Monday, December 26, 2011

My Top Five Prepping Successes of 2011

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas. We had a lovely time with our extended family and it was quite a jolt to have to get back to everyday life on Monday. We homeschool our children and I wanted to squeeze in a few more school days in the hopes that we might complete our school year in May. This sounded like a perfectly sane and logical plan when I concocted it in November, but as I sat at the kitchen counter helping The Thinker with her Latin lesson, I seriously regretted my decision to forgo Christmas break. This led me to entertain some fanciful ideas about what I would do if I could get my hands on the ancient Roman responsible for the evil grammatical construct known as the declension. My fantasies were surprisingly creative considering the general stupor I was in at that time of the morning. That, my friends, is a classic case of  Post-Festivity Latin Declension Disorder (PFLDD for short) and is a key reason why you should never skip Christmas break.

Now that I'm mostly recovered, it's time to turn my attention to cheerier matters than dead languages: my top five prepping successes of 2011.


5. The Great Chicken Moat Build

This little fencing project was a huge undertaking

The chicken moat is not technically finished, much less put to use, but I had to put it in this countdown because of the sheer amount effort that went into it. Hopefully the chickens that will live in this moat will greatly cut down on the insect and weed pests in our garden, contribute delicious meat and eggs to our diet, and will be a source of fertility for our soil. The potential benefits made this difficult project worthwhile.

4. No more store-bought bread! 

Much better than sliced bread!

I have been baking bread since I was a teenager, but I never before attempted to make all of my family's bread products. After I bought a NutriMilland then a Bosch Mixer,it became ridiculously easy to grind wheat and bake as much bread as we consumed. So I started doing just that and even figured out how to use a Sun Oven to bake bread.

It feels really satisfying to make something so delicious and healthful for my family.

3. Explored new ways to preserve food

I have a few new tricks up my sleeve when it comes to food preservation. I've been water bath canning for a few years now, but pressure canning was new territory. Not only do I now pressure can with the best of them, but I regularly can meat, something that was very intimidating to me in the beginning.

Dehydrating oregano

I also learned the ins and outs of dehydrating. My new Excalibur Dehydrator is awesome, though I must admit I find it very tedious to place all the pieces of food meticulously on the trays.

Vacuum sealing with the FoodSaver

My favorite new trick, however, is using a FoodSaverto vacuum seal mason jars of dry goods. I have stored brown sugar, nuts, chocolate, raisins, shortening, herbs, and many other items with this little gadget.

2. One year of food storage*

Some of the comfort food items I bought during our Food Storage Blitz Month 

We finally have one year's worth of food storage! Sorta. If you go by the number of calories stored, we do, but we are still short several key nutrients (such as calcium and Vitamin C) and I want to add more meat to our supply. And then we'll need to add more food as our children grow and need more calories. And more fruits and vegetables would really be nice... You get the picture.

I can't exactly rest on my laurels here, but I'm pleased with what we've accomplished.

1. Garden re-do

Our new square foot gardening boxes

Hubby Dear deserves most of the credit here. He transformed our decidedly sub-par garden of years past to the Garden of Eatin' by adding square foot gardening boxes. That involved a lot of carpentry and an insane amount of soil toting and mixing.

This year was so successful that we plan on adding 19 more square foot boxes to our garden, albeit in stages. This will double the size of our current garden. I can't wait! (Read this post if you are unfamiliar with square foot gardening.)

What accomplishments in the area of preparedness are you the most proud of? Was 2011 a banner year or a bust? 


  1. I am glad to have learned about and aquired esssential oils. I am glad to have packaged and organized my stored foods. I am glad that I added to my medical supplies, including 3 epi-pens (I'm allergic to wasps). I'm glad to have made biscuits and red beans and rice with confidence.

  2. Mama4x- Sounds like you've accomplished a lot. :)

  3. I think I have to say I had more of a bust year. I did not manage to get much from the garden - the deer got a lot of my plants before they had a chance. we had a bad summer for vine crops so we had no cucumbers and only a few pumpkins and squash.
    The sauce I tried to make with the tomatoes did not turn out as I had hoped.
    However, we did install a wood stove for heat and that has made up for a lot of "failure feelings".
    I think the stove was the best investment we have made in the 6 years we have lived here.

  4. Meredith - A wood stove is great. I hope to get one sometime, too.

  5. This year I was pleased at my square foot gardening experience too. We got so much produce from it and I enjoyed weeding and tending to the garden daily. The weeds were so much easier to manage. I also was pleased with my three month supply of food I was able to store. I love my pantry re-do and our first aid kit make over.

    Thanks for posting this blog. I enjoy reading all your adventures in prepping and managing a famiy.