Are You Ready?

Unfortunately, I fear that this post today may be a sobering one.  There is much going on in the world that points in certain directions, and I thought I would post about something that may possibly concern us all, tempered of course with some wisdom from the American Indian.  I’ll also be giving away a copy of the book, BLACK EAGLE to some lucky blogger today, also.

This is a post about food.  It really doesn’t take any great prediction to see that there could shortly be a problem with our food supply.  If you’ve been paying attention, you probably know that there is a drought in the south (particularly in Texas).  This could be a problem with our food supply.  Then there’s the flooding of our “bread basket,” the mid-West.  Not all of the land has been flooded, of course, but enough to realize there might be a problem.  Then there’s the fact that although America used to have food reserves for approximately five years, these reserves (grain elevators, etc) have been drained, leaving maybe about 3 months reserves (this happened very gradually over several years).

Some of you may know your history and remember that Stalin starved his peasants/farmers who lived in the middle of the “bread basket” of Russia.  Stalin was directly responsible for the genocide of as many as 60 million of his own people.  Some were shot point blank, but in the “bread basket” of Russia, the people staved.  Why?

In a sequence of acts against the people, the Stalinist government took the farmers’ stores of grain, selling it on the marketplace to show how “well” Russia was doing.  I’ve seen old footage of the military stealing the food stores from the people.  Of course this leaves the people without food for the harsh Russian winters.  Thus, they starved.  Quite deliberately on the part of the government under Stalin. 

  Okay, so what is the point of all this?  The point is: Preparedness.  Contrary to popular opinion, the American Indian was often prepared for what was to come.  When going to war, they often took a medicine man in order for him to look into the future and prepare the others for what was ahead.  Women and men from one coast to the other prepared for long winters.  On the East coast, that meant stores of corn, beans and squash.  On the Plains it meant dried meat and fruits, pemmican and any other store of food.    I don’t know if you’ve ever looked into preparedness kits — freeze dried food, etc.  I have and one thing I can say — it’s not cheap.

But it is somewhat cheap if you make dried meat (or jerky) yourself.  And it’s easy to do.  Thus, you could make your own “preparedness” kit.  So taking a page from Native America, I thought I’d go over how to make your own jerky.    My friends on the Blackfeet reservation first cut the meat (or have it cut) into thin slices.  They then smoke the meat using a smoke house, green wood and lots of smoke.  After the meat is smoked, it is hung up to dry.  In the old days, the meat was hung in the open air outside.  Nowadays, it’s often hung again in the smoke house.

Now, I don’t have a smokehouse and it’s unlikely I’ll be getting one anytime soon.  So I have another method of jerking meat that is a little different from the traditional method, but it suits me.  And again, it’s easy.  Cut the meat into thin slices (or have it cut), marinade the meat in red wine for beef or buffalo and white wine for chicken, along with a little soy sauce and garlic.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for about 1-2 days and then dehydrate it either in a dehydrator or very low oven.  Dry it this way until the pieces of meat crack when bent, then store.  Usually it takes me several days to get the meat to the “cracking point” when bent.  I use glass jars.  In the old days, they used deer or buffalo hide bags.  I keep the dried meat in the refrigerator, also, although of course they didn’t in the long ago days.  If you do this one batch at a time over several weeks, you’ll have a store of food in very little time (and cheaply also).

I realize it may seem odd to post about such a thing when we live in the land of “plenty.”  But as a very wise man once said, always have a plan.  We live in a world that’s very different than it was say…five years ago.  And though it may seem odd, it never hurts to plan ahead.  One can always eat the meat later if the worst never happens.  And often, when one does plan — and ensures he/she has a plan for anything unforeseen, the worst often never happens.  It’s to this hope that the worst never happens, that I make this blog today.

You’ll have to let me know what you think of this kind of blog — one that gives some preparedness skills directly (and indirectly) from the American Indian.  Don’t forget, I’ll be giving away a copy of the book, BLACK EAGLE today.  So come on in and leave a post for me.

Tell me what you think.  Is it wise to be prepared?  Do you think you can make your own preparedness kits?  Come on in and chat.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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38 thoughts on “Are You Ready?”

  1. Great Post.,Yes I think its great to be prepared,my grandparents had smokehouses,an a cellar to store food they canned themselves,,ive been known to freeze vegetables an put in the freezer,never got the canning,too scared about blowing myself up with the canner,,,our little garden was fun an we knew the food was safe,,

  2. I love it…you can never be too prepared. I love jerky…have made some myself out of dried venison meat…it was strong but good. We can go to any market and buy food prepared but I feel sometimes we are lazy and do things the easy way. I take after my Grandmother that lived near the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina and was raised in the hills on her farm in the mountains..I felt like laura Ingalls. Well my Nana showed me the hard way…to catch fish in the stream…to can blackberries, etc. I feel like it was a priveledge to have had her in my life and hopefully keep some of her traditions alive! Nothing like drinking fresh water right from the mountain too! Wish she was still alive and I could go back to that way of living. Thanks for your books kay…they take me back to the life I used to know and love….

  3. Sorry Kay…the above comment is from me…Lora, not Judy. I hit reply to her. So the comment above is from me. Thanks!

  4. Hi Kay, In California we lived in a remote mountain town about 1/2 mile from the San Andreas Fault. When the Big One hits, that town is going to be cut off for a while. We were prepared with water, canned goods, rice, cooking utensils, medicines, etc., all stored in outdoor barrels. We’re not as prepared here in KY, but we’ve got some stuff in the garage.

    In northern VA we went through a hurricane / tropical storm and didn’t have power or water for three days. It made me appreciate those things!

    You’re so right about drought and the food supply. Is it the Ogalala (sp) aquifer that feeds the Great Plains? t’s not being replenished the way it used to be.

  5. Great post Kay.. I can’t imagine having to prepare for a food shortage. But it does pay to be prepared for any disaster that might come our way. We went through a black out here in Ontario a few years back and I was glad to have a few things in the pantry in the way of food that did not have to be cooked…
    We are lucky we are not having a drought. It was just the opposite for awhile, too much rain and cold to get the crops planted. But so far now our crops should have a good hull this year..
    But it going to make for some tough prices in the stores for those things that we get imported as far away as Texas in the winter months..
    I hope you get rain and soon… for your sakes…

  6. Thanks for your thoughtful and sobering post, Kay. Something most of us need to think about.
    My dad used to make the most amazing venison jerky by just soaking the meat in salt brine and hanging it on metal hooks in the basement to dry (we lived in a very dry climate so it worked). He’s gone now but I still crave that jerky. There was nothing like it – and will never be again.

  7. Loved your post, Karen, and hope you will do more on these topics! I’m always interested in how women coped and provided for their families in earlier times.
    I think people in rural areas have an advantage during hard times. We have a garden and we can and freeze. When I snap beans or put up relish I feel such a connection with my grandmother.
    Recently I was surprised to find I only had an electric can opener. So much for being prepared for disaster!

  8. Hi Vickie!

    Thanks so much for your post. My grandparents didn’t have a smoke house, but they had a root cellar (and no indoor plumbing). Interestingly, they were poor chicken farmers — but when the depression hit, they never went hungry — a thing to be considered. My early memories are of having to get to the outhouse via and through the chicken coop. 🙂

  9. Hi Lora!

    Thanks so much for your delightful post. I think the old days were great in many ways — one was that there was much more freedom than we have nowadays — and so one could go and catch fish and eat it without having to get a license to do so. Another was that our rivers and streams were clean enough to drink out of. I remember a couple of times drinking pure underground water — fresh from a spring — and I remember the sensation of having real food. It’s nice to have city water — it’s a convenience — however, they often “do” things to it to make it “better,” making it almost poisonous — they now have discovered that flouride is a deadly poison that doesn’t help the teeth over one’s lifetime, but rather helps to deteriorate the teeth and make them yellow. Then there’s the problem of drugs finding their way into the water system somehow. Oh, for those days of pristine, pure, clear water. 🙂

  10. Great Post Kay! Yes I think it is very wise to prepare. I love this type of topic. It makes people stop and think. A lot of things are taken for granted and food is one of them.

    Thanks for the post

    Walk in harmony,

  11. Hi Victoria!

    When I was young my mother always had stores of food. I never understood it then. I do now. Not that we ever had an emergency — but if it ever came, she was prepared. You know the same thing is happening here in the “bread basket” of California. A fish was found in the waters that irrigate the Jacquin Valley (can’t spell it) and so a great part of what is naturally grown in that valley (that feeds the US) isn’t being grown due to not being able to irrigate the land.

    And someone here reminded me that not droughts, but floods have washed out much of the farmland up there in Montana.

    So again, while food is here and available, in my consideration, it’s a good idea to stock up — be prepared.

  12. H Kathleen!

    The weather is sometimes so unpredicable. Makes me wonder sometimes. I heard (or maybe I read it) — and I can’t even recall the name of the gentleman now or his position in the government, but he was talking about the fact that they can cause weather through the seeding of clouds and such. Whenever I hear of these things — droughts, floods, etc. I keep wondering why a government that should be benevelent doesn’t use that technology to make things better. Bring rain where there is none — or bring dryness where there is flooding.

    It would seem to follow to me, that if one could do this — and this gentleman said they could — that it would be a priority to do this, if only to ease the situation. Just my thoughts on the matter.

  13. Hi Elizabeth!

    What a wonderful experience to have had that. Yes, it does seem to me that one has to do something to the meat before drying it — the Indians smoked the meat — I marinate it — and I think salt brine used to be the method of choice. The meat should still be “raw” technically — thus, in its dry state it should keep and store well. I sometimes wonder if it is the fact that it is raw that makes it so delicious.

  14. I agree with your post. The weather has not been kind so far this year and the pattern seems to be holding. In TN where we now live, ther have been cycles of too wet then too hot and dry weather. Hard to get good crop growth that way. I am now in Northern NY visiting my family and they also have their problems. The flooding in the Lake Champlain Valley has caused massive problems. Many fields have been too wet to plow and were only planted a few weeks ago. If Fall comes early, they will not get a harvest.

    We are poisoning our air, water, and the ground. Where do we think we will go when they become useless to us? Not everyone abuses Mother Earth, but there are too many out there who will take what they want ignoring the long term consequences.

    We have always had a store of food to last a while. We can, freeze, and have a dehydrator. As of yet, we have only made jerky in small batches for hiking and camping trips. More and more, we are relying on our garden and what our aniomals provide us. The chickens, pig, and occasional meat calf at our daughter’s supply a supply of what we need.

    I already have BLACK EAGLE, so there is no need to enter me in the giveaway.

  15. Hi Judy H!

    When I was growing up, we used to snap beans and peas for the fellow across the street from us. Us kids would sit around his yard doing odd little “chores” for him, that we loved. In exchange he would make us lemonade and have hamburger fries for us at the end of the summer. I love that, too. Thanks for your post.

  16. Hi Melinda!

    I couldn’t agree more. With things changing so rapidly in our environment, I think we sometimes get caught up in thinking that all is as it has always been — and nothing could be further from the truth. With corn now being grown for fuel instead of food and the flooding and droughts, I do believe it wise to be prepared for a future that might not be all that we are accustomed to.

    Thanks for your post.

  17. My grandparents rented land in order to farm and then as I was growinng up they always had this very large garden. They canned many items and even made their own jelly. They weren’t big meat eaters so would buy some dried meat items and always had aged cheeses. My mom was not into cooking but always had a large supply of canned goods and I too keep a large supply. I think many people of the generation of the great depression new the wisdom of being preapred but unfortunately as time goes on it is forgotten. Great post.

  18. Hi Patricia!

    You are so right. Those in control of our nation — the non-elected government officals and/or corporations — seem to have a need to pollute our airways and waterways and soil. Whether for profit or it simply being too expensive to clean up, the result is the same. I do wish that instead of going on and on about carbon (which is after all a life-giving fundatmental for all life on this planet), I do wish that real efforts would be made to clean up our water and land. Some friends of mine in the Gulf area have told me that a body can no longer swim there because of the bacteria in the water that was put there by the corporations connected with BP — actually eats away flesh.

    Goodness! What was BP and the corporations conncected and/or hired by it thinking?

    I know of a lady (Barbara…can’t recall her last name) who had discovered an enzyme technology that would be a really effective clean-up — an enzyme that would eat the oil and because it was an enzyme (not bacteria) would then make the water as pristine pure as it was previously. She tried to talk to BP officals and even made a video of the technology to give to them — but instead the BP and government officials chose to spray a posion and disperse a bacteria in the water that has now been shown to be harmful to humans and other life in the area.

    Sometimes I wonder…

  19. Hi Catslady!

    You’ve answered my question I think on why my mother always kept canned food on hand — and lots of it — she grew up in the Depression and so she knew the value of being prepared, I think.

    I never knew my grandparents well — we didn’t live close to them and I only saw them occasionally — but when I did go to their farm, I always loved it and learned alot. Great thoughts, Catslady!

  20. My family is big on stocking up… we have quite a bit of pasta, dried food packs, cans, water, frozen galore. My mother even started to can stuff from the garden so not to waste… we have always been like this… but it is nice to be prepared…

  21. Well I am really bad about stocking up food myself. I have the pantry full. I also try to keep meat that I get on sale in the freezer. I have always been this way but I am worse now then ever. My cabinets are full and I still buy more. My sister make beff jerky and has for years.

  22. Hi Kay,
    You always have so much ‘good stuff’ to write about.
    The early Tribes lived by a survival code. They worked like worker bees all summer to be able to survive all winter. In areas where they had agriculture, they planted. They gathered pine nuts, reeds, seeds, etc. In California they hunted and jerkied all the meat. Then they worked with the skins, to use during the winter. Acorn was fixed so it was esible.
    My Mother-in-law fixed a mean acorn mush that was eaten with jerky. She also made stew, using the jerky and dried vegetables.
    During the Depression, this woman fed a number of White families in town, because she lived in the survival mode and had foodstuffs put aside.
    I make jerky in a dehydrater, too. However, each time I turn the meat, I find that many pieces are missing on each tray. HHMMMMMMM! I only soak the meat in Soy sauce. That has enough salt and other good things to make the meat good.
    And, I would love to have this book.

  23. Great post and about a subject I was thinking about just the other day. I do not have a store of food on hand now because there is just the two of us but I need to go back to canning. I’ve canned and made jerky from the deer we harvest or the beef we raise. I no longer have a garden but people who do are always willing to share so putting up foods should not be a problem. Thank you for bring it to my attention once again.

  24. Something else that I have canned is fish, carp in particular. My husband did not go after any this year with his bow but when he does we always have an abundance. When I can them they task similar to canned salmon and make great fish patties.

  25. Hi Kay,
    What a great post–you always have something so infomrative and interesting to talk about! My parents were children of the Depression and grew up in the heart of it in the Dustbowl of Oklahoma. They always stocked up, and it was “weird” to us girls as we got older. Especially when the big Y2K scare happened, and my dad went out and bought sacks and sacks of sugar and flour and jars of peanut butter–much of it ruined. But I do understand their fear of going without now. You always worry about your family, I think, and the “what ifs” that might happen. Very thought provoking.
    Cheryl P.

  26. A very timely reminder, Karen. Thank you. Living in Missouri, we get daily updates on the flooding along the Missouri River and the Red River in the Dakotas. Wheat crops are going to be smaller than normal and in many places farmers won’t be able to put in their second planting. Add in the droughts and the political troubles with some of our other supplier nations, like Mexico, and we may well be heading into some rough times. I’ll begin planning my own “kit” today.

  27. I think it is realistic to be prepared. My husband is a hunter and I can the venison or elk he brings home.
    We also raise a garden and I can the produce from it.

  28. Hi Colleen!

    This is so cool. I haven’t always been one to stock up on anything — sort of live the seat of my pants — but lately we’ve been stocking up, canning and putting things away. Think about frozen, however. In an emergency, power might be gone — do you have a generator for back up? If not, you might want to make some of that frozen food into dehydrated food — stores better and needs no refrigeration. Just a thought. 🙂

  29. This is really wonderful Quilt Lady — am always amazed at how much people really do look ahead and stock up on items for the future. It’s a good way to be. 🙂

  30. Hi Connie!

    What a good idea. I’d never thought about canning fish — usually when I think about it, I think in terms of jerky. I’m a little allergic to fish and so I really have to watch it on what kinds I eat. Yes, as you can see, I’ve been thinking about it a bit, also. 🙂

  31. Hi Cheryl,

    My parents also grew up in the Depression and so always had stocks of food on hand. One thing I learned (not from my parents, but from the Bible) is that grains, along with beans make a full protein — well know to the Indians on the East Coast. They also knew how to make corn into a full protein — something I’ll be blogging about — interestingly, the white man took the food, but not the recipe that made the food into a food that nourished completely. In the southern States at the end of the Civil War this simple tip would have saved much grief and ill-health. But more on that in another blog. 🙂

  32. Hi Tracy!

    You hit it on the nail with me, too. I’ve been looking at this and going — wow, we could really be heading into shortages — and here where there has always been plenty. Better to plan ahead than to chance it — especially with all the politics going on right now that seem to hinder, instead of aid. I’m working on that kit also.

  33. Hi Estella!

    You’ve brought up another subject that I fear is going over the heads of most people. Seeds nowadays are almost completely owned by Monsanto — and these are called suicide seeds — they don’t produce seeds one can plant again — so that of course one has to buy one’s seeds from Monsanto year after year. However, they are also genetically modified and so are “owned” by Monsanto. Personally I feel that the judge or judges that ever allowed life to be “owened” should have been impeached.

    But now we are faced with the Obama administration seeding the wildlands with GMO crops. We already know that Monsanto, if they find any of their patented organisms growing in the wild on somebody’s property — sue that person in court. Well, what’s going to happen to our wildlife if they eat Monsanto’s seeds — does that then make them the property of Monsanto — are we then back to the era of “killing the King’s deer” is an act of Treason?

    Food for thought. I read these things and think about history and what I’ve learned from my research of history and after I see the same things happen over and over and over, I begin to see patterns that disturb me. May this never happen. I do know, however, that the obama administration is even now involved in the act of seeding our wildlands with GMO seeds.

    Make your own conclusions — it’s either to own the organisms or those creatures that eat it — or to create food shortgages — as those seeds do not reproduce. Something to think about.

    For more information on GMO’s, go to either or

  34. Prepared not scared! I lament the status of the world and I admit that I am a little afraid of where we are going. We are doing what we can to have a food supply just in case and we have put together 72 hour kits too. I just hope we do not have to use it anytime soon.

  35. I echo your sentiment, Stephanie! Prepared, not scared. I know a gentleman who says that if one is prepared for the worst, the worst usually doesn’t happen. I like to think this is true — at least how it should be. 🙂

  36. I think it is always a good idea to be prepared. Living in earthquake country as I do I’ve already taken steps to prepare for just such disasters. Very good info…thanks for that.

  37. Hi Jackie & Hi Melinda!

    I’ve had trouble getting onto the site tonight, but I sure appreciate your coming here and leaving a message. Good night, Melinda. Sleep tight. 🙂

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