Midwife Kits and Roast Turkey: Another Frugal Day on the Farm

Yesterday morning, after putting a 25-pound turkey in the Nesco for a home school potluck that evening, a friend of mine came over to put together midwife kits for Global Health Ministries. (You can learn more at http://www.ghm.org.) We are both workers and like projects that result in nice satisfying piles of completed items. We had a lot of fun putting these kits together.

Most of these midwife kits will go to Africa. Lots of people feel overwhelmed or helpless about what is going on in Africa. You don’t have to be a rich rock star to help alleviate some suffering. Each kit contains everything necessary to birth a baby, cut and tie the cord, clean up baby and mother, and dress and wrap the baby. (These kits consist of a 36-inch square of sheet, a regular-size bath towel, a thin wash cloth, one bar of Ivory soap, a pair of medium-sized vinyl exam gloves, a receiving blanket, a newborn t-shirt, a small newborn hat, and two 8-inch pieces of white cotton sting and a new one-sided razor blade in a zip-lock bag–all this is folded into the towel and stowed in a two-gallon zip lock bag and labeled “Midwife Kit”.)

We put 32 kits together from the materials I had gathered over a summer and fall of garage and estate sale shopping. Everything I buy had to be in good shape: no stains, rips, or excessive wear. I generally pay 50 cents for a towel or receiving blanket, 10 cents or less for a wash cloth, 10 to 25 cents for a t-shirt, and a dollar or less for a sheet. We buy zip lock bags at dollar stores for a dollar a box and the rest of the items where ever the price is best. Both my friend and I crochet so most of the little hats are made from sport yarn left over from other projects or skeins I pick up at garage sales. Sometimes I tell people what I am doing and they give me stuff for free. I was given all the towels for my first batch of kits by our town recreation department–all came from the lost and found box of the local pool! Cut down and hemmed, a beach towel roughly makes two regular-size towels.

My daughter-in-law will drop off the kits at the organization’s headquarters in the Twin Cities. I’m grateful that she will do this, because the postage to ship these kits would be beyond my means.

By the time we had finished with the kits, the turkey was beginning to smell pretty good! The nice thing about turkey is that it goes on sale for outrageously low prices at this time of year. I usually pay about 39 cents a pound. I put about four turkeys in the freezer every year and pull one out whenever cash flow is bad. (A 25-pound turkey will feed us for at least a week, if not a couple of weeks if used carefully.) It only takes about 10 minutes to get a turkey emptied of giblets and neck, rinsed, the cavity salted, and the whole thing popped into a cooker or oven. I used broth from the neck, drippings from the pan, and some flour to make the gravy, and the Betty Crocker recipe, dried herbs from my garden, and some day-old bread to make the dressing. I also brought some canned cranberry jelly I got on sale–just because I don’t like to eat turkey without it! I figure the whole thing cost my family about $17.00. It would have been less than $10.00 without the three cans of cranberry jelly and the triple-batch of dressing–but why be stingy?

The potluck turned out to be quite a holiday feast, we had punch, chips and dip, salsa and corn chips, turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, homegrown ham, homemade mac and cheese, fruit salad, mixed green and apple salad with raspberry dressing, raman salad, cranberry jelly (!!!!), challah bread, and chocolate covered popcorn for dessert. We did a white elephant exchange and the house was warm and nicely decorated. It was snowing lightly when we drove home.

There were leftovers, so all I have to do is make mash potatoes today. I’ve had plenty of time to write to you today. Take care and don’t let the turkeys get you down, let them fill you up! Begonia

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