Last year was a doozy wasn’t it?  But what did you learn from it?  When things go wrong,  always try to prepare yourself against having to go through that again. What can you do differently to make things better next time?

Many years ago, after my first baby, I moved to Florida.  My parents were there and I had visited but had never lived there myself.  I remember hearing on the news that there was a tropical storm out in the gulf that MIGHT hit Florida.  I didn’t think much of that because it was too early to tell.  That evening happened to be my regular grocery store run. I was SHOCKED when I went into that store.

But did you LEARN anything?

Not only was toilet paper gone…so was bread, water, flour, sugar, salt, all the junk food and soda, most of canned goods, all the beer and wine, and cans and packages were strewn on the floor while staff was trying to put order back in the store. It looked like a mob had gone through the store, emptied it and made a mess in the process.  I’d never seen the like.

But did you LEARN anything?

Thinking this was some kind of novelty, I called my momma when I got home to tell her what had happened in “my store”.  Her response? “Oh yes….the minute they mention the possibility of a storm they empty the shelves – happens in all the stores.”

Fortunately that storm dissipated at sea and most people went about normal life. But it happened every time storms were mentioned for the next 15 years that I lived in Florida. Every. single. time! WHY? Didn’t anybody learn anything?

I didn’t want to have to deal with this again every time the weather man said “tropical storm” or “hurricane”. I learned that I needed to keep stock of certain important things so that if some kind of emergency were to happen, I could feed my children and take care of basic needs.  I made a change in how I thought and what my actions were.  That was almost 40 years ago!

Last year we ALL went through something similar but it lasted much longer than a tropical storm or hurricane! It lasted for months instead of days.  How long was it before toilet paper returned to normal with out a limit to what you could purchase? Water? Canned goods?  Heck…things are still not normal in my area!  Canning jars, rings and seals are almost non-existent this year! There are supply issues with computer parts, lumber, metal roofing,  auto parts…and more!

Are you paying attention? What are YOU learning?  What if some of those things didn’t come back for a year? What if grocery store shelves stayed empty? What would you do? How would you eat? What would daily life look like for you? Now is the time to be thinking about this and planning for emergencies.

Did you know that the government recommends that a family have 3 months worth of food and supplies on hand at all times?  My Grandparents lived through the depression as adults. Both of my parents lived through the depression as teenagers – they all knew hunger…Grandma called it “hard hunger”.   My dad used to say that getting an apple once or twice a year was a real treat.  They were very, very poor.

If my Aunt Annie and Uncle Paul hadn’t had a farm and generous hearts, I don’t know how my family would have survived.  Every week they came to town and brought home churned butter, fresh milk, veggies and produce from the farm and Aunt Annie’s “medicinals” for those who needed it – also made from plants growing in the garden and on the farm.

I remember as a kid that my grandma had a “canning room” in her basement – the coldest room in her unair-conditioned home in Indiana.  I used to go there in the summer to read books because it was so cool.  It was lined with shelves that were filled with her canned veggies, jams, jellies, fruit, canned juice, home made wine and moonshine (grandad’s contribution) and baskets on the floor filled with potatoes, onions, apples, bell peppers and other garden goodies. At the end of the garden season they picked every single green tomato and wrapped each one lovingly in newspaper to ripen slowly. They had fresh tomatoes well into winter! That room always smelled amazing! It looked very much like this one! I remember the shelves were so deep I couldn’t reach the back of them.  By the end of winter it was almost empty of food and filled with clean canning jars ready to start again!

But did you LEARN anything?

I remember as a kid that my own parents had a huge shelving unit in our basement filled with staples…several of each thing. They were not home canned – my mom never did that but they did keep two or three things of what they considered “staples”. Toilet paper, toothpaste, ketchup, mustard, cans of beans, boxes of rice, etc.

Florida was the wake up call for me.  I experienced a problem that I didn’t want to have to deal with again. I began doing little things here and there as I could afford it. Once I moved to a farm in the late nineties, I planted my first garden, it was 12 square feet and I planted something different in each square foot …it was a test for me…to see if I could grow something other than the African Violets that always graced my home.  It gave me the confidence to grow that garden each year until it was almost 8,000 square feet and we were supplying almost all of our own food….along with the bees, goats, cows, chickens, guineas and turkeys we collected along the way.

But did you LEARN anything?

I taught myself to can, dehydrate, pickle, water-glass, dry can and more! I learned to milk cows and goats, work bees,  churn butter, make cheese, bake bread, make soap, and use plants, herbs and essential oils as our medicine. And I taught these skills to my sons who worked just as hard as I did to achieve food security. We had a passion to become as self-sufficient as possible so that we would never have to worry if the store shelves were empty.  We did not want to rely on anyone but our heavenly Father!

I can still remember the first Thanksgiving when everything on that table came from the homestead and the work of our own hands from the bread and butter, to the milk, veggies, turkey, ice cream and pies! That feeling was hard to describe… grateful is probably the best word.  The pantry was full and there was enough food to tide us over until gardening season next year when it would all begin again.

So I ask you again…what did you learn last year? What is your plan? What are you doing differently? What are you waiting for?  No space for a big garden? Grow a little one, grow in pots, join a community garden, ask a friend with land if you can plant a garden there! Buy something extra at the store every week. Learn new skills! Get a good plant ID book and some books on herbal medicine. Take classes…learn to preserve food! Do something…start now!

Failure to plan is planning to fail! Please do something… be prepared, be self-sufficient, be safe!