“As a food-producer and a homesteader, I’ve had the benefit of feeling fairly secure in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Samantha Burns, homesteader at Runamuk Acres in New Portland. “My pantry is always well-stocked and I have the skills, tools, and supplies needed to be able to grow and make food to feed my family and others.”
Luckily, homesteaders are more than willing to share what they have learned from centering their lifestyles around self-sufficiency. Here are some tips from Maine’s homesteaders on how to survive social distancing — physically, mentally and emotionally.
Reframe your mindset
Though it may be challenging, try to view your time spent social distancing as an opportunity.
“Spending more time in isolation need not be a punishment. Think about the many activities that are best done in solitude: reading, writing, pottery, learning a new song on your favorite instrument,” Burns said. “This could be your chance to get back into that old hobby or take up a new one.”
“Prepping is by no means a party but if you can look at your situation as an opportunity instead of a hindrance, you’ll find that [you’re] probably more creative and frugal than you ever thought you could be,” said Shane William, a homesteader based in Poland. “Trust me.”
Don’t go panic shopping
So-called “panic shopping” will lead you to buying things that you do not need or will not use.
“I was a little surprised though by the number of locals that have panicked and are hoarding weird stuff like toilet paper, flavored soda, meats [and] fresh vegetables — yet no fruits?” William said. “A seeming majority are going for short shelf-life and junk food items instead of being rational and preparing for the possible long term.”
Before you go to the grocery store, make a list of the items you do not have yet in your pantry that may be useful. William said to focus on items like nuts, rice, flour, vinegar, sugar, salt, yeast, baking soda, oil, canned, pickled and dried goods — and, of course, coffee and alcohol, if those are among your vices.
Another shopping tip: don’t buy something you won’t use just because everyone else is buying it.
“[The] best [advice is] ‘store what you use, use what you store’ [which] goes for everyone,” said JJ Starwalker, a homesteader based in East Corinth. “If you don’t eat it in good times, you will be much less likely to eat it in hard times. Under stress, folks want the familiar and comfortable.”
Purchase, trade or barter from others — at a distance
If you do not have all the supplies you need, consider bartering, trading or sharing with neighbors who might.
“You do not even need to grow your own food [and] homestead to can and be prepared,” said Wendy Smith, a homesteader in Carmel. “Purchase from others! Also, you can trade with people. This is very helpful for both parties.
If you are meeting up with a friend or neighbor to barter, make sure you stay the requisite six feet apart while doing so. Making front porch drop-offs and exchanges is another way to trade while maintaining social distance.
“I make goat milk soap and since I do not have chickens right now a friend in my town contacted me about trading,” Smith said. “The trade of soap for eggs was perfect because she left the eggs on my porch. No contact needed!”