the top’! (By the way, after Y2K, my wonderful husband never once said “I told you so” and the only reference he ever made to the dreaded IRA – the one I cashed in against his advice – was, “We all make mistakes sometimes”. I’ve always loved him as much for what he said as for what he didn’t!).
‘Panics’ in and of themselves are nothing new; they have been happening all throughout history. I read a really interesting book about the subject once, called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. This book, written back in 1841, covers everything from economic bubbles to witch hunts, from alchemists to foretelling the future… things that have lead people to panic and do extraordinarily bizarre things. Human emotions ---mostly our extreme insecurities – can cause us to act irrationally. One such panic that was addressed in the book that stands out in my mind was the ‘tulip madness’ which took place in the 1600s. It caused people to maniacally invest in the bulbs of these spring beauties at the cost of more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman! Tulip bulbs became more precious than gold or diamonds. Eventually the economic ‘bulb’ bubble burst and the extreme absurdity of the situation became obvious, but not without first destroying huge fortunes and the economic stability of the times. Ahhh… the strange things that we can convince ourselves are real. Whe studying about the Great Depression with my kids, I remember reading somewhere about the banker JP Morgan whose cool, collected actions prevented a run on the bank when economic panic was very real and running rampant. Wanting to give the appearance that his bank was not filled with worthless paper money but was actually backed by gold, he ordered armored cars to deliver trunk upon trunk of “gold” to his bank vaults for safekeeping, temporarily relieving the pressure of a bank run and giving shareholders and bank customers the confidence they desperately needed. Of course the trunks of ‘gold’ were actually filled with rocks, but the watching public did not know this and the panic of the crowds was averted; the bank did not go under. Panic is never a healthy emotion or a solution to real problems.
Whether I look back on Y2K or look to the future of a tenuous world, I see things now from quite a different perspective. The ‘Henny Pennys’ like myself who convinced ourselves that the sky was falling may have been wrong about the outcome, but we were prepared, unlike the ‘ostriches’ who had their head in the sands of denial, who would NOT have been if something bad had actually happened. Neither denial nor fear is helpful in everyday life, but I believe that you can never go wrong by being prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. It is the saner ‘middle road’ I choose to walk down these days. As Farmgirls at heart, we are all in various stages of preparedness in the event that some manmade or natural disaster should strike in the future. A decade ago I lived on an off-the-grid homestead where we grew most of our own food; I also had a year’s supply of dried goods set aside for our family along with a ready supply of potable water. I heated and cooked with wood, and if the power had gone off, I would never have even noticed, let alone been inconvenienced by it! Today, sadly, I am not quite in the same place of security, but neither am I afraid. As an innkeeper with a public to provide services for, interruption of either power , food or transportation would prove catastrophic for my business. In my personal life, my large gardens and orchards of New York State where I used to live have not yet been duplicated here in the mountains of New Hampshire, although they are currently a work in progress. While I do not feel as prepared today as I was a decade ago, I don’t look upon that with fear. As a Farmgirl like all of you, I am a survivor, and have many skills from which to call upon in the event of an emergency. While I continue to work toward a self-sufficient future, in the right-here-and-now (wherever that might be for each of us) there are many things we can all do to be prepared that do not take a fortune or a large amount of storage space and will give us real peace of mind.
In a nutshell, if you don’t have a well with a hand pump or a spring from which to get water, having some bottled water on hand is an important first place to start. As far as food is concerned, dried beans, nuts, grains and fruits take up little room to store but will provide important calories and nutrition for your family. Salt and honey are also staples I keep on hand. Do not overlook the mighty little sprout! Sprouted seeds are tiny powerhouses of nutrition, the vitamin content of which can increase by up to 20 times during the sprouting process. They have saved many a family from starvation in extreme circumstances, and I keep a lot of them on hand. Sprouts are a staple in my daily diet. Speaking of vitamins, keeping a current supply of those on hand is a good idea as well.
While I do not have room here today to go into a complete lesson in Family Preparedness, I would like to address that in more depth sometime in the future because it is a subject in which I have a lot of experience and knowledge, not to mention passion. My main focus today, however, is to tell those who may be feeling insecure and afraid of what the future may bring, that worry doesn’t help. There are many simple things we can do to provide for our families in the case of an emergency, whether it be from a hurricane or something worse. But instead of fear, we need to cultivate our inner resources, skills and Farmgirl strengths that will help us through life, the good and the bad, no matter what each day brings. Farmgirls are role models when it comes to this, fusing form with function, living life as an art and approaching it with confidence, strength and back-to-our-roots know-how. I hope you will all share with us some of your thoughts, fears and hopes for dealing with life in uncertain times, and any hints you may have to share on how to keep fear and insecutrity at bay. Of course, as ALWAYS, trust in a loving God will always see us through anything that life can dish our way.
Until next time, Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from The Mountain Farmgirl
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” - Buddha