The Little Things, by D.M.L.
So, you think you're prepared? So did I. Until
Hurricane Irene destroyed the infrastructure
around here. The roads were blocked to all the
local towns, all three routes out of here. If
it wasn't trees down, it was flooded, or power
lines and poles leaned over the road in the
'maybe' zone (maybe you would hit them and
maybe not, but why take a chance on /thousands
/of volts? If not those, it was pieces of
somebody's house across the road. And this
was only a Cat 1 storm? Sigh.
Before she hit, I, being confident that we were
'prepped up', started rummaging around to get
out the generator and put it in the 'ready'
position in the carport. It had been started
LAST YEAR, and had fuel stabilizer in the gas,
with the gas valve cut off and I had ran it 'bowl
dry', so it should be no problem eh? Yeah right.
We had an extra 6 gallon can that we had filled
up that morning, no problem, we can run the
generator an hour or so every 4 hours, to keep
the freezer and fridge 'charged up', or so I
We had lots of canned food on top of the long
term stuff, hadn't paid it any mind for a year
or more and had been using it here and there,
but as the economy gets worse, and our money
got tighter, rotating the stuff became a battle,
so it just sat there on the shelf in the pantry
...going bad in the heat over the last couple
years, since, we quit running the central air
to save money. No problem, we have a thousand
dollars worth of food in the chest type deep
freezer. Uh huh.
We had a camp stove, and lots of fuel, but it
hadn't been used in years, no problem right?
I mean, what could go wrong with a camp stove,
right? Uh huh.
We had kerosene lamps and lots of lamp oil, no
problemo, Kimosabe? Uh huh.
We had batteries, for flashlights, had just
bought 'em, didn't really matter that much.
Now, the S[chumer] as they say, hit the fan,
literally, and civilization all went poof about
6 a.m. on Saturday morning amidst all the snap
crackle pop of trees and power lines coming down
all around us. But never fear; Prep Man is here!
So I went out to crank up the genny in a driving
hurricane. That's when the fun began.
The day before Irene hit, I asked did you
remember to get some extra chicken food, and goat
food? No? Oops, have to let the chickens out to
forage on their own, the goats can eat grass.
(Note; there are good reasons farm animals are
kept in pens and behind electric fences.)
As well as the generator, we had a solar operated
battery system with inverter; did you check the
batteries lately? No? Good luck with that,
especially if the batteries are a few years old.
Did you happen to have any distilled water on
hand? No? Uh huh. (Even though there was plenty
of 'distilled' water pouring off the roof, there
was no Sun, and it takes 8 hours at least to get
it up to charge. In my opinion solar sucks, even
before the hurricane. If you don't have lots of
money for a full blown large scale system, with
a wind generator for those sunless days, don't
waste your money. Being an ex-engineer type, I
think I have come up with a good solution, a
system I call H.O.E.M. gas. We shall see. The
point is, power available 24/7 or bust.
The first thing I noticed besides the sideways
rain, was that the goats and chickens had taken
up in the carport. Goats and chickens love to
climb, and goats jump up and down on things. One
of the things they decided was a fun toy was the
generator sitting under the carport, ready to
go. It was sitting next to the deep freezer, a
tempting target for fun and games. It was also
the only semi dry, out of the wind place around,
also, the chickens thought it was a wonderful
roost off the flooded ground...
As I chased the chickens off, the goats and
chickens became a mini tornado of fur and feathers
in a small space, that was fun all on its own,
and I didn't notice the smell of gas in the air.
So I dragged the generator out and started to
plug it up to the various necessaries...and
went to crank it...pull, no crank, pull, no
crank. Switch on? Choke set?, fuel valve open?
Yup, pull, no crank. Arrgh!, now what? This
thing was always running by the second pull.
(One pull; switch off to prime it, then switch
on.) I had maintained it well I thought, changed
the oil, cleaned the carb just the year before.
I looked, no gas in the tank. Huh? Ok, I poured
the gas into it from the new can and as I
reached down to pull, gas was pouring out the
bottom of the tank soaking everything,
including my already soaked shoe. Whaaaat? The
plastic tank, had been cracked around the
middle...goats playing...then I noticed, the
carport was soaked in water and gas. You know,
those little colored rainbows that you can see
when oil products mix with water? This was not
good, why is it always the little things?
Seeing no way to fix the tank with the immediate
supplies at hand, I duct taped it and tried
tipping the gen on an angle. This stopped the
flow, and allowed it to retain what was left,
less than half a tank, good for about 4 hours,
maybe, if I prayed real hard. That wasn't going
to work if the power stayed off for any length
of time, especially since there was no gas to
be had... (We found out, from texting sister in
town, no power no gas. Texting was encouraged to
save power.) The power company said they would
try to have everything back on before 'the end
of the week'. But by then, all the food in the
deep freeze would be thawed out, and either
grilled or thrown out. But the immediate problem
was eating. The generator problem I had to get
back to later. The smell hadn't sunk into my
animal addled mind to start with, so it was a
good thing that it didn't start, there are Angels,
Still having water pressure, I added to the
runoff by hosing it all down, didn't want that
catching fire in the middle of a hurricane. Little
things can add up to big things.
The kerosene lamps, had rusted, the little wheel
that raises the wicks, broke off, didn't work
anymore...made in china?, bust.
Time to eat, so I went to crank up the camp
stove. But, wonder of wonders, the little pump
on the white gas tank, wouldn't pump up anymore;
it had sat out in the barn, and rusted and dried
into an unusable state. Bust. Then I announced
to anybody around... that the electric operated
can opener wouldn't work without electricity,
another of those 'compromises' with the life
style queen. Rummaging around for the old manual
can opener, revealed a forgotten rusted piece
of crap I wouldn't use. So another one of those
'little things' you tend to forget when you live
under a 'Normalcy Bias'. I got out my trusty
Swiss army knife, with can opener. No problemo...
and grabbed a can of ravioli off the shelf. Hmm.
Expiration date 2006? Wow, maybe it would be
okay, I mean, those expiration dates are just
to get you to buy constantly, right? I had thought
canned food would last almost forever? Right? No.
Not if kept in a house at room temperature, that
is pretty high, because you're saving money on
air conditioning, and the can's sit there in the
heat and bake...the red ravioli looked brown, and
smelled awful...but, what the heck, it didn't
smell bad...so I tried some...eeeyech...I fed
it to the dogs, they wouldn't even eat it all.
So much for all that canned food.
Getting dark, no electricity, no hot food, with
flashlights and afraid to open the refrigerator
or deep freeze, we were stuck because as long
as they were shut, they would stay frozen longer.
We were really starting to suffer the consequences
of non preppers, and I was really beside myself,
for being so lax, always too busy making money
to pay bills. I mean the preps had been purchased
in better times, so we would be okay? Right? Uh
huh. It was a choice between breaking into the
long-term storage, rice and beans or peanut butter
sandwiches or get some power going so we could
break into the freezers. I pulled out some jerky
sticks, and that was supper. The wife was starting
to get ... upset at me, and I blamed her. Round
and round it goes, and with supper in hand...wind
and rain dying out, I decided to go outside away
from the heat inside.
So I went back to work on the generator. Three
hours later, not being a pro mechanic type, I
figured out we had gas to the carb, but no arky
sparky...gas and spark, all you need to know
about small engines. Since my problem before,
when I bought the generator, was the carb, the
previous owner had sold it to me cheap, saying
it wouldn't run. I go to work thinking the same
problem; something had gotten trash in the carb.
Nope. Fuel filter wasn't plugged, plenty of gas
in the bowl, no restrictions in the venturi tube.
So the air filter and carb went back together,
with great distress that the magneto had failed.
Wrong, its always the little things.
After tearing the pull cover off the old Briggs
and Stratton, I got out my new checker kit. You
know, the little screwdriver looking things that
check continuity, low voltage and spark voltage,
for a car? Just little light bulbs in a screw
driver really. So I go to hook it up to the spark
cable, and sprong!, the whole thing flies apart,
pieces everywhere. "CHEAP CHINESE C**
P!", I yell.
Wow, now what? So I get lucky, and a chicken
feather fell out of the start switch. It's always
the little things; remember Occam's razor, the
simplest thing, is usually the cause of the
problem. Thank you Lord. Note to self, no more
tools; 'Made in China'.
So Plan A initially went down the toilet, but
the generator finally started. "Yeah! We're back
from the 18th century!" And the freezers and
fridge and microwave works, and the TV, but we
still can't get to town to replace the gas...
So, during the reassembly process, which I was
doing 'hot' because it was running....the
exhaust pipe came into contact with my left
arm, yup, a very bad burn, and, I snatched my
arm back which contacted the one ragged edge
of metal of the gen cover standing to the
side. When was the last time I had a tetanus
shot? 1999? The first aid kit was a shambles,
but we still had water and some silver
solution, so at least that hasn't gotten
infected. Its always the little things. Murphy
lives, thank God for the Angels. We just went
to bed when it got dark, I was exhausted from
stress and frustration.
The next morning, the generator wouldn't crank,
had to drop it down off the angle, duh, and
after all this blood sweat and tears, pain,
anguish and strife, there goes the power
company truck, and an hour later, the power
came back on.... just wonder- fully anticlim-
actic. But, you never know when the Big Things
will come back to life, since you're so caught
up with the Little Things. If I hadn't gotten
the generator started, the power would still
be off, I'm convinced the Universe just KNOWS.
Thank God and the utility company; we still
have people who care about doing their jobs.
But by this time, I was almost out of my mind
with frustration, and I was screaming at the
wife. I told her, she and her lifestyle could
take a hike, I wasn't doing it anymore, and
she was cowed into finally, listening instead
of talking. Like I had told friends before,
macro economics is composed of millions of
micro economic stories, this is but one. I
sympathize with those who just give up. What's
the old saying? Life's hard, then you die.
I now have to throw out a bunch of old food, not
going to take the chance. If dogs won't eat it,
it's bad enough to throw away.
The real positive outcome to all of this was
the Conversion of the wife and attached family,
to a real prepper/survivalist mindset and
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Prior to this, my main problem was fighting the
age-old battle between current lifestyle and
future survival lifestyle. The wife is always
the other half of the equation; those who are
married know what I mean. When you have someone
who thinks you are 'full of c**
p', and fights
you at every turn, for every extra dollar
available, you are going to lose in the end.
When I wanted to buy a package of JB-Weld epoxy
to put in my tools, she objected, she wanted to
go to the new Harry Potter movie that she just
couldn't live without seeing. That would have
fixed the gas tank, or at least better than duct
tape. When I wanted to buy the nice new battery
operated lamp and radio, she wanted to go out
for a pizza. When I wanted, whatever, it was a
current lifestyle vs. future survival decision,
where the cycling of preps was a battle over a
dollar for an extra can of soup.
She wouldn't even buy the things she liked,
because she disagreed with my whole 'survival
nonsense'. She, and her whole family, was a
classic case of DGI, Don't Get It. (Don't care,
don't want to, don't talk about it 'cause "this
is America, everything will be alright".)
Now, she understands, and asked just yesterday
when she could finally get to town, "They have
some left over battery lanterns and batteries on
sale, do we need to stock up for the next hurri-
cane?" "Yup" says I.
Smile. Which brings me to the Plan, all the gold
in the safe, did us no good. I couldn't eat a
single coin. Trust me, even with hot sauce; it
would still not do anything but cause pain at the
other end of the digestion process. Buying it in
the beginning of this journey in 2005, at a
whopping $425/oz, was a battle royal. I was called
every kind of idiot in the book, and even had the
rest of her family beating up on me for being 'so
dumb'. It didn't matter that is was the only
retirement money I was likely to ever see since
my old company was bought out and looted. I was
told, in no uncertain terms, that I needed to
plop it down into some 'safe' mutual fund. My
protests that a 'Financial Hurricane' was coming,
was met with the classic sound of crickets...and
then a changed subject.
My admonitions that they needed to keep the pantry
full, and get a gun, were met with laughter, and the
classic sound of progressives who "didn't like guns
in the house, that's why we pay police".
They all, to a person, suffered the slings and
arrows of Mother Nature this Hurricane, with the
grocery store emptied out. Peanut butter became
the meal /du jour/,
as they all, all, had to
throw out good food. (Being too stupid & selfish
to just have a neighborhood barbeque, and eat it
all.) One, tried to get to my house, knowing
where 'the goods' were, but was turned back by
the sheriff. (Flooded roads, laugh out loud
funny. It would have been even funnier if they
had gotten here...)
What we have, now and in the future, my wife
assures me, will be kept a secret, like I tried
to tell her all along. OPSEC
is now a word that has meaning to her. Since
even she, didn't want her whiny niece and her
whiny kids here eating our food. I told her to
tell them all, that we threw it all out because
it had gone bad because of the generator. Almost
true, forgive me Lord. Gone are the old days, I
hope, of her telling them everything, and it
being a family joke, now, I'm her hero again,
and her family is suspect. Hard times bring out
the worst in everybody, trust me. I told her,
this is only a small sampling of what a true
SHTF situation would be like, since she knows our
primary option is to just hide in the woods out
back and pretend to be an empty house (after
getting everything worth anything out.) She had
joked about it, now she asks if I still think
that would be necessary. "I hope not, but that's
why you plan for the worst, and hope for the best..."
I quit talking to anybody about anything prepwise
in 2008, one can only take so much abuse. At $1,000
gold, they were saying it was just a bubble, I just
smiled and told them the dollar was being destroyed
by the politicians. They would just laugh and say
the dollar was "as good as gold". My only response
to them was "that is illogical, since nothing else
is gold." Now, I'm told, some of them have cashed
out their 'safe' investments, losing their collective
tail ends, since they never learn, that when it
comes to investing, you can't act on emotions
because by then its usually too late, and they
sold at the bottoms. Good move guys.
Now they are seeing $1,800-1,900/oz gold and my
greater than 300% gains, the news is now catching
up to where I told them we would be, and they are
now asking me where I bought my coins. I told them:
"You might need to invest in food and a good gun
first, and the waiting lists for coins are in
months." Their eyebrows went up, but amazingly,
they are now all listening, and they are all
scared, I see it in their eyes.
They have all lost faith in the Hope and Change
mantra, and the S&P downgrade affected them badly.
I told them, "Outside of investing, fear is a good
thing, it is natures way of keeping you alive.
Listen to your fear, but learn to shoot, before
you need it, and get your food pantry first, then
gold and silver, and then pay attention to the
little things". I still have my 'coin collection',
and hope to keep it, but I might just sacrifice a
little, to get a little bit better prepared.
(Previously mentioned homemade hybrid gas I'm
working on, requires money. Everything requires
The primary purpose of this article, is to
impress on your readers the necessity of
families pulling together in common purpose and
singular mindset, cooperation and harmony, the
maintenance of preps, and lists.
Do you have the little things to repair the big
things? The little thing to open the big things
you need to eat out of? Do you have the discipline
to write down the little things you need, when
you need them, or think about them? Do you have
a list hanging somewhere handy, like on a refrig-
erator magnet? Do you have a hurricane check list?
Do you have a standard prep list of 'top off's,
when, if, you hear that dollar crashing sound
because China and the rest of the world has
decided, enough madness, and to dump us into
the 18th Century? Do you eat your preps, as
they come due or before, and replace at least
one can at a time? Do you buy the things you
like, so it will be easy? Sure, buying a lot
of peanut butter, rice and beans will keep you
alive, but you won't be living. You will survive
bodily, but will your marriage survive? Will
your relationships suffer if family members are
pulling in different directions? Have you learned
to shut up yet? Have you learned who to cut
loose and who to bring in? Have you got your
group together? Have you paid attention to the
Which reminds me, note to fridge, toilet paper
and vitamins, lots of toilet paper and vitamins,
also check on the ammo in storage. What is that
latest government threat? Oh yeah, Codex Aliment-
arious, that will make vitamins illegal or hard
to get. Ever heard of Scurvy? Rice and beans
don't have Vitamin C. Do I need a root cellar?
Something to check on. Hurricane Katia? A
Russian name? That sounds wonderful. Here we
go again, but this time, we'll be in a lot better
shape, trust me. Some of her family are coming
out next week for shooting and zeroing lessons.
"You mean you can't just pick up a gun and shoot
it?" "Nope, without training you might shoot your-
self or your daughter." "By the way, what happened
to your arm?" says Sister in Law, "The little
things, its always the little things that get you".
- D.M.L. in the boonies of Eastern North Carolina