The purpose of this lesson is to help us learn how to become self-reliant by producing what we need at home.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “We encourage all Latter-day Saint families to become self-reliant and independent” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 170; or Ensign, May 1976, 124). There is good reason for this counsel. President Marion G. Romney explained: “We’re living in the latter days. … We are living in the era just preceding the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are told to so prepare and live that we can be … independent of every other creature beneath the celestial kingdom” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 165). (See D&C 78:13–14.)
Display visual 26-a, “Chickens can be raised for food in a small area.”
President Kimball counseled us to become self-reliant because the prophecies of old are coming to pass. He said: “Now I think the time is coming when there will be more distresses, when there may be more tornadoes and more floods, … more earthquakes. … I think they will be increasing probably as we come nearer to the end, and so we must be prepared for this” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 184).
President Kimball also said:
“Should evil times come, many might wish they had filled all their fruit bottles and cultivated a garden in their backyards and planted a few fruit trees and berry bushes and provided for their own commodity needs.
“The Lord planned that we would be independent of every creature, but we note even many farmers buy their milk from dairies and home owners buy their garden vegetables from the store. And should the trucks fail to fill the shelves of the stores, many would go hungry” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 6).
Ask the sisters to imagine that the stores were closed and they had to rely on themselves for everything. Ask them what they would like to be producing at home under such conditions.
How We Can Provide for Our Needs
Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone taught us which skills we should develop in order to provide for our needs: “Now regarding home production: Raise animals where means and local laws permit. Plant fruit trees, grapevines, berry bushes, and vegetables. You will provide food for your family, much of which can be eaten fresh. Other food you grow can be preserved and included as part of your home storage. Wherever possible, produce your nonfood necessities of life. Sew and mend your own clothing. Make or build needed items. I might also add, beautify, repair, and maintain all of your property” (“Food Storage,” Ensign, May 1976, 117).
To follow Bishop Featherstone’s instructions, we must learn how to provide for ourselves in the following ways:
Display a poster of the following list or refer to the information on the chalkboard:
Plant fruit trees, vines, and bushes.
Plant vegetable gardens.
Sew and mend.
Make or build needed items.
Repair and maintain our possessions.
If we have enough land and live where we can legally keep livestock, we should raise some animals. Before we decide which animals to raise, we must learn about the food, shelter, and care they need in order to be healthy. We must prepare to care for them ahead of time. Some animals that are easier to care for are chickens, rabbits, ducks, and milk goats.
Discuss the kinds of livestock most commonly raised in the area. Discuss the food, shelter, and care that each requires.
Plant Fruit Trees, Vines, and Bushes
Display visual 26-b, “Tips for planting trees and vegetables.”
Fruit trees, vines, and bushes bear fruit every year or every other year. They do not need to be planted each year like vegetables. However, they may not bear fruit for several years after they are planted. We should plant them as soon as possible so that we will have the fruit when we most need it.
Each tree, vine, and bush requires the right amount of water. We must control its pests and diseases. Some trees and bushes grow much larger than others. Before we plant them, we should learn how much space they require when fully grown.
Discuss which fruit trees, vines, and berry bushes produce well in the area. Discuss how to plant trees, vines, and bushes and the care each one needs.
Plant Vegetable Gardens
Display visual 26-c, “A family working together in their garden.”
President Kimball asked that every family have a vegetable garden. It provides us with fresh food as well as extra food to preserve and store. Lesson 25, “Home Gardening,” covers this subject.
Display visual 26-d, “Food can be stored, canned, or dried to use when fresh produce is not available.”
For many years our prophets have asked us to preserve and store our own food where we legally can do so. We need to store food in case a time comes when no other food is available. When a hurricane hit Honduras in the fall of 1974, Church members were grateful they had dried and stored their own food. Only a few months before the hurricane, the mission president had warned them of impending disaster. He had challenged them to begin a food storage program. The beans, flour, rice, and other staples they had put away saved the Saints from hunger. (See Bruce Chapman, “Hurricane in Honduras,”
To preserve and store our own food, we can:
Store it under the ground. This method is good for some root vegetables and certain green, leafy vegetables if there is good drainage and not too much rain.
Dry it. Use a food dehydrator or, during warm, sunny weather, dry fruits and vegetables in the sun. Food being dried in the sun must be protected from flies and other insects, and it must be covered or brought inside when it rains.
Bottle it. This method is simple—but dangerous if done improperly. If done properly, bottling is a good way to store food and maintain its flavor. Proper bottling requires at least a cold-pack canner. (The equipment involved could be shared among several families.) This method also requires that the bottles be protected from breakage.
Salt or brine it (to brine means to preserve in clean, salty water). This is an inexpensive method of preserving fruits, vegetables, and meat. It requires little or no equipment.
Discuss traditional methods for preserving food in your area. Discuss new methods the sisters may want to learn.
Sew and Mend
Display visual 26-e, “Household tools used in sewing, cooking, and building.”
We should learn to sew and mend our own clothing. To be prepared for a time of need, we should also learn how to remake old clothing. It is a good idea to store materials for making clothing in case none are available. We can learn to make many items in addition to clothing: bedding, window and floor coverings, towels, tablecloths, and furniture upholstery or coverings. We can also learn other skills such as weaving, quilting, knitting, crocheting, and other needlecrafts. All of these can beautify our clothing and homes.
What can we sew or make for our homes?
Make or Build Needed Items
If we were to face a natural disaster, we should be prepared to cook; heat our food and homes; and clean our clothing, bodies, and surroundings. We can learn to make soap from household materials. And, when allowed by law, we should store fuel, making sure that the fuel is stored in a safe, protected area.
In an emergency, we might also face the need to rebuild our homes, barns, or corrals. It is important that family members learn to work with wood and other materials and to use tools. Then they can make and repair possessions.
Do we know people with skills in this area? How can we or members of our families learn these skills?
Repair and Maintain Our Possessions
We want to save time and money and avoid depending on others. To do so, we can learn to repair and maintain our own possessions.
Why is it important to keep our things in good repair?
Learning the Skills We Lack
The Church has recommended holding separate classes to learn skills for self-reliance. Some of us have learned skills we can teach others. If there are skills that we do not have, we can look for those who can teach us. Perhaps we can learn from books or magazines, home economics classes, government workers, or school programs.
Ask the sisters to explain which skills they have, and encourage them to teach the other sisters these skills. Explain where they can go within the community to learn these and other skills. How can we help and encourage our children to learn useful skills?
Even in Old Testament times the Lord encouraged His people to be self-reliant and independent. Proverbs 31 describes a good homemaker who uses her skills to provide for her household:
“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. …
“… With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. …
“She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
“She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
“She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed. …
“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:13, 16, 19–21, 27).
The Lord has planned that problems and trials be part of our experiences on earth. But He is merciful to us. He has provided ways for us to solve these problems. Through His prophets, the Lord has counseled us to learn to provide for ourselves. When we follow this counsel, we will not fear hard times, because we will be prepared. The Lord said, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).
Decide which skills you and your family need to learn. Begin this week to learn and practice at least one of these skills.
Before presenting this lesson:
Find out how the sisters can learn home production skills, such as in community classes or extra classes at church where skilled people can come to teach them.
Check with a government extension worker or another experienced person to find out:
What kinds of livestock are raised in the area and which are easiest to raise.
Which fruit trees, vines, and bushes grow well in the area and what care they need.
If classes are available in sewing skills. If not, find out who can teach sewing to class members.
If there are classes for family members to learn how to build housing, furniture, and other needed items. If not, try to find people with these skills who would be willing to teach.
Prepare the poster suggested in the lesson or write the information on the chalkboard.
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.
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