Today’s post is from Margie Gray
Part of home economics is running a home economically and being prepared for unexpected emergencies. In Proverbs 31:21 the wife of noble character has no fear for her household when it snows. Ma Ingalls certainly knew how to run a home economically and was prepared for unexpected emergencies.
The Ingalls family used every bit of everything and after they used it Ma frequently reused it. Old clothes could be used in a rag rug; scraps were used for quilts. Although I am sure he didn’t bend many, Pa would straighten and reuse bent nails. When a hog was butchered all parts were used. The bladder was even used as a balloon for the children.
We were a nation of savers, where thrift was considered a virtue. White sugar was something only reserved for company. Having an orange for Christmas was an unheard of treat. Anything not made at home was a luxury. Pa learned quickly that debt could get his family into trouble and he worked hard to stay out of debt. In On the Banks of Plum Creek Pa walked for days to look for work in shoes with holes. Why didn’t he wear his other pair? He didn’t have another pair. Why didn’t he buy a pair of shoes on credit? He hated debt. In Little Town on the Prairie, Chapter 9 Ma said, “ We must cut our coat to fit the cloth. “ In this simple sentence is a wealth of wisdom to keep within one’s means.
Do not accustom yourself to consider debt as only an
inconvenience. You will find it a calamity. — Samuel Johnson 1758
In the Associated Press report dated January 20, 2006 Warren Buffet was quoted warning, “The US trade deficit is a bigger threat to the domestic economy than either the federal budget deficit or consumer debt and could lead to political turmoil… Right now, the rest of the world owns $3 trillion more of us than we own of them.” Our economy is artificially inflated by debt. Citizens lose their purchasing power and industries lose their producing power through debt. Approximately 10% of Fortune 500 companies are financial companies. They are the ones truly profiting from our lack of thrift.
Why are we doing this? Why do we buy what we don’t need with money we don’t have? John Taylor Gatto author of Underground History of Education and Weapons of Mass Instruction, suggests that we have been trained to think this way. He believes the thought processes of the average worker has been standardized in order to render him a dependable consumer. Scientific management spread rapidly from the factory into the schools to seek this goal. Since most of us are products of the public school system or at least barraged by advertising perhaps he is correct.
Currently our government is encouraging us to spend in order to help people to get back to work. This is a “not on my watch mentality” and will only postpone and worsen the inevitable. On the other hand Peter Schiff, in Crashproof 2.0, reminds us that borrowing to finance consumption, instead of saving to finance production, is how our country has dug itself into an economic hole. Borrowing has made us a servant to the lender. We have sold our country for trinkets from China.
Any government, like any family, can for a year spend more
than it earns. But you and I know that a continuance of that
habit means the poorhouse. —Franklin D. Roosevelt 1932
To turn this around we must be good stewards with our resources. We must use and reuse and put an end to our wasteful consumerism. Economically things may become more difficult for American society as we change from a nation of debtors to a nation of savers there will be sacrifice.
Take time and sit down with your older children and show them how you budget. Remember to budget your necessities first food, shelter, utilities, transportation. Discuss what you use and reuse. Discuss ways that you cut back spending. Brainstorm to see what ideas your children have on cutting spending and increasing savings.
“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder
In Long Winter Pa warns against becoming dependent on conveniences or luxuries. Many times we forget how to take care of ourselves without luxuries. Think about the luxuries that you depend on everyday. A luxury of a warm house, a hot shower, a cooked meal, light bulbs, food at the grocery store, money from the ATM. The Ingalls family faced many disasters. They survived wildfires, near starvation during the Long Winter, and deadly illnesses out on the Prairie. They survived by the blessing of God, by being prepared and resourceful.
It is beyond the scope of this short article to teach people about survivalism. That is a topic of many books. Y2K didn’t happen, but many people prepared for it. Many of those who prepared for Y2K later used that preparation for other disasters. What kind of natural disasters occur frequently in your area? Fire, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods have devastated many parts of the world in recent days. What are the possible economic difficulties that your family or our country could face? How prepared are you for these? What would you need to have on hand to survive if going to the store and getting a certain item was not possible? Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Every home should be prepared for the potential of loss of power, heat, and water. Do you have stored a minimum of two gallons of water per person for at least 3 days, many survivalists advise storing enough for two weeks. Water stored in a cool dry place is good for a year. Our well has given us enough hiccups that we have a fresh supply stored from the last problem. The first time our water went out was when my husband was out of town. A lovely, elderly Christian lady hauled 5 gallons of water to us twice a day for a few days until he returned home and could fix it. No one took baths, and no one did laundry, but we needed that much to drink, cook food, clean dishes, and flush toilets.
Always have alternate heat sources. During the coldest winter I had experienced in New Mexico many homes were faced with having no natural gas due to a statewide shortage. So if you have natural gas do you have some electric heaters, a pellet stove, or some other source of heat? Many homes became so cold that water pipes broke and then they had no water. How many people had water stored?
Cooked food is not a necessity, but it sure is nice especially on a cold winter day. If the electricity goes off can you cook? How about pulling out your camp stove or barbeque? Do you have headlamps and batteries for everyone so all can have hands free to work in the dark? Do you have a manual can opener? Do you have frozen water in the freezer to put in the refrigerator to keep things from spoiling due to lack of electricity?
Having stored food is important in an emergency. How long could your family live on the food stored in your house? The Ingalls stored roots and pumpkins for the winter. They had to know how many their family would need to have on hand for the lean time. Here is a handy tool to calculate how much food you should have stored for your family to last a year. I am not necessarily advocating a year’s food storage, but it may be prudent to have a minimum of a few weeks worth put aside. Besides food and water what other items should you consider? Batteries, light bulbs, flashlights, toilet paper, shampoo, soap, first aide kit, and basic medicines may all be necessary and not readily available in a time of economic or natural crisis.
In our area we at risk for forest fires. Recently part of the city was evacuated. They were given minutes to grab some things. One boy grabbed his bag of hot Cheetos and fled. Experts advise that it is best to have an emergency bag packed ready to leave. Think about this and make a list of what necessities you would need in this bag.
We have been spoiled and think that the bank is the best place to keep our money. When people earned 12% on all savings deposits that may have been true. In the history of this country and in the recent history of other countries there have been times when the banks have closed and the ATM’s did not give out money. Even when they did give money the amount was rationed. As a minimum keep one to two hundred dollars in cash for emergencies put aside. The next step in preparedness is to keep at least two months worth of grocery and gas money on hand. A growing number of people are trying to keep enough cash on hand for plane tickets for everyone, and three months worth of cash for groceries, motels, and other expenses. Keep your passport and other important papers handy and up to date.
Sit down with your older children and explain things you and your husband have done to be prepared for the unexpected. Then make a list of what needs to be done to improve your family’s preparedness. Give your children a list of things they can do to help the family get prepared.
Ma is a great example of a woman of noble character. Ma Ingalls made the most of what she had. Carolyn was not idle and prepared as well as she could for calamities. Her extended family was not near by and she did not expect the federal government to come to her rescue. Ma Ingalls relied on herself, her family, and the Lord. Just like Ma we have many people dependent on us and therefore should be prepared. We should desire to be as in Proverbs 31: 25 … clothed with strength and dignity; and can laugh at the days to come.
Would your family like a year-long unit study based on the Little House on the Prairie books? Margie is giving away a copy of the Prairie Primer to one reader! Head on over here to enter!
Almost thirty years ago Margie Gray and her husband, Owen, decided to homeschool their children. They have five daughters and one son. Three daughters have gone onto graduate from college. In 1999, Margie’s article ““His burden is Light”” was published in 50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share…Things We Wish We’’d Known. She has self-published several literature based curricula The Prairie Primer, Further Up and Further In, Where the Brook and River Meet, and Anne’s Anthology. They may be found at www.CadronCreek.com