Projects on the Prairie – Part 1

The Food Pantry

We have two families under one roof with 9 people. Sarah’s older son is visiting for the summer.  Since the Covid 19 pandemic we’ve been eating together.  I was cooking separately for John and I  because we have some dietary restrictions and we eat earlier in the day. That was just too complicated and too many cooks in the kitchen!

I’m fortunate to have a lot of cabinet space and a separate laundry room/food pantry.  But over the years the cabinets and laundry room have become a place for extra storage.  I have a reputation in the family for being a “tightwad”.  I call it frugal.  The thought of renting a storage unit to store extra junk would never cross my mind .  However, I’ve resorted to buying a pantry for extra food storage when I could sort through all the cabinets to make room for the extra food that is coming into our house.  Right now with gardening, raising chickens, and canning I just didn’t have the energy.  This unit I bought can always be used for my quilting and sewing supplies if it’s no longer needed for food in the future.  Plus, I got a great buy.

I purchased this direct from Sauder online.  Years ago I purchased a Sauder office desk when I was working from home as a Mortgage Broker and it’s still holding up very well. I love the built in shelves on the side door.  Shipping was free also.  This is not a paid commercial!  The only downside is that it came in many pieces.  John is quite mechanical but he really wasn’t in the mood to be putting this together.  After he laid out the pieces it went together pretty fast. 

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Retrofit, Recycle, Reuse

Back in The Three R’s – Reuse, Restore, Recycle The Three R’s – Reuse, Restore, Recycle I told how I took a old rusty swing set that had been passed along to my grandchildren and extended the looks and life with some metal paint.  Four years later and the set has not only lost it’s looks but had become dangerous.  One of my granddaughter’s fell from a swing and hurt her back when a chain broke.  The swings and slide were promptly removed. Our newly expanded garden would be needing trellises for green beans, squash and cucumbers.  My daughter-in-law had the wonderful idea to use the swing set frame for one of the trellises.

A neighbor who has a tire shop was happy to give us some tractor tires. The tires are a smaller tractor tire but larger than pickup tires. These will be used to grow potatoes.  As the leaves grow up another tire is stacked up, dirt added and more potatoes are added. This method not only saves space (which isn’t our problem) but saves labor (which is our problem).

Another reuse project is converting a well used sand box that had lost most of it’s sand, actually small river rocks, to a kitchen garden.

Farmers, ranchers and homesteaders have always had to make do and reuse what they had on hand.  Funds, time and shopping options are limited.  We’re carrying on that tradition.

 

 

Life Has Changed On The Prairie

Like everyone right now, we are faced with uncertainty mixed in with fear.  Taking action has added excitement and has helped to get our minds off dread of the virus and the future.

Our household now includes myself, my husband, my son and his wife and their 4 children, ages 12, 10, 7 and 5.  We have 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and a large room additionSacred Spaces that was a back porch that we enclosed.  My son and his family were renting a two story, 4 bedroom, 2 bath home on 10 acres that was perfect for their large family.  Their family included 2 cats and a growing rabbit family.  Then one day all that changed in an instant.  During a repair of a plumbing leak under the kitchen sink, the repairman thought he saw black mold which extended into the upstairs bathroom.  Before long, they had to move out.  School had started and because we live in a very rural area, there is a shortage of rental homes, especially for large families.  So we adjusted.  Our back porch is now their living area and we have 4 small children in one bedroom, ala “The Waltons”.  Its been exciting, challenging and a blessing to be a part of their lives every day.

Our life has always included a bit of “prepping”.  That’s part of country life.  In Oklahoma we need to be prepared for tornadoes and for winter ice storms.  A few years back our electric was out for 14 days due to an ice storm.  Fortunately our generator saw us through.  When the news begin to cover the Covid-19 and it’s possible spread to us, I began to inventory what we may need.

  1.  Prescriptions- I ordered a 90 day supply for John and I.
  2.  Over the Counter meds-Everything from headache, stomach, first aid to allergy relief.
  3.  Canned goods.
  4.  Meats- this year we are fortunate to have more than usual.  We have a deer that was harvested last November, part of a beef from the year before and a pig that was purchased from a lady who attends our church.
  5.  Gardening seeds and supplies.  In recent years our vegetable garden has got smaller each year.  This year my son and daughter-in-law has suggested we have a real garden, one that will support us.
  6.   Baking supplies – Flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt
  7.  Cleaning supplies – Lysol spray, disinfectant wipes, bleach, hydrogen peroxide
  8.   Paper goods – We don’t hoard toilet paper but with a family of 8 we keep a pretty good supply on hand.  My D-I-L purchased flannel to make “family cloth” if needed when the tp supply runs out.
  9.  Fuel and oil for cars, tractor and generator.
  10.  Get the cellar cleaned and stocked for tornado season.

I have a small flock of egg laying chickens that we keep in a movable pen.  They are aging and egg production has slowed down.  Yesterday, my Daughter-in-law and I went to Atwoods, our local farm goods store,  to purchase chicks, starter feed, and feeding equipment.  My plan was to only buy about 12 but my son suggested we get about 20.  They are straight run so we probably will have extra roosters that can be used for chicken and dumplings.

School has let out until April 6th here.  My grandchildren’s school year ends the first week of May so we expect school will not start back until the fall.  D-I-L is planning to homeschool the remainder of the year and possibly next year.

I’m sure there are holes in our planning.  We just do what we can and trust God for everything.  This is uncharted times for our generation but I feel as a family and a nation we’ll be much stronger having gone through this together.  How has your family prepared and what are you doing to keep up your spirits?

 

 

 

Slowdown on the Prairie

 

We awoke this morning with an unexpected blanket of snow on the ground. Once again Oklahoma and God has provided an unexpected weather change. Yes, it has been very cold the last couple of days (for Oklahoma) but the weather man predicted just a dusting.

When the ground is covered in snow, everything seems to come to a stall and there is a quiet reverance on the prairie. John says it’s God’s way of saying, “time to slow down”. Cows still have to be fed and ice on the ponds must be broke for watering. But, once that’s done life goes at a much slower pace. A hearty soup can be put in the crock pot and with a pot of steaming coffee one can relax with a good book or just enjoy the view.

 

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View from our West Windows

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Winter Playground

 

The Season Closes with Surprises

Oklahoma is having unusually warm weather.  The day before our annual Thanksgiving event, known as “Man Week” Man Week Has Arrived, a.k.a. Thanksgiving!, the weatherman reported we would have our first freeze of the season.

I’ve been a little behind with the garden (unmotivated) and I still had jalapeno peppers and green tomatoes growing in the garden.  In a moment of guilt, not wanting to waste food, I immediately began to harvest the peppers and tomatoes. But how to preserve?  It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I have things to do!  John suggested stringing the peppers like his mother used to do.  That sounded like a lot of work to me and I’m all about saving time.  Checked out google for all the alternatives and it did seem like the easiest way to go.

I got out two large craft needles and John got out some green fishing line.  He took one string and I took the other.  It was actually very relaxing working together and it went quite fast.  It also added some color to the kitchen for the Thanksgiving feast.

Next, what to do with the tomatoes?  This year the size of the tomatoes were small but the taste was wonderful.  Too good to waste!  In the past I’ve canned, froze, dried, made tomato jam (very good) but I didn’t have time for that.  I put them in a colander waiting for a magic idea.  Gradually they began ripening and we began eating and enjoying the wonderful flavor of homegrown tomatoes.  I’m so spoiled I don’t buy a store-bought tomato.  There’s just no comparison!

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In the middle of all this last-minute harvesting, I discovered a couple of surprises in the girl’s Garden Granddaughters’ Garden. This garden was long forgotten and the Bermuda had taken over.  To my surprise, I found cilantro and lettuce growing. This year was my first attempt at growing cilantro.  Even though I use cilantro to make hot sauce, what I didn’t realize is that cilantro does not like hot weather.  We had a very hot June this year and it never grew.  But the cooler temperatures in November brought it peeking out to greet me.  I harvested what I could by cutting leaves and not pulling the roots and put the garden to bed with straw.  Perhaps the cilantro and lettuce will come up next Spring.

Man Week Has Arrived, a.k.a. Thanksgiving!

When I met my husband I soon learned that Thanksgiving doesn’t revolve around the turkey,  but the deer.  It’s rifle season week in Oklahoma.  Before we bought our home, we would make the trip to his sister’s home in the country so he could deer hunt.  I was very happy when we bought our home in the country so I could have our Thanksgiving dinner at home.

For many years now, I have called the beginning of deer season, “Man Week”. This was due to the invasion of men at our home.  Man Week has now become Man Season as duck hunting has become a popular past time as well.  Deer season has 3 phases: bow, primitive arms and rifle.  John does not bow hunt but we do have friends arriving who do.

A tradition on the first day of rifle season, which is tomorrow, is that John will get up way before day break and cook breakfast and have coffee ready for the men who will be hunting.  This year man week will include our granddaughter who took her first deer last year and is very excited to go out again.

I am a little tired (exhausted) by the time Thanksgiving is over, but it’s a wonderful feeling to have a family and friends tradition  that all look forward to coming back for the next year.

What traditions does your family enjoy around the holidays?

Recent Rains Have Us Kickin’ Up Our Heels!

It’s been dry for so long.  We’re enjoying the recent rains.  In past summers the drought and extreme heat killed pasture grasses forcing us to put out hay for cattle in August.  Shortage of hay drove up prices from $25 to $100 and up per round bale.  Ouch!

Praise God, it’s October and the cows are still enjoying green grass and children are happily playing in mud puddles!

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.” Isaiah 55:10  NLT