Monday, October 10, 2011

Preparing for Winter

 This year, I think more than ever before, I have had this drive to stock up and prepare for winter. I don't know if it is because I have this pioneer mentality or what, but it has been a rather fun challenge to get as much food put up as possible this summer. Starting to read the "Little House" books aloud again only encourages my preparedness thinking!

  The Bible does talk about this too, actually on both sides of the issue. I thought I would share a few verses.

The Bible does teach that we are to work hard and prepare:
Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
Proverbs 6:6-8 (NIV)

 Lazy hands make a man poor,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Proverbs 10:4-5 (NIV)

But in our preparing we need to have the right attitude and make sure we are prepared first with what is really important in life and that is making sure that our name is written in the book of life. Here is a passage that speaks strongly on how we need to think and act.....

Luke 12:13-27

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

With that all said I do think that preparing is a good thing but in our preparing we need to be sure that we are prepared with our enternity first and then prepare for physical things. Also in our stocking up food for winter (or whatever stocking up we might be doing) we need to do it with an attitude of extreme thankfulness to God for what he has provided and not with an attitude of "look what I can do!". The other important attitude is to not worry. Whether we have a lot or a little, we do not know what the future holds, all our potates could rot, our jars could come unsealed, a tornado could come and wipe everything away or we could be blessed with far more than we already have. No matter what happens we have a God who is in control and who loves us so very much! We do not need to worry!

Anyway I did think it would be fun to show you a few of the ways we are feeling so very, very blessed!

This has been a year of lots of canning! I have run out of jars (and had to ask Mom for more- she has quite a lot and usually freezes instead of canning.) and lids and space! We feel very blessed! Some of the things we canned this year were: Green Beans, Apple Sauce, Salsa, Tomatoes, Jam and Jelly, Maple Syrup, Dill Pickles, Curry Pickles and Bread and Butter Pickles.

A bunch of us went on Oct. 1st to do our annual gleaning of potates. It is always so amazing to us how many potatoes simply get wasted in those fields. We are so thankful to have this opportunity to be able to gather them.  Our family along with my parents and sister got our normal load of around 2,000 lbs. This inables us to eat them all year (and lots of them!) as well as share with others.

 Most of them get stored in my parents root cellar.

 When we decided to raise bees this year I didn't have much idea of the potential honey harvest. I had heard it can vary quite a bit. We were so blessed this year to have our bees exceed any of the potential numbers that I had been told. They were busy, busy bees and we can only say- Thank you God!

I don't think how I weighed them is perfectly accurate but according to our rough methods we harvested over 300 lbs (340 lbs is what I have written down) of honey from 2 hives. Ken had decided that we didn't want to sell honey because of liability reasons (insurance guys always think of things like that) and that was more than okay with me. I have had so much fun giving our excess away to others. We are also hoping that we can use honey instead of buying any sugar so our honey consumption has gone up considerably since we are using it in all our baking.
 Up here in the North overwintering bees is hard to do and not very commonly done. Last week I sadly vacuumed up (and put them in the compost bin) our hardworking bees. That was hard for me to do. I really hope to learn how to successfully over winter them sometime! That would mean less honey harvest but it would also mean I wouldn't have to put out money for bees every Spring.

As far as stocking up is concerned we also have a freezer full of things like berries, apple pie filling, chicken, fish, grated zucchini, goat cheese and more. This month sometime we are supposed to get the 1/2 beef that we ordered so at that time we will have start up our 3rd freezer (we have 1 freezer attached to our fridge, a chest freezer inside and an upright freezer in the garage) for it.

 We also have a supply of grain and other baking goods on hand that we are able to get economically through a grain elevator and Azure Standard.

 We still have a little bit of work to go in finishing up our garden harvest (for instance or carrots haven't been dug yet except the ones we have eaten right away) but mostly the harvesting is done and though it was a lot of work we are very thankful for everything the God blessed us with! It is fun to wonder how little I can go to the store and spend on food this coming year.

 Do you like to stock up for the winter too?


Lisa said...

This gentleman has good tips on bees in northern climates.
We're in western wisconsin and have overwintered our bees for two winters now successfully. The first year we lost a hive.
We went to a bee seminar at the guy above a couple months ago and some people in this region use stray bales to bild additional warmth around their bees in the winter.

GracefullyCreated said...

Where do you glean your potatoes, and how can I find out places where I can do that?

JoannaTopazT said...

I like having a freezer full going into winter, too. We are low on meat right now, but have a lot of berries (picked strawberries and raspberries, and purchased blueberries in Michigan - we just missed the picking season), as well as produce from a CSA share. It's the first year we've tried the CSA, so I'm going to see what that means for us during the winter before evaluating it for next spring.

I would think overwintering bees would be a good thing for bee colonies in general, since we keep hearing about the decline in the number of wild bees.

Jeanette said...

Great stores! I love looking at the variety of things I've canned this year. That gleaning of potatoes seems like an amazing blessing for your area!

All in a Day said...

Looks good--what a lot of hard work!!!

We have a quart of tomatoes from our garden I canned, 6-10 pints of green beans canned from a friend's garden, some carrots I canned from a super deal at the grocery store, and a gallon of blueberries in the freezer.

Are you, by chance, done with that Saxon booklet? If we make it down this weekend, I'll be getting it to give back to my friend...

Thank you so much for the honey! It was such a wonderful treat and so yummy. :)

Abbi said...

Thanks so much for all your great and encouraging comments! I am sorry I took so long in responding.

Gracefully Created,
We glean potatoes from some commercial fields near the town of Park Rapids. We learned of the possibility from a friend around 10 years ago. It is commonly done in that area and the potato company doesn't mind at all. Since then my parents actually call the potato company each year and find out where the harvesting is going on and we simply go to a field that has recently been harvested and we go and look in the field after they are done. I would keep an eye out wherever you are to see if you see any fields and then simply find the owner to ask if that would be permissible.


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