Prep Monday—Ignoring the Cold

If I don’t talk about the weather, the bitter cold won’t actually exist, right? So I won’t discuss how, this morning INSIDE the house, the temp was 55 . . . which is fine for some reason if you’re outside. I won’t talk about how it took FOREVER for the furnace to kick on or how GODAWFUL it felt when I was breaking ice in the water trough at a totally miserable 3 degrees.

If my feet ever thaw out, I’m sure I’ll be able to ignore the weather . . .

I haven’t been to the greenhouse since Missouri became the new Arctic, but I imagine that, in spite of heat lamps, everything is dead. No biggie, we’ll start over—lesson learned!

The horses had ice on their muzzles too—and Cody had a little snow on her back. Must have been rolling, because we didn’t get any precip last night. Of course, Cav is often spotted SLEEPING in the snow. Guess here is still better than South Dakota! They do have a nice shed to go into, but since they’ve never seen one before, that might take a little more time to get used to.

I’ve also learned that Cody can be a little hard to spot; no pun intended. She blends into the leaves and snow covering the pasture . . . sometimes I have to look twice!

It’s not so bad out there—the only thing freezing are my eyeballs.

Well, enough about the weather; I’m ignoring it, right? Besides, in a couple days it’ll be 50.J

So they say . . .

In the meantime, prepping in on hold, so to speak. We’re getting ready for Christmas! The stockings are hung, but often have to be removed so we get more heat from the fireplace . . . Finally found a spot for a tiny tree—the one we had at the bookstore—but half the lights went out. Que sera, sera! And of course, no space on it for all my antique ornaments . . . seems odd after all these years . . . decades . . .

And no, we aren’t actually putting prepping on hold—see, here’s the thing: once you’re prepared, you go into maintenance mode. We restock whatever supplies we use and we make repairs when needed. Like the water pumps in the pasture, for instance. Good thing we caught that before the temps dropped. It seems little Cav was rubbing his head on the top and a half-assed fix from the previous owner came apart.

But my husband had experience replacing the one by the house a few weeks ago, so it all worked out. And, he bought extra parts for the other pumps, just in case!

We’re also making adjustments as we go, such as laying in a larger supply of firewood—which means cutting down more dead trees. Such a challenge as soon it warms up a bit—we’ll need to find dead trees. In winter. Yikes!

Also, we’re gonna need more hay—the challenge here is not finding it or buying it, but storing it. You’d think, with a 40×60 barn, we’d have plenty of room. You’d think . . .

Well, time to go break ice in the water trough again. Merry Christmas and happy prepping! Only 90 days until spring!



Prep Monday—How Do You Know?

How do you know how much food to grow, process, and store?

Obviously, you first count the number of people for whom you’re going to provide. Next, you find a legit website, such as the University of Missouri, and plan accordingly. You do need to make sure your source is correct; I’ve come across bloggers who recommend half of what a state extension site does, and that’s going to cause you a lot of issues when SHTF.

Of course, we’d all like to grow ALL of our own food, but sometimes this just doesn’t work out. Ask any farmer how crop predictions pan out. They’ll tell you. Some things you learn as you go, sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, you could be dealing with poor soil, bad seeds, or just garden-munching critters.

Each year, you’ll get more practice and you’ll discover new reasons for low production—so start now. It’s easier to learn and shrug it off and move along if you still have access to a grocery store or farmers’ market.

You also will need to adjust for personal preferences. For instance, on the MU site, they list a few things that we simply don’t normally eat. They also call for 8-15 tomato plants per person, which does include canning as well as eating, but we use quite a bit of tomato sauce so I adjust upwards.

Usually, I can only sauce, although I’d like to try ketchup one of these days. But with plain tomato sauce, I can then make taco sauce, barbeque sauce, spaghetti sauce, and more. I use approximately three cans or jars each month, sometimes more. The final number, more than 50 for us, can be surprising so do take advantage of existing lists and then make your own determination.

Unfortunately, I had a few issues with tomato plants this year, so I’ll have to buy some to finish the canning. Not my first choice, but we often have to adapt.

You also might be surprised at the number of ways you can process foods for storage.

I freeze zucchini and other squash, I freeze cabbage and corn; I dry onions, mushrooms, and potatoes and all of my herbs, as well as fruit, which I use in making granola or oatmeal or just for a snack.

None of these are difficult. For example, everyone always has lots of zucchini. Slice or cube, put in boiling water for a few minutes and then ice water to stop the cooking, drain and let dry, load into freezer bags. Simple. Same for cabbage.

Some things I just freeze directly, like green beans. After I pick them, I keep out a few for the next couple nights’ dinners, then wash and trim the rest and put them in a freezer bag. I just keep adding to that bag every time I pick more.

The best part is that you don’t even half to grow all this stuff if you don’t have the space or the time or energy. Just stop in your local farmers’ market and then process what you purchase. And, you can save a lot of trips to the grocery store when you’re all stocked up on the basics . . .