HG: Annie Payne Column September 27, 2008

On a mission to be prepared

Photos by ANNIE PAYNE/Special to the Sentinel
The Payne family’s goal is to have a least a year’s worth of food and household supplies stored away in case of emergency or financial hardship. It may seem like a lot, but like the ant in Aesop’s fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” they put away a little at a time.

I got a call a couple of weeks ago from a fellow blogger in Houston who goes by the handle “elasticwaistbandlady.”

Her family was among the unfortunate victims of the wrath of Hurricane Ike. Aside from a leaky roof and some knocked down trees, her family and home were safe.

She called me from her car parked in her driveway. She was using her car battery to charge her cell phone because they were going to be without electricity for up two weeks. Two weeks!

“Elastic,” as I call her, had a stockpile of food for emergencies like this and spent the whole day before the
hurricane cooking everything she had in her refrigerator. She told me she had enough food to feed her family of eight — yes, eight — for two weeks.

I felt a wave of relief to know that Elastic and her family were safe and would not go hungry, but I was panic stricken again when it occurred to me that she might not have stored another very important staple.

I asked, “Elastic, please tell me you have enough toilet paper for two weeks?”

She was able to answer confidently in the affirmative because, unlike many people, Elastic knows Aesop’s fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper.”

She was like the ant who worked and saved a little every day for the winter, unlike the grasshopper who sang and played all summer and, come winter, was left out in the cold, hungry.

Elastic knew that it is wise to save up today what you might not have tomorrow.

Without electricity in the city, they didn’t have lights, the stores weren’t open, they couldn’t withdraw money from an ATM or pump gas. Life, as they were used to it, changed until further notice.

But, because they were prepared, they were able to wait out the storm and the inconveniences that followed.


Having at least two weeks worth of household supplies is not just wise for people who live in the path of a hurricane, but also for anyone who likes to eat.

I heard somewhere that there is only two days worth of food in the Grand Valley grocery stores and that if the trucks stopped running, it wouldn’t take long for thousands to go hungry.

True or not, I don’t want to take that chance with my family.


Aesop’s ant worked all summer storing grain for the winter.

A little here, a little there, every day while the grasshopper watched and mocked. The ant could only carry one grain of wheat at a time.

You can start your family on the path to preparedness by buying one or two extra items at the store each week.

In our current economy, it could be difficult for many families to buy an extra two weeks worth of food at once, but buying some extra cans of soup or pancake mix each time you go shopping is an easy way to start storing food without breaking your family’s food budget.

Little by little, week after week, you will have your two-weeks supply of food for whatever contingency may arise in your life.

Our family’s goal is to have a least a year’s worth of food and household supplies. That may seem like a lot, but like the ant, we put away a little at a time.


There is no use storing food that you won’t eat.

I was in elementary school when Exxon pulled out of the Grand Valley area, taking many of my classmates with it.

The economy of the whole valley changed. It wasn’t just the families who worked for the energy industry who took a hit. It was difficult for my family, too.

Growing up, I knew money was tight when my mom would sneak powdered milk into our cereal or she used the blender to grind the wheat she stored to make pancakes.

Back then, I didn’t like the texture, but now, I look back at those times with gratitude for my parents for having the forethought to store food so we didn’t have to go without or rely on others for our sustenance.


Among the many things we store in the Payne household are water, sugar, flour, corn, salsa, shampoo and peaches.

My parents have a single peach tree in their backyard. It gives enough fruit each season for four families. We call them “Molly’s Peaches” after the faithful family dog that is buried next to the tree.

Each September, the women in our family get together to can “Molly’s Peaches.” This year, I found myself relishing in the process. I loved each step: the picking, the blanching, the pitting, the slicing, the boiling and the sealing.

There was peace in each part of the process, knowing that if I want to make peach cobbler in January, but there is 2 feet of snow in front of my door, (don’t laugh, it could happen) the jars will be waiting for me in the pantry.

I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t see into the future. I don’t know if there will be a rockslide in Glenwood Canyon. I don’t know if our water supply will be contaminated or disrupted.

I don’t know if the economy will get better or worse, but I do know that whatever happens ... we’ll have peaches.

For more on an unpredictable variety of other topics, visit Annie Payne’s “Anniethology” blog online at Anniethology.blogspot.com.


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