State of the Homestead During Crisis

This is going to be a modified State of the Homestead post. The President has closed both borders except for trade for the next two weeks, so I thought I'd post about what I'm doing amid this crisis.

It's surreal for me. I got twitchy about this virus back in late January when I started hearing how many Chinese were getting sick and dying. Greg and I were recovering from colds. As a matter of fact I was still recovering so Greg went out to get groceries. On a hunch I asked him to buy some extra bleach and hand sanitizer.

I had no idea it would turn into a pandemic.

Unlike most people, we've always kept our pantry, freezers, and feed stores stocked up.

The first thing I did was take an inventory. This is my checklist.

People Food:
We have enough food to last us months. A little less if any of my family decides to move in with us. I can also slaughter chickens and goats as necessary.

Pet Food:
I would've liked to have had one more bag of cat kibble, but we have enough to last us three months so we're good. Luckily I ordered 4 cases of wet food when Amazon had it at a ridiculously low price, so Jammy won't starve. He supplements anyway with the grasshoppers he catches. 😋

Livestock Food:
Fortunately, we've reduced the number of goats we keep so our feed bill has gone down dramatically and those 50 pound sacks last a lot longer. Unfortunately, I have lots of chickens and even more waiting to hatch later this month. More on this later in the post.

I'm good here. I've always made it a habit to store as many non perishables as possible.

Medical and Disinfection:
I bought a couple extra bottles of Nyquil and vitamins. I normally don't take vitamins but I wanted to supplement my immune system after those bad colds we both had in January.

Now that we're in lock down, I have to think ahead in case it lasts longer than we expect, gets worse, or supplies run out.

I always urge people to keep at least a two month supply of food and meds. Why? For times exactly like this. Emergencies happen. Flood, fire, hurricane, sickness, and disease. We've been through all of these so I know the drill.

This pandemic is a phenomenon. It happened before, a little over a hundred years ago. So many people died, despite the fact that there were way fewer of us then. We're a lot more prepared now and more scientifically advanced. Yet people still die. It's something none of us could've foreseen, though we might've stood a better chance had China not silenced its doctors in the early stages.

Because of the pandemic I am changing my plans for the homestead this year.

The Gardens: We are growing more. More to preserve and more for sharing. We're even adding another garden in the back pasture for the larger, more sprawling crops like corn and pumpkin.

I had plans to add more flowers and shrubs to the front yard landscape, but it looks like I'll have to put that off another year. I'm grudgingly accepting the fact I might have to plant grass in some areas to keep the weeds from taking over.

Before things got crazy I bought two apple trees and planted them. I also planted a pomegranate tree that's been in a pot way too long. It's leafing out like crazy.

Veggie Garden: I've only just started seeds. I've got a few spinach, kale, and chard plants that I've overwintered, but the rest are seedlings.

If the rains will let up, I'll put in the peas, beans, and edamame. I plan to grow a greater variety of beans--from soybeans to the foot long beans, and several kinds of pole beans. High in protein and vitamins. I am bound and determined to get squash this year. I'm going to outsmart those squash bugs yet.

Half the potatoes are in, but I need to increase that number.

My asparagus is coming up so that's a nice treat.

For the first time I will make a dedicated effort to do succession planting. We have a very long growing season in Texas. Last year I picked up six large and portable growing planters at a garage sale. I'm going to use them to keep me in lettuce, radishes, and snow peas. None of these crops do well in the heat, so I can roll them under shade when it gets too hot out there.

Goats: Only four Nubians left  after the great sell off of last year. Brownie had a single baby boy on March 12th, bringing the total to five. That's him in the picture above, only a couple of hours old. Mom and son are doing well. I only had Brownie bred this go round and now I'm glad. Less to do--and less to feed.

I can also start milking Brownie next month for fresh milk if we want it.

Chickens: I started incubating eggs the week before the Coronavirus scare got to panic stage. They're due to hatch on my birthday later this month. I hope I won't have any trouble selling them. But we'll keep them if we have to. More food for us.

The only sticking point to having so many chickens is feeding them. Contrary to popular belief chicken feed isn't cheap.

Since they're laying so much, I'm hard boiling and feeding them some of their eggs. On sunny days, I also gather chickweed and henbit weeds as a supplement. They love it more than their grain.

I'd like to let them free range, but coyotes are especially bad right now. I'd lose the lot in no time, so I have to gather for them.

Quail: I successfully kept the quail alive over the winter. Huzzah! They're laying eggs like crazy, but I won't be incubating them until later in the year.

Fur kids and us: Odin, (our giant rottie), and Nana, (the border collie who wants to rule the world) are still not getting along. Odin absolutely adores Nana, but she wants nothing to do with him. It's sad to see such unrequited love. Ironically, although she growls at him, she's starting to back away. I think she realizes he's now bigger than her. If I could just get him to calm down and not get in her face, we might have a quiet household again.

Jammy, the cat is not fond of Odin either. He'd much rather stay with Nana than that boisterous puppy. Odin does not know how to be low key. He enters a room like a brass band with artillery. (Kind of like his dad.)

By the way, that puppy is now over 84 pounds and still growing. He's turning into a really handsome boy too, but he is a LOT of dog. He's got quite an intimidating growl when he senses danger. We try not to let him know how powerful he really is. Odin is incredibly strong even for a puppy. He'll be a formidable ally if we ever need a criminal deterrent.

Overall, Greg and I are doing well. I worry more about my extended family living in more congested cities. All of them are working from home, or telecommuting for school for which I'm grateful. I've been stern with my mother not to travel, not even to the store.

I'm glad to report though that everyone is in good spirits which is more than I can say for other people. I've been reading some bitter commentary from people on Facebook. They're mad at this or that. They feel neglected, or afraid, or lonesome. But you know what? We all feel that way at different times of the same day.

You don't think I was a little nervous after our last outing when I was mobbed by people much bigger than myself who poked around the store like deer in the headlights? No safe distance, no get your stuff and go. They just ambled around like dumb zombies. Dumbies!

Or the week before that when I had to take my neighbor to the ER because she had shortness of breath and was on the verge of collapsing. I was not happy sitting in a roomful of sick people. But you do what you have to do and you carry on.

It's not rocket science, people. The government is asking you to take some very easy and simple measures to stay safe. I'm sorry if you're scared, or nervous, or inconvenienced, but that's life.

Buck up and quit brooding. Stay busy. And when you're tired enough, get some sleep. That's all there is until the virus moves through. And it will move through, so stop acting like it's the end of the world. It's not.

Help our health care workers, police, grocery clerks, janitorial staff, and delivery drivers by staying home.

The last time I was in a grocery store, I asked the checkout clerk how he was doing, and he looked at me in disbelief. He humbly thanked me for asking. That tells you how badly the public has been treating them. Think about that the next time you're feeling sorry for yourself.

You might need toilet paper, but he has to go home to his family and risk infecting them because of all the people that come into contact with him.

If I sound a little harsh it's because I can't abide whiny people. Now is not the time to get all needy. People who farm and homestead know what I'm talking about. (Moms too.) We work whether we're sick, or tired, feel angry, or neglected. We work because someone else needs us to do our jobs. Now you have to do yours.

So how are you holding up? What's missing from your pantry? Was there anything you wish you could've stocked up on before we shut down?


Mike Keyton said…
'Dumbies' - great term. We have our fair share of them over there, too, along with whiners and those who would weaponise the crisis for political advantage. Can't abide either.. Take care - Shame Odin can't defend you against the virus.
Mike Keyton said…
edit. 'Over here, too' Doh!
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: Wouldn't that be nice if we had an anti-viral dog? He'd be good at it.

The politicians here have been pretty good about not making it too political, which is more than I can say for the media. Honestly, the way they slant everything. It's no wonder the people who don't actually investigate things fall for every con job.

It was just like what you posted about a couple of weeks ago.
Glad you and Greg are doing well overall. We're okay here, hanging in.

My husband is the one going to the store when needed, and he says everyone is being considerate and polite. Good to hear! Let's hope it continues.....

Maria Zannini said…
Madeline: We might need to go out in another week, but we'll just go without if things get too dicey. Stay safe!
the author said…
You inspire me more than ever these days. I wish everyone was as sensible.

Everyone in the family here remains healthy. My guy and I are set for about four months food-wise for us and the pups (six months if we have to ration); a little less on paper goods thanks to the hoarders. We're being very conservative with everything so I think we're okay. What will make a dent is if we take in family to live with us, but we'll do what we have to with what we've got.

The neighbors are wonderful, and being respectful of social distancing while sharing information and resources. The local farmers who supply restaurants and hotels are starting to sell to the public, and to support them we're trying to buy our produce from their stands.

Rural folks tend to be well-armed, so I doubt we'll have any problems with zombies of any variety. :)
Jackie said…
Maria so far so good here. Supplies are slowly building up in our smaller local stores so that is helping Karl a lot. We are not eating out of our frozen meats etc yet as still able to buy certain meals at the drive thru that are okay for Mom and myself to chow down on.

The store clerks and stockers here are so overwhelmed, as they are nationwide, that fatigue seems to be their greatest enemy right now. That and being exposed every day during their long shifts at work to way too many folks still.

I know this too shall pass but not soon enough to make everyone breathe easier, in too many ways to count these days!

Stay safe, happy to hear that at least your household is still in one piece. You are right the rains have really played havoc with gardening plans for many folks but sure happy to see them pass over our area as it was getting really dry and scary again.
I'm currently working from home as best as I can. (My normal day job involves a lot of paperwork, but I can create and update documents at home.) My son's school decided to close before the state governor ordered schools to do so. They took an extra day to set up e-learning, and it seemed to go well last week. Now Alex is on spring break. He was supposed to go on a class trip to Washington D.C., but that was obviously cancelled too. We're lucky we were able to get most of our money back. As a vet, Eugene is considered essential, so he still goes to work. He also handles most of the shopping. We saw what was coming and started stocking up before the big panic. I also started some seeds inside. Overall, we're in decent shape. Now if I could only get more writing and crocheting done....
Maria Zannini said…
Lynn: I'm hoping we'll be out of the woods in six weeks. It'll be pretty hot in Texas by then. The virus doesn't seem to last long in the heat.

My only regret is that I'll run out of orange juice long before then. LOL!
Maria Zannini said…
Jackie: We haven't been in a store for a while. I think I'm going to give it another two weeks, and maybe not even then. It's a wait and see scenario.

It's a scary event, but survivable. It's better than living in a war zone or actually starving because nothing will grow.
Maria Zannini said…
Sandra: I'm sorry Eugene has to work, but God bless him. I'm grateful to anyone who has to be on the front lines.

Stay safe, sweetie. Give a hug to Eugene for me. He's my hero.
Unknown said…
Great advice! Maria you are always on target! Bob has to grocery shop since I’m still considered high risk from the chemo. We will survive. Heather is at LBJ hospital in Houston. She keeps us up on all that is happening in a county hospital that is very low on supplies. It is scary . She strips in the garage, throws clothes in the washer and showers before she sees her family.. You amaze me what all you do in the course of a day! Your baby goat is precious. We wish you and Greg our best as we travel this new road. God bless you both. Love you.
Maria Zannini said…
Beth: I had to figure out this was you since Blogger listed you as anonymous.

I think about Heather a lot. And she's doing a very smart thing. When I had to take my neighbor to the hospital the first thing I did was strip and throw my clothes i the washer and then took a shower.

It's all common sense as long as you drill down to the base components of any virus.

I'm glad you're staying home. You can't afford to get sick. Take care, home. God bless you and your family.
Stacy McKitrick said…
We're holding up well. At least the restaurants are still open so if I botch dinner (or run out of something), at least we won't starve! Governor has locked down Ohio more, to keep people home, so hopefully cases won't skyrocket. That's my fear.
Jenny Schwartz said…
It's a wait and see time for us too. All cafes, bars etc are closed. Takeaway still available, for the moment. Our state is shutting its borders in a few hours, then we'll try to ride things out. We have a pretty good chance. We're heading into winter, but our winters are mild. Our medical system is solid.

My nana used to say Australia was lucky because everything we need for day to day life we can produce. I think that idea might be about to be tested!

Wishing you and yours health and vitality - and huge virtual (social distance approved) hugs!!
Maria Zannini said…
Stacy: I was kind of hoping I could've ordered out at my favorite restaurant for my birthday, but I think it's getting too dangerous now. I don't want to risk it.

Stock up while you can. Those closures might come suddenly.
Maria Zannini said…
Jenny: They say summer heat will drive the infection rates down. But I guess we will know if that's true one way or another.

We live in interesting times.
Angela Brown said…
Things are doing well for the kiddo, furbaby, and me. The county is doing the whole shelter-in-place effective tonight.

I went to the store today and picked over the remains, nabbing little things that I want extra on hand, like extra snacks and a few more bottles of Core water.

I hear you about the way people are treating others. I'm glad to report there were far more people thanking store workers than there were gripers. ☺️ And we did our part to social distance as well.

Interesting thing for me and mine: This is just a normal day for us. We tend to stay inside, enjoy time together but also our own personal space, with furbaby usually right by me or somewhere she can look up, see me, then lay back down.

I'm no expert on the things going on, but I do know that dealing with disease outbreaks isn't anything new for us all and I hope we can grow better as humans from this.

A girl can hope. 🖖

Maria Zannini said…
Angela: Crises bring out the best and worst of human nature. For every good person trying to do the right thing there's always some idiot deliberately coughing on produce or partying like it's 1999.

Stay safe, sweetie. It can't last forever.
Lisa Lombardo said…
I would have stocked up on some extra powdered milk and more seeds for my garden. I'll probably place some orders online to fill in a few holes. Glad you are doing well!
Maria Zannini said…
Lisa: Seeds are where I dropped the ball too.

Over the winter I tossed a lot of seeds thinking they were too old. Now I'm sorry I did. I never got a chance to reorder. I've resorted to begging for a few seeds from my mom. LOL.

That'll teach me a lesson not to let things go to the last minute.

The only things I'm missing are a few herb seeds now.
LD Masterson said…
Again, I admire (and am a bit jealous of) your self-sufficiency. If we had to live on what I can manage to grow, I wouldn't last a week. But Stan and I are staying home and feeling very grateful for our son who is acting as our personal shopper, bringing whatever we need.

To feel useful, I spend part of each day calling members of our church, especially ones who live alone, just to check on them and give them someone to talk to.

Hope you were able to do something to celebrate your birthday. Stay safe.
Maria Zannini said…
Linda: I'm in awe of people who are truly self sufficient. We're more like caretakers of what little we have.

re: calling people
We've been doing a lot of that ourselves. It helps us as much as it does the people we call.