Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Zombies Don't See-

I recently found this draft and now wonder why I haven't posted it before. I remember getting permission to run with it and just never did. My bad.   Lots of folks don't think about what all it takes to live a prepper lifestyle.  They don't understand the time that goes into this lifestyle.  I think Cin summed it up nicely! I think she posted this on the APN forums but I honestly can't remember.  Anyway...  Thanks Cin!

What The Zombies Don't See

Posted by Cin

The husband and I just returned from a bulk shopping trip at the local warehouse store. We spent the next fifteen minutes unloading groceries. 150 pounds of staples (rice, beans, sugar and popcorn) came into the house. Knowing I had some used buckets and new lids, which stood empty, we intended to fill them with the purchases.

But first, he had to go to our storage area and get the buckets. I had to wash the buckets out, then pass them back to the husband, who hammered the gamma lids onto each one. Then, we opened the flimsy store containers and filled Mylar bags, inserting oxygen absorbers and diatomaceous earth for pest and moisture control. A quick seal with the iron, a twist of the lid, and we were done. 2 hours later.

I decided to make spaghetti and can it. I gathered the ingredients early in the morning, and put them together, allowing the spaghetti an hour of simmering to develop the flavors of the spices. In the meantime, I put water on the stove, and began boiling it to wash the jars, lids and rings. Next, I put the sauce in the jars, wiped the rims, capped with lids and placed in the pressure canner (meat was in spaghetti, pressure canning is best). My canner holds 7 quarts. I made 12 quarts of spaghetti. Two full runs of the canner, first a slow heat to the proper temperature, then simmering down to hold steady for 90 minutes each. Sounds simple. But from beginning to end, we spent almost 12 hours canning spaghetti.

The neighbor and I decided to can her apples – making applesauce and apple pie filling with the two or so bushels we gathered off her tree. From gathering, peeling, cutting, boiling to finished product/cleaning up (using a water bath canner in 10 minute increments for the 13 pints of applesauce and the 9 quarts of apple pie filling), it took us 14 hours over 2 days.

Repeat the canning process through late spring and early summer with tomatoes, green beans, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, chili, marinara, bacon bits, and several varieties of soups.

I routinely dehydrate chicken strips for dog treats and for human consumption in casseroles and soups. I dehydrate mushrooms, mixed veggies, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, and hamburger rocks. Give or take, from slicing and dicing, to preparation in marinades, salt water, or spices, to time in the dehydrator, this process takes from 6 to 15 hours. EACH. I’ve also made jerky and other things (including cake/biscuits) over an open fire, and our charcoal grill.

A lot of this work takes place on a weekly basis. As jars empty, I put together things to re-can in them. I usually wait until I have a dozen empties before I begin again. I dehydrate weekly, sometimes more than one day, if I find a sale on produce or meat.

In between food STORAGE preparation, I usually prepare food twice a day. I sometimes cook on the woodstove, just for practice.

My husband chops wood nearly every day in summer and fall, preparing for our winter needs with the wood burning stove. He doesn’t have a log splitter, yet. So it’s all done by chainsaw to chop, then axe to split.
Our shopping excursions are planned in conjunction with garage and yard sales, so I often bring home clothing that needs cleaning, altering or hemming. My sewing machine is set up permanently, because I also quilt and make things as gifts and to sell. I have a treadle machine that needs new belts, which I am planning to acquire soon, so I can start practicing on it. I used to sew a little bit on Grandma’s treadle, so I know the basics. I also sew by hand, practicing with crewel and cross-stitch in my younger years, before graduating to neatly sewn hems and hankies.

The husband waters our garden with hauled water from the creek or the lake nearby, thereby saving electricity and wear and tear on our electric well pump. We also catch rainwater to water the garden.
We are proficient with firearms and the husband also reloads his own ammunition, a time consuming chore that takes a few days for each single caliber.

What the Zombies see is row upon row of canned and bucketed goods, a sewing room full of fabric, tools and utensils neatly stacked on shelves. They see buckets placed to catch rain run-off, and think it’s a quaint, “green” thing we do. They see chopped wood and think we bought it from various wood sellers around here. They see the gun cabinet and the drawer of bullets and think we simply went down to the local sports store and bought it.

Right now, I have electricity, water on tap, and mindless plumbing to make life simpler for our needs. I can wash clothes in 30 minutes, have a tasty meal on the table in 20 minutes, and hem a pair of pants on the sewing machine in 5 minutes.

Should I lose the luxury of electricity, water on tap, and mindless plumbing, life will pretty much be the same around here. My husband and I already know how to take care of essentials, and are able to store, can, dehydrate, chop wood, and haul water.

I’ll have to incorporate washing clothes by hand, a situation I’ve not addressed yet, but plan to do so in the short-term future.

Another thing we’ve not addressed is hunting for food or keeping livestock. Our neighbors have supplied us with venison, and eggs from their chickens in exchange for things we do for them. For now, we are content with that arrangement.

What the Zombies don’t see is the sheer, hard work it takes to prepare and maintain all that food, clothing, water, ammunition, and chopped wood that are/will be the necessities of a reasonable life.

How ready are you to face life without electricity, running water, and your plumbing needs? Do you have the strength for the day-to-day chores of the past? Can you cook over an open fire, wash an entire load of clothes without a washer, hand sew bandages into usable sizes, and carry a five gallon bucket of water back and forth to a garden or the toilet 10 times? You don’t have the time right now…but the learning curve when a disaster strikes is steep, and can result in a life or death situation in a matter of hours. Do you manage your current time to incorporate the old-fashioned ways?

Just something to think about.


  1. It really is exhausting when you think about all the stuff one does to keep their preps up. But if you do it little by little, day by day, month by month, it adds up. It just becomes another part of the day. And although I'm nowhere near self-sufficient and there are tons more we need to do, I still find comfort in the things we manage to do, even if it is sometimes long & hard work.

    Stupid zombies appreciate nothing.

    1. I agree Carolyn, little by little and every day it DOES add up. I've said it time and time again. Prepping is a lifestyle. After awhile you don't really even think about it anymore, you just do it.

  2. Hi SFC! Thanks for the comment on my blog yesterday. I knew about fall gardens, but right now we have to take one day at a time, just in case, so I wasn't pushing my luck. Just trying to enjoy what I have now. THAT is going to make me sound like a "Zombie" to your friends, but you know what I mean, I am sure.

    I will be doing some reading on it tho'. Definitely want some pumpkins to can, if I am physically able, but I know they have to get in the ground sooner than later. We'll see. :)

    Take care.

    1. Hey Skippy! Good to see you "out and about". Don't you worry 'bout sounding like a Zombie my friend. You have other things to deal with right now.

      As for planting pumpkins, all it takes is a pot, some dirt and a seed. They pretty much grow on their own with a bit of watering!
      You take care and thanks for stopping by (you closet gardener you! Bwwaahhhhaahahhaa!!!!)

  3. SCI,

    Great post, thank you....and thank you to Cin. Regular people (Zoombies) don't really know how much work there really truly is to maintain being a prepper. We are striving to be full time preppers. There are more things to learn and continue doing but eventually we will be totally there!

    1. Shoot Sandy, there's always something new to learn. Someone told me once that we should all strive to learn at least one new thing a day. I like that!

  4. Seems like there is always something new to learn and chores to be done!

    The mental peace alone makes it all worthwhile! At least, I would think it does!

  5. Excellent post. Thank you.

    Two quick tips on the pasta sauce.

    1. Pasta sauces were simmered a long time because the ingredients were second rate. If you have good ingredients, faster is usually better.
    From my Italian grandmother. Italian as in born in Italy.

    2. If you add all your spices at the beginning, their flavors become murky. Spices don't "develop" by cooking a long time and long cooking will absolutely destroy some flavors such as fresh basil. (Yes, I know basil is an herb not a spice.) Add half to two-thirds at the beginning and the rest at the end.
    From my buddy the professional chef and restaurant owner.

    1. Thanks for the tips! Believe it or not, I'm canning spaghetti today and will check out these tips. They seem like sound ones to me.

  6. I have been reading your blog today and I LOVE it, thanks for joining mine so I could find yours! Have a great day! :)

    1. Well thanks for hitting the Join Button! Glad to have you aboard!!
      Have A Super Day!!

  7. Where did you get the poster with the woman and girl and the comment about canning because of the zombies? I llllooooooovvvvvvveeeeee your blog.

    1. I found it somewhere out in the Blue Nowhere, sure can't remember where though.... You can click it and save it to your computer and use it though. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Thanks for posting the article, Sci - you did get it from APN and asked me for permission to use it way back when. BTW, the tomato powder to paste...brilliant - I've been making tomato powder but wasn't sure what to do with it other than adding to soups and stews, but I'm always running out of paste! ~ Cin

  9. Cin!! Good to see you again! And thanks for your wonderful post. When I ran across it I was right in the middle of canning with no end in sight and it just struck a chord. Woo Hooo can't wait til next year to stress myself out again. LOL!!!

  10. I LOVE this post! Growing up on a farm in the boonies, we were preppers and didn't even know it, haha. We canned everything we grew, hunted and raised our own livestock. We learned to live without electricity because when we lost it from storms, it would be days before it was re-stored becuase we lived at the end of the line, haha.

  11. Late to the blog but it popped into my head: Southernprepper1 has a you-tube video out there with a 5 gallon bucket, lid and a plunger with holes drilled in it as a homemade washing machine...