Bee-Positive: What can we learn?


   Wow, what a week! Time change, full moon, spring break, Friday 13th, and of course, the coronavirus! Not to mention the tornados and hurricane winds that have effected the South since fall 2019. For many, these things have caused fear and uncertainty, especially if you felt unprepared. Did you have enough food at home? What would happen if you had to stay home for over a week? Is there enough money in the bank to cover the loss of work or extra supplies? An, of course, did you have enough cleaning supplies and toilet paper?! 

   Well, instead of using all these things to create fear in your life, use this time as a learning opportunity! So what can you change, so you don't feel this way again? Here are some suggestions that my family and I have been doing that helped us not to panic amid this week's chaos. 

   If you didn't know, my family and I are homesteaders, or what some would call modern homesteaders. Both my husband and I work full-time jobs while also working towards a life of self-sufficiency. We have been homesteading for four years now, and in that time, we have raised several types of animals, grown all kinds of plants, and have learned several ways to becoming self-sufficient. 

   We like the idea of not having to rely on stores or other entities for the things we need. Another positive is it keeps us healthy not only through good food but also exercises our bodies psychically and mentally. It also provides our children with learning opportunities, activities, and responsibilities. I will admit that it is not easy; it takes hard work and planning to make it successful. All family members must be on board for you to reap the rewards. 

   One way of becoming self-sufficient is figuring out what will work best for your family. (If you are single, this is still totally possible, too!) We put into consideration what we need for six family members, what will everyone eat, what will save us money, what skills are practical to have, and what will not work for our family at this time. Here are some examples: 

    • Don't grow food that two or more family members do not like to eat. I'm the only one who eats okra, so it's not practical to grow a whole bed of okra. 
    • Grow food that will be successful and abundant so that you can store some for later. I have tried many times to grow more tropical fruits, but they don't make it in my north Mississippi growing zone. So until I can afford to buy a big greenhouse, I've stopped wasting money on plants that won't make it. I'm sticking to the hardy plants that yield a great harvest. 
    • At least a 1-2 month supply of toiletries and food stocked at my house. We have six people in our house, so yes, toilet paper is usually a big deal anyway! I started doing this last spring. I have two reasons: One, it keeps me prepared, which in turn helps me not to get worried, and second, as a bonus, it keeps me out of the stores while I'm saving up. It also helps me to prepare for a great skill to have, cooking! 
    • I am cooking from scratch! It saves me money and keeps my family healthy, well if you don't count all the baked goods! We usually have enough food per meal to take for lunch the next day too. Once my husband started taking his lunch to work, he lost weight, and we began to save a surprising amount of money! 
    • We have learned to process and put up veggies, fruit, and meat. When everyone else is freaking out at the store, we are relaxed, knowing our pantry and freezer are full! 
    • We have learned what animals we can raise and which ones we can not. Quail, ducks, laying chickens, and meat chickens are great for us. But, one pig about did us in, so no more pigs, lol! We are not set up or have the time to handle large livestock. 
    • We are learning new skills: Cooking, hunting & gathering, gardening, handyman skills. We read books, take classes, go to workshops, and research topics. We consider: Can I save money doing or learning this so that I can use that money to do/buy something else? 
    • Can you trade an item or skill for something you need? We get tired of eating chicken, so we often trade chickens for fish or venison.  
    • Are you buying items that might help you in the long run? Water filtration system like a Burkey, meat processer, tools for the garden, pantry storage, and other self-sufficient tools?
    • Before we do something, we think: Is this the right choice or decision that will be helpful to me, my family, and our future? 
    • Do you have positive friends and family that will help in times of trouble? Or do you have negative friends and family that will cause more harm? How can you keep positive and distance yourself from the negative? 
    • Are you using your time wisely? Are you learning or being productive? Or have you spent the last week on the couch binge-watching three different series? 
    • How will self-sufficiency help us to help others? When we have extra, we give it away. If someone needs something, we see how we can help. Homesteading has enabled us to understand how hard people work to grow, raise, and make things. It is, in some cases, their only livelihood. We are now able (by making better choices) to buy from local farmers and makers. Now before we buy an item from the big box stores, I consider can I get it at the local small-town shop, farmer, mom & pop store, or online from a maker/artist? If I can, I do! 

   So how can you get started? Well, one way to help calm the chaos that may be wanting to creep inside your mind while also setting a plan into place is to write it all down! Write down all the things that scared you, you felt you were unprepared for, or you wish you had? Then beside it, write how you can fix it, so that next time you don't feel that way. 

For example: 

  1. What/where did you feel the most unprepared? Not having enough food and toiletry supplies at home to last two weeks. 
  2. How can I fix it? Start to prepare a sustainable pantry of two weeks worth of household supplies. 

   Once you have accomplished this goal, you can then strive to reach for four weeks of supplies and then lead up to two months' worth. Take your time! I know you may feel the need to hurry up with all the panic that is out there, but this too shall pass. The point is to learn and prepare for next time! 

   We started with a small garden of tomatoes and cucumbers, and a few laying hens for eggs. Now we have several types of birds, an orchard, and several garden beds. But, it has taken us years to accomplish this, and we have made mistakes along the way. The times that we did try to rush things or do too many things at one time, always ended in disaster! So please take my word for it and chose the slow route! 

   I hope you will use this time as a time of growth and learning! Fill your soul and mind with uplifting thoughts and prayers. And may you find a positive path as you wander the wildwoods.