Lessons From 8 months of Unemployment. Part 1

Today is a HUGE celebration for us. It has been exactly 8 months since my husband got laid off. We will crack open a Hershey’s symphony bar later to celebrate! (Yes, we had a 2-year supply of those in the freezer! Yet another great bartering tool!) The celebration isn’t that we are still unemployed, but that we successfully made it this far, are still married (and friends) and that we are still being self-reliant and self-sufficient. Don’t get me wrong, we have had many bags of groceries placed on our porch off and on, and even been given money at times, but for the most part, we have done it ourselves and that is monumental. I noticed that in March’s Ensign of 2009, there are many articles written about living on the Dole and getting free handouts from the government. I am elated to state that we have done it, so far on our own. Yippy!

Many times, I have been asked, “What are you learning? What should I buy? What are you missing” etc., etc. Well, after 8 months, here is the list of things that we could have been better prepared with. There is also a “Questions to ask yourself” in relationship to your own preparations, as well as “Spiritual lessons” that I/we have learned.

I have three hopes in sharing these lists with you:

  1. Hopefully, you can learn from this list. (I wish that someone would have shared something like this with me. Had I had this list before this time and used it, we wouldn’t have known a difference between employment and unemployment.)
  2. I hope that you will so something with this list, and perhaps share it with all whom you love.
  3. Buy all of the basics before you try to obtain the advanced list below. If you need a list of the basics, go to Provident living.com, and figure out what you will need for your size of family. (There is also our Excel spreadsheet found under classes, if you want to down load it and use it for your family.

 

Here we go folks!

Food related lessons: Part 1

  1. When the spirit told me to do things, and I did it, my family has been really bless, and I have been so grateful that I listened. The few things that we did not do because of money or time, we have greatly missed. Some of the things we did do, and shouldn’t have, because we weren’t guided to do so, I have regretted. I was chastised by the spirit, and told that the time would come when I would really regret that action- and, I have. Some things that we were told to do like buy chickens, was really out there, and I wondered what that was all about. Now that we don’t buy groceries anymore, I know why. Bottom line, if you are prompted to do it, just do it, no questions asked. (Blind obedience)
  2. Another thing we were told to get was a milking goat. I hadn’t ever tasted goat’s milk and we didn’t have a barn. Several months into unemployment, we were really missing cheese, sour cream and all other dairy products. Had we just obeyed and bought a goat when we were told to, we would have had all summer to figure out how to milk a goat, and what they eat instead of doing all of that, and building a barn in the winter. If the Lord tells you to do something, he will also provide the way for you to do it. We have seen this many, many times. A milking goat/cow would also be beneficial for milk/dairy or even meat if necessary. Although I made yogurt, we missed chesses, dressings and most dairy items. If you can get a goat, I highly recommend it. Goats need ¼ of the space and eat ¼ of what a cow would. Our goat produced 1.25 gallons a day! (That is a lot of milk- enough to share.)
  3. You will really miss butter. What can you do to compensate for that? Bottled butter was really nice! Make more! Also stock the freezer if you can. I hope to obtain a milk separator so that I can make butter in the high seasons of milk and put it in the freezer for long-term storage, or make bottled butter.
  4. We underestimated how much wheat we really needed. We needed more wheat, and all supplies to make bread if we want 1 loaf per day. (We used approx. 500 lbs. in 6 months- we ate more bread than we had before- it became a staple.)
  5. You will need meat to retain strength and body heat. Store it in several different forms. Frozen, canned, dehydrated, Jerky, TVP etc. Jerky has the longest shelf life is shrunk wrapped and frozen. (3 years) It is also great for the little ones to knaw on while the other foods are being prepared and can substitute for meatless meals. Meat is a comfort food for most men. It is very important!
  6. Fruit trees make a huge difference to a diet of grains and legumes. Canning, freezing and drying them makes for a nice winter treat. We loved making fruit roll ups of every kind, and eating them was the kid’s favorite treat. (Especially to keep in the car for an emergency, or just an emergency snack.
  7. Our garden plot is large enough to sustain my sized family through out the summer, but only for a few months in the fall. We need a larger garden plot, and need to plant more potatoes and squash, things that will last for months. (Our garden plot is a 60×60; our family size is 7.)
  8. When you are grateful for what your garden produces, it will produce more. (Even chickens) Thank your plants and animals for whatever they produce. Pray over them too!
  9. One of my children has had a lot of reactions to some foods- what will you do when one family member can’t eat some, or a lot of the food you have stored? We never knew this before we were living off of our food storage and she really suffered.
  10. It takes all day, and sometimes days to cook certain things from scratch. You have to plan a head of time. (Make a menu and plan several days a head. If you have to sprout it, it will take time.)
  11. “Mix a meal” recipes are very versatile. Bisquick “impossible pie” recipes are great for those times when you don’t have buns etc. You can save a lot of time and money in the end if you make your own mixes. There are many books out there that have mixes from scratch for anything you could possibly want. i.e: Ranch dressing, Krusteaz pancake mix, sloppy Joe mix etc.
  12. Make sure that you have dehydrated veggies and fruits. In the winter months, we really missed fresh fruit and vegetables.
  13. Store plenty of dehydrated onions, garlic and peppers. They make most meals taste so much better- without them, well, don’t ask.

 

Things I would buy more of:  

  • Cinnamon, oats and seeds- especially sesame. (Just to cover breakfast needs)
  • Sanitation supplies- rubber balls to make a dry toilet, prevention of pest control.
  • Comfort foods- these are things most missed: chocolate, suckers, (For those times when your kids are hungry and dinner won’t be ready for a long time.) hot cocoa, ketchup, salad dressings (ranch), peanut butter, make more jerky and have the seasonings to do so. Figure out a way to have/make cheese.
  • Large visquine sheets and plenty of duct tape.
  • School supplies- paper
  • Warm socks- can also be used for gloves.

Lessons Learned From Unemployment Pt. 2

I am so glad to share this list with you. Reading through it, I can plainly see that we have learned a lot! (So much in fact, I could do a fireside on it! J) Most of all, the greatest thing to know, is that we will be trading goods and services. I know this because I have been doing A LOT of this. Have you always been a consumer, or do you have something to give back in form of services? I for one really want to learn how to cut hair, and to do it well. (I have done some serious damage on my poor families heads!)

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. You will loose weight when your diet changes. What will you wear when your clothes are too big?
  2. Do you have clothes and shoes for your growing kids to grow into?
  3. Do you have sufficient warm clothing, boots, hats, gloves etc. for your family? (Including to grow into- I recommend having one of every size to be safe, then you can also share if needs be.)
  4. What are you going to blow your nose into? Consider old-fashioned hankies.
  5. Do you have sufficient toiletries for 2 years including TP, and diapers and wipes, ointments etc. if necessary?
  6. What about deodorant, toothpaste and brushes and floss?
  7. Do you have seeds for the next two years of gardens?
  8. Do you know how to harvest your own seeds?
  9. Do you have something/remedies for bug control? If there are plagues, there will also be pestilence- Yikes! Frogs, Mormon crickets, bugs, rats etc.
  10. Do you know how to garden, and can you actually grow something worth eating?
  11. Will your family eat what you grow and  can you prepare it so that your family will eat it? (Sometimes, my kids ate dog food instead of the dinner I prepared- really.)
  12. Do you have the seasonings and spices to make your food taste good? Buy in bulk whatever you use regularly today.
  13. Can you sustain your lives on what you grow, and for how long? All winter?
  14. What vegetables can we store for the winter that will last? I have really missed carrots and chewing them. Consider pressure canning a vegetable stock. You can use it in a soup, or the veggies in a stir fry, and use the broth to make rice. Squashes from the garden (butternut, banana etc.) will last about 6 months. Potatoes will last until they are all gone if stored in a cool dark place. (20#’s of planted potatoes should last a family of 4, for a 1-year supply.)
  15. Do I have enough canning supplies for 2 years? (Lids, jars, pectin, sugar etc.)
  16. What will you do when you get sick?
  17. Do you have a supply of non and prescription medicines that your family needs?
  18. Do you have herbs and alternative medicines that you can use, and do you know how to use them? If not, take some classes while you can.)
  19. There is no such thing as fast food when you are living on your food storage. What meals can be considered as fast food in your storage? (Our fast foods are the soups, spaghetti sauces etc. and things that I have canned during the summer that just need to be heated up.) Consider pressure canning 7 quarts of beans at a time instead of 1 batch of beans when you cook for dinner. This will save on fuel and time.
  20. What about eye glasses and contacts, and contact solution? Any spares on hand?
  21. Do you have solutions for dysentery and gas? You might be eating a lot of beans.
  22. When there is a quarantine, are you ready and prepared for that? Do you have any education therein?
  23. If you have animals, do you also have a 2-year supply of feed/food, straw and water barrels for them too?
  24. Other than a conventional oven, how can I effectively bake/cook my food/bread? (Dutch ovens w/ coals, solar, slow cooker, beanbag oven, apple box etc.)
  25. If that secondary device breaks, what can I use next. (You should have 2 or more ways to do many things, don’t rely on just one device.)
  26. How will you wash and dry your clothes?
  27. Do you have a supply of laundry soap?
  28. How will you dry your clothes it in the winter months?
  29. Can I stay warm without heat? How will I do that? You should have many different sources. Kerosene, propane, gas, etc. If you have a generator, how much gas can you really afford to store and for how long?
  30. What skills/talents/ things do I have that I could barter with if necessary?
  31. Who will cut your families hair?
  32. If you color your hair you might want to store some of that- as long as there is water, you might as well look gorgeous. (Especially because everyone else will be gray, and have to ear a hat! J )
  33. Do I need to start working on a skill/talent to have bartering power?
  34. What other items do I want to get simply to barter with?

Lessons From Unemployment Pt. 3

Obviously, there are many things here too sacred to mention, but here are some things that really helped us.

 Spiritual Things:

  1. When the spirit tells you to purchase something, just do it, and do it quickly so that the spirit can continue to use you as a conduit for your family.
  2. It doesn’t matter how much food storage you have, if you are not spiritually strong and prepared to follow the Lord, you will fall apart.
  3. Surrender to the Lords will for you and your family. Hit your knees to the pavement ASAP and ask for instructions.
  4. Be humble. Don’t be afraid to ask and then receive help from others. When you get help, receive it with gratitude and humility.
  5. Talk- confide in your visiting teachers, home teachers and if necessary the bishop. Their job is to support us, and to listen and help if they can. We shouldn’t deny them or anyone else the opportunity to help/bless our families. They are a great support system and they have ways that we might not know of that can help us.
  6. Obedience, Obedience, Obedience!
    • There are huge blessings in store for us when we stay out of debt.
    • There are huge blessings in having food storage, and having had eaten it all along the way- less diarrhea and over all shock to the system.
    • When we follow the prophet and plant a garden, the Lord will bless our crops and bless us.
  7. When we stay home and don’t spend money, we can unify as a family and must be more creative in our entertainment. Make a game out of it and it becomes fun and an exciting opportunity instead of a challenge/trial.
  8. The most important things in life are our family and our relationships with them. (Even more important than a house) Loose your house before you loose a family member.
  9. When we put our faith 100% in the Lord, miracles happen and are easily recognizable- every day.
  10. When miracles are expected to happen every day, they do. “The Lord will bless us according to our faith in Him”.
  11. Pray for the little things that would make you happy. It’s by little things that great things come to pass. The Lord wants to see us happy and he can prove time and time again that he is there, and cares for you by those little things that only matter to us personally, and no one else.
  12. Pride prevents miracles, unity, and blessings from coming.
  13. Our greatest trials are usually our greatest blessings. Count your blessings and daily miracles and keep a journal of them. It is amazing to look back on those list to see how blessed you have really been.
  14. Money can come from unbelievable places when you really need it- even strangers. The Lord can whisper into people ears that you don’t even know to help you, and they will.
  15. Going to the temple is a necessity- as often as possible. When you have people on both sides of the veil pulling for you, you can accomplish more, and have more strength.
  16. Read your scriptures daily! Make new daily habits if necessary. That is where the Lord speaks to you, in His language.
  17. Always keep a sincere prayer in your heart and pray on your knees as often as you need/want. Pray while driving, while sleeping and any other time. Keep a prayer in your heart.
  18. Pay your tithing first- no matter how small the amount.
  19. Before paying your bills, pray, thanking Heavenly Father for having enough money to pay them. It will surprise you how far your money can go.
  20. When you rely solely upon the Lord, he will bless you if you tell him what your needs are. If you want chocolate, some how, it ends up on your porch! He finds ways to let you know that you are not forgotten. (It is a very sweet experience.)