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If you're prepared, it's not really an emergency...


Welcome to the Y2K-homestead mailing list FAQ! In anticipation of increased interest in and awareness of y2k and its potential, the listmembers have attempted to compile a FAQ that not only addresses those questions commonly asked by "newbies" to the Y2K issue but also concerns of those whose exposure to homesteading is limited to vague memories of watching "Little House on the Prairie." Don't be ashamed of your questions - everyone starts out ignorant and learns by asking. Soon, you'll find yourself able to answer questions asked by others.

This FAQ is divided into two sections - Part 1 covering y2k and Part 2 covering homesteading. In addition to short answers to the questions, each section will include several links to take you to places on the web where you should be able to find more detailed explanations to the FAQuestions listed as well as answers to questions not addressed here.

Note: this file is in *no* way an attempt to dissuade you from asking questions on the list! The folks on the list are chock-full of great advice and anecdotes on everything from bread-making to tool-making. If the FAQ doesn't give you the answer to your question, then certainly ask it on the list! Someone will either know the answer or know where you can find it.

In the questions, don't be surprised to see a few URLs show up repeatedly. There are some people who have put a lot of time and effort (I speak from experience) into creating websites that are full of information.

UPDATE!! Ellen has provided us a large "information center" of websites on Y2K and homesteading information. It's organized by category and is *loaded*!

Thanks to (in no particular order):

earthmom for the list and her sig line, Lisa for the questions, SueQ for her help in researching questions and compiling answers, Sandra for her contribution to answers, Ellen for the information center


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Part 1 - Y2K

1Q - What is y2k?

1A - y2k or Y2K is "shorthand" for "Year 2000" - the "k" coming from the metric abbreviation for "kilo-" which is the prefix for 1,000 units of measure. The "problem" with y2k is that most computer software wasn't written to use a 4-digit date-field. This plays havoc with calculations that involve dates. 2000-1999=1, but 00-99= (-99); this gets even more hinkey if the program or computer-language looks at the absolute-value of the calculation. The origins of the problems lie far back in the annals of programming history when data storage was far more expensive than it is today.

The Y2k Weatherman's website, good basic info and links

2Q - Why should I be concerned?

2A - Because every computer, every microprocessor, and every clock on the face of the earth will have to deal with the rollover, roughly at the same time, in one way or another. Our society, and to some degree our entire world, is highly interconnected and any disruption in one field of activity (such as banking) can have severe repercussions in a seemingly unrelated field (such as power generation). Additionally, virtually every facet of our daily lives is impacted by computers. Store shelves are restocked by computer-based POS inventory systems; paychecks are printed by a payroll computer or are direct-deposited by a bank's computer; newer cars are full of computer-monitored systems; trucks are dispatched and tracked by computers; manufacturing processes are run by computer-controlled systems; hospitals rely on computer-based equipment to care for patients; electric companies utilize computers to generate electricity that operates our lights, tv's, telephones, refrigerators, and desktop computers. We know already that if a plant that makes doorhandles for cars goes on strike for a couple of weeks, the resultant slow-down in car manufacturing will force plants that make interior lighting for cars into a slow-down, even into laying off workers. Now just imagine if one system dependant on computers were to shut down what the ripple-effect would look like.

Ed Yourdon, co-author of TimeBomb 2000
Roleigh Martin
Rick Cowles Y2K Utilities info
Dr. Gary North

3Q - Why aren't "they" doing something about it?

3A - Many of "them" are; some have been for quite a while. The Social Security Administration has had 750 programmers and 2800 support personnel working on their system full-time and they have only recently announced that they are compliant. The bad thing is that they had been working on the problem for over 10 years. There are companies writing testing software right and left. There are programmers desperately rewriting lines of code. There simply aren't enough programmers, testing utilities, or replacement parts available to do the job in the time we have left.

4Q - What can I do about it? How do I prepare?

4A - First, you can contact your government representatives at all levels and tell them you demand absolute honesty in compliance reporting at all levels in all sectors, public and private. Second, do as much as you can to reduce your dependence on the electronic infrastructure. Have on hand copies of all birth certificates, marriage licenses, property deeds, vehicle titles, mortgages, stock ownership, bank accounts, credit card statements, etc. This is your absolute rock-bottom level of preparedness.

FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends everyone in the USA maintain a stock of emergency supplies sufficient for *at least* three days in the event of a local disaster. FEMA recognizes most relief efforts require at least 72 hours to begin operation. If, after looking at the scope of y2k, you feel the government will continue to function relatively intact, this is a good place to start. Check with your local Red Cross, Civil Defense, or Office of Emergency Planning personnel for more information. They should be able to supply you with numerous official handouts at no cost - other than the fact you pay taxes.

If, however, you think y2k will have a more serious disruptive effect, you may want to consider storing extended amounts of supplies and the means to procure more. Interestingly enough, there *is* an official FEMA publication that talks about long-term food supplies. Ask for a copy of FEMA-215, "Emergency Food and Water Supplies."

5Q - What about us city folk/subdivision dwellers/renters? How do we prepare in a small, zoned space?

5A - A strong sense of community is essential, whether you are stuck in an inner-city high-rise neighborhood or are part of the "family farm" on 400 acres in the middle of nowhere. Everyone needs to be aware of the problem and what they need to do to take care of themselves in the event "the government" can't.

If you plan to stay put in town after a crash, I suggest you look into intensive agriculture techniques, such as "square-foot gardening" for your food production. Store plenty of consumables in your home for use immediately after an "event" to maintain your family until you can begin harvesting your own gardens.

6Q - Do I have to buy in bulk (from preparedness places)?

6A - No. In fact, that is probably the *worst* thing you could do right now. Most "preparedness suppliers" are backordered into the middle of 1999, with the waiting time growing geometrically. Your grocery store or "discount club" carries staples in bulk packaging that should serve you just fine. You can repackage them at home for long-term storage.

7Q - How do I prepare foods for long-term storage?

7A - I'll just send you straight to the excellent Food Storage FAQ by Alan Hagan. It is hosted on many sites, one of which is the Walton Feed site.

8Q - What do I do if there is no power/telephone service/gas service/etc.?

8A - Once upon a time, for many centuries, millions of people survived and prospered without any of these utilities. They managed to cook, wash, work, and communicate using only what they could make themselves. Nowdays, we have a "tag" for this type of living - "back to the land," "back to the basics," or "homesteading." Section II of this document is dedicated to answering this question.

9Q - Ok, I can understand the problem, and I'm beginning to understand what to do about it - now, how do I convince my spouse? Other family members? What do I tell my children?

9A - Tell your children the truth. They need to know that you are trying to prepare your family to survive in case a disaster causes your neighborhood to go without power, water, etc for several weeks or longer. Show adults and older teens reports that list the short-comings of y2k remediation efforts.

Utne Reader's "Y2K Citizen's Action Guide, a 120 page handbook" is a good primer on how to "cope."

10Q - How do I connect with other people in my community who are similarly minded about y2k?

10A - Good question. I'd say go about it the same way you do finding people to participate in any other activity you are interested in. Ask around. Talk to people who are willing to discuss it. If someone makes fun of you or disparages what you are trying to do, move on. Time is too short to waste it on chowder-heads.

Here's something (a brochure on Roleigh Martin's site) you can print out and pass on to your neighbors, family, friends, church-members - in short, anyone you want to inform as to the potential y2k crisis.

11Q - Speaking of children, how do I prepare for their education?

11A - Look into homeschooling. There are plenty of references available on the web. If you use a search-engine, use "homeschooling" or "unschooling" as search criteria. I have a small homeschooling section on my website that should get you started. Ellen has written up a terrific "Homeschool Resources" file that she has agreed to let me send to anyone who requests it from me. The Outlands has a small homeschooling area on it.

PART 2 - HOMESTEADING

Personally, I expect our power plants to fail when faced with the roll-over problem. Why? Because I have yet to see any sort of "hopeful" report on powerplants that doesn't seem to be "sugar-coating" their response. Without "juice," modern civilization dies fast and hard.

What does this mean? It means I feel I should be ready for a world where the only resources I can count on are ones that are local to me. No more pineapples or maple syrup, as these are both imported from distant regions to my grocery store. It looks as though I must be able to deal with all aspects of life that I currently "hire out" to professionals. The models I am looking to for daily living in this "brave new world" I feel is coming are American Indians, Pioneers, Medieval times, and ancient Romans. Not only do we have the option of re-adopting the "old ways," but modern science has provided us with new technologies that can make the "old ways" work better or that work better than the "old ways." You can heat and cook with wood, passive solar power, or even electricity you generate yourself. See these websites for multiple ways to address providing your own utilities.

This is my site - small but potent - and still growing.
JR has a low power computer "Power-Miser" for those on solar here.
JR's Self-reliance page has links to solar, wind, hydro, etc.
This is JR's search engine for his site.
The Frugal Squirrel has absolutely gobs of useful information on it.
Access-One - solar cooking info - FAQ and oven plans

SueQ maintains the "teaching list" for us. Available on the teaching list are documents that give general information about different topics of interest to the Homesteader - everything from guns to goats, volts to vermiculture. As always, ask on the list if you can't find an answer to your question among the teaching list.


Hints, Tips, and Tricks

BUCKETS - I know, you're thinking "what am I going to store all this bulk food in?" Quick answer - 5-gallon food-grade plastic buckets. Being the savvy shopper you are, you quickly discover sources for these buckets charge $5 or more for the bucket and lid. A year's supply of wheat for your family of 4 is going to require 20 buckets - a grand total of $100 or more. You start to worry about the budget...

There's an easy solution to this dilemma. The next time you visit a store with a bakery in it (grocery store, Wal-Mart, etc), ask the folks in the bakery if you can pick up their empty buckets. Most places let you have them free, others may charge you $1 per bucket. I've found my best bet for making a good haul is to ask on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I get buckets from 2 gallon up to 5 gallon capacity - usually with functioning lids. Sure, you'll have to clean them out yourself, but the money you'd spend on new buckets can be spent on other things on your "get it!" list - like open-pollinated seeds, canning jars & lids, ammo, or any of a myriad of things. Just ask. -Michael

CANNING JARS - earthmom reports having great luck getting 1-gallon capacity jars from her local Subway shops - free! It's a good thing no one has told the stores about getting paid for recycling, hunh? Now, if anyone knows of a source for 1-gallon *lids,* earthmom has this garage full of headless jars...

Sandra makes this suggestion concerning canning jars:

Just thought that some of the newbies might be interested in how to get canning jars and canners without a huge expense. Considering that a family of four would require approximately 94 dozen canning jars this can be a great expense to someone just starting to can.

The push will be on soon, so these methods will only work for a short time in my earnest estimation.

I placed an ad in a local weekly "pennysaver". Ours is called e-z shopper. When I first placed the ad I got only a couple of calls, but those two calls led me to acquire over 75 dozen jars, 38 dz new lids still in boxes, 18 dz new rings till in boxes and 2 water bath canners. Total cost for everything was just over $75.00.

I didn't advertise for a couple of weeks and then put the ad in again, but this time I took it out for a month. Well, to make a long story short, I am still getting calls for canning jars.

Some people only have one dozen and some have 10 or more. I finally made up my mind after I saw there were plenty of them out there, that I would not pay more than $1.50 per dozen. I have turned some people down because they wanted more, but at this writing I now have almost 200 dz canning jars just from this past effort, which brings my total to over 300 dozen.

I know that is way too many for me as I already had well over 100 dozen when I started this, but I can't afford to put my money in gold or silver. I figure these may be worth more than someone else's gold someday! When I can buy 10 dozen canning jars from someone for $15.00 it is a good investment.

And guess what. A lot of people are willing to give them away, if you are willing to haul them away!

Hope this will help someone. -Sandra