We’re pretty sure it’s down in the Duluth area as the news isn’t saying. I think they don’t want to panic Duluthians. It’s also been found in northern Wisconsin counties. As the pandemic spreads and the deaths mount up, we’re finishing up our “tiding up” in our preparedness. We have one lady coming today to pick up seeds then we’re shutting down our place to casual visitors — just in case. (If you need more ideas on preparedness, check out the BHM Emergency Preparedness and Survival Guides.) Our pantries are full, we have a full tank of propane, farm fuel, feed, medications, and, of course, toilet paper. I was also sure to get cheesemaking and plant growing supplies like ProMix and potting soil as, even if stores do remain open, I won’t be going to any of them any time soon.

This is our main pantry; it’s pretty full now and spring is coming.

The seed business is picking up now as many big companies are stopping shipping to protect their employees. So I still have to run seed packages to the post office. But the Cook post office is small and I go at hours they are never busy. Then I use plenty of hand sanitizer. Yep, I do have some. But only a little. So on our last trip to store, I looked in the sun care section and found aloe gel. I already had plenty of rubbing alcohol, so I’m making my own hand sanitizer by mixing ¾ cup 91-99% isopropyl alcohol with ¼ cup aloe gel. I add 10 drops of lemon juice for a nice scent; you can use essential oils if you wish. I mix these up and put the sanitizer into an old pump sanitizer bottle. Remember, though, if you can wash your hands, it is much more effective than just using convenient sanitizer.

We had an unusual visitor this past weekend. David looked out and saw a female hairy woodpecker sitting on our living room screen window. She hadn’t hit it; she was just sitting there, looking at us. We felt like fish in an aquarium! Finally, she just flitted off about her business after giving us a good smile. I saw my first Purple Finch. So we have hopes that the migratory birds are starting to head north. But then we had snow last night…

Here’s our bird visitor. We wondered what she was doing!

I’m planting tomatoes like mad now. This year I’m planting them alphabetically so I can somehow keep track of all of them. I’m up to C right now. Wow, there are a lot of varieties we’re going to be planting this year! It’s so exciting in this crazy world time. I try to concentrate on these normal, day to day homestead things instead of what might happen. We do the things we can control and pray about the others.

When planting all those tiny tomato seeds I think of how much food one tiny seed ends up giving us.

— Jackie


  1. Hello Miss Jackie and Mr. Will,
    Thanks for my seed order. I don’t know how you counted those little cherry tomato seeds! They are so tiny. I pictured you and Will with a goose neck lamp and a mag glass :-). I actually had to plant them with a pair of tweezers…fat fingers. I love how they turn into massive big plants by the end of summer. The peppers are coming up nicely and I can’t wait for spring so they can be planted but I can’t get too excited today as it is snowing. This year I am going to hoop the peppers to get a longer growing season. So glad to see your pretty pantry. I now have one of my own and I am so happy with it. I converted a walk through mud room into a dead end pantry with lots of shelves. Love it. I can’t wait to fill up all my jars this summer. Please stay safe, secure, and warm

    • Ha ha! You should see us count pansy seeds or spurred snapdragon seeds; they’re like dust! We marvel all the time how, say, one tomato seed can produce a bushel of big, fat tomatoes! I’m tickled you now have your own pantry. Doesn’t that feel good to walk through it, just looking at all the pretty jars???

  2. Blessed that our shelves are full too from canning. Praising God we have enough for our 4 kids and 3 grandchildren also. My husband just butchered a steer and the kids made sure to get some meat lol. Taking the bones and making a bunch of stock to can. My husband is happy too because I am finally taking my carrot and celery tops, as he calls it grass, out of the freezer to use for the broth. Hopefully people will realize they need to be more self sufficient. God Bless!

    • Thank you Robin. We too feel so very blessed to be so comfortable on our homestead, regardless of what’s going on in the world. The only thing that mars is is feeling so bad for the folks affected outside our area. I agree; I hope folks will realize preparedness is not for “nut cases” and weirdos!

    • I do too, Judy. And thank you so much! I’ve got a feeling this is only the tip of the iceberg…..

  3. JUST heard on our local news the virsus was found at our hospital, about 1/2 mile from me. So much better to be out in country, way better to keep distance!

    • Yes, I totally agree. We go about our daily chores, go for a walk and are totally free of worry about social distancing. It’s hard where there are just so many people.

  4. I also have been a preppier for several years! Even so many friends and family members thought me crazy to put by so much…. I remember my grandparents telling me about the Great Depression! They were not really affected thank God! I try to follow their example no matter what thank you for your great blog and cookbooks. They really are the only cookbook one needs! Your pantry looks so good and I know you work hard every day! I got my seeds from you already and am just starting toms and peppers ? thank you and God bless you

    • Yep, both my grandparents, Mom and Dad went through the trials of the Depression and learned to be prepared because of it. And I learned from them, remembering their stories. I’m glad you like the blog and my books. I hope you have a great gardening year! And may God bless you too!

  5. Another crazy prepper here. I tried real hard to work up sympathy for dd who was out of tp and found none at the store. Her crazy mom has told her for years (and always by example) that she needed to keep a minimum of two weeks supplies in her home. Perhaps this new reality will finally get the message across. I asked other dd if she had tp and was told she buys a case per year and just purchased that case in February. Yes, both were raised by the same crazy mom.

    • I chuckled to hear that, LeeAnn. I asked my oldest son, Bill, if he had enough tp and he said he just had what they usually have on hand. I mentally cringed until he said “a case”. Ah. Whew! You sometimes wonder if your kids ever listen to you……

  6. We live in zone 8 snd usually plant tomato plants bought from farm supply store to plant outdoors after Easter. This year i tried planting seeds indoors without much luck. I used potting soil, kept them misted and warm but none of them sprouted. What is the best way to plant tomsto seeds snd have them sprout and survive please?

    • Okay, here’s the skinny on getting seeds to grow indoors. First off, “potting soil” usually won’t sprout seeds. It’s often too acidic, having a lot of peat in it. I use ProMix seed starting soil. NOT JiffyMix; it won’t ever soak up the water! Or you can buy Jiffy peat pellets. These little flat coins with netting around them soak up in hot water and swell to a larger size. I plant two seeds in the top of each one and set them in a plastic container such as a refrigerator container. Then I put the whole works in a plastic bag, not shutting it tightly; this holds the moisture in but lets the seeds breathe. Put the container in a warm location; NOT in a sunny window. In a window the sun will cook the seeds! Most tomato and pepper seeds will germinate in less than a week so watch them carefully after three days. As soon as you see sprouts remove the bag and place in a sunny window or under a shop light, hung only a few inches above the plants. Be sure they don’t dry out and turn daily as they’ll lean to the light. When they get about three inches tall, plant the whole works in a Styrofoam coffee cup with a hole punched in the bottom, using the ProMix. Water well and keep in the sun. This always works!

  7. My son’s a little PO’d, he lives in Pittsburgh and they’ve shut down the community gardens for no reason I can fathom. He has hundreds of seeds started and not enough room for them.

    • That’s tough. I suppose they figured folks would be crowded in a bunch in the gardens, spreading the virus as they gardened. Maybe he can find someone who has a spot he can use to plant other than the community garden?

  8. Be safe everyone and prayers sent for all of us. Its amazing isn’t it, that the same people that thought we were crazy before are the ones panicking now! I know that is harsh, but as hard as all of this is, hopefully people will have finally learned a lesson from it. God bless us, we need it!

    • I totally agree. Out of hard times, hard lessons are learned. I know I learned preparedness following a time long ago when I was broke, broke, had three children home alone in a blizzard with hardly any firewood or food. That sure stuck with me! And it’s never remotely happened again.

  9. I’m out of tomatoes I canned and very low on applesauce. I had to buy tomatoes at the store, things don’t taste the same with store bought tomatoes. I remember my mom and I canning tomatoes when I was still living at home growing up. We also canned green beans, some fruits and froze others. I didn’t can when my kids were young as I was working too. My mother talked about canning with her mother and grandmother and after a long day of canning my grandmother would get silly. My mother had a huge garden when she was growing up and that’s how she put herself through college and got her teaching degree. She taught for 35 years. As they always had the summer off we gardened and canned and got dinner for workers that my dad had hired to help with the haying etc. Fond memories.

    • Yes, they are. I have plenty of my own. Canning and gardening are “work” but then I don’t go to the gym or play golf. I love my work! Can’t wait to get in the garden this spring. And you’re right; store-bought tomatoes taste nothing like home grown ones.

  10. Since we have all of the grandkids home now until at least May 15 we are trying to come up with creative ways to keep them involved in addition to school work (my eldest daughter & her husband are teachers so they have taken over homeschooling working with packets from the schools). My younger daughter has introduced several new courses: Vacuuming 101, AP composting, AP weed pulling, dishwashing 101. The older grandkids (16 & 14) are mowing grass, plowing, & helping with the larger animals. The younger kids (11,9,7, & 6) are taking care of the poultry, seeding in the greenhouse, helping to muck out barns & stables etc. Everyone is busy. New biddies came in this week as well as the new beehives. Bees are due this week. Our pantries/freezers are all full so we are good to go for the immediate future. Supposed to be in the 80’s by this weekend so we are really moving into high gear. I’ve even started teaching knitting, crocheting, spinning, & piano to the ones that show an interest.

    • Homesteading is never boring and the old saying “many hands make light work” is sure true. And even though kids grouse at chores, they secretly love it. We got forty nine today and I was in a T shirt outside soaking up the sun. Ah, that felt so good!!!

  11. Glad to see you are taking precautions. Your cook book has been a constant companion as our stores in VA BCH are about empty. I have followed you for years and am an avid canner, so I have lots of ingredients on the shelves. We are not resorting to drive through restaurants, which are doing a booming business since many people don’t know how to cook anymore and the stores are sold out of packaged foods. Thank you for helping prepare my family for so many years.

    • I know what you mean about folks not knowing how to cook anymore. I noticed in our stores that the flour, sugar, oil, baking powder etc….ingredients…. are still there but no Top Ramen noodles, Campbell’s soups or frozen meals. Wow.

      I’m glad I could be of help to all my BHM family out there. Stay safe and happy.

      • I live in a city of 20,000+ people in northern Idaho…in our stores we have plenty of bread, canned soups, ramen noodles and frozen food but not a single bag of flour or sugar :-)

  12. Stay say, you guys. As the song says “country folk will survive.” I have the canner going right now with store bought carrots.

  13. Thanks for your common sense advice Jackie. I’ve been a preppier for 50 years and not a nutcase at all. Just being practical and ready for emergencies. It’s very sad that there has been such an emphasis on “hoarders as mentally ill”. People are made to feel ashamed of being sensibly prepared. At least the tv reality shows sure make it seem that way!
    Pantries and putting food by were a way of life not that long ago. The JIT model is relatively new and as were seeing now, not very reliable. Gardening seeds are being bought up like crazy in my area. This is wonderful in my opinion! Let’s hope some serious lessons will be learned about self reliance urging these difficult times! Take good care!

    • Yeah, we’re selling a lot of seeds now and that’s a good thing. At least folks are thinking of providing at least some food for their families this summer. And, I hope, preserving it for the coming winter. We were approached to do a segment of the Preppers TV series but declined as we didn’t want to be edited so much that we seemed weirdos. Stay safe and good gardening!

  14. So good to see you all stocked up, our pantry is full also, I keep it that way all year long. Have started tomatoes and peppers, cabbage and some flowers. Will have enough plants to share with family and neighbors. So glad I save seeds. I have a feeling a lot more people will be planting gardens this year. I am amazed at how you keep all your many many seeds organized.

    • It’s a chore, especially at harvesting and seed removal time! But it’s also fun and a challenging hobby that also feeds us and lets us improve our homestead so we can save even more rare varieties from going extinct. I’m also glad we have always lived as we do so it isn’t as scary to us as it is for some folks who haven’t practiced preparedness and thought those of us who did were somehow nutcases.

      • yup we’ve lived long enough to know how to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Glad to be one of the people considered a bit crazy!! Bah hahaha!!!!

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