Y2K on a Shoestring

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1. Community: Make friends with your neighbors, then share your concerns. Join or start a neighborhood watch. Your faith and church can be a powerful source of community, comfort, and strength in bad times.

2. Prepare your children (and yourselves). Read aloud the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These books will give everyone an idea of how much work and fun a low-technology lifestyle is. These books may be borrowed free from the library. Begin to accustom your family to evenings by kerosene lamp, non-electronic games and no tv. Prepare and share some of the food you are storing. Make popcorn!

3. Store water. Start with two weeks worth - 2 gallons per day per person. Dont forget pets! Store water in washed 2 liter pop bottles, plastic or glass juice containers, or clean white plastic buckets with lids. If you are a camper, keep your water bottles full.

4. White plastic pails can be bought for about a dollar used from donut and bakery shops. Some supermarkets will save them for you for free, as will school cafeterias. Just ask! Another place to look is salvage yards. Be sure they are foodgrade by looking for the number 2 in the recycling triangle on the bottom. Wash used buckets. If they still smell like food, leave them out open in the wind, sun, and rain for a couple of weeks. Note: I have had no luck getting strong smells like dill pickles out. Avoid buckets that had strong-smelling food in them.

5. Use coupons. Ask friends or neighbors to save you ones they dont need. Buy things on sale, with coupons. Items you might consider include toothpaste, toothbrushes, toiletries, over-the-counter medicines, first aid supplies, feminine supplies, diapers, baby wipes (good for anyone when water is scarce), dog and cat food, soap and cleaning solutions, as well as canned food, teas, coffee, etc.

6. Every time you go to the grocery store, buy 10% more, and store it. Find a friend who has a Costco or other wholesale club membership, and go with them to buy things like pinto beans (25#- $7.49), white rice (25#-$5.50), sugar (25#-$8.40), and many other basics really cheap, such as flour, dried herbs, and canned tuna.

7. Thrift stores and garage sales are great places for wool and fleece clothes (on sale in the spring), boots, canning jars, woks, camping stoves and gear, blankets, books, games and puzzles for kids and adults. Your imagination is the only limit. Warm clothes are a bargain compared to heating your whole house!

8. Bicycles can be bought cheap at police auctions and yard sales. A bicycle basket will help you carry things.

9. Gardening: Look for free compost at your county composting site, also wood and bark chips. Farmers will frequently give you manure if you will haul it away. Some towns and cities have adopt-a-lot programs where you can sign up to garden vacant lots. These programs often give away free seeds. Look especially for non-hybrid, open-pollinated seeds, because you can grow your own seeds for next year.

10. Call your county Cooperative Extension office: The home economists there have good free information on canning, food preparation and other homely arts. They will help you improve skills and extend your knowledge. In Sonoma County, the number is: 527-2621. The Master Gardeners will answer questions about all aspects of gardening from seed to harvest. You can stop by or ask them to send you free information on our climate, soil types, seeds, vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit trees and berries, insect pests etc. For Santa Rosa, call 527-2608, in Sonoma 938-0127. For kids, they sponsor 4-H programs which teach children to raise their own farm animals and all sorts of country skills (527-2681).

11. Visit recycling centers. Over the years, I have found tomato cages, hand-pushed lawnmowers, canning jars, furniture, white plastic buckets, etc.

Please send me your ideas and tips at seraphima@aol.com. We are all in this together, and your good ideas will help us all!

-- seraphima (seraphima@aol.com), July 08, 1999



Thanks for the great post - what a good way to introduce folks to simply thrifty living! Think about how much money we could be saving each month by incorporating some of these ways into daily life. It doesn't take long to store up a few months of food for your family if you keep it simple - focus on food, water and keeping warm. Buddy burners made from tuna cans and a coffee can stove are great reliable cooking items which can be made very inexpensively. Thanks again!

-- Kristi (securx@succeed.net), July 08, 1999.

Seraphima, I think a lot of you, and of your post. However, I differ with several of your subpoints. 1) You will not succeed in converting more than a miniscule % of your neighbors, but WILL alert them to your prepared status, which they will recall when it comes time to loot. Excepting anonymous info drops on their doorsteps at 4:00 A.M., you can't safely warn neighbors; the risk is too high and the probability of success is too low. 2) Police auctions often get a feverish atmosphere, and items can end up being purchased for substantially above their objective value. Know items' market value before attending auctions, and be prepared to walk away from items you want. 3) Buckets are not necessarily available -- depends on where you are. Their availability here (food-grade) at those prices are erratic at best.

Keep posting; your stuff is good.


-- MinnesotaSmith (y2ksafeminnesota@hotmail.com), July 08, 1999.

The pop bottles mentioned above are great for more things than water. I have been using them for years now for beans, rice, and many other dry items. Just place an oxytab, or bayleaf in the bottom, seal tightly and you can even bury them. They will last for many years, plus they are free!. Bugs, and mice don't seem to like them either. I hope this will help some-one, Walter.

-- Walter Bright (relief@coastalnet.com), November 17, 1999.

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