Plenty of peak oil doomers, preppers, and thrivalist types have blogged about their shelf full of reference books for Camp Teotwawki, including me. But there are an awful lot of loose, unbound, but important bits of information floating around my life that aren't in books. A great deal of it is on my computer hard drive, here on my own blog, or resides at websites that are as familiar to me as old friends. From a prepping perspective, this is a bit problematic. If something suddenly takes out my electrical supply, or the network of datafarms that stores the content of the internet, that information is gone. And that's probably when I'd most need this information.
This has been nagging me for a while and I finally started printing out important bits of information as they came to my attention. I put these pages together in a three-ring binder similar to one I keep for recipes I use over and over again. Each page is placed in a plastic sleeve and then in the binder. This has always been really handy for the recipes, since the sleeve protects the page from batter, splattering oil, wet hands, etc. It has saved me having to reprint a given recipe many times over.
So what sorts of things have made it into my thrivalist binder so far? Here's a sampling:
- Our yearly harvest records and notes from the garden
- A planting schedule specific to my hardiness zone, our local first and last frost dates, and the dates when we lose and gain ten hours of daylight
- Some guidelines on biodynamic beekeeping
- General principles of curing meat
- Worksheets for each of my curing batches and a supply of blank curing worksheets
- Instructions on making soap the old-fashioned way
- Where There Is No Doctor - available as a free download
- Instructions for caring for fig trees grown in containers in my zone
- Guidelines for disinfecting water through exposure to sunlight
- Homemade rooting hormone recipe, and a few guidelines on growing plants from cuttings
- Sharon Astyk's recommendations for 25 plants we should all consider growing
- Detailed information on growing a few specific medicinal herbs and their various uses
- Planting instructions for garlic
- Basic information on seed saving
- A few working notes on meals cooked in the solar oven
- A printout of Rocket Mass Heaters
- All of our soil test results from year to year and bed to bed
- Guidelines for processing raw wool
- Guidelines for preparing natural dyes from plants, and a list of which plants produce various shades
Incidentally, Kathy Harrison not long ago posted about an emergency binder of a different sort. She has assembled various pieces of critical information and legal documents for her family in case one of the adults is incapacitated, or in case of the need to evacuate her home on very short notice. This is a binder of a very different sort, but well worth putting in place, in my opinion. You don't have to be a doomer to benefit from the sorts of preparations Kathy writes about. After all, we can pretty much count on being incapacitated or dying at some point. The information she advises assembling would benefit any family trying to deal with the serious illness or death of an adult member of the family. You don't even have to live in an area prone to natural disaster to use her advice; house fires can happen to anyone at any time.
So what about you? Have you printed out information you think is valuable and put it in an easily accessible place? Care to share what bits of knowledge have made the cut?