In the old days folks had to store up food for the winter in order to get by. Drying meats, storing things in root cellars, utilizing the freezing temperatures, and canning got them by before modern refrigeration. Drying meat from larger game was and is a great way to store meats for people all over the world in any climate.
My brother in law is an avid hunter and has acreage deep in the woods of Missouri. He purchases his deer tags every year and is always successful bringing in a few each year either during bow season or gun season. My brother in law got a couple of deer to process and freeze this year. He is a generous man and shared with us several packages of venison tenderloin, the deer version of fillet mignon.
Yesterday I thawed a package, made two steaks that the kids and I shared for lunch and with the rest I sliced it very thinly, gave it a good salting, added some teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and steak sauce…just enough to coat the meat well…about a tablespoon of each. I let the meat sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes then broke out the dehydrator. The meat soaked up most of the marinate which is what I wanted, and I laid the meat out on the trays, set the temperature for 95°, and let it do its magic overnight. Just before bedtime, I turned the meat over to allow the other side to get thoroughly dry. I probably didn’t have to do this but my gut told me to do so anyway.
Well, today I shut off the machine (a Harvest Maid dehydrator which a few years ago we got off Craig’s List for $15) and removed the perfectly dry jerky. My son and I gave it a taste this morning and it was absolutely delicious! It gives bacon a run for the money as it is much leaner, full of protein, and just as tasty. My husband though, doesn’t agree. He doesn’t like deer meat at all! Some folks just plain don’t like it. I don’t understand it. One can’t expect it to taste like beef because it is an entirely different animal, but to each his own. Being a native Missouri girl, where deer are abundant, even to the point of pesky, I’m glad to enjoy this ecological, economical, and natural source of food.
Dried meat stores for years especially if kept out of the elements. We’ve got a gadget that attaches to our vacuum sealing machine (Food Saver) that hooks by hose to the lid of a wide mouth Mason jar and vacuums out the air in the jar. This will help this jerky store for years and years. I hope to put up more of this in our stores but it will take a lot of will power because this stuff is sooo good!
This will be my 100TH post and since I started my blog on 9/11/o9, I would like to make the topic about surviving disaster. Last year around this time, several tornadoes touched down in the St. Louis area not to mention the deadly EF-5 that touched down in Joplin MO. Here in the Mid-West, the tornado is my worst feared disaster because they happen here, and it’s nearly impossible to prepare for a thing that can strike any time, day or night, when a wicked storm front pushes through. The word nearly gives me a margin of hope though.
One thing, and probably the biggest thing you can do to prepare, is have a plan, a plan that can answer the following questions: What disaster are you most prone to experience? Flood? Earthquake? Storms? Where will you go during the danger? How will you survive the aftermath? How will you communicate with loved ones if you are separated (spouse at work or kids at school etc.)? Where will you go if your dwelling is ruined? How will you pay for the damage? Are you in good physical condition? Can you cope with a long term and widespread power outage? Can you stay warm/cool/dry? Do you have a way to procure drinking water? What will you eat? Do you have a means of protecting yourself and your family from thugs and looters? How will you keep up morale during all this? The rest of this post will give details on how to answer these questions.
The most important questions to answer are the ones concerning shelter, food, water, and safety. Have a plan to either evacuate or be able to get to the safest spot in your home. In Joplin, those who knew the safest spots were better off than others. Sometimes there is nothing you can do. But do all you can. If you still have your home but no utilities, you will have to live on your stored resources and hopefully you have some. A rain barrel you might use to water the lawn in the Summer can be a life saver if you have 55 gallons of water stored in it. The water can be purified through today’s pitchers and other such water purification devices then boiled to be extra sure dangerous germs are killed. They are really affordable these days and if you have one, you’ve got the most important survival need covered…drinkable water
Being the Diva of Delicious, food is a major concern. Everyone needs food too. The grocery stores eventually run out and close their doors if new deliveries can’t be made. So a little shelf in a secure part of the basement or the upper stories if you are prone to floods, could be stocked with canned and dry goods you usually use in the pantry every day. It’s good to have a manual can opener near by too. It would be pointless to store food you don’t ever eat or even like. It’s a good idea to put a disaster recipe folder together. Fill it with things you can make from your stored foods. I like to store beans, rice, flour, sugar, salt, spices and canned vegetables. I’ve learned you need to put these items in critter proof containers. Five gallon PVC buckets with rubber sealed lids are perfect. Since I store things I normally eat, I take time once or twice a year to rotate stock. I’m learning how to pressure can chicken and cuts of beef so I have meat stored as well. A camp stove and sufficient fuel can be a valuable way to cook or to at least boil water so it is drinkable. There are many creative ways to rig up a stove you won’t believe...even one that can fit in your pocket. For any source of heat, you will need to consider what kind of fuel to store. If I can’t find a way to make a cup of coffee, my poor family might not survive survival…yeesh!
Over the year since those tornadoes I’ve become a little more confident that when a minor disaster strikes We”ll have food water and shelter. Just little extras like a power inverter and a couple of 12 volt car batteries will enable us to power small appliances, radios (Hubby is a Ham operator and I think that’s pretty cool), cell phones, and light until we can recharge them. For bigger needs like refrigeration there are generators. If you have one, it’s a plus. We have one that we got on sale years ago. I scoffed at Jeff for spending over $300 then. It has already proved itself worthwhile during a five day power outage when it was 105° and very muggy. We would have had to deal with a refrigerator and a chest freezer full of nasty goo if we didn’t have it. Yes, I apologized a lot for that one. We were also able to run a small window a/c unit that was in the shed and keep our cool. Most recently hubby installed a switch to the furnace that would allow the generator to run it. So now we’re prepared for Winter time power problems as well.
The last thing I want to do is bug-out to some school gymnasium with tons of other huddled masses and leave our home to looters. We have some seniorly neighbors we care about very much. Wouldn’t want them left to the thugs either. I’d want them nearby to tell us stories of how they got by during the Great Depression. Strong community is as important to survival as anything. The “every man for himself” mentality won’t do during hard times. Think of ways to defend yourself (and loved ones) They might need you, and you might need them, so be a good neighbor! If we do need to evacuate quickly we all have back packs ready and crude survival gear near by to pack and go.
Physical fitness is going to be a large part of survival. Unless you frequent a gym or walk, run, and exercise regularly, it will be a strain to suddenly find that you have to do things the manual way. Elbow grease, backbone, and muscle become your fuel. It’s good to keep fit enough to walk for long distances, or carry something heavy, or both. If you are a bit out of shape and have stairs in your house, do a few ups and downs, or walk around the block until you feel you don’t run out of breath as easily. A few push-ups a night won’t go amiss either. Arm and leg strength even in good times are important, easy to manage, and will make tough times easy to manage as well. I started a few weeks ago with 5 flights of stairs and can do 30 or so now, and I’m …well… 50 this year (our secret). A knowledge of CPR, knowing how to swim, and basic first-aid are useful things to tuck away in your cap also.
The last thing I’ll mention is morale. Things that keep morale high are things that are pleasant for the moment. Campfire light has a nice merry making effect. Card games and word games can pass dreary times away. In your storage, sweet treats can keep young ones spirits up or at least give them a treat to look forward to while things seem dismal. A little cashe of wine in the cellar might be a good way to celebrate just being alive. Certain religious verses help keep hopes up as well. What ever it takes to move your spirits to a higher plane, include those things in your survival storage. If all else, your very survival is a gift. If you live through a disaster, remember the rest is just stuff that can be replaced
Know the weather patterns for your area. Keep abreast of the problems that could come your way. In Japan, no one could have been prepared for such a catastrophe as the tsunami, but staying alert, keeping your head, and knowing where to go for help when it happens is good. Even though I hate the thought of bugging-out, having a plan to do so is wise. So now is the time to think those questions over. Think about where you would go, or what you would need if you decide to stay (if possible). Think about the first 72 hours post disaster. Do you have the resources to get you through at least that much time, or until the Cavalry comes? Candles, flashlights, batteries and blankets will get you through a night or two without power. Shelter, food, water and safety will help you survive and maybe allow you to help someone else survive for extended periods.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of money to be prepared and it can be done gradually. Insurance is a wise investment. When you see a bargain on something that would be useful during an emergency, go for it. Dollar store bargains on batteries and candles are great. Think about ways to store supplies where they won’t be ruined. Ask a lot of what ifs. Soon you’ll have a plan and more peace of mind when you’ll need it most. The less people who are rendered helpless, the more people there will be to help. Thank you for reading this long post and be safe everyone!