What a week, and not just because it was 60 degrees yesterday and then snowing this morning! All of our plans have been scrambled as the Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic. The stock market crashed and rebounded sort of. Whole countries are locked down. Sports seasons were cancelled and schools were closed. Universities plan to finish their semesters online. Our church announced that they were suspending church meetings and activities worldwide. Anxiety has gone up as people wonder what will happen and who they need to worry about. Groceries are flying off the shelves. Next week the kids are home for spring break and Steven's job has asked everyone who can to work remotely until the end of March. With all this excitement, we decided to end our 100-day limited spending budget challenge this week and I did my regular shopping plus some extra to refill our reservoir of items that were getting close to running out. Like I said two weeks ago, you don't drain a reservoir in a drought just to see what the bottom looks like.
It's much easier and a lot less stressful to just keep a constant level in the reservoir than it is to drain and refill it dramatically. We should have planned to end our challenge this week even without all the panic. It's good timing to end as we change from winter to spring over spring break. We saved enough to pay for some summer activities and fancy dresses for events the girls hope won't be cancelled. We're in a good habit of eating out of the pantry too. It's a good thing we still have a full freezer, because it looks like we will be doing another eating at home challenge for the next while. If you are wondering what kinds of things were getting low in our reservoir, we bought a lot of apple juice for our green smoothies, frozen orange juice, frozen fruit and veggies, potatoes, a bunch of citrus fruit, carrots, and tortilla chips because we missed those. We bought laundry soap and personal hygiene products like shampoo and toothbrushes cleaning supplies. I filled back in the spice cupboard and bought brown sugar because we love to bake. We wouldn't have run out of anything if we had completed all 100 days of the challenge, but didn't want to risk running out and being sick or quarantined at the end of the challenge. It was really nice to be able to buy a few treats like tomatillo avocado salsa and hummus again. I also splurged and bought a bunch of Easter candy too, just in case it decides to flee the stores with the bottled water, toilet paper, and dried beans.
Now we are switching gears to focus on the garden. I have planted thousands of seeds and lots of strawberries for our garden and the spring plant sale. This year more than ever I am inspired to grow a great garden. Unlike grocery stores, the food in my garden doesn't tend to have a run on supplies. Well, we did have a racoon family that had a tomato tasting party in the garden last year, but I digress. Usually, if we plant it I can count on some good yields. We grew enough food in the garden last year to save us about $3000 off our regular budget. That is like 2.5 months of pretty much free food, or another way of looking at it is that the garden gives my monthly budget a $250 boost. That is a huge help and a great investment! It's also a good way to get kids outdoors and doing something. I'm really grateful we have so many spring projects to work on since we will have so much time at home.
Friday we took the day to clean up the flower gardens and orchard. The girls cut down all the spent flower stems and made big piles that Robert ran through the shredder. I'm sad the voles girdled so many of our fruit trees, but Katie and Robert sure had lots of fun cutting the dead trees down. A lumberjack contest kept things interesting. Steven and Robert ran the shredder until sunset making fresh mulch for the beds. I picked up bits of trash that had blown in over the winter and found a pile of garlic that I had pulled up last year now sprouting. I picked the best pieces and planted them back into the garden beds so we can harvest even more this fall. Sunshine and fresh air combined with dirt and good hard work is a good recipe for a great day. I got a little sunburned, it's been months since I've spent that much time in the garden.
The seasons change with or without us
Thomas S. Monson said:
"We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past."
When I started to write today I wondered what to write. I could tell you that toilet paper and beans are in short supply and their are long lines everywhere, but it's not very helpful, since those moments of preparation are past. The stores will stock back up eventually, but by then life will be on to the next thing. The events of our lives roll in and out just like the seasons. Some things will be easy to plan for, others will catch us by surprise. In some ways this coming year feels like a great adventure. Everything will be great if we are ready for it, but dangerous if we are not.
Roald Admundson the Norwegian polar explorer had great success in his adventures part because he prepared for potential problems and obstacles in advance. He said it this way:
"I may say that this is the greatest factor: the way in which the expedition is equipped, the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order, luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time, this is called bad luck."
Halfway to the south pole would be a really bad time to run out of supplies. I don't think they have a Costco there. Even if they did, I'm sure the prices would be much higher than you could get if you had planned ahead and didn't need something in an emergency. Last minute flights, after hours urgent care, and same day delivery all cost an arm and a leg. Sometimes literally. Planning ahead is infinitely preferred.
So what is the next part of our adventure that needs to be planned? As we look ahead to this summer there are lots of uncertainties. "Will our activities be postponed or cancelled?" "What happens if...(fill in the blank trauma of choice)? What can I do? Well, I know for the next little bit I have a whole lot of help at home so we will be utilizing all that spare teenage muscle and skill to work on the garden. This week we will set up the greenhouses, build an in-the-garden greenhouse, trellis the blackberries and pull up the rest of the damaged fruit trees. I'll plant more seeds and clean up more garden beds. The kids can help clean out and organize the garage and a dozen other projects. We'll organize the house, do some online shopping for winter and fall things that are going out of season now, so we won't have to worry about finding them next fall. We're working on a schedule so we can be productive with our time and trying to keep it fun.
Speaking of planning ahead, we remembered at dinner that it's Pi day. I remembered this morning when I decided to wear my Pi day t-shirt, but forgot about it soon after. Mental note that planning goes better with a written list :) Anyway, one of the kids remembered a razzleberry pie that got missed in the freezer, and cooked it up. Sadly, by the time it was finished baking it was too late to eat it, so we will eat it tomorrow. Yes, that was a tough sell to send them to bed without pie. Not planning ahead is trouble. However, being flexible to plans changing is also a great skill. I solved the dilemma by promising they could eat it for breakfast instead. Probably with whipped cream. We eat oatmeal a lot. I'm sure it will balance out. Planning ahead would have saved me serious parental bonus points here. It's a skill that needs more polishing apparently. I should write that down.
By planning ahead for the garden now we will have strawberries for sky high strawberry pies and jam, fresh green peas and bunching onions and lots of greens in just a few months. The rhubarb is already growing again so it's time to use up what we have left in the freezer. We'll make freezer jam with the strawberries and package the new rhubarb for fruit leather, cakes and pies. We're already looking ahead a year in lots of ways. We'll be filling up the reservoirs because it looks like the weather is unsettled. We'll be preserving part of all the harvests, and drop by drop we'll fill back up the reservoirs. Then whatever happens, we will have eaten well all summer, worked hard in the sun, and spent good time together as a family, a with any luck (dedicated planning and preparation) we will gave a great harvest too.