When You’re Sick & Down

What are you going to do when you’re sick and down and out? Who is going to do your work for you if you’re so sick you can’t? My first thought is, well, I just can’t be that sick. But I don’t think we will always have control over that, will we? Or the weather, or the economy, or the actions of others, or bugs in the garden, or…or….or….

We were amazed by the pictures and stories of everyone trapped out on the highways and in stores and schools during the severe weather in the south. It really warmed my heart to see businesses open their doors to these stranded folks. It reminds us how important it is to have some things prepared and with us all the time. Mom With a Prep just did a post about her husband’s emergency pack that he keeps in his vehicle, so that if something happens, he can get home. I keep my vehicle emergency pack with me wherever I go. I work 25 miles from home and want to be able to get home if some type of disaster or collapse happens, or if my car breaks down. I wonder how many stranded people had

emergency supplies with them. I also wonder how many people will

now start carrying emergency supplies with them because of this weather event. Maybe God is sending out a few more messages trying to get a few more people to see how important it is to be ready, to be even a little prepared. The people in the south had a few days to prepare for this storm. They knew it was coming. We all know a storm is coming. Are we going to be prepared when it comes? We all have storms in our lives of one type or another. Sometimes it’s a tornado, sometimes it’s a hurricane, sometimes it’s the flu or, heaven forbid, the death of the family bread winner. We all have storms.

And speaking of weather. We have all been the recipients of wave after wave of unusually cold weather this winter. There are many people, businesses and organizations that can’t get the propane or heating fuel they need. There is a major drought in the west affecting the farmers ability to grow the crops we have all come to depend upon for part of our daily bread. Frank and I were talking about it the other day and also wondered how this severe cold will affect the ‘bread basket’ states and the winter wheat crops. There are many things occurring now that may have a devastating impact upon our food supply in the near future. 

You know what else I noticed yesterday? The ‘brick’ of tissue we buy at the warehouse market that holds about 10 boxes now gives us about 160 less pieces of tissue. Just another way of buying smaller packages of things for the same amount of money. It really bugs me that we are being tricked into thinking things aren’t so bad, when we are getting less and less product for the same amount of money. But we are told, there is no inflation and things are getting better everyday. Just wait and see.

Frank has been sick for a week and will be for a while yet. I have been down for a few days. It really makes us stop and think about how we might manage if we were on our own. Do we have what we need for daily sustenance? Yes. Can we do our chores and take care of the animals? Yes. We’re not that sick. But what if we were? We have been able to get the medical attention we need, for now. What if we couldn’t? Then what? It really gives us food for thought.

So, now we challenge you to put yourself in the shoes of the folks that were caught in this recent storm. How would you do in that situation? Now put yourself in the shoes of the folks that can’t get enough propane to heat their house or cook. How would you manage? Or even if the propane was available, what if the prices had doubled or tripled and you just couldn’t afford it, then what? What if you or your family member was really sick and you couldn’t get any medical attention? Then what?

Don’t be fooled by what you are fed by the mainstream media. Really take a good look at what is happening around you. Did you know that more and more big banks, you know, too big to fail, are limiting how much money you can withdraw from your bank account? Some of them are even requiring a reason for the withdrawal, and if it doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to them, they are denying access to the account. I find this to be unbelievable. But it is just one example of many. Don’t be fooled into thinking, “All is well.” It is not.

Sometimes when you are sick things look a little more gloomy than they really are, and Frank and I have been sick. But this is one instance that our illnesses are not the reason for our outlook on what is happening in our country. It has just given us more time to ponder. We hope that you will do the same. What can you do for yourself or your family today, not tomorrow or the next day, that will prepare them for the challenges of the near future? Think about it. Then get to work. Time is short.

Until next time – Fern

P.S. A family asked if we would provide this link for you to view.

Under The Weather

Frank and I are both a bit under the weather. We’re reading a lot but not writing much, so I wanted to share a few things we have run across.

Over at small farm girl there is a good recipe for a sore throat remedy that works. You will need to go over there and check out the ingredients. It also appears to be somewhat effective for a cough. So, thanks, small farm girl, I appreciate your timely post.

Patrice Lewis, at Rural Revolution, has had a couple of thought provoking posts recently that I would encourage everyone to read. They both gave me something to ponder. The ways of the world are changing quickly. So quickly, in fact, it is difficult to keep up with it all.

More Big Brother

What does Matt know?

Everyone out there in the deep freeze from Old Man Winter is in our thoughts and prayers. We hope you can stay safe and warm, and with the cold weather in mind, here is a little sunshine for you.

Until next time – Fern

Chicken Pie

This is a recipe I got from Leigh over at 5 Acres and a Dream. I have seen many recipes like this before, but I have never tried one. It seems like it’s time. Leigh uses some ingredients I don’t have, so you will have to go visit her site to see the differences. Here is what we tried for dinner. 

First, cut up and layer some chicken in the bottom of a baking dish. This is chicken we canned.


Then add a layer of carrots. These are from last summer. Next, add a layer of peas. I like the descriptions in this recipe. It doesn’t say how many, so I put a few in, looked at it, put in a few more, then a few more. I decided this looked just right.

The gravy calls for:
2 tbsp. fat (I used shortening)
2 tbsp. flour
2 c. chicken broth (I used ours)


Lightly brown the flour in the melted fat, slowly add the broth and cook until thick. I used my jar of broth, but I also added the broth that was in the jar of chicken. I figured I would need more flour to thicken it, and I did. If you need 

something to be thicker, make a rue. This is just some flour in a little cold water. The flour will mix much smoother if you use cold water instead of warm or hot. Stir the rue until it is smooth, then slowly pour it into your gravy, stirring it in constantly. Let this new flour cook for a while to see how much it will thicken. If it’s still not thick enough, add a little more. You have to guard against making your gravy too flour-y. It will taste too much like flour and not enough like broth. 

I also added salt, pepper, and some parsley to the gravy. To see why I add parsley to just about everything, read here.



 After the gravy is ready, pour it over the chicken and vegetables.


This didn’t look very appetizing at this point.

Next, mix up the biscuit dough. 

1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Cut in 1/3 c. fat or shortening
Mix in 1/2 c. milk with a fork

Drop by the spoonful onto the gravy, chicken and vegetables.

Bake at 400* for about 20 minutes or until the biscuits are brown and the gravy is bubbling.

At this stage, Frank walked over and looked in the pot, then gave me that look that said, “You really expect me to eat that?” I just laughed and thought, “I sure hope this is edible….” 

After I got everything in this pan, I realized I could use one that isn’t this deep and it would work fine, and may even work better.

Guess what?? He liked it! He even asked for seconds. Ladies, you know exactly what I mean. Frank and I agreed this is one recipe I will add to an index card and put the box with my other favorites. With our canned ingredients, this is a great homegrown, homemade meal that is quick to fix, nutritious and great tasting. In this meal I used our canned chicken, broth and carrots. Now, this summer I need to can some peas, as well. The more meals we can make with a variety of basic ingredients, the more independent we become in providing for ourselves.

Until next time – Fern

Garden Update, January 27

Is everyone gardening yet? I want to give you an update on the ‘garden’ I planted December 29th

The perennial tomatoes I tried to grow, that have suffered through aphids and spider mites, have died. I am not surprised. I will be starting new tomato seedlings in a few weeks along with some peppers.

The sweet potatoes are growing, but are still infested with spider mites, so I am going to throw them out. One of the reasons for this decision is because when I was checking our stored sweet potatoes, I found a few that were sprouting. This gives me another source of sweet potato slips for planting, so I am not going to keep doing chemical treatments to try to get rid of the bugs.

Many of our regular potatoes we dug last summer are also sprouting. I am going to put them in the garage, where it is cooler, and cover them with newspaper and see if I can slow down the sprouts. Then I will try planting these around March 1st for our first crop of potatoes for the summer.

The Walla Walla onions are doing pretty good in the window. It was time to give them a haircut. After onion seedlings get to be about three inches tall, I trim them back to about an inch and a half. This promotes growth of the onion bulb along with the greens. 

The cabbage is doing well and is ready to be thinned out. I used to try pulling up the smaller, weaker seedlings, but invariably either pulled up or broke off some of the plants I was trying to save. So now, I cut the extras down with scissors. It works much better.



I also used the same technique to thin out the spinach and broccoli. 

There was only one kale plant that came up and it is very small. That tells me that kale seeds do not remain viable as long as cabbage, broccoli and spinach. But, that is okay I guess, because the three mystery plants that came up in the onion tub turned out to be kale. Isn’t it funny how some things work?

Small planted kale

Mystery plant kale in the onion tub

In the next few weeks I will be starting quite a few more seedlings. I’ll keep you updated on what and when. By March 1st I will start putting things out in the garden if everything goes according to plan. You know, sometimes plans work and sometimes they don’t. It’s always important to have a back up plan, just in case. Do you have one?

Until next time – Fern

The Times, They Are A Changin’

An announcement: Frank’s usual weekend post has been postponed because he is under the weather. He will be back with you soon.

The times, they are a changin’. There are so many things happening in the world, and especially in our country now that it is hard to keep up with them. I will only list a few here, since to address them all would take a book, and by the time the first few pages were written, there would be many more to take their place. Many of these events I feel are distractions, simply a means to constantly engage the populace in meaningless drivel, so that they can be surrounded and devoured when the time comes. That sounds harsh, I know, but I see this happening everyday. Let me explain.

There are many of us that go out in the world everyday to make a living, visit friends and family, acquire the things needed for our daily sustenance, or for entertainment. More and more everyday I feel that there are two

colliding worlds, worlds that are becoming more polarized everyday. There are those that are aware that something evil this way comes, those that know something is amiss but don’t want to know what it is or deal with it, and those that are totally oblivious. I guess that’s three groups instead of two, but I think you know what I mean. The demands of life appear to be compressing into an avenue that is increasing the stress and ability of regular families to provide for their daily accustomed necessities and luxuries. And among these three groups, there is distrust and accusation that the view of reality the other holds is wrong and sometimes downright evil. Such as, Christians are now considered a possible terrorist? What? That veterans are somehow now to be considered dangerous instead of our heroes? How in the world could that possibly even be uttered let alone broadcast out as realistically true? Have people lost their minds? Sometimes I think so.

In our area, in a few short weeks propane has gone from under $2.00 a gallon to $5.50 a gallon. For the many older folks that use it, that is unsustainable. The cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk continue to rise. The cost of everything continues to rise. And yet the misery index and true unemployment rates also continue to rise. Of course, there is no inflation, and all is well in the stock market and banking industries, so all is well. Right? Wrong. If you watch the markets, which Frank does, then all is not well. In fact, there are folks

watching the stock market very closely this weekend because of the quick, sharp drop it took on Friday. Do you know what a bank holiday is? If not, that is something I would recommend you educate yourself about. I pray that if it happens you will not be one of those that tries to use your debit card, ATM machine or checking account and find that you cannot access any of your money, buy food or fuel or pay your bills. This is just one aspect of our changing times.

I have grave concerns about those that have had, of a necessity, not by choice, come to depend on the government for unemployment, food stamps or welfare checks. I fear there will come a day, intentional or otherwise, that this money will cease or be reduced to the point that it will not be enough, or that the cost of food will increase to the point that it will not be enough.

I feel when I am out ‘in the world’ that I am a stranger in a strange land. All around I hear talk of the latest _______________. Fill in the blank. It could be the latest food item created for quick, easy, pleasure; the latest scores; the most recent behaviors of a media personality, be it movie, television, sports, whatever; the reckless spending of the government; clothing styles;

crimes; prices; and the list goes on and on. I see the stress on the faces of the parents and families I work with. This appears to be increasing more and more. I read about people fighting at stores over parking places and checkout lines. To me, this is all a sign of the times. We read about attacks on people for no apparent reason, accept maybe just for fun. And amazingly to me, the media no longer publishes basic information about the people that are the victims or the perpetrators. Somehow, basic everyday information has now been censored or deemed hateful. What? We are being divided by the very source that we used to depend upon for basic, unbiased, everyday information about our country and our world.

I fear most for the people that see nothing wrong with the way our world is changing. There are many, many places to find information about the signs of our times. But they have to be sought out, because the television and standard media outlets continue to put out the message that all is well. I see the quote, “Move along, there is nothing to see here.” being used more and more and more. I

know from personal experience that there are people that have a gut instinct that all is not right with the world, but for whatever reason, they just can’t or won’t deal with it. They deny the fact that things are quickly changing for the worse. They deny the fact that our freedoms and rights are being stripped away even as I write this. They deny the fact that they will soon not be able to access their money, or even if they can, they will not be able to afford to heat their homes or buy a loaf of bread. I understand that there are some that just can’t wrap their minds around such a drastic change in our world and I think it has ever been thus when great cataclysmic events have occurred. I mourn for them. But I understand. I do not condemn. 

The times are truly changing, of that I have no doubt. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you reading here get tired of my consistent encouragement to learn something new and do something to prepare for your family, but it is the message I have been given. I believe the sole purpose of our blog is to share what we have learned in the hopes that it may benefit someone, somewhere, that we will never meet or know, to prepare themselves for these changes. For they will come, whether we are ready or not. I have no idea what venue they will take or how devastating it may be. I only know they are coming. 

Please do everything in your power and within your means to prepare. This time has been given to us for this purpose. You too, may feel like a stranger in a strange land, but know that you are not alone.

There are many of us. We are just quiet. There are those that are being schooled to ‘see something, say something’ when they see things that they don’t understand or make them uncomfortable. There are those that would happily bring us to ruin. There are many reasons for anonymity and a quiet, calm demeanor. Be diligent in your preparations. Be vigilant with everyone. Always remember, whenever possible, wolves will arrive in sheep’s clothing. 

I don’t know what our roles will be when the time comes, but if you have been given the time and means to prepare much, you may in a position to teach and share with many. It could mean life or death to them. Ponder what you should do, pray always, and with His guidance, act. Don’t postpone or delay. Don’t procrastinate. Times are changing and you need to be ready to flourish in the midst of that change. Don’t be left behind. My prayers are with you all. May the Lord bless and keep you.


Milk Straining Cloths

We have started using cloth to strain our milk instead of coffee filters. This is for two reasons. One, eventually, we will run out of coffee filters if the time comes that we cannot buy anymore. Two, there is a time in our goats lactation cycle where the milk will hardly go through the coffee filters. I don’t know if it has something to do with a change in the milk solids at certain points in the cycle or what. But it gets to where it will only go through the filter a drip at a time. The purpose of filtering is to remove any particulates that may be in the milk from the milking process. So, we are making a small change in our routine.

Part of this idea is from a recent post by Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution. She explained her milking routine and when she came to filtering the milk, she explained that she uses old sheeting material. With that information, we made the choice to use some scrap fabric I had in the sewing room. 

We compared the size needed to fit on the funnel we use and determined we needed to cut 8 by 8 inch squares. Well, I made up one of those, but it was too small. I didn’t take into account that I would be taking up some of the width on both sides of the fabric as I hemmed it. What I needed were 10 by 10 inch squares.

I did a simple hem all the way around. I folded under about 1/4″ the first time, then turned it under again to prevent raveling. 

This sewing machine was one of the things we invested in when we pondered things we would like to have if we no longer had access to electricity. The great thing about this machine is it can work on electricity or the treadle. And it is a commercial grade machine to boot. It can

sew through denim jeans or thin cotton fabric with ease. It is a dream to use. One thing we did discover though. If we had to depend on the treadle, we will need to be in better shape to continuously pump it up and down for long. If that is the case, maybe there will be someone with younger legs that can have that chore.

Fabric is also something we have extra of for a rainy day. There is nothing like buying things on sale at a fraction of the regular cost. You never know when it will come in handy, like for milk straining cloths.

So, now when we milk, we add the straining cloth to the boiling water when we pour it over the jar, funnel and clothes pins. Then it is ready for the milk. 

We feel good about this small change in our routine. It is something that will last a long time and can replace a disposable item that we were depending on. That is good. I just love learning new things!

Until next time – Fern

Planting Meadowsweet and Bamboo

The weather was decent, 60 degrees with a little wind and beautiful sunshine, so I decided to get a few plants in the ground that had been lingering in pots for over a year. I know, that isn’t the ideal place, but that is where they had to live for a while.

Meadowsweet, mine does not look like this now

I had bought some Meadowsweet a year or so ago and tried to plant it over by the chicken house. But the next day they discovered this small plant and decided it was tasty. So before it totally disappeared, I dug it up and put it in a pot until I had a better place for it. A few days ago, I was reading more about medicinal herbs and came across the benefits of Meadowsweet again. I had read this before, that is why I bought some to begin with, but it had been a while. Rereading this information gave me the motivation to go out and find it a permanent home. 

My meadowsweet looks like a pot of dirt.

I will probably order another plant to add to the mix and see if I can get a good, permanent planting established so that I can harvest and dry my own supply. In the meantime, I ordered some from Monterey Bay Spice Company. We will be adding this to a celery seed, chamomile tea combination that we have added to our daily medicinal intake. My hope is that I can grow enough for our needs this summer, that way I won’t have to depend on another source.

The benefits of Meadowsweet listed in my medicinal herb books include:

  • salicylate properties similar to aspirin
  • astringent
  • anti-inflammatory

  • diuretic
  • antacid and calming for overactive digestive system
  • acid stomach, heartburn, ulcers, hiatus hernia
  • helpful for rheumatism and arthritis
  • clears sandy deposits in urine 

    Meadowsweet prefers a moist area with semi shade. This location is on the edge of a small branch that is wet much of the year. It will go dry during a hot dry summer, but is generally fairly wet. I hope it will thrive in this area.

    The other plant that has been living in a pot on the porch for too long is a sweet, edible bamboo. I did quite a bit of research on bamboo to find one that produces edible shoots and is hardy in planting zone 7. The one I bought is a sweet shoot bamboo, Phyllostachs Dulcis.

    This is a running, spreading type that will have plenty of room here to grow. It will also provide some natural camouflage for this building. Many bamboos cannot tolerate the cold weather here and I was glad to find one that could. 

    But, I think the really cold weather we have had recently has killed off part of this plant so I want to get it in the ground to see if it can be saved. This is another one of those little chores that was postponed for too long. But the plant seemed to be doing fine on the porch until just recently.

    My motivation for investigating edible bamboo was the effort to find some perennial vegetables that I could get started here that could provide some food on a consistent, yearly basis. In this day and age, the types of food that are perennial are not usually part of our diets. Jerusalem artichokes, bamboo and asparagus don’t go with many things that we eat regularly. At least, we don’t. But we do have all three of these things growing here. And if the time comes that we need to depend upon what we can produce to eat, they will add a few more meals to our table. 

    Sun chokes

    Both the bamboo and Jerusalem artichokes (which we call sun chokes) in some circles are considered to be nuisance weeds because of their invasive, spreading nature. But I like things rather wild and unkept looking, so they will suit me just fine. Besides that, the more they spread, the more food they provide. The sun chokes are good for people and livestock. The nutritional content includes protein, inulin, potassium, iron, fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper. 

    There are so many things we can grow that are beneficial and amazingly productive, even if you baby them with total neglect. Do they taste like potato chips, donuts and ice cream? No. Will they lend a hand to provide excellent nutrition with little to no effort on my part? Yes. The more I learn, the more amazed I am at the tremendous sources of life that are right at our fingertips. Isn’t that just great? Learn something new today. Something that makes you smile and increases your ability to provide for your family. 

    Until next time – Fern