How prepared would you be in an extreme situation?

I am sure many of you, like me, watched with concern the events of Hurricane Sandy play out.

I am sure many of you, like me, watched with concern the events of Hurricane Sandy play out in parts of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. Sandy was the second costliest storm to hit the US in recorded history with damages estimated at over $52 billion.

There were 253 people killed in seven countries as a result of the storm and millions were without power or clean drinking water for weeks! Thank goodness there was an early warning system in place and many were prepared.

How prepared would you be? In any extreme situation you cannot survive for more than: three minutes without air – three days without water – three weeks without food.

Here in Golden we have gone for short periods of time without the stores getting supplies and we are aware that after 48 hours there is no milk in the stores! Do you have enough food stored in your home to feed your family for two weeks in case of a disaster? How would you cook it? Do you have a way to stay warm? Do you have enough water stored? Do you have candles or battery operated lights or flashlights? Any idea how many rolls of toilet paper you need to have stored for two weeks, or where you would go, or where you would dispose of the waste?

We have all become very dependent on the grocery stores to keep us fed but if Golden were cut off for any reason for a week or more many families would not be prepared! It’s not hard to create an emergency supply, it just requires a bit of action. Each week as you buy your groceries and supplies add to your supply – even $5 a week will get you started.

Where did this come from you might ask? I was washing carrots and while I was rinsing the dirt off I was thinking how happy I was that we now have this little garden in our backyard. It’s not very big, and it was our first year but is it ever nice to have potatoes, carrots and onions this late in the season. It reminds me of my grandma Allen and her farm.

Today we talk about sustainability and recycling but no one did it as well as my grandmother or the people of her generation. Grandma had a huge garden because she was supplying her household with vegetables for a whole year. She planted row upon row of peas, carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, tomatoes – well you get the idea. Not only did she keep her house in produce but she gave lots away to people who really needed the help.

She canned most everything until she got power in the house and then she bought the first deep freeze, which truly made her life easier. She had jars of fruit, meat and vegetables canned and lined up in the utility room and all the root vegetables were in the root cellar.

The root cellar was a magical place to visit. We went out there with Uncle Stan, who opened up the first door and then the second and with flashlight in hand, or the old barn lantern, we picked out vegetables and potatoes, enough for several days. If it looked like there was going to be a cold snap Uncle always brought in extra because you didn’t want to open the root cellar when it was really cold out or things could freeze.

There were dividers in the cellar that kept the potatoes, carrots and turnips in separate bins. And there was always that bucket full of sand that had carrots planted in it. I was in my early teens before I was taught that carrots don’t produce seeds every year – only every other year – so you had to carefully dig up and plant a half a dozen in soil to keep them alive so they could produce flowers and seeds the next year. Grandma was a seed saver, there was always a newspaper or cardboard box laying around with seeds drying for next year. The produce tops went to the animals or back into the garden as did all of the table scraps.

Before she had power she kept things that would spoil quickly like milk, cream, butter, cheese, meat and berries in a cold box suspended just above the flow of the creek. Even in summer the chill from the mountain stream kept everything cold.

A few days before Christmas we would do the annual bonfire to get the apples out of the ground. Uncle Stan had a pit at the back of the house that he put boxes of apples in. He covered the pit with boards – over the boards went some old sheets of roofing tin and then the whole thing was covered with bales of hay.

A couple days before Christmas we’d all go out and start shovelling out the hay – sometimes we had to light a fire to thaw the tin and boards enough to get into the apples, and while we were hard at work Grandma was brewing a pot of cocoa – not hot chocolate – cocoa made with dry powder, sugar and canned milk.

When I think about it I know I had a blessed childhood, lots of food to eat, a warm home and I lived closed to my cousins who were and are my best friends! And all of this from a scrawny little carrot!