You know what changes for homeschooling, homesteaders in the midst of social distancing ordinances? Not a whole lot, actually.
In fact, it has been pretty difficult to frame this whole virus thing with rationality because of all the highly publicised “toilet paper crisis alerts.”
I’m praying for those affected by sickness and hardship (as I do in the event of any crisis situation) and otherwise largely going about my business on the homestead.
I will say that during this time, and forseeable future instances such as the one we are currently experiencing not only as a nation, but as an entire earthly population, it is a true test of our skills and effectiveness in preparation to care for and feed our families.
As a homesteading mom, I’m taking this time to be alert, not anxious (which is miraculous in light of postpartum anxiety, slowly letting up) and to take stock of how we’ve spent our time, energy, and resources in equipping our family to live off our own produce, so as to avoid placing any extra burden on ourselves or grocery stores.
As far as canning goes, I’m really terrible at jams and jellies. They always end up syrups. I’m missing something here, and if you have any inkling as to what that may be, please let me know in the comments!
We have succeeded in canning some things; salsa, green beans, jalapeno peppers… But when push comes to shove, those things aren’t all that especially useful in sustaining dietary nutrition. Flavor and variety maybe, but we’re aiming to can more food this year such as meats, veggies, fruits, breads (yes! It’s possible to can things like banana bread!! Who knew!?) and potatoes, greens, etc. Things that will enhance our nutritional intake.
We’re also going to be working on livestock management. Obviously laying hens are great. Eggs are delightful. But to maintain a stock of laying birds when there are so many predators seeking to cull my flock, I’ve decided we need a rooster. That decision of course has to float by my husband, but I think it is a long term benefit in being able to hatch and brood our own chicks. Additionally, any other livestock additions will need adequate food and water and shelter planning and building- more to come on that front later.
I’ve also taken the opportunity to really educate my children. We’ve been taking “woods walks” around our property and identifying wild edibles, medicinals, and “no-no” plants. The kids have mastered the “Leaves of 3, let it be” axiom for IDing poison ivy… Unfortunately, they extended it to include strawberries and kudzu. I suppose it’s always better to be on the safe side, but I am teaching them to differentiate different types and shapes of leaves. This education in my opinion is the basic minimum if you’re going to have children on a homestead. It would be implausible for me to keep everything out of reach or inaccessible- best just to teach them what is allowable and what is not.
Gardening got shelved a LOT last year. I was struggling through morning sickness instead of tending my garden as I should and it really got away from me. I didn’t even diagram it! Who am I!?!? But this year, I have a lot more to plant, and strategies to utilize every last bit of growable space we have. Fruit trees? Permaculture guild. Swale? Melons and pumpkins. Landscaping? Edibles. This is our season to ramp up our outdoor time and kick things into high gear in the gardens.
Additionally, I’ve been studying recipes and other useful skills such as sewing. Guys, I’m actually getting pretty speedy at hand sewing. I’m not great with machines and my hand work is much cleaner and precise. My grandmothers would be proud. I’ve been working on small projects to perfect my skills in pattern drafting, seam finishing and various stitching techniques. So far I have a mostly finished half apron for my oldest daughter, and the bodice of a spring/summer dress complete.
What I’ve really come away with so far from this whole thing is that practice does not in fact make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. So really taking the time to study and learn best practices for all of these skills I’ve discussed has been huge this year as I’ve been mostly sitting being enormously pregnant or now, nursing a baby. The key is to not be idle and to instead be always learning or gaining and honing new skills.
And for all of you reading this, I’ll continue to pray for God’s protective hand to cover you at this time and to equip you for- survival seems doomsday panicky, so I’ll say- the 2nd coming of Messiah, which from the look of things, I would be happy with at any time.