I just went out to gather eggs as my girls are really kicking production into high gear. I have to laugh — I’ve got one Americauna hen who insists on flying over the coop then coming into the aisle of the goat barn to lay her eggs. She’s made a little nest there and must lay there. After laying an egg, she wants right back into the coop so I open the door and off she goes with the other girls. She does have pretty blue eggs. (If you’d like to learn more about chickens, you can check out my article, Chickens; the most valuable animals on the homestead in Issue 109 of BHM or the Nineteenth Year Anthology.) We sure would never be without them.

Our little doe goat, Sparkle, is doing great. Her mom still isn’t happy with letting her nurse so several times a day I go out and restrain her so Sparkle can eat. Once I’m holding Bella’s collar, she stands while Sparkle nurses. She doesn’t kick or swing around. I keep hoping she’ll finally get with the program as most new freshening does do. Because of all the handling, Sparkle is extra friendly. When she sees me, her little tail starts wagging like crazy.

Sparkle, our little doeling is doing great! We think she’s very cute

My first hot pepper seedlings are doing great. I’ve planted nearly all of our other peppers and have little containers full of peat pellets, wrapped in plastic bags, all over the shelves behind the living room wood stove. Starting them like this, they only take about four days to start coming up. They sure love the heat. (But never put your containers in a sunny window. The heat during the day will cook the seeds!)

Our living room is now a “greenhouse” with hundreds of pepper seeds waiting to germinate.

You’d think, living off grid, a mile and half from a road we’d be sort of immune to the trials of “civilization.” Right? Not so. We’re still connected to the internet and Will ordered a pure sine wave inverter so we can use the digital part of our new stove (including the oven!). Okay, he was in a hurry and didn’t notice Amazon was using our expired debit card number. Then we started getting these “payment declined” notices. I went online and re-did the orders, using the correct number. The next day I checked our bank account and the three items he’d ordered had hit our bank and been paid. More “declined” notices. Today Will called first the company, who didn’t have a clue. Then he called Amazon. No dice. I called our bank and they said they’d fax payment to Amazon. So he called Amazon again and they finally figured it out. Without having to have the bank fax anything. I’ll believe it when I see the boxes! Sometimes I’d like to go back in time a couple hundred years!

Yesterday Will and I were watching the Coronavirus news on the TV and kind of laughed when we saw folks fighting over the last toilet paper. The toilet paper shelves were bare. But across the aisle were other paper products, Kleenex, paper napkins and paper towels. I wonder if those folks ever thought of just wiping with one of those, if need be? That’s what separates the survivors from the doomed ones, I think. Survivors always are thinking of ways to get out of a situation where doomed ones can see one escape and if that’s blocked, they lay down and die. Luckily, I feel most of us BHM folks fall into the survivor category. Thank God. — Jackie


  1. I get so upset with the younger generation. This Corona-virus thing is bringing it out in spades! Some have a realistic viewpoint but so many are SO entitled it makes me crazy!! I had a conversation with a young woman – LOTS of college because they can’t decide a major. Whining about how there is no way young people can afford to live and pay back their loans. Just a week later she was posting about a trip to a south Pacific Island!!!! What!!!! I know how hard my grandparents worked and they never had a vacation!! And now so many are crying about why everything isn’t done RIGHT NOW!!! I also was sharing my ideas about how MOST people could raise enough food for just their own family if they so desired. There are some who can’t but most could. The hateful responses I got back on Facebook were beyond belief! Just read the ingredient list in a can of soup – GMO on everything! Oy! I just have to laugh or it makes me crazy. Life is good and I’m not wealthy but sure have enough to live for several months! Don’t mind spending time at home.

  2. Dad and I said we should use flannel and make some wipes, for #1, and save regular TP for #2, that could be flushed. I remember my gmpa using corn cobs, and when I asked dad if that was true, he said the “hammer” pocket on the side of their overalls used to be called the “cob” pocket, because that’s what the farmers kept in it, if they were away from home. I think my brother turned green at the thought, LOL.

    • Good idea! Corn cobs are possible but ouch they can hurt! We like leaves better except in the winter. But using reusable cloths makes much more sense unless you’re out in the woods.

  3. Naw, sliced bread doesn’t work; tried that once. It just crumbles and your fingers pop through. Ick! But you’re right; there are dozens and dozens of things one can use in a pinch. And it is fun, thinking of ways to accomplish the same thing….in different than usual ways.

  4. Just a quick thought on using paper towels or wipes for TP Be very careful. The thicker paper will often plug up a normal system and am not sure of what effect it will have in a septic system but it wont be good.
    Then again if you still have a two holer out back then no problems !!

    • There’s a quick fix for using paper towels or wipes for TP. Just put the used tissue in the waste basket instead of flushing them. No plugged toilet or septic system!

  5. Watched a young lady in her twenties having a nervous breakdown the other day because there was no more hand soap – squirt bottle variety. She didn’t get that you can wash your hands with bar soap and dish soap. I feel sorry for these poor uninformed young ones, they won’t last long if the real garbage hits the fan. Maybe this wake-up call is just what they need.

    • I agree, but when it’s over, most folks just go back to same-old, same-old. Just like the Y2K non=event. Unfortunately a lot of folks can’t THINK anymore. So sad.

  6. When my dh passed away, I took all of his too old to donate t-shirts and cut them for potential usage as substitute tp. Washed them, dried in the sun and then sealed in plastic bags. However, being a prepper with colitis I always have a good supply of tp on-hand. I don’t believe in having only one way to deal with a problem so glad I have the recycled t-shirts in storage!

    I’m not gloating about being prepared, but am extremely thankful that I am prepared and do not have to participate in the current insane shopping frenzy.

    • Of course! Cut up old clothing or towels; even lightweight blankets and sheets make toiled paper in an emergency. You can even wash them and re-use them like we used to do with cloth diapers. Duh! Like you said, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. (Oops, sorry Mittens.)

  7. The other day I was in bjs with my daughter to get diapers for my grandson. I couldn’t believe the empty toilet paper shelves plus meats and bread. I said to my daughter what the heck is going on you couldn’t even find a cart. She told me the CDC had sent out a message about the virus. I thought to myself Praise God we live the way we do. Praise God my 4 kids know how to survive and my grandchildren will know. I couldn’t believe what was going on I just shook my head. I am glad to know we could survive a long time back here in the woods. The only thing I told my husband is I think I would want to stock pile the ammo,lol. I told my oldest daughter this is why we live like we do. I received a nice surprise in the mail yesterday. Thank you Jackie and Will for getting my seed order to me so quickly. I am so excited to get planting. God Bless, Robin

    • Yep, I talked to my oldest son, Bill, over the weekend and he said they’d just bought the regular toilet paper. I cringed mentally. Then he said it was a full case! They also have a freezer full of food and two fridges full plus dried goods and canned goods. Whew! That was a huge relief.
      Blessings on your garden this summer, Robin!

  8. I just posted in a facebook group for my close friends from college on what they should focus on trying to buy right now, how to “self-quarantine”, and so on. There’s a lot of anxiety about toilet paper, so I reminded them that they can wipe with anything, they just can’t flush it. Luckily, there has been (and none is foreseen) no interruption to water service or trash pick up. I’m also walking them through how to make their own disinfecting wipes, and answering other questions. I’ve basically made them all a checklist on what to do now. They’ve never mocked my interest in such things, but they didn’t show interest in it either. They’re all ears now!

    • I’ll just bet they are! There are so many different ways to do the same thing effectively. Unfortunately most folks only know ONE way. I’m glad to hear your friends are listening now.

  9. Having helped at a food pantry years ago, I know that many, many people don’t have two weeks supply of food in their homes. A layoff puts them without quickly. I grew up in poverty but we never went hungry–Mama knew how to buy “beans & taters” and grow a garden. We distributed dry beans at the pantry but amazingly to me lots of people don’t know how to cook a pot of beans! I realize many can’t have a garden and many others don’t know how to have one.

    As for the toilet paper issue, it’s something I always buy on sale & it’s pretty expensive even them. I also get my paper towels and paper napkins that way so we’re pretty well stocked up. If we get desperate, I’ll cut squares out of any of them. Took many older tshirts to the goodwill–guess I should have kept some for this time. I well remember the outhouse where we used old newspapers & catalogs.

    • Yep, long ago I learned you could take pages out of old phone books, newspapers, etc. smash them around in your hand while tending to business then use them to wipe when they were nice and soft. Then there are leaves, which we use while in the woods.
      I, too, am amazed at how few people know how to cook today. Or how to make tasty meals out of a few common ingredients. As a child we ate many such meals. For instance, Mom made waffles with cornmeal then served chicken gravy (with darned little chicken) over them. We loved them! Or creamed peas and new potatoes with just a few crumbles of bacon over them. Lots of cornbread, biscuits and homemade bread too. Pretty darned good!

  10. I am uncomfortable with my cc/debit card being stored online ANYWHERE. On the rare occasion I order from Amazon, I *always* delete my card number off my account. Sure, I have to type it each time but a) safer and b) it makes me think twice re: do I *really* need it? I usually do need it but always pays to think twice.
    After finding out a couple of my elderly relatives were food insecure this month (won’t happen again – the root cause has been addressed, you can probably guess what it was), I will be keeping a closer eye on them. So much to do, so little time (thankfully my finances are in good shape). But we’ll get through it.

    • I’m glad you were able to help out your relatives. We all need to do all we can to help those around us get through this increasingly tough time. Yes, we will get through it but it may not be pretty.

  11. Hello Jackie and Will:
    I received your thank you note for the squash seeds and the hot ground pepper. There is nothing like an old fashioned, hand written note. I wish you luck with the squash and hope you enjoy the pepper. My wife – who is not a prepper – made the comment yesterday that we had enough food that we would never run out! I had just called all six of our kids and told them that if they ran short of supplies to come get some from us. It is vary satisfying to know that you can provide essentials for your family and some friends if the need arises. Even though I think the “pandemic” is way over hyped I believe it will teach a lot of folks the value of being and staying prepared.
    Thanks again for all y’all do.

    • You are welcome, Dwight. We LOVE all different peppers and I’m sure your wonderful smoked hot ground pepper will quickly become a favorite! Thank you again. It is very gratifying to be able to help out friends and family. I sure hope this teaches a lot of folks the value of preparedness. One never knows what’ll pop up around the corner. Personally, I’m more afraid of the economy crashing than I am the virus.

  12. We had the exact same problem with Amazon on Friday. Called the bank once; their records showed Amazon was trying to charge the order to an expired card we quit using 4 months ago! Amazon figured it out before we tried again (thanks for your help, you were a day ahead of us)!

    My Americaunas do the same type of things. I have had 5 varieties of laying hens, so far. They are the best flyers and wildest of them, but also the quickest learners. Love those blue-green eggs!

    • Those eggs are so pretty I am surprised every time I gather eggs. It makes it so much more fun. Today I got 10 eggs, three of them blue. See? Spring IS coming! I’m glad you got your cc straightened out with Amazon. Frustrating, isn’t it???

  13. I agree about the toilet paper. Some people are even selling it on ebay! $2 per roll and $9 postage ! Hard to believe isn’t it? Some supermarkets here are running out of almost everything. I think it’s a little sad as some people don’t have the cash to buy extra to see them through. Funny and sad at the same time. We are having some lovely sunny days here and it really cheers me up. Hope you get plenty too.

    • Yes, I heard about the crazy toilet paper prices. (Will said he would start selling some of ours….so he could buy a new tractor! Just joking, folks…) What I think is sad is folks wait for an emergency then go crazy. Poor people don’t have the money to lay out all at one time. But if they simply bought a pack of, say, toilet paper extra, once a month, they’d have plenty.
      We’re happily waiting for spring, knowing it is just around the corner, even if it snowed over-night.

  14. I keep hearing about people who are buying TP and bottled water only. They should be more worried about calories. Hope they aren’t counting on take out! I read some where Australia was even running out of cloth based wiping stuff. Be sure you have nail clippers if it gets that bad! Thanks for the trial seeds. I got my order today.

    • I agree! I’ve seen shopping carts plumb full of TP and no food. Gee, maybe they’ll eat that??? Hey, we live in the woods. All spring through fall we can use LEAVES if it gets that bad. We’ve got big-leaved aster that locals call “trappers’ friend” as it makes excellent TP! I’m glad your order went through quickly. Happy spring!

  15. Hi Jackie,
    We got our seedlings growing well that we ordered from you. We normally start the cabbage, tomatoes and pepper plants inside. I like to start them at the end of January, but had a late start this year…end of February. We finally moved out to our homestead about 2years ago..so, finding a good place to grow the seedlings has been a challenge. What seeds do you normally start inside and when? You use the plastic bags for your peppers to help hold in the heat? Do you have any problems with your new chicks getting roughed up by the older hens? We are looking at getting more chicks this year….I like getting to play with them. I keep them in a Rubbermaid container in the laundry room. They get baths everyday…wipe them with baby wipes. Love this time of year

    • We start onions, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and celery inside. We also often start later-season vining crops like melons and squash inside about 3-4 weeks before we are due to set them out in the spring. We have already started peppers as they go in the hoop house in late May. Next week will be tomatoes that we set out from early June through the second week in June. The earlier tomatoes get put into Wall’O Water plant protectors, the later ones not as we only have about 75. Cabbage family plants go in about May 1st so they’re ready to set out the first of June. The onions were started the first of March and we set those out in late May after giving them a few “haircuts”, pruning down the tall tops.
      Yes, we keep the plastic bags on the containers to both hold in the heat and moisture so they don’t dry out. We do keep our baby chicks away from the main flock until they are well feathered out and pretty much grown up because, yes, the older chickens will pick on them.

  16. Went to the store to pick up a few odds and ends and find it funny to see people buy toilet paper and nothing else. If you have no food will you need the paper?😉 People are funny. Stay safe everyone.

    • I agree; people can be strange. Around here, all the peanut butter and Campbell’s Soup is gone but there’s plenty of beans, rice, meat, flour and other dry goods. Hmmmm,.

  17. It’s been great being prepared and not having to be among those in a panic at the stores! Years ago I made towel square wipes and I’m trying them out for when I pee. They work great and I can save the TP for the more ‘dirtier’ jobs! LOL We are surely living in interesting times. Glad that the girls are ramping up the egg production. Love hearing that you have your peppers going. It’s almost time to get the seeds going here in Michigan too!

    • When we lived really remote, in Montana, I used cut up used, discarded softer clothing etc. for toilet paper for peeing. These went into a bucket which I washed and dried. The “dirtier” jobs got the TP (could have used cloth) and that was burned in the wood stove. Done deal!
      All of my peppers have been planted. Oops, I think I’ll plant a few more….just in case this lasts longer than folks hope.

  18. Our local farm store had a roll of toilet paper by the cash register as a joke with a sigJn that said “For Sale..99.95 a roll”. They don’t even sell TP.

    • tOO CUTE! Will jokes he’ll start selling TP by the square sheet and be able to buy a new tractor in the spring.

  19. In time of calamity, perhaps instead of worrying about toilet paper, remember that a warm wet cloth works just fine. Toss it in a diaper bucket and wash the same way people did before toilet paper was invented in 1857.

    • Golly, what a good idea! Of course we’ve also thought about that as I raised my babies in cloth diapers and once you’ve done that, you quit worrying about TP shortages!

  20. Dear Jackie, I love your blog and your books on homesteading. “Starting Over” in particular is most favorite of the ones I have. I have read about 4 times. I have had to “start over” repeatedly in my life, sometimes with nearly nothing. No home, no furniture, little clothes and so on. Hurricanes, massive floods -a so called 1000 year flood- tornados and a fire are the culprits. I left Texas and now live where the weather is calmer. I’m starting a garden despite my bad back and will plant the front yard too. We not where we want to be so once get out of the money pit a major family emergency caused- mother in 1700 miles away got sick and I had to go- we’ll start up our savings again.
    You are my unknowing mentor and teacher, thank you! I want to live like you do and am determined to do it despite my age-60- and ill health. My husband is willing to do it as well. We hope to move to Idaho in about 5 years. We need to live near a town with some sort of medical care because of our health. A number of small towns fill the bill nicely. We want about 5 acres to start but may get more if we can. We live in California right now, again helping family out, in a conservative farming area. Nice folks here but the state is run by lunatics. I’m sorry this is so long but I just wanted to let you know how much you inspire me. Thank you for being a great teacher. Cat Weekly

    • Thank you so much Cat. I admire your persistence. It’s a quality all homesteaders need badly. I hope you get to where you want to be soon.

  21. I was going through the store considering the things that could be used for TP: plenty of sliced bread on the shelves, cabbage leaves, reusable handiwipes… I didn’t need toilet paper since I keep enough on hand all the time, but it was a fun exercise to see how creative I could get :D

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