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?