Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things are Changing

Some observations about my small, Texas community in the middle of nowhere:

The local Walmart’s not very large, at least by Supercenter standards, and therefore can’t stock the biggest selection. However, they’ve been adding some items over the last few weeks that we survivalists/preppers might like.

Recently, I noticed that this location now stocks concentrated whole milk. This is a fantastic addition to the inventory, because nobody in my family likes powdered milk, which is plentiful at this Wally World. The powdered stuff is skim milk, which just isn’t our “thing,” so we’re going to pick up some of the new stuff and give it a try.

There’s powdered buttermilk now, too. This is another item that my family and I want to try, because we love dairy products – and, of course, the idea of having buttermilk even without electricity or grocery money.

A few days ago, I wandered into the sporting-goods section – specifically, the tiny camping area that takes up all of half of one aisle – and noticed bags of Mountain House food on the shelves. There aren't any number-10 cans, of course, but the "main meal" pouches hold two servings of food each - or so it appears. There are a few choices, including a ready-to-eat, Mountain House version of strawberry ice cream in a pouch. These are, of course, expensive meals and desserts, so my family and I won’t be buying too many, if we grab any at all. We prefer using the Food Saver to vacuum seal various foods: it’s cheaper, and we can control the amount of food in each bag.

More and more generic or store-brand items are selling out in grocery stores all over this area. Weekday mornings are usually great times to shop because the stockers tend to put out plenty of items the previous evening (or overnight, in Walmart’s case). Now, though, it’s getting difficult to find these items, even during the “prime shopping times.” However, it’s getting easier to find the brand-name stuff.

We've been shopping at this Walmart for nearly twenty years. Some of the cashiers have been there longer than that, and know my family and me very well. They happily tell us things that can be useful, even going so far as to give us competitors' sales prices on items even when we don't have the ads with us.

One of these cashiers told us, recently, that shoppers have been stealing other shoppers' ads out of their carts. This, the cashier said, has never been a big problem before. Lately, though, this sort of thing happens a few times a week, if not more often. The cashier's getting lots of complaints from the customers coming through her line, so she told us to keep an eye on our ads.


I go through pocket change to see if I can find old coins. They could very well be a good hedge against inflation because they contain precious metals. I’ve been finding more and more old change all over the place. When this sort of thing happens, it usually means that people are spending their old, accumulated change. If things are hard, and stay that way long enough, people will take giant containers of change to the bank or Coin Star machine so that they can put gas in the cars, buy some food, et cetera.

Of course, this influx of old change could also mean that people are dying, and that their survivors are spending the buckets and buckets of change that the now-deceased folks left behind. When my family and I cleaned out my grandmother’s home a few years ago (she moved), we found change stashed all over the place. She’s a Depression survivor and, as such, hordes anything she could possibly want or need, including money.

We found Shedd’s Spread tubs in all sorts of strange places, often at least half full of coins. There were coin banks all over the house, too, with a few bucks’ worth of change in each one. We found coins in closets, in milk cartons, in the pantry. I don’t know how much we found, because none of us were interested in messing with Grandma’s things; we were just there to help her pack up and move.


Our local community college is running out of seats. This has never happened before – not at this school. They’re capable of accommodating a few thousand students, which is a small number to most people. However, this is a small community. School officials are recommending that students register as early as possible, just to be sure they can get into the classes that they need.

Unemployment, or the threat of it, often encourages people to get more credentials in an effort to either get, or keep, jobs. A two-year school is very affordable, and many campuses offer night classes for those who can’t be there during the day. It doesn’t take much money or time to earn an Associate’s Degree, which is usually a good investment for those who are trying to keep earning money.


Times are hard and, judging by the things that I’ve seen around here over the last couple of weeks, aren’t getting much better. If you aren’t preparing, now would be a fantastic time to start. Even if we’re all wrong, and the economy rights itself overnight (unlikely, but almost anything is possible), we’ll have extra food and other gear for future use. We’re going to eat all those groceries anyway, regardless of what happens tomorrow or six months from now, so I can’t think of any good reason to neglect stockpiling.

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“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George OrwellAnimal Farm