My Shopping List for the Apocalypse
I’ve been thinking about the Apocalypse a lot lately. Not necessarily in the Biblical sense, but in the scenario where everything modern just stops working. Yes, I’ve been watching the NBC series Revolution which springs from the premise that, at one moment, everything electric goes kablooey. That includes not just the grid, but every car battery and power source on Earth. Frankly, there are a lot of holes in the plot, but it has got us thinking. One of the conversational topics that’s sprung up between me and John the Baptist and his crew is what we would do if the grid failed permanently. Then, the Internet went down in this week’s storm, which also took the cell reception with it. So as I huddled with the terriers in front of the wood stove, I began to realize I really should pull together a plan. Holing up at Two Terrier Vineyards is definitely going to give us the best chance of survival. But we need more serious preparations. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1. The first 48 hours are crucial. First of all, I’m not buying the Revolution precept that car batteries will die along with the grid. So, for a short time, we’ll have vehicles with a certain amount of gasoline. That means the first two days, while everyone else is panicking, are crucial. The way I see it, the name of the survival game is to give yourself a one to two year cushion before you have to go back to living in the Stone Age. That should give you enough time to master key skills, build your wood fired outdoor ovens, make bone needles and foot peddled looms, boil up homemade soap and figure out how to make or find whatever else you’ll eventually need. So my first stops are 1. Target, 2. the hardware store, 3. a gun shop, 4. the garden center and 5. a mattress company. Because here’s what you have to have: 1. Piles and piles of clothes and bedding — enough to last everyone for a few years and all the seasons. Also soap, first aid kits, antibiotics, canned goods, and heavy cast iron pots and cookware; 2. Any hand tools that you might need — shovels, crowbars and canning supplies — lots and lots of canning supplies; 3. guns, ammo, arrows, crossbows; 4. a bajillion seeds (although I’m well on my way with my personal stash) 5. and loads of mattresses and box springs. Once you’ve stocked up, you have a margin for error — at least a year to master the skills of making your own cloth, saving your own seeds, whittling your own arrows, boiling soap out of yucca roots and making mattresses out of corn cobs. See you can’t go from the Google Age back to the Stone Age in one week. You need a buffer. This “first 48 shopping spree” provides that cushion. Oh, and Louis made a good point: You’ll need duct tape. Loads and loads of duct tape. We’ll use it for everything from machine repair to binding wounds.
2. Pick your posse. This one’s fairly easy, I know the core group of people I want by my side to make Two Terrier Vineyards a haven of safety in a post-Apocalyptic world.
Andy and our friend Rob: These two Brits can fix and jury-rig anything electrical or mechanical. With all the farm machinery and old cars we have parked around here, I’m sure the two of them will figure out a way to make an irrigation pump, a windmill-driven generator or a spring-loaded assault weapon within days.
Susi and Amelia May: Susi is Rob’s wife and she is the crafter Martha Stewart only wishes she was. We are quickly going to get to the point where we need to repurpose old clothes, spin cloth from milkweed fluff and tan deer hides for leather. I bet Susi already has these skills. If anyone has read about my goddaughter, Amelia May, you will know she is just invaluable simply by being Amelia May. However, even at three and a half, she has a very strong fashion sense and will keep us looking good even when Civilization crashes around us.
John the Baptist and his wife Sherrie: Both are native plant specialists and can help us grow our food, forage for edibles and identify medicinal plants. Invaluable.
Louis and his family: Louis and his cousin DJ are longtime workers here at Two Terrier Vineyards. Besides being masters of many talents and a good source of muscle, they are both hunters. With cross-bows. ‘Nuff said.
Cousin John and his wife Ellie: If you are a reader of this blog, you know Cousin John as my eccentric friend who is a master forager and an aficionado of food and winemaking techniques of antiquity. In fact, despite our fine Italian winemaking machinery and equipment, John is always agitating for us to produce wine and vinegar using the techniques of Etruscan days. That outlook will come in very handy after we are plunged back into darkness. His wife, Ellie, is a doctor, so, of course, we want her.
Me: I’ve become the food preserving Queen. I’ll be in charge of gardening and food preservation. Give me a deer. I’ll make Pemmican. Hand me some of Cousin John’s homemade wine or vinegar and I’ll preserve vegetables. Plus, you know I can grow more tomatoes than we’ll ever need.
3. Retrofit your life for survival. We’re moving toward self-sufficiency here at Two Terrier Vineyards. But we’ll need to significantly up our game. Flying Terrier Farms will need to provide us with produce that provides the most caloric bang for the effort. That’s going to mean a lot of squashes, potatoes and legumes. That’s why it’s also crucial to get all those canning supplies. We need to be able to preserve everything we can’t eat immediately. Luckily, Cousin John can help us make wine and vinegar from our grapes using nothing more modern than techniques from 100 B.C. Wine and vinegar will come in handy for preserving. Luckily, we also have acres and acres of oak forests. Acorn flour, as the local Native Americans knew, is extremely high in fats, calories and nutrients. We’ll be heading down to the old Miwok grinding stones we’ve found and pounding acorns into flour.
4. Google all the survival skills you need now! Here’s how to make flour out of acorns, sugar out of beets and soap out of yucca plants. Keep a survival binder or bookshelf. Remember, there is no Google post-Apocalypse.
5. Get a livestock plan. We’re planning to have horses and burros at Two Terrier Vineyards, so that takes care of our beast of burden. And we’re going to have chickens, so there are eggs taken care of. But I think we also need to have a plan for getting hold of animals that provide the most meat for the least forage. That’s going to mean goats and pigs. I’m leaning toward dairy goats as I think we can get the most calories for our colony that way. Pigs, I’ve never been fond of, but Andy will be happy. He’s of the Winston Churchill mindset that a pig makes a farm. Terriers, of course, are essential as electricity-free alarm systems.
Otherwise, I think we are set. Between the outbuildings, garages and the wine cave, we’ve got enough living space for my core survival posse and any others whose skills we may need. Although, since the barn is the only building with a heat source — a woodstove, we may find ourselves living commune style in one building in the winter. No matter, we’ll figure it out. John the Baptist lived on a commune in the Sixties, so I’m sure he’ll tell us how it’s done.
Now, the only other variable is what sort of post-Apocalyptic world we may have. I tend to think we will have a gentle agrarian, barter-based society. I see myself walking a mile down the road to the man who has goats and turkeys and sharing some tomatoes for goat milk. Or offering some homemade soap to the guy just out of town who has Clydesdales, should we need them for plowing. John is convinced the end is going to be ugly and he’s already talking about blowing up all the bridges so that no one from the South can get up to Sonoma. Louis is convinced there will be Zombies, but he’s ready to smoke them.
And how about you? Do you want to join our Brave New World? What skills would you bring? Of course, anyone with terriers gets a free pass in.
Comes the Apocalypse, you can’t have too many terriers.