It looks like more shutdowns are coming, so we are getting prepared. Even if you are super isolated like we are here in Wyoming, grocery stores get out of stock, shipping times get delayed, and we were caught a bit off-guard this spring for the first lockdown, and I’m not going to let that happen again.
So I’m going to show you exactly what we’ve been doing slowly and methodically over the summer and fall to get prepared. Honestly, having a bit of food on hand and being prepared for anything is a great idea, no matter what’s going on in the world.
If you would like a visual tour of our preparedness activities on the homestead, I made a video for this information, too:
Pantry Preparedness: Oils and Fats
Oils and fats are a big one. We have milk cows that give us milk for making our own butter, but it’s never enough for our family of five, so we also keep a five gallon bucket of coconut oil on hand for baking and cooking.
I keep the five gallon bucket of coconut oil in my basement and just bring up a smaller container for my kitchen shelves to cook with in order to save space.
The other fat that I depend on regularly for my cooking and baking is lard. I render my own lard (learn how to render lard here). I ask my butcher to save the leaf fat from our pigs and then we render it down. It’s really cheap to use lard for a cooking fat if you rend it yourself. Even if you don’t raise pigs, you can ask your local butcher for leaf fat (learn how to find local food sources in this article).
Pantry Preparedness: Flour and Yeast
We all dealt with that bizarre flour shortage this spring, and I don’t know if that will happen again, but I don’t want a flour shortage again, so I’m going to be prepared just in case.
I made sure to stock up a few extra bags of all-purpose flour in our basement, but most importantly, I’m going to be relying heavily on my grain mill. I’ve had my grain mill for years, and I was super glad I had it during the spring flour shortage. If you’re new to grain mills, learn how to use a grain mill here.
The benefit to having a grain mill (this is the grain mill I use) is that you can purchase wheat berries (which is just flour before it’s ground up) and you can store wheat berries for many years without it going bad. True Leaf Market carries both hard white (my preference for bread) and hard red wheat berry varieties.
If you buy a 50 pound bag of wheat berries and store that in your basement or pantry, then you can just pull out a handful at a time whenever you need to make flour in your grain mill.
The downside to this is that a lot of other people had the same idea after this spring’s flour shortage, and now it’s hard to find grain mills across the country, both in stores and online. The grain mill I use has JUST gone back in stock, so you might be able to get a grain mill here.
If you can’t get your hands on a grain mill, you can also try and purchase a grain mill attachment for your kitchen-aid mixer. Or if you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec, you can use those to grind up smaller amounts of wheat berries.
To prepare for possible yeast shortages, I am making sure that my sourdough starter is active and being used regularly again. I revived my sourdough after letting it rest all summer, just in case yeast is sold out again as well as bread.
Here are a bunch of my articles on sourdough, in case you are interested in making & using a sourdough starter, too (and if there is another yeast shortage and you don’t want to make a sourdough starter, make sure you check out these ideas of making bread without yeast).
- How to Make a Sourdough Starter
- How to Make Sourdough Bread
- Troubleshooting Sourdough (answering common questions about sourdough)
- How to Revive a Sourdough Starter
Pantry Preparedness: Beans
I had a hard time finding dried beans in bulk like I used to, so I’ve been buying smaller packages of dried beans each time I go to the grocery store so that we have a good supply of dried beans in the house.
I prefer to have dried beans instead of canned beans because I know exactly what’s in them, there’s less waste for the dump, and they cook up quick and easy if you use an instant pot. I also try to keep some home-canned beans in stock, too, just to make life easy. Here is my tutorial on how to can dry beans.
Pantry Preparedness: Canned Fruit and Vegetables
My favorite thing that we’ve stocked up on is a giant wall full of home-canned fruits and vegetables. I can food every year no matter what, but this year, I canned more than normal. (And if you would like to learn how to can, check out my Learn How to Can course, where I teach you all the steps to canning with confidence).
Basement Bulk Storage
In our basement storage, we have boxes and boxes of potatoes (we kinda grew a lot of potatoes this year and harvested over 200 pounds of them…), as well as other garden vegetables including spaghetti squash and garlic.
In bulk that we store in 5 gallon buckets, we have rolled oats from Azure Standard, we also have bulk supply of organic cane sugar, pinto beans, navy beans, and 25 pounds of Redmond’s sea salt, which is my favorite salt for cooking (read more about cooking with salt here).
We also bought extra maple syrup and honey, since they will last a very long time in storage.
Boosting Our Dairy Supply
As far as dairy products goes, we’ve been milking cows for a long time, even before lockdowns and preparedness was necessary. One of the biggest changes we did this spring is that we built a bigger milking parlor and investing in a milking machine.
Part of the reason for expanding our dairy production was to make it easier to milk for ourselves, but we also wanted to have a cleaner and more efficient way to milk our cows in case we need to start providing our friends, family, and local community with milk in the future.
Boosting Our Egg Supply
This past spring, the local grocery stores ran out of eggs, so a local grocery store actually bought eggs from us in order to provide eggs for our community. We were also able to help friends and neighbors by supplying them with eggs this spring. It was actually kinda cool helping our community with eggs this spring. If you want get your own egg supply, check out my tutorial on raising laying hens for all the info you need.
Since it’s winter now, the chickens are sadly providing us with less eggs than they did during the spring. We could turn on supplemental lighting (learn more about that here), but I like to work with the natural cycles of the year, so we will just ride out the low egg season for the next few months.
We have a few freezers on our homestead for all the meat we raise ourselves. We grow our own beef (you can also buy beef in bulk from local farmers), so our freezers are full of beef. We also raised pigs this year, six pigs in total. We raised them with friends and kept 1.5 pigs ourselves and the rest for our friends. We also raised extra meat chickens this year, normally we raise one batch and this year we raised two batches of meat chickens.
Our Food Preparedness Weaknesses…
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most lacking thing on our homestead. It’s our biggest struggle here on the Wyoming prairie. For this reason, we built a greenhouse this fall. It’s one of the few greenhouse types that can handle our harsh and strong winds, and so far, it’s dealing with the wind quite nicely.
I’m still learning how to grow fresh vegetables in the greenhouse, but so far, we’ve had pretty good luck growing salad greens, even when it got down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Boosting Our Health Supplements
In addition to food, building our immune systems and keeping our bodies healthy is also really important so we have stocked up on a few supplements to keep us proactive in our health.
Some of the things we’re taking every day to stay healthy include:
- Lypo-spheric Vitamin C
- Elderberry Syrup
- Herbal Teas
- Essential Oils
- On-Guard Softgels (from doTERRA)
- DDR Prime Complex Softgels
- Vitamin D Supplment
- Fermented Food (a spoonful of homemade sauerkraut everyday as well as homemade kombucha)
Storing Extra Livestock Supplies
We aren’t the only ones who need food, our livestock need food prepared for shortages as well. We always buy our hay in bulk, usually in late summer or early fall, just because I don’t like having to scramble around finding food for them at the last minute, especially when there’s a raging blizzard (quite common) in the winter). We prefer large bales of hay, because we can easily move them around with our tractor.
For our chickens, we also have been getting bulk chicken feed from a local store. We’ve been purchasing the chicken feed on a pallet, so it’s plenty of food for the chickens.
My Final Thoughts on Preparedness on the Homestead…
What I shared is what we have been doing, but I also understand that not everyone can have greenhouses, tractors, and livestock. BUT if there’s one thing you take away from this, please be encouraged that each and every one of you can do something to be more in charge of your food supply and have more food security, to have more of a role in where you food comes from, and also opt in to better local choices that aren’t as volatile in a worldwide pandemic or issue. Knowing and using whole-food ingredients instead of prepackaged processed food are simple things you can do. We do them out of a place of joy and fulfillment instead of a place of fear, and that’s a really good feeling.