Merry Christmas from the Northwoods
I know I’ve all but disappeared this last year. Let me tell you why.
You might remember that just over a year ago, we relocated from Florida to the Midwest. The short version was that Florida is not a good place to be if you believe in family preparedness. And we have a group of family and friends in the Midwest that are already preppers, and we wanted to be closer to them.
We have a plan. We moved to a small city / big town, and our plan is to work for 4-5 years and save up every spare penny so we can buy our homestead property outright, with no mortgage. Good plan, yes?
It comes with sacrifices. I returned to work in May, and I’ve been working one full time job and two part time jobs since then, plus raising little Aurora (who is now two years old), plus… well, all of the following.
Things we did this year:
- Enjoyed being a stay at home mom. While it lasted. Looking forward to it again.
- Working full time the mental health field (not my normal field).
- Gardened in not one, but two large gardens.
- Canned my own produce, plus produce purchased from local Amish. Learned how to use Tattler lids. Put up a year’s supply of them. Purchased (at estate sales/auctions) another 900 empty jars. Became an unofficial master canner; started giving classes when asked.
- Learned to dehydrate food.
- Learned to dry can.
- Learned how to save seed; helped build a local seed exchange.
- Gathered up many more delicious paper books to add to the collection. Read a bunch.
- Started a local preparedness group – it’s fledgling, but it’s growing.
- Hunted again. I didn’t hunt in Florida for four years – no hunting buddy, and you do not hunt alone where there are boar, snake and poisonous insects.
- Our whole group joined our state’s Emergency Response Teams.
- Amid the frugality of our carefully laid plan, reduced our last remaining student loan debts by over a fourth, chopping several years off the official repayment plan. One more year and we’ll be completely debt free.
- Raising our sweet toddler. Going to swim lessons, playing in the dirt (if you’ve lived down south before, you’ll understand how awesome it is to play in the dirt where there are no fire ants), going on playdates, taking her to the ER when she got bit by a dog, realizing that while her scars will never heal all the way, she’s OK, and we’re all OK. Being normal.
- Pondered the nature of man. I know, sounds funny. I mean the nature of men, men folk. Guys. What makes a good man vs a raider. What makes a dumbass teenager from a respectable young man. Good men have honor and strive to care for others. Some men do not, and we no longer have such men in our group.
- One of the members of our Northern group passed away this year. It’s been hard, and sad. And we’re growing stronger for it, but it’s slow going, and we miss that member dearly.
- Looking at real estate. We’ve changed our definition of what kind of property we want, and it continues to evolve with the properties we see. Half wood, half farm with a structure of some kind is the current beloved plan.
- Went cell-phone free. Yep – it’s been about a year since I’ve had a tether. It was hard for a few months (like breaking an addiction), but oh-my-god… it’s awesome not having one. I strongly encourage you to try it. You know why; you don’t need me to tell you. Life is simpler, better, stronger.
- Found local homeschoolers to connect with as our daughter grows.
- Found local wild-edible foragers and became buddies. They’re preppers, they just don’t know it yet!
There’s so much more. But I just wanted to share some random highlights that came to mind, so if you are out there thinking of us and wondering what became of the Wild River Rogues, know that we’re still here, and we’ve been so focused on actually doing and learning preparedness things, that I’ve had less time to blog about them. I like to think that life will settle down enough for me to write and share again soon, but I’m not going to promise that it will. Just that we’re going strong, and starting to grow local connections.
If you are in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa or Michigan, and you have a group or would like to form a group, I would be happy to help connect you to others in your area. I know several groups in the four states; some small and some large. You know what you’d like to share, and they know what they’d like to hear.
Merry Christmas, and I hope we are all looking forward to a wonderful 2014.
~ Sandy Taylor