Emergency preparedness, swine flu, and random thoughts

Firstly, I feel obligated to say that I've not gone into "freak-out" mode regarding the swine flu epidemic.  I don't believe this will turn into an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario.  But it has gotten me thinking...

Can we handle it if our city/county/state shuts down for 5 days like Mexico did?  Easily.  Our freezer still has plenty of meat and veggies in it, plus we have dry goods like flour, pasta, and rice.  Also we have about 30 gallons of water stored.  Realistically, I'd say we have more than 3 weeks but less than a full month's worth of food.

How do I feel about our level of preparedness? I'm not sure.  On one hand, I know we're better prepared than the average American.  On the other hand, there's still a lot of things I wish we had, like an emergency power source.  Still, I believe we are well-equipped for a short-term disruption of normal life.

Long term disruption?  Not so much. 

This is where I start wishing we lived farther away from the city.  South Bend isn't big, but there are enough people close-by that we might still be victims of rioting/looting/civil unrest.  I wish we had goats and chickens for a sustainable supply of eggs, meat, and dairy.  Shayne was kind enough to give in to my desire to have laying hens, but in return, I promised we'd finish the projects we had going before I started another.  So, no chickens yet.  I'd even been contemplating not getting chickens at all until we move, but I think I'd feel much better knowing we had some kind of self-sustaining food source.  Note to self: finish upstairs, buy hens.

I also wish I had a veggie garden.  I know it's not yet too late to plant one, but we're trying so hard to finish our current projects before starting new ones.  I don't know what to do here...  I suppose I could plant a small garden, with plans to expand it next year.  That makes the most sense.  I have a feeling if I just jumped in with a big garden, I'd be overwhelmed pretty quickly!  I guess I should start looking at how much space I'll need for a small garden of broccoli, carrots, peas, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and corn.


We love our house, but...

Several months ago, Shayne and I started to seriously talk about moving.  We've always wanted more property, but we always had the mentality of "someday, down the road..."  Ultimately, though there were things we disliked about out current location, most everything was good, and we were happy.  But then things started to change.

I started to become upset with our neighbors, the ones who own the noisy bar a block or so away.  I kept thinking about how I don't want our future kids to be outside playing in the evenings amid the sounds of drunken revelry.  I started to be bothered by their blatant disregard for others.  They blare loud music out in their barn at 2 am and tear up our grass by riding snowmobiles across our yard when there's only 2" of snow.  After a few months of silent fuming, I decided I needed to adjust my attitude.  Talking to them about the problems was impossible; they refused to answer the door when I went over there.  So I decided not to let it piss me off.  It was just little stuff, and not worth an ulcer.  I managed to chill myself out and felt much better about everything.

Then a few weeks ago, I started hearing chainsaws.  All the time.  And bit by bit, the woods that separate our properties shrank, then vanished.  At first, they left some of the larger trees, making it look somewhat park-like and pleasant.  I had hope that maybe they were done and, even though most of the woods was gone, a little of our natural privacy fence would remain.  A few days ago, those last remaining trees also ended up in the ever-growing woodpile.  When we talked to the neighbor's son, he said that the woods were ugly and mom wanted "landscaping". 

Here are some pictures to show how things have "progressed":

Even in winter, we had some privacy...

 But now??


Both Shayne and I are horrified.  There's no other way to put it.  When I look out the kitchen window, which is the view in the last picture, I want to cry.  Those last few little trees are on our property.  As skinny and straggly as they look, we're keeping them.

Part of the reason we liked and bought our house/property was the setting.  Even though we don't live too far from the city it felt pretty rural.  Our little half acre felt bigger because of the trees surrounding it.  With woods on 2 sides, our yard was a bit isolated, and we liked that.  Now our privacy is gone.  You can see our house from quite a ways down the road, and we're in full view of the road and neighbors the second we set foot out the back door.  Our backyard no longer feels like a little haven surrounded by woods; it feels like we live in a subdivision. 

I hate it.  Shayne hates it.

Funny how just one thing can push you over the edge. 

And so, we've decided to wrap up our unfinished projects and move on.  It'll take us several months, at least, to finish what we've started, but we want to get the house into "sell-able" condition, then start looking for something else.  We're not in any real hurry, and we're not going to do shoddy work just to get the house ready to sell.  But our focus has definitely changed.  We were planning on living here at least 10 years, possibly longer.  I was really looking forward to putting the house back the way it used to be.  Now I'm just looking forward to being done.