2 articles Tag survival

Surviving Winter in the Countryside

winter countrysideThis will be our second winter living in the countryside and I like to think that we’ve learned a few things since last year. Obviously, we’re not exactly living inside the Arctic Circle, but we are far enough away from civilisation to have to think about certain things in advance. Here, I look at our top five things that we need now that we live off the beaten track:

Cardboard and Paper

Last year, I wrote a post about The Art of Lighting a Fire, talking about how it’s far more difficult to light and maintain a fire than I ever realised, so this summer has been spent stockpiling newspapers, egg cartons, old boxes and other things which make excellent tinder. We’re dab-hands at getting the fire going now and our stash will only make it easier!

Decent Coats

Our house is surrounded by farmland and is basically open to the elements from all angles which means that even when doing simple things we’re at the mercy of the wind. This has taught us that having a decent coat is an absolute must and also that kid’s coats are often more style than function. Opting for a proper outdoor brand like Regatta or Barbour means they get nice looking coats which actually keep out the cold and wet! I also highly recommend getting some good gloves as well.

Outdoor Walking Gear

If all else were to fail, Husband could make his way across the fields to the nearest shop if we were to get completely snowed in, he just might need some trekking poles for stability!

Candles and Torches

Seriously, since we’ve lived here I’ve expereinced more power cuts that at any other time in my adult life. Just last week, I posted a photo on Instagram of us all plunged into darkness, relying on my candle collection to give us a little bit of light. Since then, I’ve decided to invest in some good, rechargable lanterns so that we don’t have to scrabble around in the dark next time it happens!

Long-Life Milk

Here’s the scenario: it’s 10pm on your main work day and you’re still not finished writing, you’re desperate for a cup of coffee to keep you going but you remember that the last of the milk got used up earlier and the nearest shop is a 15 minute drive away. BUT IT’S OKAY! You have cartons of long-life milk stashed away at the back of the cupboard! Again, I’m aware that we aren’t living off the grid or anything and that, worst comes to worst the nearest supermarket is open 24 hours, but having long-life milk to hand can really be a life-saver…or at the very least a deadline-saver!

A Good Shovel

When you live in the sticks, the council doesn’t come and clear the roads. If you’re lucky, a very benevolent farmer will come along and scatter salt with his tractor, but having a good shovel can make all the difference between being stranded at home or being able to actually leave the house. Your neighbours will also love you forever if you help them too, especially if they’re elderly.

How Useful Are You in a Zombie Apocalypse?

The concept of a zombie apocalypse is something that Husband and I have discussed at length. Yes, we’re nerds, wanna fight about it?! We’ve toyed with the idea of putting a ‘Go Bag’ together, a kit full of supplies that you can grab and go should news of a Shaun of the Dead style outbreak be announced, and we’ve also talked about where we’d bugger off to as well.

I think Husband’s current go-to plan is to jump in the car and make for Cumbria or somewhere similar, find an old, empty cottage on a hill where you can see anyone coming for miles around and hole up until the Army find us. My plan was rather more elaborate, hinging on the fact that we live near the coast, and involving stealing a boat and making for the Hebrides, somewhere with minimal people and no attachment to the mainland, minimising the risk of the outbreak spreading.

The thing is, all of this is well and good, but HOW would we deal with things like food and water? If we went via boat, we’d need to either take a water supply with us or use a desalination filter, which is just not going to happen as we don’t have the knowledge to make one, nor the resources to keep it running. And food…if you manage to find areas of the country which have wildlife that’s viable as food, could YOU kill something to feed your family? It’s all well and good being glib and saying “Yeah, course!”, but really, really think about it; could you look an animal in the eye and know you’re going to end it’s life? And even if you find something to kill and work up the guts to do it, how will you do it? Presumably, you won’t have a gun – could you fashion a bow or a spear and throw it well enough to hit a target?

Obviously we’re a way down the line here, there’s probably enough tinned food already in this country to feed to lot of us until they find a cure for zombie-ism, but are YOU going to share with everyone else? Once the infrastructure of the country has disappeared, we’ll all end up feral again and being territorial about dwellings and resources is going to happen very quickly.

Then, what happens if you get ill? Sure, it’s possible to cultivate your own penicillin but do you know anyone with the knowledge to do that?

All of this just skims the surface of the challenges you’d face without an ordered society surrounding you. Nowhere to buy food, energy sources running out, people out for themselves. It’s a scary prospect, even without the thought of the Undead wandering around, and I do wonder if we’d cope at all. When man was primitive, we knew how to hunt, build or find shelter, survive. Now, we’re so mollycoddled, so used to buying things from a supermarket that we’d all just perish. It’s like humankind has become TOO evolved to survive!

So, how would you cope? Where would you go and what skills do you have that would help you to beat the brain eating bastards? I’d love to know. Maybe I’ve hit on a sound business idea here: Apocalypse Survival School!

NaBloPoMo November 2012