The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Pantries and Preparedness 2020. Bartering and encouragement.

I am finally able to post the next in our pantry and preparedness series.  It has been hard to keep up with everything going on around me, family, gardening and all that needs doing.  In a week so much more has happened.  This would be the same for you all.

Last week I still went to town one time and I had a couple of my homemade face masks with me.

I also had my sanitiser sprays and wipes.   I quickly found out that if I had a hundred of these I could have sold or bartered all day long.    I had made a deal with a lady to make her two masks in exchange for a pile of cotton sheeting she said she will send me.   And she did!  It is many meters of plain solid colour sheeting which she washed and ironed.   I made her two masks and some sanitiser.    And then she discovered I have eggs so I can sent her eggs too.   And this is how I find myself constantly bartering!   

Vicky has written how bartering helps her family so much.  And boy I have know her to do some good deals over the years!  

Over to Vicky!

Right now with so many things going on all over the world we need to think about all of our resources and what we can do with them. There are so many things we can do to keep our households going and bartering is one of them. 
Bartering was a way of life for many at one time and we can draw upon that, it is a way of helping each other and obtaining things we need or use without cash. My great grandma and some of her friends and family did a lot of bartering during the Depression from fabric scraps so they could have something different, fruits and vegetables from their gardens or foraging like blackberries and wild plums. 

We barter a lot and it is amazing the trades that can be made! 
Take a good look at all that you have, do you have a lot extra of some things, but need others or if your offered something even if you may not need it at the moment would you be willing to trade for it? I have accepted barters for things I may not need myself, but have been able to gift to someone else that had the need and then was gifted with something I did need so the saying what goes around comes around is very much true. 
And it can be hard to ask for a trade, but I have found that people actually love to trade and find it a small excitement so if you need to don't be afraid to ask. All it takes is to say I have this etc. and would you be willing to trade for this,etc.? 

What do you have plenty of that you could barter? Do you have plenty of flour it only takes a cup or two to produce a small baked good. Maybe you would like to trade with a gardener? Do you have chickens who lay eggs and can trade for something to add to your pantry? Or maybe something isn't available at the store and you know someone who has plenty and fuel prices are cheaper consider taking a can and getting a few extra gallons to barter with. I've bartered with lots of my canned goods and the hubby too. He was asked if he would take a hay elevator for some of my canned pickles and he did then bartered it for something else. 

Bartering can include labor too. My husband has cut down trees for the wood or more recently bartered 6 dozen eggs for a truck load of wood. It doesn't have to be even, Steven as long as both parties are happy. We can even coordinate with family or friends like great grandma did and see who has an abundance of what and divide it up and trade so everyone has a little variety. There are many, many ways to work things out and with a lack of resources we need to consider all possibilities at our disposal. 

We can be each others eyes and help each other, buy a pack of toilet paper and someone else can get something else if their store has it and then trade off half of each. Some is better than none. 
What do you have that you could barter? What do you need that you would like to get? Since we don't know the extent of damage this virus is going to do it is a good time to consider all of the ways we can get along and make do. making our own, stretching things, making sure we have no waste, helping others and also bartering and we are off to a good start! 

Thank you Vicky.  Here a load of wood is worth several hundred dollars.  That is a wonderful trade! 

I have had a lot of reasons to be grateful and amazed this week.   I built up my chicken numbers and set up.  Now it is hard to buy a chicken and eggs are in demand and a great bartering item.
We bought an extra large freezer as we just felt the need.  Then it became hard to buy a freezer as everyone had the same idea at the same time when the virus first broke out.
We planted a fruit orchard and veggie garden.  And now it is hard to get seedlings and even seeds.   But we are already established.   I read ages ago that the time to do these things is before you need them.  These things were things we worked on as soon as we arrived here.

This is not to say it is too late to get going.   I have always said the same... take every opportunity!   Do what you can and make the most of everything.  

Bartering is natural to Vicky and to me.   I think now is the time to help others and a great time to barter.   Thing of your resources and what you could be producing.   To get by in hard times we need to be producing things and not just consuming them.   This helps you supply your own needs and gives you things to sell or trade.   So I have a list of things that I can barter that I have... fresh herbs, Bay Leaves,  eggs, sheep manure, jam, baking, wood... things I can produce.... face masks, hand wipes, soft fabric tissues (kleenex) and essential oil rollers.   I am making producing things each day part of the day.  If you have a skill put it to good use.  Learn a skill too!   Your abundance of one thing is something you can swap with others!  

See if your elders neighbours need anything.  There are very lonely people just now.  We can still phone and write!

Now I need your help.   I am struggling with my work, family needs and blog but I want to keep going.  You can help me by sharing any good trading ideas and ways to help others at this time.   Last week I mentioned our family shopping co op.   We all let each other know what we are looking for and add these things to our lists.  I was able to get Mum some Gluten Free Flour.  Mum was able to give me venison!   (Trade!)  Chloe needed sugar.  She was able to give me figs (another trade!)  Her friend was desperate for flour and Chloe sent her some.  Her friend sent back apples and tomatoes!     

This is where a network comes in!   Some of my network is a family.   But also I have a wider network.  I have always highly valued the Pharmacist.  The one we went to in the city was a discount chemist.   We got to know them and they got to know us.  We also have an excellent chemist in our local town.   I am always asking him questions so he knows me too.   The city pharmacist I follow on Facebook.  I think I am probably their number one liker and commenter!!   They posted they had an arrival of face masks.   The next day they posted they had an arrival of hand sanitiser!    I rang up... they immediately knew me on the phone and said "hello! How is Andy going?"  and I said I realised they must be incredibly busy at this time but would they possibly have time to do a phone order and post things out?   Yes!!  And within minutes I had a list of items that are very hard to get on their way.   Networking and being nice to people, getting to know them...  doing things to help and encourage them and then when you need help they are there for you too.

Next week Rachel is adding to this subject of bartering.  She is also a natural at it!! And we can learn from her!

The other way you can help me keep going is to help me with replies.   I have always felt it is important to reply to everyone and answer all questions.   Lately I have missed some replies which I feel bad about... I am still going though!   If someone asks a question and you can answer it please do!   If you see someone needs encouragement or a few words of kindness reply to them.  It can turn this way into a giant discussion and it will help me to manage.   I do feel at this time our friendship is needed more than ever.  Instead of trading goods we are trading ideas and knowledge and helping each other get through this time!  

Locally the shortages and rationing are worse... in Mum's town even the Post Office is closed.  I became aware a couple of weeks ago that while the stores were low we might become reliant on mail order/online shopping  but that soon these might be suspended too.   Coming into cool weather we acted fast to make sure the girls would have warm winter clothing.   So if you have children and needs like this think of them now. 

There is more to the picture than the illness.   Our own Government and mainstream media now talk openly about some countries collapsing.  Concepts such as a cashless society and One World Government are also getting pretty regular mentions.  The collapse of whole countries would make the Lehman Brothers look minor!   
The financial brains that I speak to are sure this will be no recession, it will be a depression. I guess we will soon know.   So we have a lot to do and need to be our very best and most prudent and watchful. xxx

Friday, 27 March 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 27th March, 2020.

I am posting late in the day, in bed in fact.  It has been such a busy week and somewhat stressful.  I am not going to talk too much about the virus here but I will post, hopefully, on Sunday about that and some ways we might be able to help ourselves and each other.

For now I will concentrate on the good things and what I could achieve this week and I think that will be good for me.  I have had moments, especially today, where things are getting to me.   I always say I do best if I put worry in to action but I think today I crossed some kind of invisible line into too much action!

We stayed home mostly.  I had one venture into shops briefly for the week.  It was sobering.   Oh yes, I am not talking abut that until Sunday!

We did have some major blessings and I must not let these times cloud appreciation for the good things!  The sun shone and our days were perfect Autumn days.  I feel it is very healthy to be in the sun and outside as much as possible.  I feel it doing me good.

There is a new addition to the family.  This is Chloe's new baby.  Well, big baby.  His name is Flynn.

He is gorgeous.  To me he seems unreal like a mythical creature or from a child's book.  But he is real!  His eyes are just incredible... he is all eyes and eyelashes.

Also he "talks" a funny little language and has some crazy expressions!  

This seems to be "I like you but I am not sure if you like me?" haha!

Anyway as you can probably tell I want one. 

I did manage to order six more chickens.  To me this is just wise and I had to go on a list and wait until all unnecessary movement is over... so it could be a while.  But I am fairly confident I can add six chickens.

I kept working through apples.  This involved two batches of apple puree and a big cake.

I made the girls some cupcakes.  The icing in my opinion was a bit of a disaster but they thought the colour was marvellous.

One of the nicest things during the week was I went picking figs with Chloe.  There is a huge sprawling tree over an old stone house right near her house.  It is low and there are big fat purple figs all over it. Last year it didn't do well so this year Chloe watered that tree and looked after it.  Well it worked!  You could pick figs for a couple of hours and still not make a dent. 

We were chatting, out in the Autumn sunshine, and filling our baskets with figs.  It was lovely. 
I feel blessed to be on the farm and to have produce to use, fresh eggs each day and family to help each other.

In the gaps I made face masks.   At first I had no elastic so I used stretch lace.  But I like them.  I did three layers.  While they are not as good as N95 or N99 make those are not available.  I got the pattern a US hospital was giving to people as they were asking for masks to be made.  From this I concluded they are of use.  

I notice now how we look at everything differently.  This week we got a packet of toilet paper.  It was like winning the lottery!  People get excited over small things now!  

I think we need to take things day by day.  Be careful to make good decisions and exercise a lot of restraint and caution.   

How was your week and how did you keep things going in your home?  Keep your children snug and peaceful?  Keep bellies full?   I think already we are all learning to be more creative!  
With love and encouragement to you. xxx

Friday, 20 March 2020

Pantries and Preparedness. 2020. A new reality.

Thank you to everyone who participated last week and shared what is happening in your area and what shortages you are experiencing.   In several instances this helped me as there were items I had not anticipated and I was able to make sure we have some on hand.  And then guess what?  The next time I shopped they also were gone.
The most recent Pantries and Preparedness post is here.  This link will also take you to all the others in this series.

A week ago I felt that things happened so fast it was hard to keep up.  But this week has been even more this way.... I have had moments where I have been dumbfounded.   Speechless even!  (and that is saying something!)

During the week I did one trip away from the farm.  At this stage we are reducing our exposure to the outside world as much as possible.  I anticipate sometime soon we will not be going to town at all.

I am in country South Australia for anyone who is new here.

Things had changed a lot since last time.  There are government signs before you go into the stores...

As you go into the store you begin to see signs on limits on products.   Which is a nice way of saying rationing.

Then there were warnings to not abuse staff.... which are apparently necessary as staff are having a really hard time.

So in I went.  Some of the above limits were hypothetical only as there was no toilet paper or antibacterial towels.  

We have two stores and they were both the same. 

Bread and rolls were just an empty space.

All soaps were gone.  Antibacterial soap, regular liquid and foaming soaps and bar/solid soaps.

This interests me as I knew that in the Great Depression and the war years soap was one of the most sought after things.  If you wanted a highly tradeable and liftable item then a supply of soap was hard to beat.  Also inexpensive (in good times) small to store, long lasting and improves with age...  soap is like gold!  

Other items like gold apparently are tissues (kleenex) 

And frozen vegetables..

There was almost no meat at all.  Including pet food.

I was able to get fresh veggies, diary and I got some flour in one store.   The other was empty and both had limits.

The limits do not take into account your family size.  So if you are one person you can buy one pack of flour and if you are a family of ten you can still buy one pack.   Same with bread, rice, soap,  etc.  
Many country people shop once a month or once in three months.  That is a long drive to get one or two of everything.... and it is not going to feed larger families.   
Any notion that this is short lived was well and truly cleared up this week.  We have been told to be ready for at least six months...

The next day at home I had a comment from a reader telling me that a bus had pulled up in their small country town.  People got off this bus, went into the store and bought pretty much all they could then back on the bus and three hours back to the city!  So the pretty well already empty town shop was now in even worse shape....  
Within the next several hours I found out this is happening across the state.  Buses and cars are coming from far and wide to the small towns as they have heard we still have stuff.    When I realised this I felt the colour drain out of me.   Oh my goodness...

Next Mum confirmed this had happened in her town.   People were descending from everywhere.  And my town (which is one hour away) had people coming from interstate!  Then buses started arriving!   
Today my local Foodland has posted on social media that we will now need ID to shop there and they are limiting shoppers to a 100 kilometre radius.   They said authorities had made them aware more buses and cars were coming long distances to buy up food and leave... leaving locals with nothing. 
I am still amazed.   I can see this all getting really out of hand.  Dangerous even.

In the store there was a young woman with a little boy in a pusher. (stroller)  She was standing looking at the empty frozen vegetable freezers.  I said to her a hello and a friendly comment.  She said "I can't get anything on my list.."     I felt she had planned what to buy and what to make.  I said to her ok try doing it the other way, try seeing what you can find that your family like and work out what you could make from it.  I honestly don't think she had thought of that.  And this is what we will all have to do.

People who have kept a good pantry and even people who have saved money are now being labelled HOARDERS.   Ladies become very discreet about what you have in your home.   Someone amongst us has had death threats for having a well stocked pantry.  Yes I am serious.   Someone who has been frugal and hard working for years, bakes, grows her produce and cans her food....  she is labelled a hoarder and greedy.  Yet you get someone who has their annual Bali holiday and $5000 in tattoos saying they can't afford a pantry.  I don't have anything against either if that is what people want to do.  But leave those who want to get ahead alone!    Ironically those of us who do have gardens and chickens and full pantries are in a position to take care of our families and help others.  However these things (just like taking care of your own children) are now frowned upon. 
It is becoming harder and harder to stand up for Jesus and Christian values. If you believe things as set out in the Bible you will be labelled a bigot.  So I guess now we are bigoted hoarders! 😳
Don't let people calling you names stop you! 

I am not talking about people who are profiteering by buying basic goods up and selling them for huge prices online.    There are some really shifty people who are not helping at all!   But this is a whole different category!   Families who are trying to provide for their families are not in this group.

With a week or two of low stock and some items unavailable we are already seeing angry people. Abusive people.   Pushing and shoving.  Fights breaking out in supermarkets...  So it has to make you wonder if this situation goes on and we continue to see prices rising and shortages what things will be like.   Mum's town had a four kilo bag of potatoes for $20 today.   Suddenly really ordinary items are going up and up.   Thousands of people are losing their jobs every day.    I am betting everyone already knows of job losses.   Thousands of businesses are closing every day.   How many can survive closing, possibly for months?

Each day more countries are shut down. Our government has called all Australian's to come home asap.   I just saw California is having everyone shelter in place like in Italy or France.   Hundreds of thousands of businesses will not survive this.... ships are headed to New York to be set up as hospitals... every hour that passes things just escalate.  It is actually just mind blowing.  It is so mind blowing it can be hard to think straight in a time we need to think fast and clearly.  We all need a plan.  We need to review everything.  
During the week Lucy send me a list.  She said "Mum, I have done a freezer inventory.  Here is the list of meals I can make."    This was just her freezer and not her pantry.   I was so pleased!  Suddenly we need to consider everything.  If we can't go out we need everything on hand.

Pharmaceuticals are also being rationed now.   Over the counter medications are not on the shelves here anymore.

News from our capital (Adelaide) was that supermarkets had no meat or very little and that you could no long buy a freezer either!  Everyone had the same idea at once...

What can we do?  Well, I hope you have been building up your pantry and preparedness week by week.  I have thrown everything including the kitchen sink at trying to get everyone to do that.  
We need to sort ourselves out and be calm.   Assess our positions and think.
Simplify.   Be prudent with everything.   We need to keep our household calm and protected.  Children fed and tucked up in a warm bed.   They will sense if you are in a crisis.   Bedtime stories are one good medicine.   Having the TV on is not.

If you are able to buy food then  buy staples that can be used in many many ways and will last a long time. We are going to think fairly long term here. 

There are good things to think of.  The skies are clearer and the water in Venice and cleaner!   People are suddenly interested in growing their own veggies and having chickens.  Learning new skills. 
We can band together and lift each other up, help our neighbours,  deliver food to older people and plant our own Victory Garden.   When the going gets tough the tough get going!

The purpose of this post is really to show our new reality which is changing so fast.  Some people will see this as mild as we are still allowed to go out.  Some will be shocked!   Wherever you are on the timeline I hope we can help each other.  

My next posts I hope to concentrate on things we can do, things we can make... things that will help.

Proverbs 22:3 The prudent see danger and take cover, but the simple keep going and suffer the consequences.   

Yesterday I had cause to be talking to a man who is very clever and quite high up in one of the major banks in Australia.   I thought mmmm I have this brainiac on the phone I should really take the opportunity to see what he thinks of all of this....    So I went right ahead and asked what did he think of the financial situation for Australia and the world in this crisis?  Now this is just an opinion but this is what was said...  he paused.  I said "it is not going to be a recession is it?  This is 1929 and it is going to be a great depression."   There I said it and risked looking silly to him.  
 He passed some more then he said "I agree with you, this won't be a recession it will be far far worse unlike anything we have ever seen."
Within a few hours Australia then closed the borders.   And this escalated once again.

I know people who can't wait to jump on a cruise shop or a plane and I know people who are preparing their vegetable seedlings to plant out.   I am in the "get a few more chickens group."

Please share what the situation is where you are now,  what is hard to obtain and what you wish you had thought of earlier as this might help someone else.   I will begin to work on things we can do.  I think if there are things we can do we are better.  We are not helpless.  We can help our families so much.  Now is the

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 20th March, 2020.

I can barely believe the week we  had.  Probably all of us!  I am going to post later or tomorrow everything to do with the pandemic and the fall out.  Each day things have escalated so much here, not just in news we hear, but I mean right here on the ground.  
Right now I will think about the good things of the week and what we were able to achieve.
Andy and I were both sick for a few days.  So it wasn't the best week ever!

Some of the ways I did manage to built up our home and feather our nest were:

It was Chloe's birthday!  She loves Aplaca's and I found this planter.  I got some of the cuttings I was given going in a small pot and placed them inside.   And I made cup cakes instead of a birthday cake. They looked pretty and hard sparkle also!

I had little packets of icing roses so I can't take credit for those!

I made a big pot of chicken soup as it seemed like the best idea in light of how we both felt.

Then I made a tray of cornbread to go with it.   Usually I make this up as muffins.   But I went for the easiest option!  

This is really good with soup and makes it a bigger meal. 
It is 2 cups polenta,  1 3/4 cup SR flour.  (I used gluten free.)  100g butter or oil, 1 1/2 cups milk, 2 eggs and optional... a cup of creamed corn.   Can be made as a loaf or as muffins.   Bake in medium oven until golden and skewer comes out clean.   It is nice if it is a bit brown and crunchy on the edges. 
It is good with butter!

This week I worked through more apples and make batches of apple puree.  It is so nice and I have frozen lots.

Then I started on the figs my sister in law gave me.  For dinner we had figs with cream cheese, wrapped with prosciutto.  They were beautiful.   I made jam to give to my sister in law to pay her back then lined the rest up on my shelf.

Also I made a batch of Sticky Fig Balsamic Vinegar.   I went through many recipes and finally used the recipe I always do which is this one here by Mimi...   Home made sticky balsamic glaze.  This recipe is so good.  This turns an average salad or pizza into something out of this world.   I fill mushrooms with it and bake them....  many uses.   This batch I just added a dozen figs and at the end blitzed them.  It is really good! 

I got four bottles but one was already in use!

My neighbour gave me a bag of glorious rose fabrics.  Some are newer, some are vintage and some are furnishing materials.  Oh my goodness I love them!

So many possibilities!
I made a tray of gluten free scones.  My freezer has been a bit low on gf things that I can have. 

So I guess I am doing what I always try to do and make hay while the sun shines.  A day here is still the same with happy chickens and animals and pumpkins growing over the fence. Black cockatoos making a lot of noise but that is a happy sound too as they sound like they are having a lovely time! 

But when I went to town it was a whole new reality.  And I know this is just the beginning of a long haul.  So I say make MORE hay while you can.  Take every opportunity to get ahead, be very watchful and think.   But more on that tomorrow and I will hope like last weeks post we can all help each other. xxx

Friday, 13 March 2020

Pantries and Preparedness. Hand washing and sanitiser.

This is the third in my series which is aimed at helping us with the current crisis and to get through shortages we might be experiencing.   We need to avoid panic and know that we are capable of managing and making many things ourselves.

Now I am not a doctor or medical expert.  So you check everything and do your research.  I am going to post the best information I know and the best ways I know around shortages.

The first post in this series can be found here.
The second post was on the subject of making our own kleenex and hankies...  which is here.   This was an easy one and may be a way you can help children, grandchildren and friends also.

The best way to wash your hands (or have your children wash their hands)  is with soap and water.  Do a good job of it and for 30 seconds.  Teach your children how to wash their hands really well and have them do it as soon as they come in the door!  Count to thirty or sing a song or something to make sure they are washing for long enough.   Singing Happy Birthday twice is apparently about right.  It does not matter if it is hard soap, liquid soap and it does not have to be antibacterial soap.  Do it often and TRY to not touch your face. This is ridiculously hard when you become aware of it.
So that is number one and it is simple and effective.
It occurred to me to have childrens hair tied back well so they are not tempted to touch their face so much.  This might apply to ourselves as well.

But what about when we are out and about and don't have access to soap and water?
If you are in your car then you can simply carry a bowl, a towel or paper towels,  soap and a larger container of water.  We have done this before as you do with camping.  Some water, soap up, rinse and dry... the water can go into the curb drain or in my case on to the grass.   You can do a good job this way!    It is not hard to set up a bit of a hand washing station in the back of your car.  If I still had kids at school I would do this.

To my horror some schools and many public toilets have no soap.  Carry a small container of liquid soap with you or soap leaves.  Send soap with your children.  No soap is not an option!

This is no help in the shops, public transport etc. when there is no soap or water at all.   At this stage I think avoiding the shops and public transport would be better than anything ... but real life may not allow you to do that.

If you do not have good hand sanitiser or wipes then you need alternatives.  Effective ones have  60% minimum alcohol.  At the end of the day the alcohol is what kills the germs.  Most contain Aloe Vera or a moisturiser but this is just so your hands feel ok but it doesn't actually kill germs.  

If we have no supplies (and generally these items have sold out everywhere) then don't despair.  
What I don't want to think of is people feeling upset, hopeless or desperate.  We can do things if we need to!

We will start with ideal.   We need 60% alcohol in our  homemade hand sanitiser.  Today I am concentrating on wipes and sprays.   Next post I will work on a moisturiser, rub in type formula.

In my home I had a high concentration alcohol.  I saved this in my medical cabinet for making alcohol wipes for wounds.  But it is good for this!
You could use Isopropyl alcohol.  Available in hardware stores it is 70% alcohol.  Or Rubbing alcohol which is the same.    You may be able to get in on Ebay, from cleaning suppliers...

I used my 98% alcohol and added boiled water.  Then I added several essential oils as well for good measure.   I included Eucalyptus oil and Rosemary which are both known anti virals.

Now, I prefer hand wipes.  So I hunted around and I had these lovely wash cloths which are double muslin fabric.

I found these on Ebay and they worked out to be 33c each and are gorgeous baby washers.  Anyhow, they are good for this purpose.   Other things could be might be chux wipes, regular face washers,  an old sheet torn up,  thick paper towels,   cotton fabric squares from your fabric stash... you want something that will absorb moisture.

In a jar I mixed up my alcohol, a drop of liquid soap, water and oils with a 60% of alcohol goal in mind.   Then I placed a muslin washer into a zip lock bag and about a tablespoon of my mix and sealed it.  I repeated this and made ten wipes.

I did a test run.  You want it to not be dripping all over the place yet be wet enough to really wet your hands and do a good job.
I also filled little spray bottles I have in my essential oil supplies.  I thought I could pray my hands or a surface and use a dry cloth to dry up.  I placed the rest into little travel bottles I have.  They are enough each to make quite a few more sanitisers.
You will need a labelled sealed bag or container to place used wipes.   I labelled a zip lock bags  CONTAMINATED!    The choice is yours... they could be disposed of and I personally would burn anything I thought was contaminated or place into a bucket with bleach in it nappy bucket (with a lid) style.

I am pretty happy with this.  I cannot guarantee anything you make will be 100%.  But even store bought hospital grade items are 99.9 % effective.  They allow that title bit for failure.
If you have no commercial supplies or have run out and if you have no access to soap and water then it is your call if something is better than nothing.   And personally I think yes! Something, the best you can make,  is better than nothing!

If Isopropyl and rubbing alcohol are not available either then we have to get more creative.
Vinegar is an anti viral but the health authorities don't really endorse it.  Still it kills germs so it has uses.
Some essential oils are strong germ killers and anti virals.
Some alcohol made for drinking is a high percentage of alcohol.  Vodka is around 40% but some types go up to 90%.  I do imagine some of these are very expensive.
Everclear  is over 90% alcohol.   So there may be some pretty good germ killers in the bottle shop.  Again,  don't forget you really need 60% alcohol.   It is your call whether 40% is better than nothing... and your decision what to do in the absence of exactly what you need.

Here is a link to some wipes made with vodka and essential oils.  Joybilee Farm DIY antibacterial wipes.   I quite like this recipe.  It is up to you if you think you would use something like this in the event of not being able to obtain anything commercial and not being able to get your hands on Isopropyl alcohol.

It might be good to remember things from Nana's day. Terrible things were burned.  Germy things were boiled.  Nan had a bit pot and a wooden spoon and things were boiled on the stove.  I know she boiled kitchen towels too.   In sick times hand towels should not be shared and should be washed everyday.
And toothbrushes... they should be kept seperate and not on the sink where people wash who know what and splatter who knows what around.  Hydrogen Peroxide is ideal for disinfecting toothbrushes. Or have a new one if in doubt.   But we can be funny as we might be ever so careful in one area and completely miss something worse as we just don't think of it.  And on that note your mobile phone might be the most germy thing you own.  We might wash our hands just perfectly then pick that thing back up... and be no better off then were were five minutes ago unless we clean that too!

We can do this.  Nothing improved here today, we mainly had mass cancellations of public events and news of new infections.  Many businesses are going to go broke over this virus.  We need to do what we can to encourage others and support small businesses as best we can too.  

If you have helpful tips or information please share!   Please be wise and thoughtful in the coming weeks. xxx

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 13th March, 2020.

Well, what an "interesting" week.  It was a week of not knowing where to look and what to do.  So This is what I did....

No ,not tractor driving!    I got busy "making hay while the sun shines!"
I took this photo on the way home from town last week.   I have always loved this saying.   And that is what we do.  We make the most of what we have and do what we are able right where we are now.

We made progress in several areas including the cottage.  Some rooms are painted!  We have three rooms that look clean and fresh!  Talk about a transformation!  

I had apples from apple picking last week and then Dad had brought me more!   I had zucchini ready in the garden and eggs from the chickens.  So I got cooking.

I made apple cakes,  zucchini slices/impossible pies and peanut butter biscuits as the girls love them.

I headed off to visit Lucy and as she is still getting over being sick I took one of everything.   The cake was a big hit.   All they are is a basic vanilla cake made in a bigger pan than normal so I can get the maximum amount of apple over the top.  Then dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar.   Any way to use up apples at the moment.  

On the way home I checked the apple tree on the side of the road...

They were almost ready.  I hedged my bets and picked two buckets and next week will do the same again if they are still there.   On the way back I found three more apple trees.  One had small ripe red apples.   I picked two bags of these as well. 

By the time I was home the back of the car was full. 
I washed up one batch at a time.

My method is just deal with the ones that need using soon.  Perfect ones went into the fridge and crispier for eating and keeping.   I made a basket of lovely little ones to take to Lucy and the girls.  I gave Chloe some good ones to send in Luke's lunch boxes.

I began to peel and stew some.    Last year I ordered an apple peeler. So finally I got to try it out.  
It is the best thing ever!!  This has helped so much. 

The first batch was stewed apples which I like for breakfast or with roast pork.

Next I started on apple puree.

With this lot I saved the peels and cores to simmer down and make apple jelly.   I strained that last night but I ran out of day so today I am adding the sugar and lemon to get it to set point.  
I intend on making batches of baby food in little containers and freezing those and canning the apple jelly.

During the week I also took up two pairs of pants for Andy and finished sewing up a pile of cleaning cloths.  

I also made myself some pantry curtains.  I had to face that my pantry was too light for food preservation.  Also the view out the window was only a water tank!   So now my pantry is darker which is good for the food in jars.

My fridge got a good clean.  I took out the drawers and washed them and re lined them.  

In between I have been writing and planning posts on how to make things that we might be facing shortages of at the moment or in the near future.  You will find them in the Pantries and Preparedness Section.   The next one is how to make hand sanitisers and wipes as these seem to be pretty much sold out everywhere.  We need not panic as there are very good alternatives!  

How was your week?  How did you get ahead, save and build up your pantry? 

Have a very good weekend!  xxx

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Pantries and Preparedness. How to make Kleenex/Hankies.

Over the weekend I wrote about the current situation we are facing in our preparedness.  You can catch up here if you missed that.  Goodness me since then things have got a whole heap more "interesting."
Thank you for all your amazing and helpful comments on that post. I am still replying as each one is valuable thank you!

I decided to try and turn my concerns into action in any way I can.  From talking to people and social media I can see a lot of people are worried about their parents and Grandparents,  job, shortages closures and cancellations  and a whole myriad of issues too long to mention.

There are things we can do and we are not helpless.  I am working on a series of posts that I hope will help ourselves and others.

I am going to start with something really easy that I have been doing for a long time.  I saw on social media ladies saying "oh no"  they cannot buy tissues/kleenex.     You can easily be prepared ahead with this.

Tissues are hard on your nose and when you are sick you go through so many.   Good old fashioned handkerchiefs are ok but often (especially ladies ones) are small and not very absorbent.
I find thick brushed cotton or old flannelette sheets and cut them up into squares.  I make them quite large for adults and smaller for children.
The more times that old sheet has been washed the better.  It will be so so soft.   I watch for them in op shops (thrift stores) but have actually bought brand new sheets on a big special just to do this.

I began making them by tearing up squares and made them disposable.  I still do this.  I wash and tumble dry then tear them up and fold them.  Then they are stacked and stored in snap lock bags in my medical pantry.   Over time I have made lots.
When Lucy was sick years ago I gave her a heap (and she looked at me strangely) but I said to try them.  The next thing she asked me to make more and she refused to throw them away...  they are so soft and nice which you just don't appreciate until you are ill!
After this I began hemming many to be washed and reused.  How you do this is up to you.
If someone is really sick I go with disposables.

You may have suitable old linen on hand.  Someone in your family might.   Otherwise try the thrift stores or sales.    Flannelette tends also to come in great kids prints for cute little ones.

I make them 12 to 14 inches square.  Maybe 8 to 9 for a child.   I give them in little bundles.  If someone is sick this is a nice gift.    But one thing for sure is the lack of Kleenex on the shelves is the least of our worries.  
This is a job like making chicken soup.  Make them before you need them!    If you have a sewing machine this could be a gift of help to anyone finding they cannot buy tissues currently. 
And after any shortage you will never buy tissues again anyway!  

Just now I can make a heap more as I found childrens flannelette sheets with little owls all over them.   And I have others with flowers and roses.    I also have some plain soft and thick flannel sheets that I am saving incase we need to make nappies (diapers) for the new baby.  And yes, I bought nappy pins.

I sat and listened to President Trumps message to the Nation today even though I am Australian!   One reason is this will let me know what might happen next here.   The announcement too by the WHO that this is a Pandemic is kind of what we already knew.  BUT there will be a new wave of shoppers now who just realised they have no supplies that they might need.  So it is quite likely shelves will be lower again...
Sonia and others posted in comments on the last post some of the items they have in shortage in their cities.  I found this helpful as cities were hit first then the country.  So by knowing what the items were I was able to stock up. Low and behold the trends were the same here and now those items are sold out or very low. 
If you would share what is out of stock in your area (and add where you are located) then this might give others the heads up. 

There are simple ways to make many things for ourselves.   And there are simple ways to say healthy and minimise our risk.  Still nothing beats proper hand washing.  Stand and teach the children and Grandchildren how to wash their hands properly.   This might sound silly but many children have never been taught properly and many adults do not wash their hands often enough.   

Since hand sanitisers and sanitising wipes are also sold out I will share how to make these in my next post.   We need not do without these just because they are sold out! 

Be watchful, seek wisdom and be prudent!   Do what you can.  I have hand sanitiser wipes made today and apple jelly simmering.  It is a good time to be industrious and busy at home! xxx

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Pantries and Preparedness. March 2020.

I am going to skip my Saving Like Grandma Did post this week and instead share some thoughts on the current situation we are in due to the Corona Virus.  
Any Bluebirds who have been here for a while will know I began preparing and building up my pantry several years ago.  I really strongly felt the need to do it.  It was just not something I could ignore.  I feel this is how God talks to you.   Or one of the ways!  Something that becomes a feeling out of no where and you just know something.  Any time I have ever ignored this kind of thing hasn't ended terribly well.

The last week was very interesting.  I think now we are used to day after day of hearing where the virus has spread, of quarantines and travel restrictions and many dramas that you would not want to be caught up in.

Now I am located in the very southern area of Australia which most of the time seems far far away from the rest of the world.  I like it!  I feel far from likely to have a nuclear bomb dropped on me for instance!   But of all the things I considered I have been preparing for an Epidemic or a Pandemic was not one of them!  I might have considered it as when I began my medical preparedness I did stock N95 masks.   At the time I thought if there was a terrible flu only the first people at the chemist would get masks as I checked at our local one and they had 100.   I thought this wouldn't last long and I ordered 80 online.   Now this one really paid off!  When N95 masks are sold out world wide I have some.   You see having a medical pantry isn't such a bad idea!

Next hand sanitiser sold out.  That is ok too I have everything to make a pretty much endless supply of my own and several big bottles on hand.

Beyond that I never considered a pandemic.  Most of what I am seeing now is more like a movie script than reality.  I am actually pretty sure this will end up a movie!

While things in China were very dramatic and frightening at first we heard a lot of comforting information i.e. it will never get here, it is mild and everyone is making a big deal over nothing.
But each week as it has escalated we have the virus breaking out all over the world, hundreds of millions of people in quarantine and restricted movement,  medical supplies and resources stretched, supply chains broken... so much comes from China.   There are so many implications.  On the farm we depend on pumps.  Pumps come from China.  Even cement comes from China!

In Australia we had an extended and severe drought.  Then we had massive and widespread fires.  Our economy is really taking a hit.  Also the spirt of the people.  And now this.... even just the tourism aspect is going to send a whole new lot of businesses broke as tourism is big business here and it is one thing we still had!

Each week I have tried to keep up with the picture developing and be one step ahead.  In some small ways this has helped and I hope it will help my family.  But now I am worried.

Our medical experts say hospitals are well equipped to cope.  But we all know to get into a hospital you might have to wait in an ambulance for hours or a whole day as they are full.  This is before the virus!  So err.... how exactly will they manage?  We had doctors last week attend a conference with an infected doctor. Good idea!   I am seeing things I can barely believe.  Our health Minister suggested we could all help by going to China town and eating Chinese food.  HOW would that help reduce the spread of a virus?   So my trust of their wisdom is not too high.
It became apparent quickly that with air travel no where would be left unaffected.

So is there any point worrying and anything you can do?   I think this is just an example of why we need to be watchful.  Then it is one thing to gather information and another to act on it.
People are funny.   We can react in strange ways!  One is "I can't do anything about it so I am just not going to worry about it."   This accounts for a lot of people.
Another is where we know something is up and we have the information in front of us but we don't quite believe it.  This is known as Normalcy Bias.  In Australia this is "she'll be right mate" and our belief that life as we have always known it will continue to be life as we have always known it!
Then when it is not.... it is a massive shock and people pretty much go crazy.
Then there is "there is so much to do I don't know where to start."   My answer to that is Elizabeth Elliot's "do the next thing."  Don't be paralysed by fear or confusion.  
You will also get people who just don't care.  I can't explain that as I would walk over cut glass to make sure the children in the family have their needs met.

So that is where we are about now.

If you have a pretty well stocked pantry and supplies you are probably reasonably calm.
If you keep a few days worth of supplies then you might be starting to worry.  It is already too late to get many useful things from hand sanitiser to virus suitable face masks.

It is probably too late to get many things from toilet paper to long life milk.  Depending on where you are.  

On Friday Lucy (who is pregnant with two small children) decided she better do an extra stock up at the store.  First I should say that I messaged her a couple of weeks ago and told her to begin stocking up all she needs for the girls and the baby.  Usually I am pretty sure she thinks I am a bit of a nutter.  But low and behold she listened to me.  And she even send me a photo of her car loaded up with groceries, nappies, formula, disinfectant and all kinds of basics.  I was really pleased.
So... back to Friday... she drove into the store after being so sick earlier in the week.
This time she send me another photo....

Mum... look...

So this is a large South Australian regional town.  

I decided this seems to be "it".   I organised myself to go into my town which is an hour from me.    The thing is I am fairly well stocked.   It is the girls and baby I am mostly worried about. 
I prayed as I drove.  At this point I was trying to think of what the girls and new baby need and what even my parents might need and not have.

I have two stores to choose from.  I was armed with hand wipes and essential oils. 
The first store looked exactly the same as Lucy's... 

This was toilet paper, wipes,  hand sanitisers,  tissues...

Long life milk,  flour, pasta, nappies, baby formula were all very low.

I shopped in the areas that were still stocked.  Then I moved to the next store.  
This store had many of the things on the now hard to find list.  As I was shopping the store gradually became more and more crowed.  What happened was the day before they also looked like the above pictures.  I had walked in just as a truck had been unloaded!  So I got toilet paper, wipes, baby formula etc.  At the same time world got out they had all this and people were descending!   I got in and out just in time!  I had prayed and there I was with everything needed in my trolley.

Since then we have heard of fights in supermarkets and police arriving.  Of people now queueing outside of Aldi and Coles from 5 am and it taking two hours to get inside.  Things like childrens paracetamol are sold out anywhere I can look online.   Nothing has calmed down.  All I can see is worse news from overseas and Australia.   

I am really glad I acted on a lot of things a couple of weeks ago.  I got childrens panadol and formula, new born nappies, pantry staples and generally did an extra build up my pantry surge but with kids and Grandkids in mind.  Now I am wondering if I did enough.

We were talking tonight. Is this what God had us prepared for or is this the tip of the iceberg? If only we knew the answer to that we would know what to do next.
Then I thought how God had moved our three families out of the city onto farms.  How we had a year  to get gardens planted, chickens set up,  pantries built up, learn new skills and meet neighbours and like minded people.  I established lots of bartering. This all is a lot!  But is it enough?

If you feel the virus is no big deal then please don't make an argument about it.  I am here trying to get people to think how they can be prepared. It appears a great risk that hospitals will be overwhelmed and if they are we might have to manage on our own.  Also it seems like millions of people are quarantined and many supply chains are broken...  demand for things like masks became an immediate problem. We had the threat that dental surgeries would have to close as masks were running so low.  This has been saved today as the government are going to supply the dentists.

As break outs happen people may not want to go to work.  If work becomes to risky then people will stay home.  Think of this in cases like nursing homes....  The virus seems to have a history already of infecting doctors and medical staff. Just when you need them most...

As always the biggest thing is hand washing.  Trying to avoid touching your face (which is really hard!) and avoiding crowds. 

There is so much to do.   Some schools are already closed here.  This could become wide spread meaning  more people are unable to go to work.   We need to do some serious thinking and planning.

As this is already so long I might go on with another post.  There are so many ways you can mitigate your risk. There are things you can do.  We are not helpless.

I have noticed on social media there is a lot of attacking anyone who has thought to prepare or who even wants to.  Like trying to provide for your family is a bad thing.   This reminds me of those who attack young mothers for staying at home to look after their children.  I have even heard of people trying to actively discourage others from preparing. Now you would have to wonder the motivation of a person doing that. 

We can't do everything but we can do all we can.  
Today I was stewing apples as that is what I have, lots of apples!  
I decided I will do apple puree in the slow cooker and freeze it for baby food. 
Then I thought of my pumpkins coming on.  I will do pumpkin puree and freeze that in little sized portions for the baby.  

We sat down and made a plan.  I feel better with a plan.  

I have tried to encourage everyone every single week to build up your pantry. The wise women prepares and is not afraid of the winter.  The wise see danger ahead and the foolish walk straight into it.  We need a lot of wisdom right now.   
I do best if I turn worry into action.  So there is quite a bit of action around here. 
If you want to attack me please don't.
If you have any useful tips or ideas then please share them. 
As we are from all around the world sharing some information could help someone.   It was hearing that Tylenol was in short supply in the USA that had me get childrens Panadol which is our equivalent.  I am so glad I did.   So we can help each