The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

An emergency pantry. Part one of a series.

My family are in the country and you should see Mums pantry! They are a long way from town and having a good pantry is just necessary. If you run out of something you cant just pop into town!
They also need emergency things such as medicines, medications, first aid supplies etc because leaving someone untreated for the time it would take to get help wouldn't be an option. In fact Mum has treated people over the years that has saved lives from having a decent first aid kit. 

Most of our Grand Mothers had pantries or supplies, maybe even a cellar. It was just the normal way of life to store up in times of plenty for times like winter, drought or maybe other hard times like sickness or unemployment. I love all of that! Nan used to make jam and pies from every bit of fruit in the orchard and lined up on her shelves they looked wonderful. Pumpkins were stored along the bottom of the pantry on the floor. If the power was out Nan didnt mind she used her wood stove. She made the best scones ever and always in her wood stove as she preferred it. And it attracted people, the warmth, the smell of cooking, we would all hang around the stove! 

Somewhere along the line supermarkets and 24 hour shopping came in and made us all think if we want anything we can just run to the shops. We were slightly lulled into a sense of security that the supermarket was our emergency supply room. Except there are images of empty supermarket shelves in times of emergency like a massive storm approaching or a flood coming. Nothing on the shelves and nothing to buy! ATM's not working, shops boarded up, no power .... what then? People wandering around with no money as plastic is not working when there is no power! What would you do then? In the last couple of years I've noticed this happening so many times that I have lost count.

Common sense tells us we need some cash on hand, candles and matches incase the power goes out, emergency numbers listed, some emergency meals when plans go wrong, a first aid kit and some basics to address the most common scenarios. But still I know people who go into crisis if the power goes out for a couple of hours. 

We have had things so that if things went wrong we have enough food to not shop for a week or two and manage to cook it without power. Enough candles to manage for a week or so for evening light. 

I think having come from generations and generations of food storers, emergency preparers and planners it is in our hearts to be the same. That's why we look lovingly on pantry shelves of beautiful bottles and oils, jams and chutneys and jars and think ahhhh how beautiful. Sarah Ban Breathnatch wrote in iImple Abundance about the joys of "putting things up" in our pantries and making preserves as something good for the heart and soul. Something deeply satisfying about it. And sure enough my happiest times are summer when free or cheap fruit has come my way and I work my way through it making things! Joy!
Proverbs 31, being amongst my favourite verses, I know the woman is not afraid of the winter because she is prepared. And the Bible references how the ants work and how we should be. Well, the ants work like little maniacs storing up food for when the rains come. They are prepared and work so hard to be that way. Boy are they busy!

So with all this in mind and my long history of loving all things in jars and bottles something recently happened.  This last couple of months I have had so many thoughts on food storage. I have felt a prompting, borderline nagging.

When we moved into this house three years ago we found there is a tiny cellar. It has been used as a wine cellar as it is set up for bottles. While I thought how handy, we have not used it. For one it is steep steps with no rail. I had a serious fall off a ladder several years ago and so ladders are not popular with me. But there it is, it's about the size of a walk in closet, room for one person, two if you are very friendly.

A couple of weeks ago my nagging feeling had me reading some preparedness blogs and gathering information. On blogs I read comments. Comments often are fabulous sources of information. I had checked that the page I was reading was current and it had just been written in November. And I start reading the comments and something happens....

The first one I read I feel a great sense of de ja vu. The lady is saying for the last two months she has felt a constant prodding to start a storage system. She feels very convicted that she has been prompted to do it. As I read more the next person and the next say the same thing! This is a US blog... so all of these people have felt an urgent prompting to stock up a couple of months ago. Well, they are all covered in record breaking snow now! Roads are cut, people are isolated inside in freezing conditions!
Can you even imagine how those that acted on their prompting and stocked up necessities are so glad they did. How wise were they!?! 

So I feel prompted. And I doubt a giant snow storm is coming here but in the last year I know of so many reasons people have done better if they are prepared. From job loss, extreme weather, water contamination that happened to a blogging friend, shortages on the supermarket shelves and crazy prices due to shortages... in all these circumstances being prepared and having a built up pantry are the biggest help. 

The final straw came for me when two friends I respect very much said things to me. One, when she found out I have a cellar, said that would be her dream come true! And another said she has been thinking the exact same things and has already purchased a storage system to build up her supplies... So that is IT! 

Step one has been to get my husband to help me. We opened up the cellar and went down to plan. As I told him this whole story he was quick and happy to agree what a good idea it is. That's handy as I thought he might think it's silly! He will make the cellar better for storage, a system to get things down and back up again so we don't have to carry them while going up and down a steep ladder and a lighting system for if the power is out. 

I am looking at this as a challenge and am going to post as I make progress and learn. If you would like to build up your supplies and preparedness then please join in, tell me what you do and how you do it and if you have problems with it lets try to find answers!

Loving challenges as I do this is quite exciting! Hopefully our supplies will eventually serve as a saving and insurance policy for us and our wider family as well. 

Many of you will be well ahead of me, or even need restocking. Please give me any tips or advice you have. Lots of the blogs I read that are most excellent on pantries and storage are by Latter Day Saint ladies. As I understand their church encourages them to first work towards three months supplies in their pantries then to work towards one years supply. They are full of knowledge and wisdom on this (and experience!) If anyone is reading with this experience please share as you would be invaluable to me! 

Normally I post on the blog Mondays then we have Feather your Nest Fridays. I will add to this series as I go in between sometimes as well for those that are interested.

I have to tell you a little thing. My friend yesterday mentioned how hard it is to find similar people to herself. She is a Christian lady, family orientated, loves crochet, sewing, keeping her home beautiful, gardening (pretty much the same as me) and I thought really it is through the internet that I have been able to cast my net wider and have made friends with similar interests and values. Location becomes kind of irrelevant! But on my own street I don't know of anyone who would even think sewing and crochet still exist, let alone cooking. Thankfully birds of a feather really do flock together and we can meet and chat regardless of where we live! And there is something else... there is an affinity as if God is the Father we are all sisters and that explains a lot of experiences where I feel such familiarity and understanding that seem surprising! 


  1. This is a great post Annabel. I really enjoyed reading it I'm so glad you have stepped out to start your stockpile.

    I've have stockpiled all my married life - 19 years but even more so in recent times. We've had job losses both of us at the same time and shortages of money. Having a stockpile has given me peace of mind. It's also great when I want to cook or bake something. I just go to my pantry and get the ingredients out. No running to the shops for one item.

    If you are stockpiling flours, oats and rice, make sure you freeze it for three days to get rid of any bugs and creepy crawlies. I always stockpile in rows of the same item with newer products to the back and older ones to the front.

    I look forward to future posts and photos.

    Wendy xoxo

    1. Thank you so much Wendy. You are one of the influences I mentioned and have encouraged me heaps to do this. Next post I will show you the cellar so you can see what I have and some progress!
      I will do what you said and freeze flour etc. before storage. Many

  2. Annabel, we got some hints from LDS years ago when we must have been preparing for something...I can't remember now what it was. Anyway my hubby found out how to keep wheat in storage for a year or so. They really are experts in this matter.

    After our tragic floods of 2011 when a tsunami of sorts hit our CBD, there was no bread or milk in the shops as the trucks were all stuck here in town and none could get in or out. People were panic buying and it was an interesting experience.

    1. Nanna Chel I remember that and the images I saw on TV. It looked terrifying. One thing I am working on, other than what to store, is what to do if you have any warning. What goes from supermarket shelves first, things like that. I hope you didnt suffer losses in that flood. xxx

    2. Annabel, we did have a couple of feet of water under the house but no real damage like others had. I just remembered Isabell Shipard's book 'How Can I Be Prepared with Self Sufficiency and Survival Foods' which might be helpful to you and your readers. Isabell is a well known author and has a herb farm in Nambour, Queensland.

    3. Yes Nanna Chel. I remember of floods of 2011. It didn't take long to clear the shelves in the supermarket as panic buying took over.

  3. A really interesting subject. I'm looking forward to reading more.

    1. Thank you! I will be happy to have you join me. It is going to be a learning curve! Many thanks.xx

    2. Wonderful post Annabel! I'll be building up my storage more too once we are home. Having a limited pantry while away is awful when you routinely keep a lot on hand. We only have a small fridge freezer at the holiday house and find ourselves shopping more often than I ever do! It is interesting reading the blogs you speak of, they have lots of good tips and info. Storing wheat and long term grains etc would be worth considering. I bought quite a few bags of powdered milk before we went away. I read how it keeps up to ten years past use by date if stored well! At least 2 years past as long as its kept dry. Your cellar sounds wonderful. The heat we experience in summer concerns me as running air-conditioning to keep it cool is an added cost for us. Last year we had many days of 40 deg + even mid 40s as you did. I was concerned then to keep my long term stockpile cool enough. Without a cellar, how do you other ladies who stockpile manage in extreme summer heat?

    3. Good question Kaye. When it is 40 plus I use the air conditioner too, I cannot cope! I think it would rarely get really warm inside the house and inside cupboards and then containers things are further protected from heat. Mind you some areas get hotter ie I let the laundry heat up and keep doors closed so living and bedroom areas we keep cool and bathroom/ laundry we dont. So I would be mindful of that with food storage at least when planning where to best store things. Also the front of our house is cooler than the back, the walls are thicker and older...Anyway I think the inside is so much cooler than outside and if we keep rotating our stores we are ok. I am hoping some after Christmas bargains will help me start to build up some supplies! Hope you have had a lovely holiday! xxx

    4. I live in a sub-tropical climate and I keep my stockpile in the garage on the ground floor with the living area above protecting it from the worst of the heat.

  4. I have been a pantry builder, user and stocker for as long as I can remember. In fact, I consider it my full time stay at home job and write about it on my blog A Working Pantry. Our pantry has gotten us through many tough times. I'm looking forward to this series.

    1. Thank you Patsi. I have been reading your blog and its awesome! Next post about this I will link to you as you have great experience and I love your practical reasons for building up your pantry. I will be so glad of your company in doing this! Many

  5. Hello Annabel, I am a stockpiler and a homemaker that keeps her pantry and bathroom stocked. I don't have certain amounts I have to keep but I like have at least a months supply of each item and some things I have lots more.
    We also have some water stored but I would like to have more. There have been 2 recent situations in the US where large areas could not use their public for days. One was 8 whole counties!
    Since I have grands, I always keep a couple months of disposable diapers on hand too. If we were really in an emergency, I would certainly want them to have clean bottoms :)

    Your last paragraph about finding similar homemakers for friends is so true for me. I am thankful for the internet so I can connect with sweet like minded people like you.

  6. Terrific post. I too love the idea of stocking up, like our grandmothers did. I am looking forward to reading about your progress and gathering tips from you for my own emergency pantry. In 2010 the area I live in had its worst flood in 60 years and then last January we had our worst flood event ever with over 2000 properties affected by flood waters, and we also had a few tornado’s thrown in for good measure. Very quickly there was panic buying of bread and milk. By the way Simple Abundance is one of my favourite books.

    1. Dear Sherri, hopefully we can learn and stock up together. You area sure has had a battering.
      Once a year or so I re read Simple Abundance and find it just as good again as the first time! She also wrote a couple of other books that I like too. I also try to keep a Gratitude Journal because of Sarah Ban Breathnatch which is really good, every now and then I need to revive that! Many thanks,

  7. Rhonda posted...
    Hello Annabel, I am a stockpiler and a homemaker that keeps her pantry and
    bathroom stocked. I don't have certain amounts I have to keep but I like
    have at least a months supply of each item and some things I have lots more.
    We also have some water stored but I would like to have more. There have
    been 2 recent situations in the US where large areas could not use their
    public for days. One was 8 whole counties!
    Since I have grands, I always keep a couple months of disposable diapers on
    hand too. If we were really in an emergency, I would certainly want them to
    have clean bottoms :)

    Your last paragraph about finding similar homemakers for friends is so true
    for me. I am thankful for the internet so I can connect with sweet like
    minded people like you.

    1. Dear Rhonda, Thank you, I count you as one of my great internet friends and feel I had a great year this year finding a lot of encouragement from yourself and some lovely ladies who are very generous.
      As comments are coming in I am seeing so many have had major emergencies or shortages in their own areas. A good reminder and motivator I have to say! Many thanks,

  8. Dear Annabel, yesterday I was in the Brisbane CBD when the super cell storm came through. I'm not nervous of storms, but at one stage, we were wondering if we were going to lose the roof of our office. Ten broken windows, and extensive damage to the facade of the building. On the way home, I listened to the ABC radio which is our emergency radio to listen to, and there were 90 000 homes without power, 1200 homes without water, and people were saying the supermarkets were closed in their affected area due to no power. One lady rang in and had no water at her home, so she walked in the dark down to the bottle shop to buy a bottle of water. The government has been warning and warning us to prepare for storm season. It has run workshops for free at South bank through the ABC. We like you have always lived in the country and having a big walk in pantry with EVERYTHING in it was normal. City visitors of which there were plenty used to say that Mum and Dad had it set up like a corner store. Dad lost his job at one stage when there was a recession in the building industry, and for four years, never drew unemployment benefits. He considered it shameful to do so. I don't say that to embarrass anyone, it was a personal decision he made. He planted a huge vegetable garden, 48 fruit trees, bought a cow, established a huge chook yard, bought a pig and built our home, which was beautiful. I think the reason my own family has rarely eaten take away is that we have also always had a well stocked pantry as part of life. I'm so excited about learning more in this area and stocking up to address all of the issues you raised. Love Helen x

  9. Great subject Annabel, I look forward to your future posts. I have been interested in stockpiling for quite some time and I do my best to keep our pantry and freezer well stocked. If we do have a disaster I feel confident that I could get by.

    I would love to see your cellar. We used to have one when I was a youngster on our farm. I am lucky enough to have a large pantry and I do stock up on things when they are on special. I always buy as much as I can when it is cheaper, for example we drink almond milk and it was recently on special for $2.00 a packet instead of nearly $4.00. We emptied the shelves and saved heaps of money.


    1. A half price special makes such a difference on the things we use all the time. Since realising about rain checks I have saved lots on these too as often there are not many left on the shelf (or I just have bought them all!) Next week I am posting pics of the cellar as it is now! Even before cleaning it of dust and cobwebs! Have a lovely weekend

    2. Tania, it's good to hear that i'm not the only one that clears supermarket shelves.

  10. I am reading this blog post for the second time and getting so much out of it. I have a small pantry so I have set up shelving in my garage where I store tinned food for emergencies and my own preserves of jams, pickles and chutneys.
    I also have a small chest freezer in the garage where I store home-made dinners in small portions. If I lose power I can cover this small freezer with blankets and in that way it should be ok for a few days.
    I also have a charcoal fuelled barbecue where I can cook food if the power goes off.
    Not sure about storing water. Do folk store tap water in bottles? Plastic bottles? How much would a single person need? Or is the answer "how long is a piece of string?"

  11. Goodness, just caught up on this blog & realised once again how lucky we are to have like-minded people to talk to who don't think you're a nutter. When my husband & I added an extension 4 years ago one of the things I insisted on was a small storage room & it's one decision I've never regretted.

    Aside from our large deep freezer & my ironing board (which is always set up) it also holds a large 5 shelf storage unit in which we keep all our emergency supplies or special bulk buys. I honestly believe we could live for at least 4-6 months if anything drastic went wrong (short of a nuclear war of course) plus it helps that we are on tank water & grow our own fruit & veg (though I'm not that great at growing vegetables but I'm working on it, LOL). This year for the first time I plan on preserving our fruit as we have an abundance over Summer where the freezer is bursting, plus I really want to be prepared in case there's no power.

    Will be following your tips & hints closely Annabel & learning off the other wonderful readers on your blog. xx

    1. Once again we are on the same track. Possibly everyone thinks we're both nutters! lol Your storage unit sounds wonderful and a very sensible decision. I have always tried to have enough to be ok in a blackout or for a few days. But I need improvement and so this is the beginning of a project for us. Its a very interesting subject! I am very envious of your fruit and hope I get to see your preserves! Thank you for the encouragement! xxx

    2. I'm considered a nutter too so that makes three of us.

    3. I think once you have three you have a club!

  12. Nutters Anonymous? ;) Great post, I grew up on a farm in snow country and this sort of life was normal, after 30 years in the big city we are returning to our roots and growing our own and stocking up. I am always looking for good/new ideas. Since it is winter here and I am thinking of the cold, may I suggest you also look to wherever you are going to store stuff with an eye to how cold it gets as well. There are places in North Dakota where it will get to 40 below zero F! Even well canned foods will freeze at those temps. Cellars are awesome for that though, I admit to a little envy!

  13. lol! Kathy Nutters annon, I will suggest it to the girls!
    A farm in snow country sounds gorgeous to me. Here we basically never go below 0 but summer we go to 45 which is your 113 or so. Heat is more of an issue than cold. But Australia is big and other areas do have snow and freezing temperatures. So yes we must adapt to the conditions we are in. I will put a thermometer in the cellar to see out of interest what it stays like in the really hot weather. Pretty good I would think. Wednesday I'll post pics and my progress. I am learning a lot! Many thanks for your comment, I loved it! xx

  14. Hi! I just discovered your blog and I love it. Thank you for your beautiful ideas and photos.

    I'm LDS and have been working on my food storage. My favorite thing to store is wheat, because done right it can last years. But there's no use storing it unless you use it! I keep mine in five-gallon buckets—I also use them for dry beans, flours, and oats. I refill my pantry canisters from them when they get low.

    If you have any questions I'd be happy to correspond: mrs dot mordecai at gmail dot com.

  15. Hi Dianna! I am so pleased to meet you. You are pretty much an answer to prayers. I have been hoping for a Latter Day Saints lady for a friend to help me with this! I will certainly write to you especially when I am stick on a blog post or anything. I am trying to do a post on this each Wednesday. If you would share each week or comment and add any information you think the ladies, many of whom are my friends, would love it. You could add a lot of wisdom and experience and that would just be so welcome. Thank you for your comment and kind works about my blog.xx


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