I Don’t Want To Be A Wanderer Forever…

incredients 4       As many of you are aware I started prepping as a natural progression of wanting to be self-sufficient. That change was spurred not only by what I watched unfolding economically and politically but also by my personal spiritual walk. I want to exhort each of you to prepare not only physically but also mentally and spiritually for the challenges we will face. Although all of you are not necessarily of a Judeo-Christian based faith, that should not stop this preparation for you.

If any talk of religion offends you, simply speed read through this post to the main points that apply. No offence taken. However I want to share an important spiritual parallel to the concept of prepping. Sometimes we stagnate, we fail to do anything because we feel so overwhelmed and we begin to give in to the feelings of fear and being unable to sort though our feelings and the roadblocks we face. Hiding our heads in the sand doesn’t just make us sheeple. It also puts us in the desert places like the Jews fleeing from the Egyptians. Think for a moment about the Old Testament Jews who were enslaved to Pharoah and how they prayed for deliverance. God heard their cries and sent Moses.

Moses     As God sent plague after plague, the Jews would cry out to God each time questioning. Once in the desert, they still fought back against everything Moses tried to explain. They literally begged to return to the “safety” of Pharaoh and the old status-quo of being slaves so they did not have to face hardships of freedom. All God was requesting was their faith in Him and they chose to instead seek the golden idols and a return to slavery.

Freedom isn’t free is a common enough expression but this is true not only in a militaristic sense but also spiritually. We pay a price for our liberty. Like Pharaoh’s slaves we can’t ignore that price. Moses wasn’t a dictator telling the Jews what to do – they had a choice. He did express anger at the ones who refused to accept a choice of freedom. It’s easier to complain than to actually help one’s self. He knew the security of being enslaved under Pharaoh wasn’t really a place of safety. Not only would they be subject to his whims but also to his need for them to serve his purposes. Even their food would be through him only. Through Moses leading them to the Promised Land, they had a chance at true freedom but instead turned to those golden idols and the lure of lies of slavery. Talk about an entitlement crowd – they were the original ones! They were in a prison of their own making for all those 42 years. This post isn’t meant to be simply a bible lesson though.

Noah025     So now take this and think about where we are as a nation. Freedom exacts a price – not only one of our lives in a military sense though. We’ve all joked often about Noah building an ark in the desert. Little is mentioned about what it cost his family in terms of livelihood, friendships with his community (no matter how far-fetched the boundaries of this community), and the toll it took about him spiritually. How often did Noah go to his Lord in prayer? “Lord, am I really supposed to be doing this? “ Or how about, “Lord I been at this a year or two now – am I wrong to want something to happen to vindicate me in front of the neighbors? They’re all laughing at me Lord?”  “Lord, my kids think I’m nuts here – what do I tell them now – they’d rather go buy a few more goats or sheep for the herd?” “Lord, I’m not getting any younger here – I have grown kids and they’re not too happy about this right now with me – it’s a lot of work hauling this wood after we cut it down.” Just imagine the ridicule this man and his family faced. I wonder what his wife had to say about spending his time and money on this project too. I’m also pretty certain it wasn’t easy to hide this big old ark in the middle of his land – talk about OPS failure! So instead we all complain how hard it is to find enough money to store those extra bags or rice and beans. We get overwhelmed worrying about where to stash it all. How about that sore back from mucking out the barn or chicken coop? Really? Or as I am prone to complain about – I’m not twenty something either – that garden is pretty rough on my tired old body too! Especially when the weeds grow better than the vegetables lately!

We can have lots of excuses and just as many valid reasons why we find ourselves not wanting to push ourselves out our comfort zones. We not only feel overwhelmed – we walk in fear of leaving our safe spot. We owe Him our faith in Him to break free of that bondage. To fail to do so is to wander in our own desert place. For most of us the price of a “Bug out location” is another house mortgage we can’t afford. Few of us can afford to buy 2 – 3 years worth of food for long term storage for twenty or so of our closest family members. Realistically most of us cannot hope to easily pay off house mortgages, car loans, and or student loans anytime soon either. Believe me, I am one of those so hampered also!  But all of us can take those first tentative steps out of bondage towards that “promised land”. We can focus on freedom from fear stepping away from our personal “Egypt”.

I dread thinking our country is changing so radically into something I am not sure I recognize any longer. I find it hard to believe that all we believed in is slipping away. I also think about other countries where free peoples witnessed their own country slide away from what they loved. Those lands slid into socialism, Nazism, fascism or worse seemingly overnight. Yet life continued for these folks – day after day, step after step. They still went to work, they ate, they laughed, cried, fell in love, married, raised family. Some of them never saw the changes because they were so far removed from where the changes took place, living out in the wilderness. Others ignored what was happening around them because it was easier, safer even, to ignore it. Others believed what they were told, that this would be a better world for them, for their families, because of those changes. They bought into the deception because the desert and the journey they would have to face otherwise was a scarier one than the bondage they knew already. Still others were like Moses trying to make them understand how short that journey through the desert could have been. He knew it shouldn’t have taken 42 years of wandering – that place of refuge, of freedom was so much closer if they only took those steps in strength together. Some of us will be put in that position. Some of us are already there – crying out for deliverance, crying out for others to follow us on the path already being offered. Some will even be called to pay more difficult prices – but we each can take a few steps now towards that place – by preparing now in whatever small ways we can, means a chance for the next generation to make it to that place of freedom and maybe ourselves too.

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Is It a Castle or a Storage Unit?

Move-Boxes-      I have been spending a lot of time lately trying to organize our preps. Florida homes are notorious for lack of space to hide things away neatly. We’re mostly short on attic, garage, and especially basement spaces. That makes it much trickier to tuck things away in an organized fashion instead of just where it will fit. That also doesn’t take into account that most of the stuff just plain doesn’t fit! Quite a few Floridians use outdoor storage sheds in either wood or metal but they usually are not climate controlled. The same problem exists with our attics and garages not being a stable temperature. It’s challenging but not altogether impossible.

Like many of us we live in the typical older Florida home – nothing fancy or showy but comfortable for us! We live in a pleasant town on the Space Coast of Florida. Most folks here would never expect riots or race wars or for the town to fall apart in any way. Yet most of the preppers will sagely nod their heads at this because they know even nice folks will do the unthinkable to feed starving family!

In the past year we have joined a couple different preparedness groups here on the Space Coast. The members seem to run the gamut from one extreme to the other concerning how far they take the issue of preparedness. All of them profess a sense of calm and peace before the anticipated collapse due to taking control of their preparations.

Roof-Of-His-Car      A few of the people are financially secure enough to own what is known as a “Bug- Out Location” or BOL. Many others like us plan to hunker down in place due to a myriad of reasons personal and financial. That just leads us to be more selective in how we prepare.   Simplistic-Castle-Tower-2        The old adage that a man’s home is his castle has been taking on new meaning thanks to a certain television production but I personally have yet to add a moat or drawbridge to the old homestead! Indeed there is no sentry decked out in full armor at the front door. Needless to say we have discussed security and do have things in place to protect ourselves should the situation call for it but we are hoping it never falls that completely apart! We choose to be low key about those choices and not advertise those issues for safety’s sake.  knight

So as we attempt to organize and inventory our preps, we find ourselves a bit lopsided at times and then we begin to lose the sense of organization. Over the course of the next few months I hope to share with all of you how I am dealing with these issues and I hope you will join in on the discussions freely. I’m sure many of you have similar problems and solutions – many of others will have questions we will all try to help answer! I certainly can’t know for 100% certain when and if things will collapse. I pray we all have enough time to prepare adequately as well as the finances and health to do so. I pray I will be able to help you along on this journey as we undertake steps for our own family and friends – and yes, community! It seems many of us feel a sense of urgency as we do this lately but with it also comes a peace and joy in knowing we are taking the steps to protect and prepare our families by each positive step we take. Let’s take the continuing journey together so we go about it without stress or fear!

How Many Bandages Are Enough?

Hurt lady      This past week I have been organizing and taking inventory of personal hygiene and medical preps. One of the big problems here is that in this end of Florida we don’t have attics and basements to store goodies – even the storage sheds are not great places because they are not climate controlled usually in our yards! Needless to say that means being creative and organized or else we will never find what we need if and when we need it!! For us it means several large totes stored under beds in addition to drawers that are set aside for items. Each tote and each drawer holds a different type of item – shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc in one tote, meds in another for example. Totes need to be labeled to help those helping you find the right items. Small first aid kits are good enough for a car but our home supplies are a bit more plentiful obviously. This weekend I learned how much more would be needed if in any bad situation.

Untitled            Did you ever happen to take a count of how many bandaids you go through when someone manages to hurt themselves? Working folks – especially those with messier jobs –  tend to change those bandages more often and many of the cheaper ones really don’t stick all that well anyway. That means more frequent changes and using more. Well if and when there is any sort of disaster or SHTF situation, cleanliness and being sterile is not going to be an easier task than now! That means more disinfectant and more towels or cloths to clean as well as water.My DH uses a blood thinner – so this weekend when he cut a finger, what should have been no big deal turned into a bit more of a complication for him. He was helping me with our animals as in rearranging hutches and animals when a small knife (very small one matter of fact!) decided to not lock in place but wrap itself around his finger! Sigh…. Now for myself or anyone else normally it would have meant pressure packing it and lots of tape after antibiotic ointment but not so easy for him. We had a trip to the ER for stitches and a tetanus booster.

The trip was actually not a bad one in that we had a chance to meet someone else who is “into” being self-sustaining too. We enjoyed our conversations and actually learned a lot. I received an impromptu lesson in suturing too! But then we went home where I suddenly was confronted with how different this seemingly minor incident could be in a SHTF situation. Now I am not really into warfare and preparing to do battlefield surgery after the zombies are defeated – but I am certain that even though I have a lot of stuff put up, it’s not nearly enough!     bandage guy

Cleaning up blood when someone is hurt is a mess in itself! Out comes the rags or paper towels and bleach or other disinfectant cleaners. Then let’s talk bandaids again! Oh my! The need for gloves also is an obvious one – can’t even do dishes with stitches or cuts on the hand! Having those animal chores is also going to be a problem to keep the cut clean! And rubber (or latex) gloves makes the hand sweaty meaning more bandage changes and cleaning to avoid infections! The need for plenty of antibiotic ointment is also evident based on what I have used up this week alone! Good old fashioned soap and water is the best germ and bacteria deterrent out there. Cleanup also means more trash bags too – or burning your waste later if safe to have a fire.

hurt dog      Hydrogen peroxide is one of those wonder products with so many uses, it’s crazy. Just do an internet search for the list – but it will remove blood stains in a fast minute in addition to cleaning a wound. The same day we had our finger cut situation, the dog managed to cut the pad of his foot. He also walked all over the white cement deck out back and dripped a continuous trail of blood in the process. One large bottle of hydrogen peroxide later, the white cement was clean. So was my t-shirt where he jumped on me to complain!

Keep your eyes open for great sales and coupons to shop at chain stores and the “everything for a dollar” type places are a great source for bandaids and gauze pads as well as medical tapes. I personally am not a fan of off label or unknown brand medicines because so many are not made to standards now. Things that get used and tossed like bandages are not as bad. I will warn you that cheaper ones are not as good at sticking as some of the fancier cloth ones but they can be useful! Trash bags are also cheaper there. Read labels to know where your medical supplies were manufactured. You may want to avoid certain countries of origin if at all possible – not all are as strict about sterile conditions and bandages and gauze should be sterile. Stores such as Aldi or Big Lots will often have great deals available on name brand items.

Work Work Work – In Other Words, No Fun at the Homestead

kitchen        One of the things no one talks about is how much work it is to be self-sustaining. Maybe that’s because somewhere along the way we have lost our work ethic. Or maybe it is because this new life style of being prepared is supposed to be so superior, so glamorous. After all some of the biggest names in the “prepping” world run big splashy blogs and sell branded items with their logos and write books too. They have Face book pages devoted to their lives and thousands follow every word faithfully. How many TV shows are now devoted to the movement? And it’s not only an American phenomenon! You can read blogs from around the world now talking about the same things.

The reality is that running a self sustaining homestead of any size is hard work and lots of it. There is nothing glamorous about it either! Chicken coops need to be cleaned out – and chicken poop smells! When it rains (like it seems to do constantly lately   in many parts of the land), the poop smells horrible. Yes, do not waste your time telling me a clean coop does not smell. I know that and I clean constantly – more often than most probably because I do not want neighbors upset with us. I use herbs to freshen their nest boxes and I use coop compost deodorizers too.

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Rain helps to breed flies and that is another issue few folks talk about. The chickens enjoy eating bugs but even they cannot keep up with bug patrol without my help. Whether it rains or not, the animals need to be fed. And winter months it snows. They still eat.

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Now let’s talk about the rabbit hutches. There’s another smelly messy yucky job! The manure makes great fertilizer just like chicken manure does. But most of us do not live on huge farms or homesteads where we can have piles of this stuff sitting waiting to be used. We have gardens to use it in but can only use so much at a time. I share with everyone I know but not everyone wants any. For some reason many folks think buying their fertilizer in neat little bags that have less smell and muss is a better choice?

So then I have to raise the next messy smelly and not fun issue. We raise our rabbits for a food source. That means butchering and cleaning up afterwards. Someone has to do this job too! It is not a clean job and it is time consuming to boot. Again living in a neighborhood, I am not going to be leaving this around for animals and flies and smell to take over. That means more work to dispose of the leftovers properly. How that is done depends on where you live and those local ordinances too.

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Having a garden that yields enough food to feed your family takes a lot of back-breaking work. The gardens you see on those web sites are beautiful and it is exciting to break ground to start a garden. There are lots of tips and hints out there to encourage you on the journey. Planting a seed and watching it grow is a wonderful experience for the children. But how many of you were made to help weed gardens (even a flower garden) when young? Rain makes plants grow but it makes weeds flourish and outgrow the veggies! Trying to fight those squash beetles without using nasty chemicals is a challenge and takes work. That home grown fertilizer is now going to smell at that end of your yard too! Weeding is a never ending task no matter how much you mulch.

Does all this mean it isn’t worth it? Does it mean it’s a waste of time? Several of you would rather buy convenient no fuss MREs. They can have a place in some prepper situations but one important point to remember is that sooner or later that food source may not be available. Why exactly do you want to prep, to store food, and/or be self-sustaining? Are you preparing for the apocalypse or simply want to control what your family eats? Are you an environalist or simply wanting a more simple lifestyle? I personally am a little bit of all of the above. That however also brings challenges of its own to the plate.

I am not well to do. I don’t have enough money to buy the huge plot of land far from the rest of the civilization. It’s doubtful to say the least that I could afford to live way out there anyway. I certainly can’t afford a separate “bug out” location secondary to my home.  I have to work a full time job to support my family. That means the homestead has to fit around other obligations in my life. Most of the work falls to me. Yes, I do have some help in the form of feeding the animals or penning them up at night away from predators. But the more physical aspects are usually my job. Occasionally I can afford to pay for additional help to work in the garden but that is not the norm for us either. My days off from my full time work are not days of rest. Lazy days are few and far between. And this was reality for most folks only fifty or sixty years ago. Women worked from sun up to sun down on the farms. They took care of kitchen gardens and small animals as well as cooked, cleaned, did laundry, made soap, sewed clothes, and so on. That list went on and on! It was second nature to most of them and few thought twice about it. There were harvest festivals to celebrate the end of one season of work before starting the next. Barn raisings and slaughter days were social events built around helping each other accomplish some of those necessary chores everyone had to accomplish!

If (and I accept it is a big IF) any of the scenarios we fear do come true, our young folks will have a shock adjusting. I suspect many of us will have a shock, even those who thought they were prepping and prepared. Back in the Great Depression stories abounded about those who could not accept what happened and committed suicide or lost it emotionally and mentally. We have a lot more population to contend with who will not have a clue how to survive or where to even begin. Does this mean that we shouldn’t bother with any of this? Does it mean that we not enjoy life and the conveniences or perks we have now? I enjoy having my nails done and wearing my high heels and going out to eat, being waited on too. I like my silks as well as my jeans. I enjoy shopping at Publix (such a clean store with beautiful produce and fresh meat) as well as eating a tomato from my garden! I love shopping the deli as well as opening one of jars of home canned foods. There is pleasure in both and there is no sin in admitting it. Just as it is not an unspeakable sin to speak the truth about the yuck factors of being a prepper or homesteader! Surviving is more than just stock piling food and weapons. It means being prepared in body, mind, and soul for all of the challenges that we face! Be honest in sharing the reality with others because not knowing and suddenly being thrust into it will be stressful – too stressful for most. Having to face the realities shouldn’t scare anyone away. It means rather that we are honest with ourselves about the work and less and worse involved and that we face those challenges honestly. There is pleasure and sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done. Those eggs taste better for many reasons! The pantry is pretty because of the colors but also because of the work that went into filling it. The peace of a good night’s sleep from the work is a sweet sleep indeed. Sitting out on the patio in the wee hours of the morning watching the sun rise while sipping coffee and listening to the sounds of the chickens is great feeling… no matter how much work it takes, this is the mornings I live for.

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One of Those Easy Canning Recipes with No Waste!

images   This weekend I had a fun time making a couple of great items for the pantry. I started out wanting to can apples for apple pies. So I researched and found a simple recipe or two online and then worked it out to be what our family would enjoy. Most of the online recipes called for yellow food coloring – something I choose not to use. I purchased 28 pounds of Fuji apples. These are a nice sweet apple with great texture – bonus was the beautiful color they maintained through the canning process.

The recipe was a simple one so my husband and I worked as a team this time around. He sat and peeled all the apples and then used a handy apple slicer gadget that also cores them. All the slices were dropped into a large pot holding some water along with a healthy dose of Ball Fresh Fruit Protector to keep the apples from discoloring. Some folks use lemon juice (which works well) but I was going to be adding more lemon juice to the recipe.

Now before I give the recipe, I want to give you a warning/disclaimer. Many folks do not believe in using corn starch to can – because it thickens sauces, it is considered by many to be too dense a product to safely can (much like pumpkin is also thought of)—some folks therefore recommend using a product called Clear Jel which you find in some specialty grocery stores or online. Proceed with this understanding then that not all consider cornstarch safe! Do your own research on this!

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Recipe:

21 qts, peeled cored apples (20 lbs approximately before)

13.5 cups sugar

3 cups cornstarch

30 cups water

9 tbspns. Lemon juice

6 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

3 tsp. salt

Mix everything except for lemon juice and apple slices in big pot. Bring to boil and then cook until thick and it bubbles.  Turn off heat – add in lemon juice.

Pack apple slices into hot sterilized jars. Pour in syrup – leave a good inch of head space – DO NOT overfill or the jars will leak during processing and not seal! Make sure to remove air bubbles, wipe rims with hot cloth before putting on lids. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Any leftover syrup can also be canned to use for pancakes and waffles!

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Now before you rush out to make this – consider one of the basic rules – not to waste if we can use it! I now had lots of apple peels and cores from my 20+ pounds of apples. I put all of them in a big pot and covered with water – enough to cover by about 2 inches over the peels. And I boiled them awhile until I had a nice juice. I strained all the apple peels and cores and ended up with about nine to 12 cups of juice! For my next step I grabbed my Ball recipe books and compared to some other recipes for apple jelly. This was a first for me as I usually make jams and marmalades but had never done only a jelly. This turned out to be easier than I realized and something I will enjoy doing often! It seems a lot of folks online suggest simply buying juices to make their jelly instead of the original methods of boiling fruit and straining several times (the main reason I never attempted   to make jelly!) I broke my juice down into two batches for ease in handling. For every cup of juice, I added ¾ cup of sugar. For every 2 cups of liquid I also added 1 tbspn. of lemon juice. Per the suggestion in the Ball recipes I also added a small bit of butter to prevent foaming but this is very optional. This was all brought to a boil – I used a jelly thermometer to test – it should reach approximately 220*. I tested the jelly by the spoon/ice method – a small amount of jelly on a spoon dipped to a bowl of ice to cool it rapidly. Tilting the spoon sideways, the jelly should “sheet” – sliding off the spoon, not running   off. Then I filled my hot sterilized pint jars. Next rims were wiped down using a hot cloth before setting on lids and rings. As always the lids and rings are set in hot water while cooking jelly so they too are sterilized and ready to use. The hot water also aids in the lid rubber to seal properly. Process the jars in a hot water bath 10 minutes. Let jars cool. Jelly usually sets up fairly quickly but often can take a day or two to gel. Any jars that did not   seal can be put in refrigerator to use immediately!

So now you realize you still have a pot of cooled down  apple peels and cores left. What to do with them now? You could add them to that compost heap I’m sure you have for the garden but I chose to use them by feeding the cores to my rabbits and my chickens had a feast on the peels! See – I told you – prepping is supposed to be fun, not something to make you stress! But I do have one confession to make here. I do stress –because my family enjoys all this food so much that it seems I am working twice as hard to keep up with their favorites!!!!

Being Prepared Mind, Body, and Soul

100_1773      Haven’t we all heard this admonition before? It has never been more true than now. I believe it is a word meant for our times more than ever. Needless to say all of us should be preparing our bodies. Being healthy and physically fit is something we should be doing irregardless of what we believe the future holds. Making sure our minds are prepared also is an important step for us to undertake. Being sure we make ourselves as well informed and educated as possible so that we have the right information to persist is a necessary decision for all of us. After all we cannot think we will have access to the Internet and all of the information we need in an emergency. This then brings us to being prepared spiritually.

I have spent the last few weeks in reflection and in meditation, rethinking if you will why it is that I am called to prepare and IF in fact, I am called to prepare.  There are so many conflicting reports and opinions out there that it can be confusing and disheartening for all of us. I have been called uneducated (I have my MBA), foolish, uninformed, and even told I am crazy or a hoarder.  But the worst I have been called is one who doesn’t walk in faith, who is a hypocrite. So it has been a time for me to step back and really consider what it is I am doing and why. This is an important step for all preppers, all survivalists, anyone who is unsure or not.  Central to this time of reflection is that one should realize that spiritual preparedness is perhaps one of the most important points of clarification and grounding for us.

I have stated before that I do not wish to impose my beliefs on anyone else. I realize that many of you reading this do not necessarily believe in Judeo-Christian faiths – many of you are atheists.  It doesn’t matter what your particular beliefs are spiritually (although I personally do believe my faith is important to me and for everyone) but it is important that you have prepared yourself spiritually for whatever it is you believe is coming at us in the near future.

Men – you are called by religions and by human nature to be head of your household. Not that this means your wives have no say or no opinions but rather that you must be ready to step up and lead. How you lead will have huge ramifications and consequences for your family not just now but for always. Reams have been written on the psychological damage done to families by overbearing, demanding, and mentally challenged men as well as that of absentee fathers on their sons and daughters. Spousal abuse certainly gets plenty of attention also so I don’t need to rehash all of that for you. Suffice it to say here that you men need to step up and teach your children what being prepared means. Give them a strong foundation of faith and knowledge to lean on in their lives. Teach them what true patriotism, true loyalty, true strength means.

Women – most of you know what women are called to do and to be. Many of you of the Judeo-Christian faiths have learned of the Proverbial Woman of Proverbs 31. You understand leading the younger women to the Lord, to strong faith, to be a wise woman in her home. But this isn’t merely for those of a particular faith – it is a lesson we women should impart to all women. That Proverbial Woman was a strong woman who led her household and her business staff wisely. She guarded her finances. She not only provided for her family and staff, she used wisdom in helping others to do the same. She clothed her family and she filled her larder. We as women need to understand our roles in taking a place of leadership in the prepping community. We like the men need to instill in the younger ones the need to prepare not just for a zombie apocalypse but for anything coming at us.

None of the goals of being prepared are meant to instill fear and confusion. Rather if one has one’s own spiritual house in order, it should impart peace for the family and those around us.  For me it means knowing that I can fall back on those religious tenets that I was raised to believe in, to center myself on what is important in my life. It was written many eons ago that man does not live by bread alone.  All of us need to be strong enough in what we know to be true, what we know to be just, to know what the consequences of our failures will be. When we are strong of mind, body, and soul, only then can we find the strength and courage to follow through on what we must do. If we believe that we have been called to this time to be prepared and to help others, we cannot falter or fail in this. It is up to us now to teach others and to be ready to help them survive as well as only our own small group. We are our brother’s keepers and it is up to us to lead them through.   100_1425

Managing Time and Money For Less Stress

20130605_094051     I have been a bit quiet for awhile due to some time needed elsewhere. That made me realize that I should take a few moments to talk about the stress levels we are all facing here. Many of us have been experiencing an overload factor thanks to news, political fiascoes, and world events such as reading about food restrictions along with toilet paper limits in Venezuela. All of these combine for those into prepping as one big red flag telling us to prepare! Take that along with a healthy dose of weather calamities such as the OK. tornadoes and impending hurricane season here and we feel a “perfect storm” brewing – that watched pot is going to boil over soon if we cannot find a way to safely lower the temperature! For many the desire to garden is being replaced by frustration as snow in May with freezing temperatures or constant rain elsewhere is wrecking havoc with the gardens and seedlings struggling to survive. Then let’s all read about honey bees being decimated and we add another level of stress and tension! Sooooo….

       Take a deep breath, brew that cup of calming tea (no liquor – it will not calm you right now… hehehe!) and we can chat. Prepping is like insurance. When that bill comes in yearly and you realize what a chunk of change it takes to have homeowners or renters insurance and car insurance, the blood pressure usually goes up a notch or two. The we remember we take care of this in smaller bites along with the mortgage or rent payment (no gulping here) or in monthly or quarterly payments. That may not make it totally better but it is more manageable for most folks – few of us write that one big check to the insurance agent once a year! This is how we need to approach our prepping, how to make it fit in without causing us more grief. Very few of us can honestly believe we are prepared to face every and any threat we may face. That should not translate to a do nothing attitude but rather to realize if we put a bit by to help alleviate a bit of an unexpected bill, we can usually manage better than having nothing set aside.

20130605_093925       20130605_093956       This is true of our time as well as money and preps. There are times to focus on yourself and realize that no one can do 100% by themselves and go at a full out pace 100% of the time. It is important to take time to step back every now and then, to let yourself recharge. Maybe not listen to the news for a few days – or maybe like myself you have a need to do some additional research and reorganizing in order to be better prepared.  I was fortunate enough to be gifted with a copy of a great old book that has a wealth of information on more stuff in one book than anyone can believe. In addition I worked on adding lots more information to my notebooks that I had reorganized into more easily navigated sections. My ultimate goal with my notebooks will be to develop a table of contents that helps with that process. One of the other projects was canning more food items. Let me discuss this in terms of time management. Actually this will also apply to managing expenses too!

It can be difficult to find time to spend a whole day or two or three to can foods for your pantry. We often need to do that as harvest time comes along and we have bumper crops of food that may or may not be available all year long. But often we have a lot less time free to spend in a kitchen all day. I have found that like this week it is better to find two or three hours available to do smaller projects instead. So this week I spent a couple hours making pickles. I didn’t go out and  buy 200 lbs. of cukes. Instead I took 15 pounds of cukes and made a couple smaller batches. No fuss and easy clean up while they were processing. I harvested a small batch of jalapeno peppers and made 2 pints of pickled peppers. In less tah a half hour I added to my food pantry. Jar by jar, pound by pound the shelves get filled and we have a sense of calm knowing we are adding to our “insurance”. All of this was done after work each day, taking only a small bite of time so that I was not overtired or overworked. While bread was baking one afternoon, we roasted a sheet pan of garlic at the same time. Ten minutes later we used a one cup food processor/blender to grind them and then added them to a cup of butter, stirred it all by hand a few moments and had a jar of roasted garlic butter at a fraction of the cost of buying a specialty butter. Butter is too dense to safely can so this jar is kept in the refrigerator to have handy to make garlic bread whenever the craving hits! We didn’t make 50 pounds of butter, just one that took less than 20 minutes from start to finish while cooking bread. Again a stress free project instead of creating more stress!

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Remember all of this is to lessen stress, not increase it or overwhelm ourselves! Pick and choose what needs to be a priority versus what can be cut back on to manage time better. If it means stepping back and then stepping forward as I do with my writing, choose to do what works best in your life. Prepping should fit into your life as part of your habit, but not to the point of consuming you so that everything else gets ignored. If you end up with high blood pressure from stress, you won’t survive to need those preps. Have fun with what you do. If you don’t like to can, find other foods to put up. No one says you have to be the master at everything so find someone to share those tasks with. Maybe barter your sewing skills for some home canned foods if need be. Or perhaps you’re a mechanic who can barter for food storage. Be creative in ways to manage time and stress!