July 12, 2023

Did I Ever Tell You My Y2K Story?

It was minutes before midnight on January 1, 2000, when my family gathered around the telephone. Y2K was imminent and we were excited with anticipation of what might happen.

It was in the mid-1990s that we first started hearing about Y2K as a potential impending disaster. Also known as the Millennium Bug, the problem was that, until that time, computer systems notated years as two digits: 80 for 1980, 92 for 1992, etc. The question was, what would happen for the year 2000? Could computers tell the difference between 2000 and 1900? This inability to distinguish dates correctly had the potential to bring down worldwide infrastructures for computer reliant industries.

And so began a lot of speculation and predictions of Doomsday, The Apocalypse, and TEOTWAWKI (The End of The World As We Know It). Prepperdom was in it's glory and people were encouraged to prepare for the worst. Others pooh-poohed the whole thing as utter nonsense.

Somewhere during that time, one of the local churches was going to show the C-SPAN videos of the congressional hearings on Y2K. Dan and I had some questions; officially, our government was saying that there was no problem and that citizens need do nothing, but there were too many trustworthy sources voicing concerns. We decided to go. After a presentation of the facts, the congressional committee's conclusion was that Y2K was a real problem which required real answers. At the end of the video, the church's pastor got up to speak. I assumed he would take the opportunity to preach, but he didn't. All he said was, "If you want to know what to do next, read the book of Proverbs."

OK, I thought, I can do that. Proverbs is a book of sayings which contrast wise and foolish living. As I read through it, I thought about what to do in regards to Y2K. The wise, I read, are diligent, hard working, well prepared, self-controlled, generous, not given to get rich quick schemes, but gradually save and store up in preparation for winter. The example was the ant, neither influential nor prestigious, but hardworking and prepared. That made sense to me and I decided to start a serious food storage, including things that we couldn't grow for ourselves. We only had a few dollars each week to put toward it, but slowly we were able to store up quite a few months worth of food. Gradually, we stocked up on canned and dried goods, water, kerosene lamps, kerosene, firewood, and a tub and laundry plunger for washing clothes. 

At 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2000, Dan picked up the telephone receiver and listened. We had a dial tone! The lights didn’t go out, and life went on as usual.

In the days that followed, I remember quite a few folks were angry because nothing had happened. These were the ones who felt "duped" after investing thousands of dollars in food supply and survival kits. And then there were the I-told-you-so-ers, gleefully crowing because they hadn't bothered to prepare anything at all.

For myself, it was a valuable experience, and I learned things which made me realize that we always needed to be prepared. This philosophy has served us well. Several times, Dan was out of work and we were able to eat well without worrying about how to pay for groceries. Then there was the time when our area got hit by the remnants of three hurricanes. While we didn't get the hurricane force winds, we did get torrential rains, flooding, and extensive road and bridge damage. Like many others, our basement was ankle deep in water (and we did not live in a flood zone!) 

Even though we had a some damage, we were fortunate because many in our county had their basements cave in from all the water and ground saturation. Everyone was without electricity for days, and our food storage was a life saver. The grocery store shelves had long since been wiped out by folks buying up whatever they could get their hands on before the storms hit. We fared very well because in addition to food, I had been stocking up on matches, paper plates and napkins, toilet paper, first aid supplies, and water. The biggest problem was because our well water required an electric pump; we had no running (nor flushing) water. We did have a 55 gallon drum filled with water, so by rationing we were alright.

The memory that stands out the most, however, happened several years later. It is of a friend whose husband had been out of work for months. When her kitchen cupboards were bare, I could never have afforded to buy her more than a bagful of groceries. But I could easily give her a whole trunk load of food from our food storage, which I did. I was never more glad than then, to have heeded the advice to prepare.

Now, of course, we are able to grow more of our own food and have learned low-tech ways to accomplish tasks. We've learned how to simplify our lifestyle, so that when things like a global pandemic and lockdown take place, our lives pretty much go on as usual. But, hopefully, those stories help explain why I'm so enthusiastic about these resource bundles. 

Yesterday, I shared 7 of the 43 excellent resources in the 2023 Permaculture Adventure Bundle. Today, I'll share 7 more:

The "Fungi! Growing Speciality Mushrooms" chapter
from Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist
by Michael Judd

Preserving Fruits and Vegetables Guide
by Lynn Gillespie of the Living Farm

Homestead Building Plans Bundle
by Teri Capshaw of The Homestead Larder

SKIP: A Framework to Connect Industrious
People with Elderly Land Owners
by Paul Wheaton and Mike Haasl

Stockman Grass Farmer magazine
All 12 issues of 2022

Handmade Natural Soaps eBook
by Jan Berry, The Nerdy Farm Wife

Natural Facial Soaps eBook
by Jan Berry, The Nerdy Farm Wife

The $35 bargain price lasts now through Friday. After that, the price goes up.

Click or tap here, to see everything you get.


Ed said...

I was one of those who wasn't worried about it although I never was an "I Told You So" afterwards. For me, food storage has just been a way of life since I was old enough to remember. The only time I haven't done so were in my college and post college single years.

Leigh said...

Ed, I think that's the advantage of growing up on a farm. Farming is a way of life and that includes producing and preserving food.

I honestly didn't know how to react to Y2K. It never seemed like a panic situation, but I liked the idea of being prepared.

Sandi said...

I knew someone with an attic full of freeze-dried food after Y2K. I stocked up on hair dye and diet soda. Um. Well, thank God I survived. We had a big snowstorm that January, big big. A lot of people were glad they had a few extra things.

Will said...

As an IT manager responsible for analytical lab data systems for a pharmaceutical manufacturer, we had to deal with Y2K long before the millennium, as we were shipping products with 5+ year shelf lives and needed to be able to track them in the data systems. So for me it was really a bit of an anticlimax when we finally got there.

Leigh said...

Sandi, the things we stock up on! I think having extra food put aside is always a good idea. Like your snowstorm. You never know.

Will, at least you were proactive about a potential problem! That counts for a lot.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

It did turn out to be largely a non-event Leigh - although it feels like a great many people used it to generate panic (and panic buying). To the extent that it encouraged folks to learn to prepare (I include myself here), so much the better.

tpals said...

I read that IT people at the time found it offensive when others complained nothing bad happened because they worked very hard to make sure it wasn't a disaster.

It's funny to think how long ago it was.

Leigh said...

TB, there always seems to be folks who will do just that, take advantage of any situation to make a profit. It's a shame awareness of this didn't stick, and make a difference in our most recent panic event.

I'm with you on taking things for what they teach. Preparedness has been an invaluable lesson.

Tpals, I'm sure! Kinda like people criticizing meteorologists because the weather forecast was incorrect. IT was proactive and were probably responsible for averting disaster. Unsung heroes.