Mt. Katahdin
Mt. Katahdin

No matter what you call it you cannot live without it.

We have a well and therefore an electric well pump that gets the water from the well to the pressure tank, which is also electric.  When there is no electricity the biggest thing for us is that we have no water.  That, to me, is even worse than being a little cold.  Now if you know there is a storm coming you can get ready for the possibility of the electricity going out.  I do fill the bathtub that we have in the second bathroom.  They even make bathtub water storage containers. These are large bladders that will hold 65-100 gallons of water and fit right in the bathtub.  Some even come with a pump to easily move the water into smaller containers for use.  So far I haven't invested in one although they run around $20-$40.  I like the idea because it keeps the water clean and drinkable.  The water that I fill my tub with when we are expecting a storm is only used to flush the toilets with because no matter how clean your bathtub is I still don't want to drink that.

Berkey Water Filters
Berkey Water Filters

That brings me to water filters.  Some folks who are on municipal water systems have filters on their faucets or use something like a Brita to filter your water on a daily basis.  Fortunately we don't need to do that with our well water.  I have had it tested several times and it is more than safe to drink right from the tap.  My son lives in the Dallas, TX area and is on municipal water. He has a Brita type pitcher in his refrigerator that he keeps his drinking water in.  These are fine for filtering out things like chlorine and other bad tastes but they really won't take out the things that make you sick like bacteria, viruses and heavy metals.  For that you would need a filter system with more than just charcoal filters.  Although we have not invested in one of these yet either, I'm looking at a Berkey Water Filter.  It is a significant investment running between $200 and $300 depending on the size you get and if you buy additional filters.  I would recommend always having at least one set of back up filters on hand.  The Berkey uses two filters with room to expand to 4.  Water is filtered at a faster pace if you have 4 filters in your Berkey.

So, there is no storm but the power suddenly goes out.  It is always a good idea to keep a few bottles of drinking water stored for just such events.  I have a few gallon Poland Springs water jugs that I keep water in.  I try to change it out every six months or so.  These are not the milk jug type bottles but stronger plastic.  Milk jugs actually are not good to store water in.  They are made to eventually break down and will leak.  Not good if you have them stored in the bottom of your closet when this happens.  Soda bottles are actually good for water storage.  They are made to hold the pressure of carbonation so they are pretty strong.  If you drink soda wash the bottles out after use and fill with water.  If you don't drink soda, I bet you know someone who does, just ask if they will save some bottle for you.  Right now I don't have a good place to put filled soda bottles so I have just been saving them.  We drink very little soda so I save all that I get.  I'm working on some ideas and hope to have a spot to fill and store about 20 two liter bottles of water very soon.  It is helpful if you can store your bottles in a dark place such as the bottom of your closet.  Stored water can sometimes taste a little flat.  To rejuvenate it just take two glasses and pour the water between them a couple of times.  This puts a little air into it and helps with the taste.

We also have a pond and a couple of 3 season streams on our property but surface water is never safe to drink without filtering it.  There are many kinds of portable water filters made for camping and hiking and these are effective.  Each of my family members carry a LifeStraw with them at all times in case of emergencies.  You never know where you might be when there is a water emergency.

Although not hooked up yet we have the supplies, including the hand pump, to insert into the well if it looks like it would be a very long term power outage.  Barring any strange thing happening that would contaminate our well we know that the water is safe to drink.  You might want to consider getting something like this.  The pump we have was not very expensive and the pipe is just several lengths of PVC pipe and joints.  Don't forget the joint cleaner and sealant.  Eventually we will put this on the top of the well and build a small house around it so it will not be exposed to the weather.  We will replace the inexpensive hand pump with a Bison Hand Water Pump which are made right here in Maine and are very high quality stainless steel.

Take some time to review what you would do if you were unable to use your tap water.  It is okay to start small but please do something.





A Full Woodshed
A Full Woodshed

For those who don't know my husband had shoulder surgery in late spring which meant that he was out of commission for close to three months.  We primarily heat our home with wood and the spring is the time that we are felling trees and getting the cutting, splitting and stacking into the woodshed done.  This year we were unable to get any trees on our own property cut down due to Ken not being able to use the chain saw.

We ordered 5 cords of log length wood from a local logger and had it delivered in late July.  So now we had the trees sitting on our driveway and Ken started to do what he could to work on the pile.

We are so blessed with great friends who for two weeks in a row came by on Saturday to help with the process and now our woodshed is full and the wood is drying to be ready for our first fire.

I want to thank all those who have helped us with this enormous task.  Wade, Mike and Carol, Pastor Jeff, Robbie, Angie, Shelly, Dave, and Pastor Dave, Brett and Riley.

The woodshed is fuller than it has ever been and there it still a little left that should help us start off our supply for next year.  Everyone worked really hard followed by a lunch of burgers.  I just want to say thank you to each and everyone of you.  We would not have been able to get this job done without all of you.


DSC_0032 (2)Well, apparently they are pretty much right on the money for the prediction of weather this winter in New England. We have had three major snow storms in 10 days for a total of around 30 inches here at the homestead. Many places closer to the Maine coast have gotten double that in the same 10 days. Not only have we had a lot of snow but it has been cold and windy. Our high temperatures have been in the teens during this time.  And, here we go again with another big one predicted to start this evening and go through Monday morning with another 1 to 2 FEET of snow.  The National Weather Service has already issued a blizzard warning.

The chickens seem to be doing okay with the cold. We give them some extra cracked corn to eat which helps them stay warmer. I’m more worried about the bees. Their hive has been battered by the cold winds. The good thing is that the snow has now covered half of the hive which will help to insulate it. When it gets a little warmer we will give the hive a little lift just to see how heavy it still is. This will help to determine how their winter stores of honey are holding out. The hive was packed full in the fall so hopefully there is enough food for them if they can survive the cold.

Our wood supply is doing well. It is so nice to be able to sit in front of a roaring fire while it howls outside. I like to put my soups and stews on a trivet on the stove when it just needs to simmer for a few hours to get all happy and flavorful. I also have a popcorn popper that can be used on the woodstove as well as the regular stove. It is nice to know that if needed I could cook on the woodstove.

Well, I need to top off the wood box and I think I'll fill the bathtub with water (to flush with) just in case.  Even though we have a generator we don't run it all the time if the power is out so having the water on hand is a help.  I also fill a few jugs for drinking and cooking and just leave them on the kitchen counter.  We have extra fuel for the generator so I think we are all set for what is to come.  The big task will be where to put it all once it stops snowing.

Happy Valentines Day everyone, hope that you are spending it with loved ones.

I am here to tell you that if something has been pulling at you to put a little, or even a lot, by for a rainy day you are not alone.   I was raised with a preparedness lifestyle but is wasn't called that back then.  My mom didn't work outside the home and my dad didn't make a huge amount of money so when something went on sale my mother stocked up on enough to last the family until the next time that item went on sale.

Today this kind of practicality is called the "prepper movement" and sometimes folks that feel they should be prepared for changes in their lives are thought of as being a bit strange.  Well, we are not and I think the movement is getting to be more mainstream by the minute.  There are various factors leading to this.  You only need to turn on the TV or radio and listen to what is happening around the world with disasters, the economy and the declining quality of our food to know that things are changing fast and probably not for the better.

I don't want to get political here, that is not my focus.  I just want more folks to see that being prepared for these changes is a practical thing.  That doesn't mean that you should go out tomorrow and buy two dozen cases of MREs (meals ready to eat) and store them in the bunker that you are building.  Now if you live in tornado alley a bunker might fall into the practical category but you know what I mean.

Becoming "prepared" is not something that happens overnight unless you just won the lottery.  Most of us have to take it slow, buying a few extra canned goods each week as we build up our pantry.  Keeping a eye out in the local bargain hunter or Craig's List to find a generator or a pressure canner or any number of things that are considered prepper items for a price we can afford.  The funny thing is that it is far more practical to buy things that you would probably use occasionally even if there wasn't an emergency.  A portable generator comes in really handy if you go camping or need to use power tools away from the reach of a grid tied outlet.  We use our food stores everyday when we eat and it is replaced the next time we go shopping.  I pressure can the vegetables from my garden every year.

Don't get carried away, make a plan, make a list, revise the list, take baby steps.  Taking baby steps is a good way to move into anything new.  Make sure you talk to your family about getting prepared and hopefully they will be on board too.  If not it is a little harder but when something happens and what you have stored or put away for just such a need saves the day you may well get a few converts.  Just don't say "I told you so", they already know that!!

Bee Prepared
Bee Prepared

PantryPantry RevealedWell if you are going to store extra food you need someplace to put it.  Here is my additional pantry.  As I have said before I do not have a basement so when our son left home I took over his bedroom.  Since the regular closet was already repurposed as storage for things other than foodstuffs I had to come up with a different idea.  What I did was build a additional storage space in the room.  As you can see by the photo on the right there is a heavy duty shelf and on the left is a corner shelf.  I have described this to you in a previous post but I thought I would share some pictures since we were talking about food storage again.

We talked last time about how you can build up your storage a little at and time and that you should store what your family will eat.  Now that you have kept your list for a week or two I'm sure you realize that there are many things your family eats that can be made a part of your food storage.  So how about those staples that you hear about all the time:  beans and rice?  Should you store them if your family does not eat them?  Well, yes and no.  Beans and rice are really cost effective for what you get and they will fill you up if you are hungry.  However, if your family does not normally eat beans and rice and you do not know how to cook with them there is not much point to having a five gallon bucket of each in your storage.

But wait, now may be the time to introduce your family to beans and rice and experiment with cooking both.  Rice is fairly simple to cook it is just two time the water as rice with a little fat, either oil or butter, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed.  Cooked just like this rice is fairly bland but goes really well if you have a meat and veggie mix with a little sauce to go on top.  It is really easy to flavor plain white rice with just some herbs and spices.  Try some different combinations and flavors that you know your family likes.  I add garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper for a little southwest flavor.  Curry can also be added for a Thai flavor.  Just adding a can of tomatoes with basil and garlic or chilies will make the rice delicious.  Rice can also be substituted for  Don't be afraid to try different things.

Beans on the other hand are a little more involved to prepare.  They have to be soaked then simmered in order to get them soft enough to eat.  It is not complicated, just time consuming.  I would suggest that you pick up a bag of dry beans at the grocery store and read the directions on the back.  Some packages may also have a recipe to use your beans in.  Some of the most popular are baked beans usually made with navy or pea beans.  Black beans are really popular right now in many southwest recipes.  They have a great flavor and I use them in my tortilla soup recipe.  Pinto beans are the basis of refried beans just smash them up add some bacon grease, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a dash of cumin and there you have it.

It may take a little more convincing to get your family to eat beans than rice but it is worth the effort.  Beans are a good protein source if meat is not available or if you want to have one meatless dinner per week.  This will not only be delicious but it will also help with the grocery budget.

The one thing that was mentioned for both beans and rice was some of the herbs and spices used to flavor them.  We haven't mentioned it to this point but storing these items in your pantry makes meal preparations so much easier not to mention more flavorful.  Next time let's talk about what and how to store these great items.