February was an unusual month this year—warmer than usual. Sometimes that’s good. But it made us nervous. The last two years we had “early” springs. An early spring means early blossoms on the trees—and that usually means no fruit for that year.
Last year for example, we didn’t get a single apple off our 11 apple trees. Those of you who also live off the land understand just what it means not to get apples. They are the perfect homesteader crop, and the only ones we got were off two apple trees deeper into the valley we found to forage from.
This has happened in the past, but it’s only been for a year at a time. It looks like this year, we might have a repeat. So we’re planning ahead for this possibility. We’re planning to gather more berries than normal, and brainstorming what else we should grow/gather extra of to fill this space in our root cellar. (More pumpkins?)
Other preparing that gone done in February:
Into The Freezer:
- Part of a pork.
- I would guess about 40 pounds?
- Sausage, bacon, 2 hams, pork chops, pork steaks (not the same as ham steaks). All already processed.
- One of our neighbors is getting ready to process another pig on their homestead. They’d like to have it done before they have to start their spring work, so they are calculating how much meat in their own freezer they need to get rid of. I don’t know how much they got rid of total, but they did show up to present us with this beautiful gift.
Rotating & Food Planning:
- Our entire pantry was gone through, reorganized, and recorded. Since it is it’s own room, it took a couple days for everything to get done. Why?
- We only shop twice a year, and one of those trips is usually in February. While it didn’t get done in February, it will get done the first part of March, and we need to be ready. I have to know what I have, what I don’t have, and what I will need to get us through November (since the second trip will be in October or November).
- Even if I have 50 pounds of oats, I still have to purchase more on this trip if I don’t have enough to get me to November.
Reorganizing & Inventorying The Pharmacy:
- Yeah, it’s the health care professional in me (or the homesteader, or the prepper, or the mother, you pick).
- Since I was rotating the food supplies, I just went ahead and took a day to do the pharmaceuticals as well.
- While it’s not part of the plan to restock pharmaceuticals during the grocery shopping trip, anytime I find an excellent sale on certain items, I need to know what I have on hand. For example, the last time I found peroxide for $0.09 a bottle, I knew just how many I’d have room for.
- Since I have young children, all pharmaceuticals are stocked in categorized sealed containers. I checked the containers for strong, functioning seals. (This room also stays locked so the smaller children cannot get in.)
- It’s also time to be thinking about my spring check-list. I need to have any soaps and other cleaners or mixes that I will need during the summer already on hand. This week I learned I have to make some soap bars up soon or I won’t have enough to get us through the summer.
- Dates and packaging were also checked on all bandage materials, emergency supplies, delivery kit, etc.
I feel like we are ready for our biannual shopping trip here in March, and will in the next few days clean out the empty food containers so they are ready to store the foods we will be getting shortly.
We will be stocking up on rice, oats, coffee, dawn dish soap, and olives. The only thing I have left to do is go through my canning supplies and spices to make sure I have everything I will need for canning this year as we won’t be taking another trip until October/November.
How about you—what did you do in March to prepare your family for the upcoming year? Are you ready to take on canning season yet?