I never thought I’d find myself prepping but the novel coronavirus cometh, that’s really clear, sooner, rather than later, and whether we’re ready for it or not. It’s not so much that I am afraid of it the way I would be if I lived in a super crowded part of the Earth with the inevitable corresponding insufficiency of medical facilities, but avoiding communal places like grocery stores during its peak seems like a completely reasonable endeavor. Plus, who knows if shops would even be open and it would be a bummer to run out of food or toothpaste or toilet paper or have to feed the last remaining cat to the chickens or the chicken to the dog or some combination of all of the above because we’d run out of stuff to feed them.
Following a recommendation from Angela Merkel that everyone should have a 10-days’ supply of food (etc) on hand, and motivated by locals’ stories of being massively snowed in for days during the extremely freezing cold “snow catastrophe” of ’78-’79 and their warnings that even under ordinary snow conditions it’s not hard for all roads in and out of our settlement to get lost for a couple of days under snowdrifts, I’ve fallen into a pattern of building up a good store of canned and frozen goods (in addition to the normal 10 kilo sack of rice and more dried beans and lentils than we would care to eat in a year) every autumn that we eat down then over the course of the next three seasons. But I’d let that slide this year because I’d been away in October then had gotten distracted by the arrival of the puppy (they need so much attention!) and then by the cat who got sick then sicker then even sicker and then had to be put out of her misery. But in the last two weeks, Spouse and I have been working on restocking the pantry, filling the chest freezer, lining the attic, and then some.
After buying extra canned and frozen food during the last two normal grocery shops, making one raid on Lidl and one raid on Aldi (both of which turned out to be as much hit as miss), and stocking up on an extra 10-20 kilos each of chicken food, dried cat food, and dried dog food, by tomorrow evening’s normal weekly grocery run plus extras, I think we’ll have enough in house that we could avoid buying anything for at least 2 months. (Except for seeds needed to start a garden in the spring, hmmm. I haven’t given any though to that yet at all.)
Meanwhile, Spouse has been stocking up on… solar panels! Because the ones that aren’t made in China are made in South Korea and there are containers that are failing to arrive in Hamburg, or already delayed until at least the end of May, because factory workers in China are still stuck at home under quarantine after returning from whatever long holiday it was they were all away from home for. So it’s kind of an awkward time to be starting a we’ll help you switch yourself off fossil fuels kind of a business. But I guess starting a business from scratch is kind of like having a baby– there really isn’t even a convenient time.
But I do wonder what will happen to the 25 people who live on our street if/when the virus makes it this far. More than half of us have at least one risk factor for falling into that 20% of people who have a severe reaction.
Ten of us are elderly, which is to say, aged somewhere between the mid-sixties and roundabouts 90. One of those people has already had a terrible stroke and is anything but a rude picture of health. Presumably all of those people have some degree of heart disease. And the eldest one already nearly died in December because she has some sort of pulmonary issue that can make it hard for her to breathe.
Meanwhile one of the not quite elderly folks has a chronic form of leukemia and not only is she bad at blood clotting, she doesn’t have enough white blood cells not to catch colds all the time. And another one of us has a pre-acute form of leukemia, although isn’t showing any symptoms other than bad blood cell counts. And then there’s me, who is prone to extreme asthma that sometimes leads to pneumonia following entirely garden variety colds. And on top of that, my heart is still not fully recovered from the shredding it took at the hands of my own immune system after my neighbor shared a particularly nasty strain of the flu with me two years ago (but, unlike a colleague of Spouse’s, at least I didn’t die of the heart failure). (Weirdly, though, perhaps, I actually think of myself as a pretty healthy person.)
But, anyway, deathly ill or not, at least Spouse and I won’t be in a position of having to go hungry. Yesterday, he was telling me he was reading about a Lidl or an Aldi in Italy, in one of the cities that have been locked down and, not knowing how long they could keep the store open before the shelves went bare (since there were no trucks coming in with supplies), the manager opted not to open the store. And the crowd outside got so angry, the police had to be called in before spiraled out of hand. Personally, I’d prefer to stock up now while no one is yet panicking and supplies remain in plentiful supply (although Spouse, who is more nervous about the situation than I am, was telling me that the only effective face masks that can be bought online in Germany for love or money are currently actually going only for a lot of money… something like 600 euros for one single little flimsy mask). (Not that I feel the need for a face mask… as happened with the evil flu two years ago, I’m sure my neighbors will manage to infect me, regardless of what steps I take to protect myself.)
I’ll say, though, even making the major exception to our normal routine to stock up at discount grocery stores, two months’ worth of food for two people, one cat, a dog, and some chickens has not been the world’s cheapest endeavor (well, not so much with the chickens… mixed grains are not terribly expensive). How do proper preppers do it, stocking up on freeze-dried vegetables and powdered eggs enough to last a family of X number of people for X number of years past the end of human civilization?!!! You’ve really got to believe the world is going to go down in flames for sure to do that, because that has absolutely got to break the bank, even before you factor in the cost of building up the family compound in Montana.