The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Our Normal Abnormal Life

In many ways, our life hasn't changed much. We milk goats, make cheese, plant the garden, eat at home and don't socialize. This is pretty normal for us. Now that I cannot visit my Mom in the nursing home except through the closed, glass door, which we did for the first time today, we seldom go anywhere. While we were in town today we went to the store. Frank stayed in the vehicle while I went in to get apples. I wore gloves and cleaned my hands with an alcohol soaked wash cloth when I was finished. I took note of some of the store shelves while I was in there. The produce section was fully stocked. There was very little pasta, no spaghetti sauce in jars or cans, and only a few cans of spaghetti-o kinds of foods. There were no dried beans or flour of any kind. Many of the canned vegetables were sparse. I didn't go down any other isles, so that is my report for the grocery store today. It is a smaller, local grocery, not the Wal-Mart type.


A few weeks ago we stocked up on animal feed, filling every container we have to the brim. That will last us well into summer if not beyond. We stocked up on fresh apples and cabbage, too, but that's about the only store bought items we wanted/needed. The new air lock version of making sauerkraut has taken a backseat to the fermenting crock again for now. Even though it will take us months to eat the full crock that is percolating away at the moment, that's okay. It's nice to know we have months of nutritious, probiotic kraut awaiting our dietary needs.

Most of our routines haven't changed, so here is a pictorial of some of the things we're doing during this normal/abnormal life. We're still making cheese and sourdough bread, although we have started making tortillas out of most of the bread dough, just because we like them. We eat them fresh everyday with a little butter and salt. The dough freezes and stores well in the frig, so I can take out what I need for each day, let it come to room temperature on the cabinet, then cook them when we are ready to eat. If we do happen to experience a collapse, making small, daily batches of dough for fresh tortillas will be easier than trying to bake bread or rolls. Just a thought I have had when we transitioned to making daily tortillas.

Bread dough in the bowl, cheddar cheese in the stock pots
Some of the seedlings are now in the garden. If we get a frost, we'll need to cover the tomatoes and squash. 

Seedlings hardening off from the greenhouse
Tomato seedlings

The large tomato that grew in the greenhouse over the winter.

Whey from cheese making to water in the tomato seedlings.

Tomato seedlings


Carrots
Yellow squash

It's been very wet and muddy for about a month now.
This week we had record high temperatures in the 90's. This weekend we will probably have a frost. It reminds me of the challenges farmers are having with the food supply and the issues with the solar minimum and how it affects weather extremes. The Ice Age Farmer is listed on our blog roll. He has some interesting things about the solar cycle and food supply. The pepper and beet seedlings will have to wait for the frost to pass to be planted.
 
Peppers
Beets on my planting wagon.

We thought a few more hoses were in order.

Frank used a garden hose to fill our storage tank from the water well by the greenhouse. We can use it for the garden or drinking water if necessary.


The world? Our country? Outside of the virus, the economy is on the verge of imploding. The effects of the virus don't appear to be near as devastating as the hysteria and overreach of the government indicates it was 'supposed' to be. There is some underlying sinister plot in play that hasn't raised it's ugly head into the light of day yet. When it does, I don't know if it will have the ugly head of a fire breathing dragon or the boot of the man upon our throats. It is difficult to find any clues or facts (how to know what is true or not is impossible anymore) that lead to any logical conclusions at all.

And then there are the 'essential workers' that have received their "papers" for safe travel to and from work. When I hear the term "Papers, please." it makes me think of a World War with major restrictions and controls upon the activities of societies across the globe. We know a man that received his "papers" a few weeks ago indicating he works in an essential industry, then received a comment recently with the same scenario. Is there a time coming when all travel will be restricted without official "papers"?

Phone apps are being developed to track people that have been infected, are suspected of being infected, have been vaccinated (once it becomes available) or haven't, and probably who is using all of that 'dirty' germ laden money. With many, many people staying home or drastically restricting their travel voluntarily due to fear, those that are out and about will be easier to track. Why is this really desirable? I don't really think it has anything to do with a disease.

So, we will continue to stay home, order a few things online to be delivered and continue our normal/abnormal life. There are times when the vision of what we see coming down the road is almost paralyzing. Other times, we continue our daily routine, just like any other spring, only with the feeling we need to keep an eye out over our shoulder for that sinister overshadowing that creeps ever closer. We used to say the storm is coming, get prepared. Now? The storm is here and it's too late.

We would really like to hear what you think and what is happening in your area. When it rains, it rains on all of us. We are all in this together. Speak up now while you still can. You never know when something you say may help another.

Until next time - Fern
 

34 comments:

  1. Today was a good day, I was off from work and worked in the garden tilling it 3 times. You are ahead of us, plant wise, as all my plants are still in the greenhouse. We are expecting a freeze tonight with the polar vortex/solar minimum, but to be honest in the Ozarks it can be 90 one day and 40 the next. It depends on whether the wind blows from the Gulf of Mexico or from the Rocky’s. I put the compost from the last year in the garden, cleaned out the chicken coop and put that in the compost. Which is always a chore. Bush-hogged one of the fields. I covered my fruit trees in preparation and turned the heater on in the green house. It was a busy, but good day. In town, most of the canned goods are still pretty slim, toilet paper is hard to find. Dollar General is limiting supplies but has a little of most everything. Not sure about Walmart, as it is a ways away. We of course are prepared, so really just topping off our supplies.

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    1. Sounds like lots of work concentrating on your own food supply is happening. Good for you. I hope the frosts we expect don't affect the plums and apples we have coming on. This may be the first year we have a respectable harvest.

      Thank you for sharing Ozark, I can always expand my ideas by hearing about other folks activities.

      Fern

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  2. I'm northeast of Atlanta, and am at times in the suburbs to more rural areas. The shelves in most stores are much better stocked than they were 3 weeks ago (except for paper towels and toilet paper, which can sometimes be found in limited quantity but some stores still have bare shelves in those sections). Meat is returning, and eggs in limited quantity. I picked up some chicken breasts and am finally starting to use my pressure canner after having it for a few years untouched.

    There's a chance of frost in NE Georgia tonight (Fri/Sat) as well; this is very late...but if it happens, it will be a very mild one that shouldn't hurt the blueberries/peaches/apples/strawberries.

    Keep on with the kraut; I have my crock going, too. This is about the last chance to have a cool house until November.

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    1. I talked to a friend the other day that has relatives in the Dallas area (so this is third hand information). The report from there was that beef cannot be found in any stores in a 50 mile radius. Hot dogs and frozen pizza, but no beef. I didn't look at the meat counter, paper goods or refrigerator section, in this area yesterday.

      We have had a number of conversations about the food supply. If only a tiny fraction of the nation is now attempting to stock a week or two of extra food, the shelves will be perpetually empty. How does that allow any restocking in the short term? Once the warehouses are empty of the restock supply, there isn't any more. If we reach that point and people realize the shelves are remaining empty, what then?

      I haven't seen or heard much about rioting, looting or violence, but the same friend told me that there were more home invasions going on around Dallas. Her relative was seeking more ammunition for self protection.

      No beans, flour, meat, TP, short on ammunition, living in a large metropolitan area. I just can't imagine. The stress must be tremendous for so many people. I just hope this powder keg doesn't blow before folks can get back to work and some semblance of the new normal emerges.

      We did see a few more garden spots turned up ready to plant on our trip yesterday. Some in places I haven't seen before. That was a welcome sight. One place was lining up big tubs, and had a wheel barrow and a shovel filling them up.

      Thanks for the information. Keep us updated on your progress and keep that canner going. I think shelf stable food is going to be very important in our future.

      Fern

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  3. Hi Frank and Fern,
    I've never heard of using the whey from cheese-making in an agricultural application such as watering in the tomato plants. Probably an ignorant question, but what is the whey rich in that helps the plants? I know it contains extra protein. Very interesting.

    Thanks for the update and God bless.

    Tim(fromOhio)

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    1. Hi Tim,

      Here is a source of information for the nutrition of whey for plants. A partial quote: "Farmers and gardeners have used whey to water their plants for many years, with healthier plants as evidence that whey is beneficial for their plants. Whey contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and other minerals that are essential to plant growth."

      The site for this information: https://www.gardenguides.com/107407-use-whey-watering-plants.html

      Thanks for asking. We feed whey to the chickens, but they don't consume all we produce when in the cheese making season. Feeding it to the garden has turned out to be another beneficial way to utilize a by product we would otherwise discard.

      Fern

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    2. That is fascinating! Thanks so much for your reply and the link. It is great that you can put the excess to such a good use.

      Best Regards,
      Tim(fromOhio)

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  4. I'm in a suburb of Vancouver BC Canada, west coast and two hours or so north of Seattle WA. No papers required here, yet for travel. Although the land border between the US and Canada is closed to 'non-essential' travel. So no cross border shopping and tourist activities. Canadians are allowed to return. All must self isolate for 14 days and provide a written document to the border agents outlining their 'quarantine' plan. If the plan is not accepted by the border agent, the traveler will be 'appropriately housed' for the 14 days.
    On the news last night and again this morning, the Federal government is talking about enacting the 'Emergencies Act'. If enacted, the Provincial and other local governments would give up their powers to the Federal government. Details are just starting to be described on TV this morning.
    A friend in AZ said her grandson who works in fast food was just given his 'identification card' from his employer to show he's working in an essential service.
    For me, I had decided in January on moving back to the states to be closer to family and friends. The move was supposed to happen in June. Now the move is uncertain. My close friends still want me to move but understand my hesitation.
    The upside is the little rural church in California that I plan on attending is now live streaming there services. So, I'm able to participate in church once again.
    I've planted some of my veggie plot here at the apartment. I'm not venturing off the property to go to my other community garden plots. Down to two plots from three. I gave one up thinking I was going to move and wanted someone else to have access. I have pea seed started in my kitchen and waiting to plant out. Also, I'm trying to sprout onion and yams from cuttings.
    I haven't been off the property in three weeks so can't report on the state of our grocery stores. I've been using a delivery service and one of my neighbors has been picking up a few things as needed. I'm not getting everything I've been asking for - shortages of flour but got more yeast, shortages of TP.
    Thanks as always for continuing to write your blog. Stopping by for a virtual visit with you and the group of readers is calming.
    Blessings to you.
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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    1. Thanks for your update, SJ. I'm sure it is interesting living on the border of two countries and seeing how each one is dealing with this pandemic.

      Stay healthy and keep us updated on your move.

      Fern

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  5. Greetings all. We're in middle Tennessee. On Thursday we went to the grocery for the first time in two weeks. Our store sounds a lot like what others have mentioned; where there are not actual empty spots, there are small amounts of product. It is depressing as can be!

    I am very concerned about the proposals I'm heading for reopening the country-- people are talking about testing us for antibodies so we can go back to work. First, what do they plan to do about people who have never stopped working? Second, who is going to keep the records from the testing. (Victor David Hanson raised questions about how civil liberties could be violated with the information.) (Of course telling us we cannot travel without our "papers" already violates the living daylights out of our rights!) Third, what if we've never been exposed to the virus? In that case we would not have antibodies, so we wouldn't be allowed to work? The talking heads are all jabbering about testing, but it doesn't seem as though they've really given it serious thought.

    One more thing: the experts are all talking about how different things are going to be in the future, but if we have a treatment that minimizes the impact of this virus (and I'm sure you all know there are a few very promising options being tried even as I type), why would things need to change?

    On a happier note, we extracted honey for the first time this morning!

    Easter blessing to you all!
    Robin
    P.S. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is having some "bad" moments.

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    1. Congratulations on your honey, Robin! That is quite a feat. I hope you have a bountiful harvest, stay well and have all of your "papers" in order......

      Keep your wits about you and your shelves full, Fern

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  6. Thank you for sharing. Your garden looks great. I'm glad you were able to "see" your mom. Easter blessings to you, too. Take care.

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    1. Teresa, it was a very bitter sweet moment, seeing my Mom through the glass door, wondering if I even looked real to her with her dementia. She did look at me a few times and smile. I struggled through the Lord's Prayer with great emotion. It's something I normally do when I visit, but it was rather emotional this time. She smiled...making the struggle worth it.

      Easter blessings to all, Fern

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  7. The items you mentioned being low on in your grocery store are the exact things that are low in my local Walmart, but I won't say where that is. The produce section is bursting at the seams... what does that tell us? People can't cook worth a darn and have to stick with tomato sauce, pasta and frozen pizza? I don't know. Flour is scarce. As my son said about the current situation of our country, "it all makes me mad and sad at the same time".

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    1. I do think it's interesting that the produce shelves are full and the canned goods are thin. Things that are still growing fresh are still abundant, but shelf stable items are in short supply. What does that say for our long-term food supply?

      Fern

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  8. hallo again.... when I click on your 'email' on your 'About Me' link, I just can't get it to come up, a different page opens for me and it does not show your email. Is it possible for you to post your email address here on my comment? Thanks.

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    1. We're happy to, Joy.

      thoughtsfromfrankandfern@gmail.com

      Look forward to hearing from you, Fern

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  9. Interesting observation about meat availability in Dallas. Here in my part of GA (mostly Gwinnett Co. and up I-85 from there for people who know the area): The Costco has made a concerted effort to keep the display cases looking full--in late March, that meant putting packages of large prime rib roasts and whole beef tenderloins out (both over $100 per package--very high-end cuts). There was no chicken or pork. Some of each was there this week, but I haven't seen pork chops in over a month.

    I am very concerned about the stores emptying again. In some areas that might lead to more problems, as you noted.

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  10. Joy: RE: fresh produce being available and canned goods not. I believe this has to do with the large amounts of youtube videos showing young people sneezing, coughing and spitting on produce, as well as licking unsealed ice cream. Laughing at this being a 'Boomer's disease' and hoping we die, so they can get their "socialist utopia". Regular folks are afraid of produce that is not in sealed bags. I have seen it at my own store, and we live in the 'sticks'.

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  11. I am in a suburb of Los Angeles. Stores have empty aisles in paper goods, cleaning supplies, frozen vegetables, and pizzas, etc. You can't stock up on frozen vegetables and yet you can buy fresh! The meat shelves were empty for weeks but are slowly being stocked. For how long, we don't know. I'm discretely stocking up the freezer with meat. I'm also stocking up on laundry detergent - it won't go bad if there is no shortage. That was my thought when I stocked up on toilet paper in January.

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  12. The store here was fairly well stocked when I went last week. The paper goods isle looked to have bare shelves, and I haven't found any bleach in the few trips I've made but although not brimming full most things were there. There's been temps in the 90's too often lately and no rain. I'm still working and that makes true gardening hard but I have a lot of edible landscape and goats milking. Got some eggs in the incubator an just trying as I can. A friend mentioned this morning he heard the vaccine they come up with will have a microchip in it... Scary times ahead. Thanks for updating us! It's my blogger friends that help keep me motivated...

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  13. If you look at the mechanics of this thing, you can see the Left trying to get its agenda in place under the guise of "stimulus." Out here in the Wild, Wild West, toilet paper, paper towels, and baking goods are in short supply. What IS available is being priced WELL into gouging territory. Can you hear the likes of Pelosi now? "See? People can't afford the BASICS. We MUST have the $15.00 minimum wage!" "The people can't get out to vote! We MUST have mail-in voting!!!" 'See how it goes? Notice also, "the authorities" have successfully separated us and have made it unlawful to exercise our constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceably assemble... and have been doing their damndest to disarm us...

    For the record; we already have mail-in voting here in the Wild, Wild, West. Anyone who tells you that it won't lead to voter fraud is either lying outright, or is delusional!

    My coworkers used to laugh about my prepping. Now, nots'much... Now... if I could only get them to listen when it comes to "the authorities..."

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  14. There are still lots of empty spaces in my local grocery store. More meat than a few weeks ago though. The produce area is full and canned goods are sparse. The flour was non existent in January. I thought it was strange then so every time I saw 5# I got it. I sure am glad I did. I have 3 small tomatoes on my plants already. It is suppose to be 33-35 degrees 3 different nights this next week so they will all have to be covered. My green beans are coming up so I put more dirt on them. Our peach trees are loaded. Your garden looks great.
    Looks like more gardens then usual going in around here.

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  15. Hello, All. Our tractor and planter are ready to roll, but we are expecting a snow and high wind event to roll through tomorrow. Below normal temperatures are to finish out the month. The lows will be in the upper teens for the next few days. I have cut off and covered my chives hoping they will come back. The rhubarb was up about 6 to 8 inches. Since the leaves and stalks become toxic after a hard freeze I have also covered them with wood chips/feed tubs. We shall see if it is enough protection.

    I have not been to town in over a month. My son has been doing all of the grocery shopping and errands. He has made the comment that there is no flour to be found. I would like to do a grocery order for pick-up but do not want to give out all of the requested information i0n order to download the app.

    Thank you for your post and pics, Fern and Frank. I hope the weather does not become severe in your area. I really enjoy gardening and preserving our fruits and vegetables. It has been a long process of learning through trial and error. We love the fresh food but never felt that we were dependant upon our garden harvest. This year I feel blessed to have the skills, tools, and seeds as I am afraid that our gardens are going to be a much needed source of nourishment. This virus issue has turned the world upside down and inside out. Who knows what will be next?

    May you all have a blessed Easter. CW

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  16. Checking in from the suburbs of Salt Lake City...

    Friday was my first trip to a grocery store in several weeks. The primary purpose of the trip was to pick up some Weight Watcher Fudges Pops (my personal sin) and to check out the state of the shelves. TP, Paper Towel and facial tissue shelves were empty, as were the disinfectant cleaning supplies. Meat was in ample supply, other than most cuts of beef (interestingly, plenty of pricey steak cuts, but no beef otherwise). Plenty of fresh fruit and dairy. No bags of rice, wheat or beans to be found. And no flour or yeast.

    On the gardening front, my potatoes are in the planting containers and coming along nicely. And my onions are doing well. But still too cold here to put out tomatoes or strawberry starters - likely a few weeks away yet.

    May I take a moment to thank you both for sharing your thoughts in this blog? I've found it to be both inspiration in my own preparations and a source of great ideas as well.

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  17. Frank & Fern,
    Happy Resurrection Sunday ! We also are trying to live a normal life within the parameters of an insane world. We are in Eastern Washington and are busy with plant starts for the veggie garden. We were 26 degrees this morning so we are still open to some frost. We did plant green peas and have some onion starts we will plant in a couple of days. We are laying in some fencing and building materials while they are still available. Our food stores are in pretty good shape for a prolonged unhappy event. We just received. our annual vitamin shipment.
    I read a news item on American Banker that Citigroup is closing 100 branches and that JP Morgan is closing 1,000 branches nation wide . Most banks in our area have closed their lobby and offer only drive up window and an ATM. If you need to go inside you must call for an appointment.I think this a boiling frog scenario as not to upset anyone. I have seen very little about bank closures on the MSM news outlets. So much for the safety of a safe deposit box. The Boy Scout motto "be prepared" comes to mind.
    As we move forward our strength comes from the Lord and we are certainly rejoicing today.
    Blessings to you and your readers.
    Bluesman

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  18. Here in Michigan we see times ahead that we should be preparing for,including planting a garden...except our governor has banned purchasing vegetable seeds and plants at big box stores. The whole garden center is taped off. You can buy seeds at a hardware store if they have them. And all greenhouses are not allowed to sell plants. This is crazy! Hopefully some of my older seeds will germinate! Only time will tell, (that goes for everything lately!) Stay safe! Deb

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  19. Sorry Fern, I forgot to mention the governor of Michigan considers seeds, plants and gardening supplies as "non essential". Happy Easter to you and Frank! Deb

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  20. The fact that gardening is being banned, what does that have to do with containing a virus, tells us that the evil one is making his move, at least in our country. The evil one will not rest until he has strangled every free country. He is subtle above all the other animals.

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  21. I'm hoping a lot of you see this. I am in desperate need of people to pray.

    Please pray for Baby L. She was born yesterday. Half of her heart is not working correctly. She was flown to St. Louis where the specialists have done everything they can. They are letting the parents hold her and are waiting for her to pass. Please join me in asking for a miraculous healing of Baby L's heart.

    I am good friends with both sets of grandparents and taught Baby L's mom in kindergarten. L's mom and grandparents came here for Sunday dinner every week after church for years. We camped together and have shared the highs and lows of our lives with each other. I go to church with Baby L's other grandparents. Their 22 year old daughter was killed in a tornado several years ago. L is named after their daughter. I can't imagine what this family is going through.

    PLEASE PRAY!

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    1. I am sorry, Grammy. Blessings to their families and to yours.

      Fern

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  22. Its always good to read your blog. You are stellar examples of the strength in this country.
    Our region of Kentucky has had weird closures. No church but the dog groomer is open. The Amish are using drivers much less and their buggies more. The Amish grocery/Salvage store has much less salvage but the regular shelves are well stocked.

    God Bless you and keep you safe

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  23. Your photos are back. Yea!
    Just dropping by to say hello. And that I tried your Sourdough Deep Dish pizza recipe this week. I finally kept a starter going long enough to now be able to use it! I've been enjoying SD pancakes for three weeks or so. This week, I made the deep dish pizza. Thanks so much for the recipe.
    Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. I'm still here in Canada. My move to the states for early this summer is on hold for now. The good news though is that the little rural church I will attend in CA is now broadcasting services on line. So I'm now able to go to church on Sundays.
    Sending prayers your way.
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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