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This came up in another thread and I wanted to discuss it more in depth without highjacking the other thread.

Assuming a really long term SHTF, everything falls apart kind of situation, I believe it will be important to have more than just the basic necessities. Just getting by is horrid for morale and low morale can be very costly in terms of getting by or not getting by. So, some comforts and entertainment for down times are a good idea. To that end, while making preparations what sorts of things do you consider adding for this purpose?

If you, or someone in your core group is a musician, acoustic guitar or violin or some other easily mobile instrument that could be really wonderful. Sadly, I don't play a frimping thing... but my singing voice isn't so bad that it makes dogs howl, cats run for the hills, and babies cry. Dice are small, light, and easy to pack, as are cards. Board games can be more bulky and difficult to haul around. There's an African game that is played with stones and scooping out small holes in the dirt but has been turned into a board game (I think it's called Mancala) that I'm fond of... it has the added advantage of helping youngsters learn math and strategic thinking.

Aside from games and music, what other comforts do you think would be useful? I would say that knowing how to make lotion is a good one (and has lots of practical applications as well). What would you suggest to supplement TP since that isn't something that is easily manufacturable and will run out in relatively short order (keep in mind I am thinking of a really long term situation). For me, reading material (fiction) is a gimme for comfort... unfortunately lugging around 50 or 20 novels isn't a realistic option, especially when there are books that are extraordinarily useful that do need to be stowed away.
 

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The old fashioned way for TP, unfortunately, would be a cloth rag. Much like cloth diapers, they need to be washed often, and are often a social pariah and can cause some extreme sickness if left unwashed for long periods of time (think uncontrollable bowel explosions and vomiting). Thus, the way to do it might be several rags of proper length, and a flowing water availability (and a downstream location) to clean them when done. Not perfect, and certainly not Porcelain and Charmin ultra, but effective.

I think that we all know how to make an outhouse (Pretty simple. Seat with a less than backside sized hole, under some sort of shelter so you aren't getting rained on... lol) but improvising a toilet is also easy. Google 'Straddle Trenches' for the military way, or you can punch a hole in a 5 gallon bucket and do your business in style. Don't ask me how I know...

What we see as fun should adapt with the times, but anything useful and fulfilling can take the place when talking about long term survival. Where fun before might have been reading a romance or sci-fi novel, now maybe it will be reading a technical schematic about how to hook a couple of tractor trailer generators (alternators) up to a windmill or watermill, and the gearing ratio needed to pull power and what kind of converter would make it useable. How much morale would one flickering lightbulb give us? How about a working CD player?

Another thing for comfort and long term sustainability is agriculture. Definately not the easiest pasttime in history, it has some great morale boosts when you know that the work you have done over the last 3 months is going to feed you for a winter.

Classes will be a great thing to do to keep our minds off of reality. Many people around us can give us knowledge, no matter how basic, on things that will help our ability to survive. These classes will be a break from reality too. You say you sing, but don't play. My little brother is a fairly accomplished Violinist (Fiddler, really) and Drummer. Maybe you could teach him to _______________ (insert some class you feel that you know well enough to teach) if he taught you to play the violin. Do you think you will ever be in a dance hall sawing on a fiddle while everyone gets down? Maybe not, but you definately know something you didn't before...


These things, of course, are just my opinion. I have been thinking in the long term about survival because of reccurring dreams that my fiance and I have. I figure, pragmatically, that if I am prepared for a 20 year troubled time and it is only 20 months or 20 weeks, then I am not at a loss. It's good to see other people considering the worst, even though I am old-fashioned enough not to think the worst is really that bad.
 

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Gosh, I'm gonna miss my Charmin if this happens. I'd go for leaves, twigs, corncobs just about anything over nasty cloth. I would have to keep a kettle boiling day and night to clean those things. And then there's no detergent or bleach. I'm sure there are alternatives and I'll try to learn about them but this totally creeps me out.

I think, in an extreme situation like this, most of us will live in groups and I'm hoping there will be pockets or groups scattered about - maybe like little camp towns. I sure hope so. Maybe there will be people like there was oh, what was it called - pony express, I think who will take news and messages from place to place. Maybe some will have radios - I think they are called HAMs - and they can keep those of us with smaller radios up on news. I would think perhaps meetings would happen from time to time and bartering/swapping/trading would take place. I'd trade books with you for sure!

Do you think we would have raiding parties? I've heard people say they'd siphon gas out of an abandoned vehicle - makes sense to me. But, what about taking supplies out of abandoned houses? That's a little trickier isn't it? All I know is if I have to permanently leave my house and there was something someone could drag off to help make their life easier - go for it. I'm not talking about looting on the way out of town. I'm saying 6 months or so down the road when supplies are getting low and it's obvious something terrible has happened and houses are abandoned. I could envision small groups foraging for supplies. I imagine it would be very dangerous but I also think many useful things will be left behind. On the other hand, some are saying they'll board up their windows and their house may look abandoned. The only way to not leave things behind is to move them beforehand, which some are fortunate enough to do. I most likely will not be so fortunate and I'd rather someone get use out of my tools or some lady enjoy my lace curtains in her cabin window than let them rust or rot.

All of this is speculation. In a terrible real bad shtf there will be no time to form groups or build cabins. We would run until we are caught or die. That is beyond my wanting to live. I guess I'm not wanting to fathom that kind of existence and perhaps I am silly in thinking we'd all just move way out of town and live happily in our new little towns.

I like your suggestion of board games. Playing cards take up almost no room. What an excellent idea! I would think maybe a diary for a teen girl. Maybe a bat and ball for a boy and those could be used for protection also. For me, knitting or crocheting supplies would be my comfort and also useful items. For my husband a comfort would be what MUST be in every pack for us - a small bible. Maybe for my sons a small telescope to study the stars and planets. And for my daughters in law, I'm thinking girlie things like ribbons, hair bows and some of those handmade feminine pads. I'm trying an experiment over the weekend for homemade hair conditioner but honestly even if it works I don't see taking up much precious pack space for such as this. I will just have to get used to "wire" hair.
 

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for the some time after a shtf situation, you will find much of your time taken up with other activities...

we have a small wooden board game that is maybe 12 inches by 12 inches that has several games inside like chess, checkers, backgammon, cards, dice, dominos ect ect

as for TP
we stock a crap load :D
 

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I think, in an extreme situation like this, most of us will live in groups and I'm hoping there will be pockets or groups scattered about - maybe like little camp towns. I sure hope so. Maybe there will be people like there was oh, what was it called - pony express, I think who will take news and messages from place to place.
That reminds me of The Postman.

as for TP
we stock a crap load
ROFL! Me, too- the only issue is space, and the fact that it consumes a lot of it.

I found these flat, square sponges by ScotchBrite that I figure I'd save for just such an occasion... one of the first preps I ever purchased! If that fails, Wal-Mart (gawd I hate that hole) has 18-packs of white washcloths. I've got a few in the preps, but use them daily to save on Paper Towels- I'll miss the Kleenex Viva, though!

As for entertainment, a deck of cards and a Hoyle book of games. A small travel game set. Musical instruments. Tons of art supplies, in hopes of bugging in. Sewing and needlecraft, as well.

How do they do it in tribal cultures? Me thinks that, much like our ancestors, basic survival will take a lot out of us, and past that, handicrafts such as sewing and weaving, etc. will fill in the gaps. I fear we're far too accustomed to 'infotainment' when our boost in morale will be the gratification and satisfaction we receive when we carve a canoe, etc.
 

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Assuming a total societal collapse, we'd be too busy to worry about entertainment. But for the kids, they NEED entertainment. Whether it's playing hide and seek or a coloring book.

My plan is to tell stories to the kids - kind of like the Star Wars story in the movie "Reign of Fire". We've got one on the way and I'll be doing that regardless of whether the SHTF. Most cultures have a family story-telling tradition. There's a reason.

Fables, movie plots, life-lessons, whatever. Gotta keep those little minds active so they grow up right.
 

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Besides cleanliness being next to godliness, it makes people feel good. I'm of the firm opinion that, in a disaster with heavy death tolls that there will be some people will be making soap for trade. In the meantime, I store Lava and Ivory hand soaps. Solar shower bag (that can have warm water added to it instead of being in the sun) to keep the body clean.

Clean clothes will make people feel better, thus the Fels-Naptha soap I have. Though I don't have one, a James style washer, or at least a Rapid washer plunger and wash tubs will keep the clothes you have and bedding clean.

Clean clothes that fit will a big morale booster. I can hand sew, but for families a Janome 712T with a treadle cabinet with lots of needles and thread will allow the modification of existing clothes that don't fit to be sized for smaller bodies.

Just a few thoughts.
 

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If we are in the tank to the point of subsistance living, then I believe that most days will be filled with the activities required to sustain your existance.
Hunting, fishing, gardening, security and foraging all require time and alot of energy. I don't believe you will have too much time on your hand to be bored.

the bigger problem more than likely will be trying to manage the little time in the day that you do have to cover all your bases.

we will determine new definitions for what we consider "personal hygiene" ask any soldier about this and I am sure they can enlighten you.

sometimes just being able to brush your teeth and change your socks is like hitting the lottery.

Hope your powder is dry and your hatchet is sharp
 

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Discussion Starter #9
"sometimes just being able to brush your teeth and change your socks is like hitting the lottery." Exactly!

Such wonderful responses from everyone! Thank you all.

I think it's pretty obvious that most of ones time would be used up on needful chores and work in this situation... excepting the fact that working after dark would be much less effective in a situation where lighting is scarce so work/chores after dark would be more along the lines of sewing and other handiwork that is done indoors. However, the winter months when field work is not being done and hunting is scarce and you are living off of what you harvested and stored a lot more free time crops up. All of which is ignoring the fact that people who make or find no free time for doing things simply for the purpose of raising morale quickly become despondent and morose... this saps the will and lowers ones usefulness.

What about ceremonies? Rites of passage? Holidays? Religious services of whatever flavor suits you and yours? Simply setting aside a small bit of time to celebrate being alive in some way is generally vital to everyones morale regardless of ones circumstances at the moment... just a thought.
 

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In Hawaii, where I am originally from, story telling was a way to hand down our history, because we originaly had no written language. Weapon making became an artform and craftmanship, and helped to hone those hunting skills. Also in Hawaii they went spear fishing and surfing alot..... to wash out their A55! The abundance of banana leaves provided many, many survivalist amenities! :thumb:
 

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Which makes we wonder about the eskimo. A fur mit dragged behind the sled. Or... naw I can't even type that one.
 

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The old fashioned way for TP, unfortunately, would be a cloth rag. Much like cloth diapers, they need to be washed often, and are often a social pariah and can cause some extreme sickness if left unwashed for long periods of time (think uncontrollable bowel explosions and vomiting). Thus, the way to do it might be several rags of proper length,
Ancient Romans used a sponge attached to a stick. Modern people in Turkey use their left hand (never wave to a Turk with your left hand - it is considered an insult.)
 

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I would treat bum rags as I would dirty diapers which is a bucket of bleach water where they soak until they are washed. That of course is until bleach runs out.....after that I would just keep a pot of hot water that would be for rinsing them off. And may I suggest that if you have a bol location you get a big kettle type pot for doing icky cleaning like this. You can usually grab these at goodwill for $5, a bit banged up but come on it is being used for poopies.

As I am staying put I have been amassing books, craft supplies and such. Lots of wool and knitting needles. And I figure I am going to be pretty busy with day to day stuff anyway. And don't forget all the great games like charades, 20 questions etc that require nothing. I think cards are a must and dice are good too. I think the shtf will be great in regards to the dumbing down of people. We will read, compse, write and generally work that grey matter between our ears so much harder.
 

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Feed Yourself
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My plan is to tell stories to the kids - kind of like the Star Wars story in the movie "Reign of Fire".
Ah - that makes the quote clearer.

Regarding the Reign of Fire reference - too good - great scene. We have passed stories and traditions down through generation upon generation without aid of communication technologies. Radio and television barely span two generations. The internet has only manifested in the last 20 or 30 years, only 1 generation. We have the capability to adapt and develop, and these abilities will only flourish more come the downfall of this perpetual 'info sphere' in which the vast majority of the world is immersing itself in.
 

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Orianna, people have gotten together and celebrated as a family or a community since human life began. It will not stop. I will be a gramma (grandmother) soon and I plan to tell my grandbaby stories of family members who have passed over, how their father grew up and how papa and I met. This is true if I am living in my house now or living in the woods somewhere. Maybe we will go back to the the times when families gathered on Sunday and shared a meal together and renewed their kinship. I sure would like that. When I grew up (I'm 51) every Sunday was spent at my granny's house. The cousins would run around and play. The men would gather over a fire barrel to discuss car repairs, job opportunities, the economy or what not - and often pass a jar of moonshine or share a few beers. The women would gather in the kitchen and help prepare a meal that my granny had started on Saturday. After we ate we'd all sit around laughing and talking. In the summer we'd have hand churned homemade ice cream. In the winter, we'd have hot chocolate or a cake granny had made. We'd hug and kiss goodbye but we knew in 7 days we'd see one another again. My cousins were my best friends. My kids missed out on that. 1st, they only had 1 cousin and that was a girl - not real popular in a 3 boy family. 2nd, granny and papa usually lived 100's of miles away. But, we did have 1 tradition I hope they cherish. We'd sit and invent stories. My middle son would always start his with .... Once there was a green eyed people eating monster from Mars. After a while someone else would take over the story and then another until we had laughed so hard at the adventure this poor creature had endured. Other times the story would be about my oldest son. Poor kid. For a long time he truly believed he wasn't born but that aliens had dropped him on Earth, he hatched and we found him. I didn't like that story but I couldn't stop the men in the family from telling this story. Tire swings will be made. Kids will play leap frog and jump rope. We will survive. And we will celebrate. My husband will see to it that I always have church as the 1st thing that went into our BOB was a bible. I thought about doing away with our encyclopedias since everyone is using the internet today but I will keep them. Maybe someone will have use of them for their children. There are board games and if you don't have those, as long as you have a pencil and paper (or even a stick and bare ground) you can play hangman or tic tac toe. I think I'll stock some more books. Maybe nursery rhymes, a book of hymns for those so inclined, story books and a few school books so the children can be taught. Oh, and a baseball and bat - groups can have lots of fun with that and it can double as weapon.
 

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For longterm sustainability, I have supplies for gardening and I have livestock. I have a stock of supplies to crochet or sew clothes or blankets that may be needed. I've also gotten various homeschool supplies to teach the kids with later. For entertainment we have cards, dice, and board games. Here's a link for printable board games: http://grandpappy.info/hgames.htm . More game links: Great site with tons of games. Card games, solitare games, and domino games. Instructions to play included.
http://www.pagat.com/

The site below also has some games listed.
http://www.gamecabinet.com/

Printable variations of games for kids to play:
http://kidscrafts.suite101.com/article.cfm/printable_games_index

Printable board game variations for homeschooling:
http://www.toolsforeducators.com/boardgames/

Preschool file folder games:
http://www.preschoolprintables.com/filefolder/filefolder.shtml
 

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This is a great topic! Thanks for posting it up. I'm getting a lot of great ideas from this. In such a long term survival type setting, I would think much of my free time would be spent trying to bring back things that I used to love doing, such as, trying to find a pasture or perhaps some wild horses that I would spend my time trying to catch one or building a stable for it at my home. Or maybe like Mel Gibson in The Patriot where he has the mountain of broken rocking chairs as he tries to make one that'll work for him. haha I love that scene.

Also, if you have a confirmed BOL, I think the board games discussed are an excellent idea. Many of them can be played with 6 or more people, they're always different and can take up hours so that you can come back for a week straight, playing the same game (personally I LOVE games like that).

Or perhaps your time will be spent much simpler such as telling stories or learning skills from your comrades. Maybe you'll be lucky enough that fishing is one of your #1 all time relaxing pass-times. Then you are contributing to your survival but you're also relaxing and enjoying your time. Finally, I think pets will be a big help to keep morale up. It's a proven fact that people with pets live longer lives. A dog that helps you hunt and is your constant friend and companion during your life will be a welcome distraction from all the survival you're doing - because the dog doesn't know it's work, it just thinks you two are having fun together.
 
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