November 26, 2022


Self reliance and independence

Teresa75x75I was asked if I would write an article on “Prepping and Self-Reliance in Northern Idaho”. I laughed and replied, “But I can’t write!” However, truth be told, writing is one of my many passions. Mushroom hunting is another. I love being out in the great outdoors…exploring, treasure hunting, taking in the fresh air and all the beauty that abounds here in the mountainous regions of North Idaho.

House outside 2 100x100 1219121431aThis year marks the 18th winter at my current location, roughly 2400 ft. elevation, a driveway that is 8/10ths of a mile long and 13% grade in spots. Getting down the hill? No problem, getting back up the hill…this time of year there’s always a silent prayer at the base of the mountain. In the winter of 96-97 the driveway resembled the Olympic Luge Run, seriously, eight foot walls of compact snow and absolutely NO room for error. Here, being prepared is essential.

Canning 100x100  1219121745bIn the past when my kids were young and at home there was always a large garden to be worked. I was fortunate enough to be raised by my Grandmother who taught me not only the basics of gardening, but canning as well. I preserved anything and everything! From homemade ketchup to green tomato mincemeat, I saved glass mayonnaise jars, bought jars at the thrift store and yard sales, and picked up unwanted jars from people that no longer canned.

mushrooms 125x100My love for foraging, which began out of necessity due to being a single mother of three without support, blossomed into securing the finer foods in life that most pay a small fortune per pound for. It started with unclaimed fruit trees and berries alongside the roads and mountain sides and morphed into the feverish hunts for choice mushrooms and wild herbs. I generally kept a pantry that would pleasantly sustain my three kids and self for a year or better, including meats in the freezers. Honestly, baskets of pantry provisions are what we gave for gifts as well. No one went hungry on the mountain.

I was raised with a “make hay while the sun shines” attitude, and “waste not want not”. If it was not being consumed by the family, it went to the animals, which in turn fed or protected us. If driving down the road I spy a stray piece or two of firewood that has fell off someone else’s truck do I pull over and retrieve it as a treasure? Darn tooting I do! That’s fuel and wear and tear on my saw I don’t have the expenditure of for heating my home. Two years ago, one of the locals told me that the cedar mill just down the road a bit was giving away large bundles of boards that would normally be ground to chips and loaded into box cars for shipping down the rails to other plants who in turn would make it into OSB, a type of particle board sold at building supply stores. I beat feet and hauled home three, I probably still have a good two years supply of kindling material for my wood stove after sharing it with two of the neighbors….money in the bank people!

Idaho Mountain5There are, at least for me as my eyes are open to it, many opportunities that present them in the way of gathering what you need with little to no monetary cost. I am blessed with the natural resources that surround me; they are all gifts from our Creator. As the scriptures say, He provides for the birds, why would He not do the same for His children? Do yourself a favor and “pay it forward”; helping those around you when you are in abundance of something will come back to you in a positive manner some day when you really may need it most.

Write an article on “Self Reliance”? Myself, I rely on my Creator to keep my heart and eyes open, and the Laws of Nature, as man’s laws are dismal in comparison. Sound words of advice? Be aware of your surroundings; be safe in the gathering of needs; be kind to those less fortunate; be thankful that your hands still have tasks to preform and happy that you have loved ones to preform them for; be wise, but mostly…be prepared.

Author: Teresa Cartwright

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