Dirt Diggin’ Time

Tilling the Green Bean Bed

We may not always garden.  It is hard work, especially breaking ground in the spring.  But the green beans, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, kale, spinach, peas, corn, pumpkins and melons are finally in the ground.  Now comes the fun part.  Watching it grow and enjoying the  harvesting.

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Cooking with Fire and Sun

ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEXT BIG EVENT?  Thriving Survival Workshop is coming up on May 26 with a repeat on June 2 from 10 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.  at the Farm Grove farmstead, 18886 Springfield Road, Groveland, IL.  One segment is a demonstration of cooking with fire and sun–like camping at home.  I put together a fire pit with a galvanized tub and branch tripod.  Next to it is a 4-block rocket stove.  I will also be using my sun oven to cook ham and beans while cookies for dessert are baking in the tea light oven.  If the power ever goes out, I am ready.  Too much fun!  If you wish to register for a workshop, contact us at sharonlclemens@gmail.com

$25 per person or couple.  Includes comprehensive demonstrations, workbook, seeds, and samples.


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On your way to the Tremont Community Sale, stop by our family garage sale at the Farm Grove Barn!!!  So much stuff the guys are complaining they are running out of tables–collectible plates from mom’s shop, reproduction plaques of my dad’s carvings, tools, CDs, DVDs [lots], electronics, storage containers, Victoria mags, cookbooks, and misc. too much to mention =  18886 Springfield Road, Groveland.   Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28 – about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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Road Trip to Arthur


Hog House Garden Shed

If I cannot plant potatoes because of our capricious spring weather, I think a road trip to Amish country would be in order while I wait to garden.  I am hosting the THRIVING SURVIVAL WORKSHOP on May 26 and June 2, and a sourcing trip to Arthur, Illinois, would educate me on what is available for off-the-grid-living-if-we-have-to from those who are experts.

If you live in Central Illinois and have not yet registered for the workshop [$25 per person or couple], contact me at sharonlclemens@gmail.com

The workshop is in the Groveland Chapel, Groveland, Illinois.  10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Bring a sack lunch.

Although most will shelter-in-place if a natural disaster takes out our power, we still must cook, clean, stay warm, and do laundry.  The stores in Arthur sell to the Amish and supply equipment that does not require electricity.  I want to see what they have to offer.  For example, I can find no heavy-duty wringers for hand laundry for reasonable prices in our area or on-line.  There is a mop bucket at Walmart or Menards that sells from $45 to $60, depending, but it is not very efficient.  Fortunately my own needs were met because we found a vintage one stored in the chapel; but I would like to find a source that is reasonable for others.  Stay tuned…

 Someone has said:  Preparing for the worst readies us for the likely.

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Why I Am a Prepping Christian


Why I Am a Prepping Christian

An entire world of preppers, survivalists,
 end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it [EOTWAWKI], off-
the-grid people are getting ready for
the next big event.  I agree things are getting worse,
not better; this observation is scriptural.  We may
yet see adversity in our nation even before the Rapture
of the Church.  Believers also know that Armageddon is
coming and that a great deal of world change will
occur long before the final battle.  Personal
adversity is also a constant in the sinful culture
in which we live–devastating illness,
loss of employment, lawlessness.  
So, I am practical.  There are many reasons I cannot
consider going “off grid;” and I think sheltering-in-place
is more practical.  That is the best answer for most–
but few are even prepared to do that.  We cannot
depend on the government or FEMA  to bring help
if we are hit with extensive  national disasters. 
I would call myself a “practical prepper.”  I do not
wear camo but I do wear a lot of denim to work
outside in the yard and garden.  I do not raise
chickens because my husband detests chickens,
but I am trying to talk him into runner ducks.  He
likes ducks and their eggs are just as good if not better… 
But ducks would mean we would need our son to
be a duck sitter when we take off on holiday…
so that is another hurdle to overcome.
  • The end times leading up to the Tribulation
  • will become worse and worse [Matthew 24:4-8]. 
  • A believer waiting for the blessed hope of the
  • Rapture [Titus 2:13] occupies wisely until He comes. 
  • [Luke 19:12-13]
  • Knowing what is coming is half the battle.  We buy
  •  insurance “just in case” something happens. 
  • Why would we not make preparation for the
  • documented exponential increase in wars,
  • natural disasters, disease and earthquakes the
  • Lord revealed would increase in frequency and intensity? 
  • Walking into a dark room is not as frightening
  • when we know what is there.
  • Redeem the time as good stewards of what
  • God has entrusted to us.  [Eph. 5:15-16 —
  • “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise
  • but as wise, making the best of the time,
  • because the days are evil.” ]
  • Surviving and thriving in the midst of adversity
  • brings glory to God.  We live by faith [Proverbs 3:5];
  • however, we do not presume on the Lord when He
  • has already richly provided.  When the children of Israel
  • left Egypt, they took all of their flocks, herds and even
  • the dough in their dough bowls.  [Exodus 12:31-36] 
  • They did not “bug out” with nothing.
  • Surviving and thriving is a blessing for Christians
  • as we live in expectation of the blessed hope of the
  • Rapture.  [Titus 2:13]  [See Spiritual Prepping for the
  • Rapture].  Believers are to look up and lift up their
  • heads in expectation. [Luke 21:28]
  • The Lord is merciful and does not seek to annihilate
  • mankind.  He restrains His wrath, even in the T
  • Tribulation.  [Matt. 24:22]  Therefore there will
  • always be a remnant saved by grace in every age.
  • I will be offering a Thriving Survival Workshop on
  •  two upcoming days in order to share the information
  • I have been gathering for several years. 
  • This is a practical prepping workshop for those
  • who wish to be better-prepared to shelter-in-place.    
  • Here is some of the DIY equipment I will be demonstrating:


Here is my tea light oven made out of an old chicken rotisserie which was a freebie.  You can also make them from a broken
toaster oven.  I baked chocolate chip cookies and a small cake in it on Saturday.

This is a simple rocket stove made from 3 cans:  a large popcorn tin, a coffee can
and a #10 large vegetable can.  The fire is fed through the outside can and it acts like
an internal combustion heater/cooker.  This is a simple, effective, practical alternative to loss of power.

My favorite prep is the Buddy Burner.  It is a Girl Scout/Boy Scout hack.
It requires melted wax, corrugated cardboard and a tuna can to create
a super effective candle that will heat and cook and can be used inside. 
Above I am melting wax in a double boiler–never over direct heat OR
in the microwave–no no.  Wax is very flammable. 

Buddy Burner:  Tightly as possible, roll cut corrugated cardboard into your cans.

Pour melted wax over cardboard making sure to completely saturate the
paper.  You may add a small strip of cardboard in the center as a wick.
It is not pretty but boy do these work!  I am experimenting with putting 4 of
these in my old wood burning stove oven to see if it will bake bread with candle power.
Too much fun!  Save old candles for this hack. The only expense is for wax.
These are just a few tips for THRIVING AND SURVIVING! 
Join us at Farm Grove for the workshop on May 26 or June 2, 2018. 
We look forward to seeing you!


SATURDAY, MAY 26, 2018 – 10 A.M. TO 2:30 P.M.

OR SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2018 – 10 A.M. TO 2:30 P.M. 

The Farm Grove Meeting Room – Large Chapel

18886 Springfield Rd., Groveland, IL

~ Are you ready for the next big event? ~

  • WAR

  • STORM OF THE CENTURY [Sandy, Katrina, Tsunami, Tornado]

  • EARTHQUAKE [San Andreas, New Madrid, Pacific


  • VOLCANIC ERUPTION [Yellowstone Caldera]
  • EMP – Electro-magnetic Pulse/Failure of US Electrical

Grid/Dirty Bomb/Sun Spot
  • NUCLEAR ATTACK [Terrorism, North Korea, Russia/Syria]

  • ECONOMIC COLLAPSE/2nd Great Depression


Being prepared is half the BATTLE

In the event of a national disaster, we cannot depend

on FEMA or the government.  Join author, Bible teacher, and
practical prepper, Sharon L. Clemens, for a comprehensive
workshop on how to shelter in place:
  1. Have a plan and a community/the buddy system
  2. Alternative methods of water purification

  3. Alternative methods of energy

  4. What to stock and practical cooking

  5. Practical gardening

  6. Practical foraging – What’s edible in your back yard? –

It is incredible the resources in God’s creation.
  1. Alternative medical treatments – Herbs and essential oils

  2. Basics of hygiene

  3. Spiritual/mental health—do not wait to prepare.


  • Things to quit throwing away –
One man’s trash is another’s treasure!
  • Foraging at yard sales
  • Good stuff at the $$$ Store

  • What to make/What to buy

  • COST of WORKSHOP$25 per person or couple-

-[$20 for workshop and $5 applied to facility rental]. 
No children under 12; one set of materials per registration fee. 
Class size limited.  PLEASE REGISTER AT sharonlclemens@gmail.com
and specify Spring Thriving Survival Workshop, May 26 or June 2 
and number of participants.  Fee required at time of class. 

INCLUDES:  Workshop hand-outs, demonstrations, seed samples,

4-hour workshop – 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  There will be a 30 minute
break for lunch.  Please bring a sack lunch to enjoy in our
gardens & facility.  Water and coffee provided. 
Samples of survival meals for tasting.  Tour the gardens and
chapel area to see our homestead. ~

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One man’s garbage is another man’s gold.  The self-sustaining household learns that many things we normally throw away can be used to enrich our homestead–whether it is an apartment in the city or a home in the country.

  • A friend gifted us with grapes last season she did not have the time to put up.  I was happy to spend an afternoon making homemade grape juice in a hot water canner.  Develop a gleaning/foraging friendship with others in order to share excess produce.  Trade extra tomatoes and cucumbers for apples and pears.  Offer to take care of a friend’s garden and water their outdoor pots while they are on vacation.  You may well be told to pick what you like!
  • Keep large cans and popcorn tins sold at Christmas to make inexpensive Rocket Stoves.  See “how to” on-line. A large popcorn tin, a small veggie can, and a #10 can are all you need.
  • Keep coffee grounds to add to garden soil.  Save egg shells to crush around tomato plants to prevent blossom rot and add necessary calcium.  Feed egg shells to your chickens to keep their egg shells firm.  Place cut-up banana skins around rose bushes for potassium.
  • Ask the bakery departments of Costco, Sam’s, Kroger and Walmart if they have icing or fruit pails they wish to give away.  These food grade pails are excellent for storing bulk rice, beans, etc., or for planting.  Be sure to drill holes in the bottom before using them as planters.
  • Use a 33 gallon plastic garbage can as a rain barrel.  You may wish to tie it down when it is empty to keep it in place in our Midwest storms.
  • Keep bricks, concrete pieces, etc. from construction work.  4-5 concrete blocks make an excellent outdoor rocket stove as do bricks  Concrete pieces can be used to form a fire pit in the back yard for emergency outdoor cooking.
  • Galvanized tubs from farm auctions are invaluable to use for laundry if the power goes out.  I have two that are set aside for this purpose with a mop wringer I found that can wring out wet clothing.  Large plastic storage tubs are also great.  Another galvanized tub has developed some minor holes; I am using that tub as a fire pit surrounded by rocks and gleaned concrete pieces.  I also grow herbs in galvanized tubs and buckets that have drainage holes.
  • Turn newspaper and junk mail into paper fire blocks.  Shred junk mail into a tall bucket until full.  Fill with water and leave for a couple of days; stir and break up paper to make a soft mass.  Dump paper into another bucket with holes and press out water.  Set block of paper mache in a sunny area to dry.  Burn these like a log.
  • Keep old chicken rotisserie cookers and toaster ovens to turn into tea light ovens.  They will bake when the power goes out using only tea lights.  See samples of the HERC oven on-line or look for tea light oven.
  • Turn tuna cans, corrugated cardboard and melted wax into Buddy Burners that can be used for heat or for cooking.  See instructions on-line.
  • Keep your food-grade containers for water storage.  Adults require a gallon of water a day to drink and another for hygiene.  We use distilled water in our coffee maker because of high lime content in our tap water.  After draining the jugs, we fill them with tap water in order to have plenty of stored water in case of emergencies.  Rotate your water supply and keep in a cool place off the floor.
  • Feed food scraps to your livestock/chickens/ducks or add it to a compost pile for your garden.
  • Save seeds from your heirloom produce to re-plant next season.  When you plant heirloom varieties, you will never want for viable seeds.  Hybrid varieties may not reproduce the same quality of plant; they are crossed to produce specific attributes.  Trade seeds with friends in order to increase your seed library.
  • Save desiccant packets from medicine bottles and merchandise.  [I would not recommend saving them from shoe boxes because the shoes may have been tried on by others and are not food grade.]  Add a desiccant packet to stored dried food containers to help prevent moisture and spoilage.
  • Save some of those plastic bags we receive from Walmart, etc.  They can be used in an emergency to wrap up garbage or supplies in an emergency situation.  Several plastic bags tied onto shoes also are make-shift boots in a pinch.
  • Cut old towels, sheets, and cotton clothing into rags and tie into handy bunches.  Keep them to use for hygiene as they can be cleaned when all the TP is gone.  A prepped household can never store enough TP for long-term events.
  • Adapt a plastic bucket as an emergency toilet by cutting a length of pool noodle and slitting it down the middle to fit around the rim.  Keep heavy-duty plastic bags and a supply of kitty liter or sphagnum moss near your hygiene bucket to service it.
  • Fill large boxes or garbage cans with the twigs that continually fall in spring and summer instead of putting them in the garbage.   Use these to fuel your rocket stove.  Typical debris is free fuel in an emergency and you do not need logs to fuel a rocket stove.
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When Did Modern Conveniences Become the Master?

Hoosier Cabinet

Our grandmothers thought the Hoosier Cabinet was the height of modern convenience. Everything was in one place for the efficient home-maker–the flour sifter, the sugar jar, a convenient porcelain work counter, and all the herbs and spices needed to bake and cook.  It may have been convenient, but everything was still done by hand.  In my kitchen, it takes an expansive counter top just to hold all the modern appliances that do the work for me–the mixer, coffee maker, food processor, microwave oven, stove and fridge.

If the electricity that runs all my appliances was suddenly  taken away, I like to think I could still function as grandma did–cooking from scratch and by-hand.  I can bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy, and a mighty nice loaf of bread or chocolate cake without modern appliances.  But I have yet to try my hand at baking them in a wood-burning stove.  But this spring, I am trying an experiment.  I have decided to develop the skill of cooking and baking using alternative methods.  Only when I actually learn to bake without electricity will it become a skill.  Because we do not have a wood-burning stove and no way to vent one in our home, I am going to experiment using my sun oven, a small rocket stove, and a larger brick rocket stove.  Only as I actually use and compare these methods can I develop the skill of being able to cook like grandmother–without electricity.

So look out, Dutch Oven–your time has come.

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