How Coronavirus Inspires the Homesteader in Me

I’m bacckkk! My husband switched the blog back to The Well Fed Homestead today (instead of The Well Fed Home–that title bothered me ever since I switched it).

Why I Haven’t Been Writing Here…

Guys, I’m crying to be writing here. Here’s why I felt like I couldn’t write here, for so long:

  1. We sold our farm, and ultimately, I felt like we were failures at it. Time gives perspective, and I know that we didn’t fail. We switched gears, re-focused on the most important things in our life (our adopted kids, fostering) and what God had called us to. We didn’t fail.
  2. I thought, since we sold our farm, I didn’t have anything significant to share. I forgot about all of the life and farming lessons we had learned on the farm. All of the stories I’ve yet to share. The passion that is still deep in me for real food and the people who grow it. I dismissed all of that, and thought, if I wasn’t a farmer, I couldn’t write about farming. Silly me.
  3. We moved to a neighborhood, so I felt like I couldn’t hold up to the title “Homesteader” any longer. Right now we live on a 1/4 acre lot, but it’s mostly out front, and all of our neighbors have green and beautiful lawns. I’ve dreamed about digging a duck pond out there 😉 but my neighbors might be angry about that. Ultimately, though, I have a homesteading mind and heart. I desire to do things for myself and provide for my family through food. I know how to do it. I could chat for hours with you guys about yogurt making, cheese making, gardening, etc. I am a homesteader at heart!
  4. I wasn’t on the GAPS Diet any more or any kind of regular healthy eating plan. We were eating gluten free, but baking occasionally, and sugar came back into our home. This was another area in life I felt like a failure and thought I couldn’t possibly bring anything to the table (or blog) that would help you guys. Me stopping the diet I told you all about (and still believe in) and then gaining the weight back (grrr) was embarrassing. Guys, can we just agree that I don’t have to have it all together and be perfect in order to have something to share here?
  5. I took time out to write a book about adoption. Because we have the privilege of raising three adopted kids (along with our two bio kids, they’re pretty special, too!), we hear a lot of questions about adopting. I decided to write a book and self-published in January 2020, just as we were moving across the country from Oregon to Virginia!

It’s Easy to Get Lazy When It Comes to Food Prep and Homesteading

When you live in a neighborhood with three grocery stores within ten minutes from your home, it’s easy to become complacent and trust the system. I know I have. For quite a while now, gardening has been a hobby that I haven’t been taking seriously in order to feed my family. I also stopped so many of the weekly “homesteading” rituals I had taken on before:

  • Making yogurt.
  • Brewing kombucha.
  • Keeping a regular pot of chicken stock.
  • Making sauerkraut.
  • Re-growing kitchen scraps, saving seeds from squash, etc.
  • Composting.
  • Canning–at all. I think I made one or two batches of jam since moving off of the farm. That’s it! We bought a large pressure canner just before we had to sell the farm, and then never used it. I am so sad! We sold it just before moving across the country in January 2020. Now I long for another one!! I didn’t even move a canning pot or all of my jars across the country!
  • Dehydrating foods. I used to constantly have my dehydrator going! I sold my Excalibur when we moved! What was I thinking!?!?
  • Soaking grains. It’s easy to get lazy and stop doing this…
  • Stocking food. Getting Azure orders of 25 lb bags of buckwheat groats or pumpkin seeds or whatever, and storing it in the big glass gallon jars. I haven’t done that in a long time.
  • Buying meat and veggies directly from farms or from farmer’s markets only. We moved recently and I don’t even know the farmers here. How sad! Until yesterday, I hadn’t stepped onto a farm too long. I will blog about yesterday’s trip to Polyface Farms soon!!!

How Coronavirus Reminded Me About Our Reliance On “The System”

When I saw that the store shelves were suddenly empty of all the things that fit in the personal paper category, something lit up inside me. I suddenly remembered: it’s dangerous to simply trust that food will always be available at the grocery store. While history, over the span of my 42-year life, has shown me that food has always been on the shelves when I needed it, that doesn’t prove that it will always be available. If toilet paper can disappear from all store shelves and online stores because of a nation-wide panic, what’s to stop other items from disappearing over some new type of panic? In our lifetime, we could see empty store shelves for any type of food or product. You name it! Lettuce. Milk. Honey. Anything.

I’m not driven by fear–just a deep-down human instinct to survive. It almost seems like this instinct is muted, or toned down, or silenced in the majority of America. There is an ultimate trust in grocery stores to have what we want, when we want it. There is a laziness (I’m talking to myself, too!) when it comes to the care and production of our own food for survival. There is an incredible disconnect from what it takes for us to survive and actually doing anything ourselves to make that happen.

Ultimately, our lives are dependent on so many other people when we simply trust the system. We depend on:

  1. The farmer who grows the food.
  2. The food production companies (to make canned and packaged products).
  3. The packaging companies (how would they sell us food without the packages?).
  4. The middle man who sells the food from the farmer to the food production companies or to the grocery stores. (Most grocery stores don’t work directly with the farmers, but instead, with a company that serves as a “middle man.”).
  5. The truckers (to deliver tomatoes from Mexico or oranges from Florida to the northwest, for example).
  6. The grocery store employees to stock the shelves and present the food to us.
  7. Possibly, even, grocery store employees or others to *prep* the food for us by cutting veggies, dividing meat into cuts that we are familiar with, etc.

We’ve got an impressive system, for sure! And if one thing goes wrong in that system–we’re all in trouble. We also trust those companies to keep food clean and at proper temperatures so that we don’t end up with food borne illnesses like e.coli.

All it would take is a outbreak or a breakdown in one part of the system and something besides toilet paper would be missing from the shelves. You’ve seen it with spinach and ground beef. It could happen with anything else–or many products at once.

Enter: Survivalist Homesteader

This reminder that food is necessary to live and that we have seven people to feed in our home has stirred up the homesteading bug in me again. Plus, when a virus threatens to attack my family, I immediately think of our guts because that is where the majority of our immune system lives (in the GALT Tissue…look it up!). Packaged, processed food and antibiotic-laden grocery store meat is not going to populate the right kind of bacteria we need to fight off COVID-19 or any other virus or infection. I know what we need for healthy guts: chicken stock, probiotic foods, vegetables and healthy fats from healthy animals.

  • Last night I started brewing kombucha again.
  • I ordered glass jars. Since we didn’t move here with any, I needed some. Right?! What’s a homesteader without jars?
  • I bought a stewing chicken (and a bunch of other meat) from Polyface Farms yesterday. Hello chicken stock.
  • A book about cheese-making came off my shelf again, and I felt giddy to skim through it and remember the cheese I used to make. I checked to make sure, “I have cheesecloth still, right?” Yup. Okay, I can get some lipase and rennet, and I’m back in town, making cheese!
  • To my dismay, I searched for my gardening and homesteading books and realized that I didn’t bring many across the country with us. I ordered The Backyard Homestead on kindle. That was one of my favorites. Why did I sell it!?
  • There’s an empty lot in our neighborhood and I started asking around about it. Maybe we can raise some neighborhood chickens on it?! A dairy cow may be overkill–and too much for the space. 😉
  • Since we don’t have a big backyard, I ordered a Garden Tower and a bunch of worms.
  • I’ve got kitchen scraps of celery and onions growing. I purposely bought different types of squash just to get the seeds. It makes me so happy to see the little sprouts coming out of these spent foods.
  • A big orange Home Depot bucket became a make-shift compost bucket while I waited for my Garden Tower to arrive. The kids had to re-adjust their thinking–veggie scraps and coffee grounds don’t go down the drain or into the garbage any more. It is SO easy to get lazy, guys!!! All of those scraps can provide nourishment for the soil, and ultimately more nourishment for us as it gets added to the soil that we grow fresh veggies in.
  • We used to make yogurt in quart size glass jars in a miniature cooler with warm water. We didn’t move our mini cooler or our glass jars, so I ordered some of each. It’s time to make yogurt again.

How Has COVID-19 Inspired You?

I’m curious to hear how you have been inspired during this crazy time? Please tell me I’m not alone in wanting to provide food, and good-for-you food for my family during this time! I would love to hear how you’re fairing.

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