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Remember that guest post I did on PrepperFI for TreadLightlyRetireEarly? With Coronavirus aka COVID-19 all over the news I thought I should revisit some aspects of our home preparedness and how we’re currently handling and feeling about likely pandemic.
The Current State of Our PrepperFI Homestead
Admittedly, our situation is not as good as it was when I wrote the guest post above. I suppose dealing with our own personal problems reminds me of the difficulties that many may have in fully realizing their own preparedness plans.
No More Chickens.
Given that we have mostly been away from home for over a year for my son’s cancer care, we had to make some adjustments to things back home.
One of the first things that happened was we sold off our chicken flock. It just wasn’t something we could maintain. A nice neighbor was feeding them and watching them for a couple of months, but we couldn’t ask them to do it long term. When they let us know that someone had expressed an interest in buying the chickens, we knew it was time to let them go.
(OMG, aside, that neighbor just rang our doorbell (no one rings our doorbell) as I am writing this at this section to drop of some eggs from our old chickens! He said that his friend who bought them wanted to send some along as the egg production just exploded in the last week. Spring time, laying is underway!)
We have decided not to get more chickens currently because there are too many unknowns in our routine. For the next few years there is too much likelihood that we will have to drop everything and attend to many more months of cancer treatment.
If we hear that things are stable, we might get a few chickens because our son really misses having them. I’m hoping just a few would be easy enough for someone else to care for them. But it would not be enough to make any major difference in our food supply.
Let me tell you, I am seriously noticing that we have to buy a lot of eggs. I began to take that for granted a little bit when we had the large flock. A flock that was large enough it could have given us a few meat birds at least if needed.
I haven’t been “putting up” any supplies.
Fresh Fruit: Blueberries, Strawberries and Apples
It’s not like strawberries, blueberries and apples are really a significant portion of our diet. But, they do help keep life interesting and provide some different nutrients. Blueberries do have enough vitamin C to help keep us from getting scurvy, as well a number of other vitamins and nutrients. Same for enough strawberries. And apples help clean your teeth!
In a normal year I am processing blueberries into jam and maybe fruit leather (as well as a bunch I put in the freezer). We did manage to freeze some this year on a short trip home.
We totally missed strawberry season. And I think our strawberry patch needs addressed as production has been down the last few years.
We did get to save some of our apples, which we just finished eating a few weeks ago. They kept in the fridge we keep in our garage. We picked them in September and they lasted until January.
Normally, I would have made some apple butters, apple scrap vinegar from processing the peels off of the apples. Some applesauce (which I can combine with the other fruit for fruit leathers). We also pre-prep apple pie fillings to have in the freezer. None of that happened this year.
Other Garden Goods, Seasonal Produce and Ferments
I usually make both traditional vinegar pickles and fermented pickles. Either we grow them or I buy them. Not only did this not happen, but we still haven’t finished eating the things I processed two years ago since we just haven’t been home.
My biggest sadness, no sauerkraut. I love my ferments and Kraut is so versatile. Here’s how I made it two summers ago: Homemade Kraut.
My water kefir (like kombucha) also got neglected. I wasn’t home often enough to keep it healthy and alive. I am still waiting to see if I can revive it.
Garlic is low. We went through all our garlic stores and just recently planted the last of it as seed garlic. Hopefully we will get some more this summer off what we planted.
Other things are… static.
One benefit of not having been home is that not a lot has changed. It’s not like our firewood stores are much smaller. Though, some of the logs that need processing may have started to rot if they sit on the damp ground too long.
We still haven’t gotten around to getting our greenhouse up and now have to be more thoughtful of where money is going. I missed almost a year of work (I was working an average of a day a week). Now that I’m back it’s still only at two days a week. Funds are tighter.
You can’t make up for lost time.
This is probably the hardest thing to deal with. Who knows how far along we would have been on projects. What other things would we have had time to plant that would be maturing now?
There is no telling how the loss of a year of work on the homestead impacts things long term.
Hey! Before you read more, he is a round of what some of my blogger friends wrote about this week:
- PrepperFI in the Face of COVID-19 by Tread Lightly Retire Early
- Rebalancing the Pandemic by Dr. PayItBack
- Coronavirus Emergency by A Dime Saved
- Preparing for the Coronavirus Without Breaking the Bank by Life Before Budget
- Working from Home Tips by Keeping Up With the Bulls
- The Coronavirus is a Bigger Deal Than I Thought by Eat Sleep Breathe FI
- What Now? Prepare. And Help. #kindnessfightscovid by Chief Mom Officer
- How To Prepare For Short Term Emergencies by Problems and Projects
- How to Make the Most of Your Unexpected Downtime by Kathleen Celmins
- Coronavirus Cleaning Tips: Disinfect Your Home by Pantry Escapades
- How to Prepare Financially for the Coronavirus by Michelle is Money Hungry
- How to Pandemic-Proof Your Business by Erika F Consulting
Practical Matters: The Freezer Hoard.
Now that I’ve discussed many of the ways where we haven’t lived up to our prepper snuff over the last year, here’s where we’re doing ok.
Because we keep such well stocked pantry and freezers, we haven’t needed to do a lot of shopping on our visits home.
We have an upright freezer, a chest freezer, a full size upright refrigerator and a standard home fridge/freezer combo.
Being a food hoarder is as much a practical matter as it is a prepper move. We have a 50 mile round trip car ride to the nearest decent grocery store. Especially since having a child we have tried to make it so we can go two weeks without major shopping. I typically pick up a few things in town on my work days to keep us going on fresh foods (dairy, produce).
Bad timing on dwindling the food hoard:
Not great for us, we were just getting to a point where we needed to consider doing some bigger shopping to stock up the freezer and pantry again.
We could have easily went another two weeks before the big restock, but news of empty shelves at Costco and Trader Joe’s due to virus panic had us rethinking the timing of our restock.
I think most people hoarding is a panic move. Not panicked, but prepared, I’m aware that if Coronavirus really explodes supply chains could very well be interrupted and there may be need for self quarantine measures. We’re in a rural location and around here, it can take a month for things to look normal again at the grocery store just after Thanksgiving!
We are already holed up like hermits to begin with. Now we’re really going to be avoiding the public if we can. We do not want to have to deal with shortages on the items we need. So we went shopping early.
What did we buy to stock up?
Mostly all the normal stuff we buy!
A lot of meat. Including, roasts, dungeness crab, ahi tuna, chicken legs. We already had a fair portion of chicken breasts and ground beef in the freezer. So, we stocked up on the things that keep eating exciting.
Dairy: A months worth of half and half! It’s our milk too thanks to having the kiddo on a high calorie diet when he’ll comply. He doesn’t drink milk, but we use it in oatmeal etc.
Toilet paper. My husband goes through a lot. I don’t understand it, but it’s important to his daily routine. I had him buy an extra 48 mega roll pack to keep around.
The rest was regular things that were getting low. 5 pounds of pasta. Bisquick. 4 pounds of black beans and 10 pounds of pinto beans (the last of each on the shelf). This is normal shopping for us because beans are cheap and good! We use a pound a week normally. He bought some lentils too because, why not.
I can’t remember what else he got but we spent $350. That spending number isn’t too bad and that leaves me feeling like we’re good on food for another month at least.
We had just restocked on 90 days worth of my husband’s most important medication. I suggest if you’re able that you fill 90 day supplies too. It covers more contingencies and reduces plastic waste on bottles.
After our big illness in January I restocked our cough and cold medicine and we keep a ton of Ibuprofen on hand under normal circumstances anyway.
I also keep some electrolyte replacement drinks (I found some powdered version that’s better to store at Costco) for when we’re really sick and may not be eating or drinking a lot.
Things we already have on hand:
We got “lucky” here because we have a number of things related to my son’s cancer treatment and immune compromised status.
I’ve probably got a gallon of alcohol based hand sanitizer spread over many bottles throughout the house.
We’ve got a few jars of hospital grade cleaning wipes (though they don’t kill C. Diff., I think).
I have a box of kids hospital masks, probably 50 adult masks as well as reusable Vog Brand masks for me and my son. I know these won’t prevent infection, but they’re good to have. 1. I have a feeling people might keep more distance if you’re wearing one. 2. If shit gets really bad, I can capitalize on the fear of others and sell the damn things.
PrepperFI for the win
One of the biggest wins is that we’re in a comfortable place financially.
We can afford to buy any needed basic supplies or food.
I can afford to miss a month of work and we’d be ok. This includes having a stay at home spouse, so childcare is not a concern for us.
To learn more about my families approach to practicality, frugality and finance… read my whole blog!
Bottom line: We’ll hole up at home, which is normal for us anyway. Not much changes for my family.
Bottom, bottom line: I work with the public, so I’m screwed.
Look folks, I work at a pharmacy. I am the first line that people go to asking if they should go to the hospital and what over the counter medications they should get to handle their symptoms.
I do not work in an industry where we will work from home. Hell, I recently had something nasty myself where I had a fever of 103 at work and couldn’t have left until someone came in to replace me, which would have been 3 hours.
Personally, I haven’t heard anything addressed on how we are going to handle illnesses among employees etc.
There is a good chance most of us will be exposed.
I’m not going to quote and sources here, there are plenty you can explore yourself.
But, my understanding from the things I have been reading is that most of us are likely to end up coming in contact with this virus and there will be significant ranges of illness that do or do not occur.
What I am hoping is that people can be smart about how things are handled so that they can self quarantine (have that adequate food supply AND FEVER REDUCERS in stock) and that we can help slow disease progress.
If progress through the population is slower we can try to keep hospital beds open for those who need it most.
You don’t need to panic if you’re already prepared.
One last thought, don’t run out today and decide that you need to do everything to be prepared for every situation.
THis has been a long process for my family in establishing our overall decently prepared household.
Don’t panic and end up getting yourself price gouged or with a bunch of stuff you don’t know how to use or store!
Regina is That Frugal Pharmacist. She’s a PharmD, mother to a son with cancer, breadwinning wife, personal finance enthusiast, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. Regina’s single-income household has been debt-free, including her home, since she was 28 years old.
Her money approach is “holistic financial health.” She encourages mindful spending, awareness of the non-monetary costs of choices, and aligning personal values with money habits. Regina sees a frugal lifestyle and mindset as an important part of environmental stewardship. As such she’s interested in ongoing efforts towards self-sufficiency and sustainability.