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Darlene

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    In the mountains somewhere...
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    www.shadowwingsfarm.com

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  1. Yeah, that is one of most difficult parts of heating with wood. It takes a lot of time to harvest it from 'wherever', then brought close to the house, and replenished inside the house as needed. I always have grande plans to harvest wood from the property, cut and split it and have it stacked in the summer waiting for winter to arrive. I never really achieve those goals and find myself replenishing it on demand. The past few years I was able to find help to harvest, stack and replenish inside the home, but this year help seems to be non-existent. Because of my greatly improved yet still limited fire starting skills, I bought a cord of wood from some people down the road who were selling it and desperately needed the money. I knew for a fact that it was seasoned because I saw when they first cut it and stacked it. It had been sitting for over a year so I decided to use that as my fire starting base. A couple of days ago I got my son to cut a limb off a tree for the green wood so that once I build up a solid bed of coals, I can put the green wood on to burn consistently and slowly over a period of hours. We have a lot more limbs to cut for that but between working from home 60-70 hours/week and the farm on top of it, it's the best I can do for now. I have that innate ability to 'think about it tomorrow' which oft times creates more dreary work but there ya have it.
  2. The most comforting fact is that God is never early nor late. As you, and all of us, turn to Him, placing our trust in Him, He is always, always, always faithful. The struggle for me many times is to not let my eyes dip to the chaotic storms in my life, but to strive to keep my eyes on Him through it all. One of the most important things is for each of us to be exactly where the Lord wants me to be. If it were His will to be in the middle of NYC, then I'd have to trust Him. If it were to be secluded on an island, then I would have to trust Him. It's actually logically a simple choice when I ponder that intellectually, but very, very difficult when my heart is warring and filling with concern, worry and a host of other things. My prayer is that He would open the doors for the yearnings in your heart, and that with each step you would see His faithful love and protection that surrounds your life.
  3. Or... Bible, Beans...Bull*ts...Bandaids. :)
  4. I'm sure it's a 'supply and demand' thing too. Everything has gone up and continues to go up and in spite of all the increased prices across the board, I personally feel the need to get certain things while I can...before they are no where to be found or so cost prohibitive that I just can't afford it.
  5. To expand on my post from yesterday, and in no particular order, here is one of a few of the immediate prepping concerns that are laying on my heart... When I lived in a tropical climate, heating was never a concern but air conditioning was. Here in the mountains where we experience a more traditional change of 4 seasons, heating is always a concern. It's not that it doesn't get hot here but for me, it would be far more easy to get through the days with a house that is too warm during the summer, then it would be to get through the days in a house that was too cold. When we first moved to the farm, the central heat was sketchy. The original wood stove was unreliable. There were mornings when I would wake up and go and look at the thermostat and it was so cold in the house that the thermostat couldn't even register how cold it actually was. Couple that with this city girl gone country who really didn't know how to start a fire, and that first year or two we were always cold. I remember at one point during that first winter, calling my real estate agent and telling her that I wanted to sell the farm because I could not live nor deal with the impossibility of heating the home and she came over to teach me how to make a fire in the wood stove. While I had no experience building a fire, it was also complicated by the fact that the wood I had purchased, that has been represented as seasoned wood, was actually green wood, which without a pre-established bed of coals was impossible to burn. There would be days when I would literally spend 8-9 hours trying to get a fire going with numb fingers and toes from the cold. This challenge etched itself on my heart and is one I'll never forget because not only was I cold, but my children lived through the same thing right along with me, which for some reason offends me because it's just not right that a simple thing like heat during the winter could prove to be so illusive. Over the years I replaced the furnace and bought a wood stove that was appropriate for the size of the great room. I defaulted for many years to using the furnace that ran off of propane because it was easy. It also was expensive, between the increase in electricity usage and the accelerated depletion of the propane tank. In an effort to reduce the heating bills I forced myself to learn how to build an appropriate fire in the wood stove. The learning curve did not only address the need to learn how to get a fire going, but also how to regulate it - a slow, consistent heat vs a blast of heat that over heated the house and propelled us to open doors to let the cold air from outside to bring down the inside temperature from 78-80 degrees to a comfortable (for me) 70-72 degrees. For several years I would buy split wood from others until it dawned on me that that was a heating expense I didn't need, and to be quite honest, couldn't afford back then. A few years ago I found a guy who helped me harvest wood off the land and was able to hand split the larger logs with an ax. I had an electric and what I call my 'girly girl log splitter', which was limited in what it could split. Between my girly girl log splitter who whined and cried every time I tried to split larger logs and finding people to split wood by hand is few and far between, I finally bought a big boy gas powered log splitter last winter that will split the biggest wood I can find. We split kindling (thinner pieces of wood) from the logs with my BB (big boy) log splitter, and then of course split the huge logs into sizes that not only fit into the wood stove, but are large enough to burn at a slow, controlled rate. Pine resin sticks have become my best friend and while I still sux to some extent at starting fires, I've come a long way from those first few years on the farm when we suffered from living in a home that was 40-50 degrees (at best) during the winter. This summer, I filled up my propane tank for the first time in 2 years. I was surprised at the price of propane because normally it runs anywhere between $1.19-$1.29 in the summer. When I filled it up in August it was at $2.09 and that was a deal. It was obvious though that I had made great progress over the years we've lived here because I had gone from needing to fill the tank up 2-3 times/year, to only once in 2 years. The progress I had made in learning how to build and maintain a fire in our wood stove directly impacted the savings in propane, which meant there was less stress about higher winter bills and less stress from worrying about how to keep the house warm. There are a ton of posts on MrsS that discuss this issue, from layering clothing, putting plastic over the windows outside, ad infinitum. But the above is my my unique experience and my journey. As I see the alarming number of news articles about the coming heating crises this winter due to massive increases in prices on gas, heating oil, natural gas and propane, the painful learning curve I had to go through in learning how to heat our home independently from electric and propane, is becoming less painful. A semblance of gratitude is beginning to permeate those tough days, months and years when I was forced to either suffer in the cold or figure it out.
  6. Some of us are newer to prepping as the undeniable current state of affairs raises that warning bell in our hearts that things are tanking drastically, and fast. Some have been prepping for a few months, furiously trying to gather in as many stores as we can. Some have been slowly accumulating for years, immersing ourselves in a crash course on how to prepare for uncertain times, over time. And some have been preparing for decades. Not only preparing, but integrating the prepping lifestyle that slowly relies less on outside provisions and over time, ponders what we can live without, what we can substitute, what we can produce ourselves and trying to find a balance in the midst of it all. At the end of the day, prepping actually equates to some semblance of independence. My own prepping journey began nearly 30 years ago after experiencing what at the time, was a cataclysmic event. I had less than 24 hours to prepare, I experience not only the empty shelves but the threat of other people furiously trying to instantly prepare for themselves and families too. I experienced supply disruptions and a crash course on how to make work, what I did have at the time and also figure out how to extend those preps over time. After going through that experience, and because of my own God-given personality, I made the decision to 'never again' put myself or my family in that type of situation again. I began to scour the internet, soaking up the vast amounts of information that led me here to MrsS and ultimately to purchase the site over 20 years ago. Over the years, the Lord had His own plans and as I followed Him, it led to a drastic change in my life where I left my foundation as a suburban girl and moved to the mountains where I bought a run down farm, all the while not knowing what or how to do anything. In my daring and zeal, my ignorance and naïveté I jumped right in, figuring it out as I went. As I rode the rollercoaster of rural living, I failed miserably as went through the valleys, and celebrated as I occasionally reached short, temporary peaks along the way. God, in His infinite wisdom, used the isolation of this mountainous rural area to do a deep and intensive work in my heart, my mind, and my life. He afforded me the luxury of having an incredible amount of privacy as He did this work (of which I am very grateful), especially since the spiritual surgeries that were desperately needed in my life were never glorious. For me, the breaking of my will in exchange for His will was not a pretty sight. So here we all are in October of 2021 with unprecedented news that is not just in our own towns or states, or even in our beloved USA...but is in fact, a global event that is unfolding throughout the world. I am observing newer preppers scrambling to purchase whatever they can before another "sold out" sign appears. I'm observing them leaning heavy on products that have been prepared by others, which is what most people default to in the beginning. I'm observing preppers who have been preparing for a while, taking stock of what they have, trying to fill in as many gaps as possible. And finally, I'm observing preppers who have lived this life style for decades, intuitively knowing that there isn't much time left, who are ready to face the unthinkable unknowns of tomorrow. They have extricated themselves as much as possible from dependence on others and are ready to begin. One of the reasons I've chosen to lay out the 3 types of preppers is that it's just fact. lol But most of all, I chose to lay it out like that because no matter which of the 3 classes one may find themselves, there is hope because the most important prep anyone can made is in preparing that hearts, mind and soul with the Lord. Please don't be foolish and think that you can make it through the days ahead without Him. Sure, you may for a period of time, but ultimately there is no hope without Him. Consequently, I would like to propose that everyone here take a moment in the privacy of their own lives, and rearrange their prepping priorities and place Him at the top. From there, I'd like to share a few things I've learned over the years in regard to prepping that have probably been talked about ad infinitum here on MrsS, but which bear mentioning once again.
  7. You're doing just fine. When I first moved rural, everything was 'boy this or girl that' lolol
  8. I am one who suffers from the 'seasonal disorder' primarily starting in January-February due to lack of sun and my allergies to cold weather :). It didn't start until I moved to the farm years ago, probably because I came from a tropical area where warmth and sunshine were in abundance and I was always outside for one reason or another. But after moving to the farm and living in an area that had more distinct 4 seasons, I started to emotionally tank after the first of the year. I started taking Vitamin D to combat it and it immediately worked. I now standardly take Vitamin D year round, especially with the immune support it offers to be a part of keeping my body strong against Covid.
  9. Yes, bees are a fascinating creature. Everyone has their unique way of doing things, but I opted to go a more organic and natural route without the aid of pesticides that are supposedly safe for bees that address the mites and other issues can can accompany beekeeping. Many years ago, the Lord crossed my path with a lady out of Michigan who had worked closely with an older man who had raised bees for decades and had discovered this organic, natural way to not only raise bees, but to also increase the amount of hives. Beekeeping is NOT just about honey, although that is byproduct and blessing of keeping bee hives. There is a preservation aspect to it and a responsibility that is very fulfilling. If you just got the bees in August, there is no way you should extract any honey at this time because the bees will need all they can get to feed themselves over the winter. Anyway, congratulations on your bees!
  10. Pray, and follow the Lord's leading...whatever His plan is for your lives. Whether it is to get a cow for milk, or a goat, or both, or none. As others have already reiterated, it is important that you and hubby follow God's plans for your lives, in spite of what other family members opinions may be. As you've mentioned, YOU will be the one who cares for the animal, and if that is something you are willing to do, then by all means, do it. I have a long and colorful history of various family members thinking I'm crazy for doing one thing or another. From moving from the suburbs to the country, to getting my first goats, to the livestock I accumulated over time, to having a farm, on and on I could go. But I was not dissuaded and plunged forward. I made many poor decisions, I went through rough times for various reasons, but I also learned a lot, grew a lot, and have finally achieved some semblance of success with the various animals I now have. I've primarily kept to Jerseys for milk and Angus for beef. The Jerseys have the highest butterfat % in their milk which is why I chose them. You'll have to have a Jersey (or any cow for that matter) bred to get milk but I would strongly caution you to never, ever, ever get a Jersey bull. They are one of the most dangerous breeds of bulls you can ever get. If you can find someone to take your cow to in order to get bred, that would be best. There are awesome milkers that make milking short work, but there is also a beauty to milking by hand alone. I would get into a 'zone', where a peacefulness would fill my heart where it would be just me and the cow, surrounded by silence except fo the swoosh sounds of milk as they traveled down the teats and the ring the milk would make as it began to fill the pot. I would often find myself feeling that 'all is right with the world in this moment', and for me, it was a beautiful experience to have. While there are a zillion YouTube videos and info on the net, there is also a wealth of experience and knowledge from people here at MrsS who have already walked this road you are contemplating starting on. My counsel would be to 'go for it!' and if y'all change your mind down the road and decide this isn't right for you, you can always sell the cow and go in a different direction. Regardless, I'm excited for you!
  11. Mother has spoken. *mic drop* ((((Mother))))
  12. Homesteader's mom has gone home to be with the Lord so please keep her and her family in your prayers.
  13. I posted this site a little while ago and they have supplies. If you keep checking they consistently update their inventory. I bought a lot from them and they are the real thing. I had bought off Amazon and it ended up being fake lids that didn’t seal. Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest is the USA labels. Bernardin is the Canadian label, all made by the same company. https://masonjarmerchant.com/pages/canning
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