Hello from the Hilltop!
These two past years have been some of the most unexpected years with the global pandemic. In the beginning, the unknown was so scary that it changed how many people handled normal life. People looked for ways to deal with childcare, schooling, work and managing a new way of doing simple tasks outside the home (like grocery shopping).
Many people cooked more at home, gardened more and decided to attempt new animals (livestock or otherwise), attempting to become more self-sufficient. While these changes are not considered bad, they are actually good, I do believe a few areas will change moving forward for those of us who have lived a self sufficient lifestyle prior to the pandemic.
Over the past few years I’ve started gardening again, specifically after we moved to our current house. As I began gardening, I started with seedlings purchased from local greenhouses. Each year, I began to start growing larger portions from seeds after a sweet friend gave me a few tips.
With growing more from seeds, I researched places to buy seeds online. Normally, I would purchase these items in February to begin the longer starts, such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.
With the Covid-19 Pandemic, I, like everyone, saw seeds flying off the shelves and longer delivery times. More people were starting gardens and taking control of their food sources, like a modern day victory garden.
Recommendations: Consider keeping watch of seeds at the end of the year. Since the pandemic, I have started buying and restocking seeds in December. Typically seed catalogs are starting to come out by then, preparing for the following year.
Another option is to seed save. Many of the vegetables that you grow, are easy options to save seeds from. Even saving a few will allow you to be use them, saving time, money and resources the following year.
Another area that was highly affected by the pandemic was availability of livestock. While our livestock is simply limited to chickens, ducks and rabbits, we have multiple friends that have more than what we keep. Getting new livestock since the pandemic year has been difficult.
For instance, the lead time for ordering chickens online was months at most hatcheries. Available hatches were sold out quickly and even common breeds became hard to come by. Feed stores that held chicks were sold out same day.
Two years into Covid-19, I still saw issues order meat chickens this year. Spring hatches sold out quickly, and are continuing to sell out weeks at a time with inflation and a spread of bird flu causing chicken at the grocery stores to rise even more.
Even when you can secure animals, getting them butchered became even harder. For those of us who buy animals in quarters, half and whole sections (like beef or pork), we found it harder to get our orders placed. Wait times and availability were longer than normal and local butchers where slammed with the high demand.
Recommendations: Now is the time to speak with local farmers for the year. Or get on a waiting list if need be to get you place is line. Look for alternatives in protein sources. If you want beef, and the time is out, but pork is available consider switching your diet up.
While canning jars and bands can be reused if in good condition, you need new lids each time. Even in this past year, 2021, it was still difficult to find more than a box or two of lids at a time. Everywhere was out of stock. My husband and I were even told by a local U-Pic farmer that some of his customers were telling him about scams that people were falling into, buying lids online by illegitimate sources that took their money but supplying them nothing.
Buy lids when you can find them at a store. You may not be ready to use them immediately, but if you can foods you will be ready ahead of time.
Recommendations: Keep your eyes peeled for lids in unlikely places. Also, join local Facebook groups, as they are very helpful to share where they are in stock. Tell your friends you are looking for them. They can be extra eyes and grab them for you. Look out of season, that seems to be when they are most likely being restocked.
See what you can freeze, dehydrate, or freeze dry for alternative storage options.
In some cases building materials started leveling out, but in many cases they have not come back down enough to pre-pandemic pricing. When you are living to be self sufficient, that makes life harder. We do not hire people to build duck hatches or raised garden beds. It is all done by us. However, justifying cost of materials is getting harder.
Recommendations: Upcycling is a great option to keep costs down. Pallets are a great option, but with the pallet craze in home décor, they are still cheap, but not as much as they once were. Not to mention, working with what is around your house. Use fallen or down trees to be the outside of your raised bed. Rocks can help as supplemental building materials as well.
At least for the time being, there are some areas of life that need a little extra planning. If you work towards any level of self sufficiency, some of the items you have always used may continue being harder to find and acquire. Getting involved in communities, like online groups, local organizations or even following your state’s university extension, will help you keep your ear to the ground on what’s going on within the realm of self-sufficiency.
While shortages are a problem we need to maneuver, and with inflation rising, it does not mean that a life less reliant on others is not possible. This movement to be self sufficiency is continuing and actively growing. People are seeing the benefits and yearning for help. Let us encourage those around us.