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What seniors can reasonably do

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  • Mon, Jun 03, 2013 - 03:23am

    #1
    BSV

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    What seniors can reasonably do

Someone needs to start this new discussion thread, and so here goes. I'm a 68 year old who lives on an 87 acre working farm (though we call it a ranch) in Central Texas. From a preparedness standpoint, we're better off than most because we began preparing five years ago and have accomplished a lot. But there is still much to do and it may be that we will never get everything done. We are nearing self-sufficiency in food production (we have about eight dozen chickens and a small cow-calf operation plus extensive vegetable gardens). That's simply not practical for most readers, though there is much that can be done.

Seniors can indeed become pretty well prepared. A good starting point is a candid assessment of personal circumstances. For example, do you live in an owned home or a rented place? How much space do you have in which to grow food? Do local ordinances permit you to raise chickens? What about self-defense? in your jurisdiction are you allowed to defend yourself against intruders? These issues might become significant.

As a Texas Master Gardener, my passion is teaching people how to grow food in tiny spaces. Even if you have only a tiny back yard, you can still grow food using biointensive gardening techniques, containers and either square foot gardening or a keyhole garden or two. These take up little space. Many cities allow backyard chickens (though quite a number of them prohibit roosters). You don't need roosters to get eggs.

I highly recommend looking into keyhole gardens. They are very efficient and once constructed, do not require much bending over to tend. Alternatively, even a small back yard will accommodate one or more square foot garden frames. There is no point in repeating what has already been said on other discussion threads here — just review them for sound advice about setting up your own gardens.

Other good points that have already been raised on this site include keeping your car gas tank topped off, having a supply of necessities on hand and keeping your pantry stocked with food. Everyone should keep in mind that America's grocery supply system depends on 18 wheeler trucks and our grocery stores generally stock about three day's supply of food. It does not take much imagination to visualize a scenerio in which a fuel supply interruption stops the trucks from rolling for a time. People will begin to panic within a few days and civil unrest will follow. If you prepare, you'll have some options.

Even if you live in a small rented apartment you can grow food in containers on your patio or porch. Vegetables can be grown in tiny spaces. So don't be discouraged and give up even if you only have access to a small area in which to grow food. It can be done. Strive to become resourceful, learn all you can and learn from your mistakes.

One of the early purchases should be a standby water purification system, and a very good one is the Big Berkey. If municipal water supplies should become unsafe, you can filter your water and you will not become sick. I believe most people should have one of these on a shelf somewhere, ready to be pressed into service.

Advancing age does not mean loss of preparedness. At our age we generally have more time to think about these things and take sensible steps to prepare. So that's a start on this thread and I hope others will add to it for us seniors.

Note: If you're reading this and are not yet a member of Peak Prosperity's Elders Group, please consider joining it now. It's where our active community of "seniors" (or those approaching that age group) share information, support, insights and knowledgable daily discussion on the opportunities and challenges of building resilience later in life. Simply go here and click the "Join Today" button.

  • Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - 05:51pm

    #2
    jdye51

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    PP Elders, I need your advice

There are a couple of things I've been mulling over and would appreciate any advice from the elders here on PP.

Bug Out Bags (BOB): I just can't see us carrying heavy backpacks anymore. We plan on staying in our home as collapse plays out, but if we needed to evacuate for some reason (pandemic, nuclear fallout), we would most likely drive out. So, I'm thinking instead of backpacks, I could put stuff into those cubes used to pack clothes in suitcases so they are ready to go into our rolling suitcases at a moment's notice. Even if we walked out, the rolling suitcases would be much easier to manage. What are you doing about BOBs and do you have similar concerns?

Awhile back I bought an electric bike. Trouble is, it's too heavy for me and I'm afraid to ride it for fear of falling over. My balance is compromised to begin with so it is a real concern. So it just sits in the garage collecting dust. I have to face facts that I'm just too old to use it now. But I hesitate to try to sell it because it is my answer to increasingly high gas prices as time goes on. I live in the mountains and the road to town is a bit hilly, that's why I got the electric assist. Town is about 3 miles away which would be doable by foot now but may not be as I continue to age. What are you doing about alternative transportation in your area? There are no buses where I am. Another consideration is, even if I can't use it, someone near me may be able to and I could barter time on the bike for other things. What do you think? Is it worth keeping?

Thanks, Joyce

  • Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - 06:50pm

    #3
    Doug

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    jdye51 wrote:There are a

[quote=jdye51]

There are a couple of things I've been mulling over and would appreciate any advice from the elders here on PP.

Bug Out Bags (BOB): I just can't see us carrying heavy backpacks anymore. We plan on staying in our home as collapse plays out, but if we needed to evacuate for some reason (pandemic, nuclear fallout), we would most likely drive out. So, I'm thinking instead of backpacks, I could put stuff into those cubes used to pack clothes in suitcases so they are ready to go into our rolling suitcases at a moment's notice. Even if we walked out, the rolling suitcases would be much easier to manage. What are you doing about BOBs and do you have similar concerns?

Awhile back I bought an electric bike. Trouble is, it's too heavy for me and I'm afraid to ride it for fear of falling over. My balance is compromised to begin with so it is a real concern. So it just sits in the garage collecting dust. I have to face facts that I'm just too old to use it now. But I hesitate to try to sell it because it is my answer to increasingly high gas prices as time goes on. I live in the mountains and the road to town is a bit hilly, that's why I got the electric assist. Town is about 3 miles away which would be doable by foot now but may not be as I continue to age. What are you doing about alternative transportation in your area? There are no buses where I am. Another consideration is, even if I can't use it, someone near me may be able to and I could barter time on the bike for other things. What do you think? Is it worth keeping?

Thanks, Joyce

[/quote]

BOBs

Frankly, I have no intention of bugging out anywhere.  My only concern in that regard is getting my family here in a shtf situation.  We just have way too much invested here (in preps, money, resources, food and water that just isn't portable) to think about going somewhere else.  It is the stuff we have here that makes us secure.  Most of it can't be moved practically.  Also, this is where the people I know and can count on are.  Plus, I can't think of anyplace more secure. 

Wrt rolling suitcases, they are great on even pavement or floors, but otherwise no more useful than any other carrying device.  You can at least strap on backpacks.  My gospel for backpacking is light weight.  Figure out how to carry the very least necessary for whatever your purposes are, and then figure out how to make it very light, cost be damned.  When backpacking there is no greater luxury that a light pack.  F'r instance, I have never carried a water filter.  I have a small bottle (really a vial) of iodine I use for treating water.  The treated water doesn't taste great, but I've never had giardia and the vial ia very small and weighs very little.

I don't know what your physical problems are, but if you can strengthen and gain  mobility through exercise, then I would definitely hang onto the electric bike.  It would be ideal in my situation where the trip to the nearest small town is about 5 miles downhill and 5 miles back uphill (about 600 ft elevation change in one direction).  I've done it with a regular bike, but an electric bike would make it much easier.  OTOH, there is a woman (probably in her mid 60s as a guess) who I frequently see walking or cycling into town and carrying her shopping items back home on her bike, with a pack or pulling a wagon.  I don't think she has to do anything else to stay in terrific shape.

Doug

  • Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - 07:06pm

    #4
    sdmptww

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    BOBs and Electric Bikes

The only reason I would pull out my BOB would be a cat 5 hurricane bearing down on our property or massive flooding above us and coming down the nearby river.  They are in easily grabbed rolling suitcases.  In the vast majority of other circumstances we would hunker down here.  I have an 85 year old mother that would not evacuate well and certainly wouldn't be hiking through the woods with a backpack and I don't think I would want to be there either ;-).  Seriously, even the circumstances you mention would likely be better lived through at your home unless the nuclear fallout was bearing directly over your house.  Pandemics are much easier to combat by sheltering in place and limiting contact with folks who may be contagious.  If the pandemic was large enough that would be what people would be asked to do.

As far as transportation you might consider a three wheeled motorcycle if the electric bike is a problem, though I think the bike would be a bit more useful unless you can make your own fuel.  An ATV might also work.  There are also really nice three wheeled electric bikes out there now.  While gasoline will certainly get more expensive, it will be around a while yet.  We are at the peak, not at the bottom of the cycle.  Since we are well out in the country we don't do a lot of driving and plan the trips we do make, limiting our gas bills to less than $50 a month and that includes the gas for the equipment we use on our property.  Getting gas might be more of an issue if you are well out in the country.  It really depends on how far you are from the critical places you need to visit, the conditions of the route and your own physical abilities.  Every circumstance would be a bit different.  Not sure I would get rid of it until you are sure it is not the best solution for you.

  • Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - 08:28pm

    #5
    KathyP

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    BOBs and Alternative Transportation

Joyce,

I hate to even think about the emergency evacuation possibility, but westcoastjan offered some terrific suggestions awhile back.  I'll search for the thread.  She did suggest a rolling duffle bag that you keep packed with your various emergency necessities and ready to go in your garage.  As you pointed out, with early enough warning (and good enough conditions), you would probably drive out so the duffel bags could be easily thrown into the car trunk.

I'm sorry your electric bike doesn't seem feasible.  We're running up against the limits of strength, too, as we found yesterday when we tried to move a fiberglass dinghy from one place on the property to another for winter storage.  We've decided to get rid of the dinghy as a result of our failed efforts.  Anyhow, I found a web site that shows a number of alternative transportation vehicles.  http://electric-bikes.com/  Some neat vehicles there.  Perhaps your electric bike could be used as a trade-in on a different kind of vehicle. 

We're a good 10 miles out of town, with some pretty hilly areas on our route.  I drive a 9 year old Honda Civic Hybrid which has been getting over 50 MPG this summer (I haven't used the AC).  I plan my trips to town pretty carefully, so I usually have to buy gasoline only once a month. 

Another thing we do is always check with our neighbors when we're going to town to see if there's anything we can pick up for them.  Most of the neighbors do this, and it saves a lot of extra trips for just one or two things. 

I wouldn't feed badly about getting rid of the electric bike (selling it or using it as a trade-in).  I'm at a time in my life where I feel compelled to get rid of stuff I don't or can't use anymore.  Better now, while I can still problem solve pretty well, than later when a change of living arrangement has to be made quickly. 

Kathy

  • Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - 09:56pm

    #6
    jdye51

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    Thanks Folks

Doug, ptwisewomen and Kathy P,

Thanks for your input. I live in western N.Carolina in the Appalachian mountains so fortunately I don't need to worry about things like hurricanes. We deliberately considered the weather when deciding where to retire from disaster prone California. When it comes to evacuating, I was thinking more in terms of a forced evacuation which I don't consider a very likely scenario but I wanted to be ready just in case. I think my idea of putting supplies in packing cubes that we could quickly pack into our rolling suitcases in probably the thing to do. I have chronic neck and back issues that a backpack would make worse. The suitcases with 4 rolling casters work so well when travelling!

As for the bike, I've seen electric trikes online too. I think what I'll do is look into that and see whether or not a trade- in would be possible. Or, just keep the bike and add the trike as money is available. I would hate to be forced to walk everywhere which would really limit where I could go and electric bikes seem like such a good answer (assuming a good power source – though I could ride it manually). When leaving my neighborhood, there is a fairly busy 2 lane road with no bike lanes that goes straight into town, so I probably wouldn't use the bike until the gas situation was so bad, most everyone would need to walk or bike to get around. But as ptwisewoman said, that could be awhile and by then I might be too decrepit to ride it! So hard making these decisions not knowing the shape things are going to take and where to spend money. I have a 10 yr. old Honda Civic hybrid also that I don't drive all that much either, but I am trying to anticipate different scenarios and prepare for them. In the meantime, continuing to make my home more resilient is an ongoing project. Part of that is our decision to have extra gasoline on site which would help temorarily.

Have any of you considered an electric bike? What are you going to do as you age in place and get to a point of having difficulty walking very far? A horse and carriage would be great but I don't see that happening for me. I know they make carts you can attach to the back of your electric bike which would make it easier to transport larger items. That would be good.

Of course, as TEPCO starts to try and remove the fuel rods from the spent pool starting in November, all of our plans could be moot if they have a problem and large amounts of radiation are released or there is an explosion. I've also wondered whether to buy protective suits and masks but I can't quite get myself there yet. It brings back memories of "duck and cover" at school. Remember them? I guess it's just not possible to prepare for everything, so I will continue to do what I can with what I have.

Thanks again,

Joyce

 

  • Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - 10:29pm

    #7
    Doug

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    Bikes

I have considered electric bikes, but am more likely to buy a scooter.  As I recall, they are about the same price and the scooters seem more functional.  We have enough gas storage that I can run a scooter for quite a while doing no more than running local errands.  We have a Prius that averages 50 mpg no matter what, so don't feel a desperate need for more efficient transportation yet.

At age 67 I'm still pretty mobile.  I've had a couple meniscus ops which have ended my running days, but I can still walk pretty much as I always have.  Bicycling is no problem as far as moving about, but they do create other problems for me.  My wife is excited about "eliptical bikes" that she recently ran across.

http://www.leisurefitness.com/Elliptigo-C460.aspx?gclid=CIbGhOm3zrkCFVOe4AodXFoADQ

Apparently on a flat road you can do up to 25mph and cruise at 15 mph.  I don't think they are commonly available yet, so I'm not seriously considering them.  I have an eliptical trainer at home that I use frequently.  Its stress free on the joints, but gives me a good workout.  If they are as functional as they promise, I could easily see using them as I would a bicycle.

Doug

  • Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - 10:56pm

    #8
    liz cowen

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    hi my 2 cents, i have my

hi my 2 cents, i have my pickup stocked as a bugged back and yet to be in a bag. my concern is going into ann arbor and needing to get back10-15 miles  to my off the grid homestead that is well stocked and nuke ready. .

in case of a nuclear fallout type, you might be looking at sheltering in place whereever you find yourself…so water is the thing one needs, you can live if you have water.you do not want to be in a vehicle or outside in the fallout. most fallout situations like a bomb pass in a few days-few weeks, a fukashima type fallout is an ongoing thing…btw,we are getting that fallout here in the usa every day since it started..smll dose but they accumulate.

those of us in the elders category have already survived lots of radiation, and we are still here….something to think about.

if you can't ride the bike now why keep it? the older i get, the less stuff i want. i don't play catch anymore or bowl and those things have gone out to the road where people take within an hour.a bike is no different. how you want to get rid of is up to you.

i would narrow your situations down to those you actually might face….in michigan i rule out hurricanes and major earthquakes. there is not much left of detroit so rule that out. i live very close to I-94 so a toxsemi spill would be my most logical reason to bug by police order. but i would have to leave way before they got around to telling me. i'm 40 miles west of fermi 2 and have a 5 x 15 fallout /rootcellar under my front porch. i plan  to shelter in place and plan to tell the invading army that i will grow nice veggies for them if they leave me alone. at some point we have to stop the imagination.

i don't think i can do it all, so i am meeting neighbors, especially younger than me ones. it's time to think granny and take them cookies etc…!good will is a good bob's

worse case senario, the police grab me, take me to a gymnasium somewhere(that's what they did for fukashima residents), and i get a 10'x10' cubicle to call my own….which i am mentally prepare to do if that happens.

even at 80, i think i would put on the cameo grab a gun and a few things and head for the woods….history shows you only need to do that if the armies are both fighting on your land.

the jews of europe during ww2 had their suitcases packed with all kinds of things…got off the train , set them down as instructed and walked off to have a nice shower.

 

i try to stay as fit as i can. there were a few 300 pounders in the towers that couldn't do the stairs and that was down not up.

so again i would say figure out your situation and prep only for that. you can't prep for every possible senario.

 

 

  • Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - 10:58pm

    #9
    liz cowen

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    i have a lawn tractor and i

i have a lawn tractor and i might fill it up and us that.

  • Mon, Sep 16, 2013 - 12:04am

    #10

    sand_puppy

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    Bugging out — to where?

Hi Joyce and the rest of you pondering the bug out situation.

I'm no spring chicken either and the idea of putting on a 65# ruck sack and hiking like a commando through the mountain passes is just not going to happen.  A little too old, a bit too much arthritis, a bit over-weight.   So I am probably not going anywhere that I can't drive too!  Extra gas cans would be my main bug out prep.   And, like Doug, ptwisewoman and Kathy P also said, all my food and water is at home–it would be very hard for me to find a reason to leave home.  

I guess the bug out vehicle depends on where you want to go. Out into the woods to camp and hide?   A "dirt bike" might get me deep into some national forest land that I couldn't get to otherwise.  I would want to have a specific destination in mind.    Do you have a camp area WITH WATER with some natural shelter in mind?  If you do have a destination in mind, you could take some supplies (a tent, cooking supplies, mosquito netting, etc.)  to that location ahead of time and store them there. 

To the home of a relative or friend who lives in a more resilient location?  In this case a car would be best.

Another transportation issue to ponder is a "descent vehicle,"  that is, a way to get around in an environment where gas is, say $30/gallon, but not a full on SHTF situation.  An option is a little 1 – 1.5 HP motor that can be attached to a bicycle or tricycle.  These kits have gotten quite reliable and workable in the last few years.  They give about 200+ mpg and only hold about 4 oz of gas.  My advice is to not use them for speed, but only to increase your range, the number of miles you can travel before reaching fatigue.  If you go fast on them, you will wear out brakes, tires and rims much more quickly.  Also, be prepared to do road side bicycle repairs. For my next one, I would put it on a heavy steal framed bike, like a beach cruiser with fenders.   They are not quiet, and you sound like "a guy with a weed eater" coming up the road — about 75 – 84 db.

And lastly, I like Charles Hugh Smiths ideas that the biggest changes we are likely to see is that things just get more expensive and we have less income.  No major SHTF.  🙂

And we each need to find the teenagers in our neighborhood willing to chop wood for a plate of chocolate chip cookies!

 

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