As preppers work to make progress to achieve prepping goals, we took some actions this week too. The SurvivalBlog editors made some plans earlier in the week and now reflect upon these. Below, the editors share what we each accomplished. Please write to us in the comments and tell us what you did this week to get your preps in place and to be ready.
Hello SurvivalBlog Readers. This week the weather at the Rawles Ranch was cold and rainy. We even broke down and built a fire in the wood stove to take the edge off the cold in the house. Thankfully, though, we didn’t have any freezing night-time temperatures.
Family obligations took us away from home at the beginning of the week and again at the end of the week. We didn’t get as much done as we planned.
This is what we did to prepare this week:
- Lily planted the blueberries and a Bing Cherry sapling and yet another bed of asparagus. We love asparagus!
- We planted zucchini seeds in the greenhouse for an earlier harvest.
- Three cattle were delivered to the butchers.
- We’ve continued limbing/parking out a forested section of our ranch for both aesthetics and fire safety. We hoped to cut more firewood this week, but not much was done. However, Jim and the children did haul slash and gathered and stacked some of the cut rounds.
- Jim and Lily shared and completed the tilling of the garden with our Troy-Built rototiller. Lily is the garden planter. So far she has planted red, yellow, and bunching onions, acorn squash, Hubbard squash, and more yellow and green zucchini squash. She decided to gamble with the weather, hoping that by the time the squash grows out of the ground, we won’t have any more freezing nights. But we have plenty of plant covers if frost threatens. Here in The Un-named Valley, summer night temperatures are typically in the 40s and 50s, and frosts can occur at any time during the summer. Thankfully, so far, since Lily’s been here, the earliest killing frost in the Fall that we’ve seen was on August 17th. Off hand, we don’t remember the latest frost date of the spring. Most killing frosts have occurred in late September or in October. Therefore we buy cold weather hardy varieties of vegetables and cover them to extend our seasons. Our greenhouse produces for about nine months of the year.
- Jim helped Lily set up a T-Post arbor for our climbing beans that still need to be planted.
- Dandelion roots were dug, cleaned, chopped, and put into the dehydrator along with plantain leaves.
The forcast is for Sunny, warmer weather for the American Redoubt this coming week. We are so looking forward to it!!
May you all have a very blessed weekend!
This week, the Latimer Homestead made some good progress but had a few delays and plan adjustments as well, mainly due to unexpected windy and rainy weather. We did get the cooler setup and functioning on the home, so now both the food storage and the family will be able to endure summer temperatures. Following this week’s rains, we thoroughly weeded the vegetable, strawberry, and tea/herb gardens. The rain softened the ground enabling us to pull weeds up by the roots. We didn’t plan this, but plans change. The winds broke a few small dead branches of trees, so we took that as a reminder to go ahead and do some further pruning, especially of the trees around the house and garden areas.
Gardening For Livestock
As is often the case, the weather forecasters missed the mark. We expected relatively hot, dry weather this week, but we only had a hint of this. Mostly, we have had wind and wet weather with some warmth and cool days intermingled. Still, five partial rows of cow pea cover crop were planted as the rain began. Because of the rain and winds, we did not get all of the cow peas planted or any of the sunflowers planted, but we did get the garden cleared and ready for planting. We’ll have to take another look at the weather this weekend before we make plans for next week.
The freeze dryer move and shelving was not completed. Regardless, the chamomile was blooming. So, Sarah and the children picked it and dehydrated it. This week, we produced about two quarts. There should be more next week. It looks like the calendula and other herbal and medicinal flowers are on their heels. Even with the freeze dryer temporarily out of commission, it’s always great to have multiple means for food preservation!
Again, we got a little too ambitious in our planning this week. The garden weeding, tree pruning, homestead maintenance, and the progress we made on planting the livestock feed garden took up most of our available time for prepping. Sarah still hopes to get her sewing area operational again, but it will have to come later.
Smoker Set Up and Used
Sarah did get the electric smoker set up and used this week though. It’s been awhile since it was in use, so she wanted to get back in the swing of using it before trying a new project she has in mind for preserving meat. She smoked a large turkey that was delicious, using fresh homegrown herbs on the turkey and smoking with apple wood from our family’s orchard!
Finally got main garden area tilled, through well-established weeds. Delay was mostly because of earlier focus on orchard re-planting. looks like that effort is yielding a good percentage of “takes”. There is significant followup work after grafting: the rootstock often tries to sprout below the graft..all such buds or sprouts need to be rubbed off, or the rootstock may abandon the scion.
We use a Troy-Bilt tiller also, which would have been financially out of reach for us, but I found it at a scrapyard. Was missing carburetor, belt tensioning mechanism was messed-up. But for the minimal cost of repairs, we have a great tiller. This story is to emphasize the cardinal importance of skills acquisition as “prep”.
Next project will be to adapt an old rollover plough to our Yanmar tractor, to plough another plot where I hope to put in a significant patch of Painted Mountain corn
I consider our farming and ranching primarily subsistence/self-sufficiency enterprises. Any excess eggs, garden produce, beef, plant cuttings/starts, et cetera goes to charity rather than to market. We have also cut some firewood on our ranch for charity. Our goal is to be ready to go off-grid and simply lock our gate in the event of a major catastrophe. Some situations like pandemics would make that level of independence a must.
I’ve accomplished quite a bit, or at least I think so. My house is situated amongst a bunch of trees, so there are leaves everywhere, the way the house is built, ells and porches, there are areas that catch a lot of leaves because they won’t blow away. Last fall I got behind as I usually do with leaf raking because my DD built a house and I was the contractor. Took more time than I thought. So now I’m playing catch up. Week before last, I worked two days raking and burning, picking up (constantly) small limbs that have come off the trees, I didn’t get finished. I also mowed my yard and the DD, but my blades quit turning and after checking belts, etc., didn’t get through. I thought it was the pull switch for the blade that was having problems. Turns out it was a simple fix, the belt had come off at the back spindle where I didn’t realize. Plans were to work daily this week to remow everything, round up everything, and work every day on more of the leaf problem. That is a battle all the time, as the winds will bring more leaves from the woods. My mower has also given me some issues, but I guess for a zero turn John Deere that is at least 10 years old, it’s to be expected. Repair costs are minimal compared to a new mower. Hopefully, I can nurse it through this year and the next before I have to buy another. I had a set back this past Sunday, when I ended up in the hospital for two days with a-fib. This problem started last fall and we are trying to control with meds. Haven’t got the right recipe yet! I also hoed and weeded and fertilized my small garden. Tomatoes, green beans, onions, and squash. I have some cool weather crops (broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts)that I’m planning on pulling up. The weather just hasn’t co-operated this year for those and now we’ve reached the 80’s the bugs are getting them. Will try again later in the fall. I’m planning on planting okra and purple hull peas in the next couple of weeks in the bare spots. The garden is only about 8 x 30, but will produce enough for me to eat on and hopefully can.
So plans for this week, good Lord willing:
1. Work on the leaf problem and clean up in the yard. Another set back with my mower, but think it’s an easy fix then will finish what I didn’t get done this past week. I’m making a choice this year to keep around the houses tidy every week, but other areas that I have been mowing, will only get it every other time.
2. Pull crops from the garden and replace with summer crops.
3. Spray roundup. Fence lines, DD place. We are working in her yard. She ran out of money for dirt work and landscaping so doing a lot by hand. The round up will kill out a lot of unwanted grasses and weeds.
4. Have a couple of burn piles I need to take care of. Got a lot of rain last night and if the wind dies down, will be a good time to do it.
5. Work on my back deck. Adding a couple of sections so that the height of the deck won’t be as bad. Right now I have 10 steps down, my ground rises toward the west and I am lowering these two sections a step down each, so that by the time the two meet, I will only have 4 steps at that end.
6. I have some meat in my fridge that I want to can, if not it will go into the freezer.
I think this plan is workable as long as I don’t go into a-fib and end up in the hospital again. I am trying to lose weight and I walked my first 5k week before last while in a-fib (not really knowing that) so walking every day is also on the list. Doc tells me all the hoeing and mowing and hauling and raking and building, etc. isn’t exercise! ha!
I’ve been trying for 3 springs and summers to get my place caught back up after my hubby died. A few setbacks have kept me from accomplishing what I wanted, but it seems maybe this year I will accomplish more.
God is so good to me. After taking care of my husband and mom till they both passed away, I’ve been in relatively good shape till this year and even now work very hard. Never been on meds till now and boom! that changed. The heart is an electrical issue, and most likely will be controlled by meds. Physically, I am strong and capable so looking forward to this work. I’ve got a list made of things to do and keep checking them off. So hopefully this week, I will have a few more done.
Here in small town SE USA we are in full summer garden mode – everything is planted in our 1/4 acre garden. We are beginning to harvest small amounts with big harvests coming from the end of May to mid July. Dehydrating herbs is also in full swing.
Spring crops like lettuce, green onions, etc have been placed under 50% shade cloth to keep if from bolting and getting bitter. I have to say it’s working! We also placed our cilantro under the shade cloth because it cannot tolerate our 95 degree days. The shade will allow us to harvest it most of the summer.
About 8 weeks ago we put russian comfrey roots in pots. Once they sprouted they were put under grow lights. They have gotten so large that we planted a full row of them on Saturday. Comfrey is great for compost, mulch and has medicinal possibilities.
I was able to plow my new five acre field this past Sunday. A good thing too, the weeds had already started growing and I was able to get them turned in before they could produce more seed. Plowing this much with a 35 hp tractor takes a bit of time. In the SE it is already hot and I got slightly sun burnt this past Sunday being out on the tractor for several hours. I plan to plow it again in a few weeks prior to planting it in mid-June. Bad news is I notices oil spots on the front of my trailer after bringing the tractor back home Sunday. I had it checked out and I have a hole in my transfer case from a chain wearing against the case on the inside. It seems this is an issue with GM so I will need to spend some cash to get this problem resolved.
The good news is that I mentioned last week about taking my wife to the range to get her familiar with shooting hand guns. Even though she has had a hand gun for years, she’s never shot it. We burned up a couple hundred rounds and found some things that we need to work on. Her Ruger SP101 revolver in .357 is a double action only with a hidden hammer so you cannot pull the hammer back to cock it. The heavy trigger pull makes for not the most accurate, especially with a new shooter, hand gun.
I showed her several other handguns from a Ruger LC9s Pro, a full-sized Ruger American in 9mm, A Ruger SP101 with a hammer allowing for singe action in .357 Magnum, and a Taurus 1911 45 APC. At seven yards she did best with the 45 and full sized American 9mm. However, the goal was not to “target” practice, but to get her used to handling, loading, and firing the guns. When we started out she was quite nervous and apprehensive. By the time we finished she was happy and excited. She and now her sister are asking when we can go again.
Next time I bring along several other pistols to see how she likes them. I’d like to find the “Just right” pistol for her as a good home protection, self defense handgun.
Does the Rawles and Latimer families homestead/prep as a team per the example portrayed in the Rawles books? Or if not with each other, with any other families? If so, to what degree? Is there sharing of equipment, labor? How close to another homestead is too close, or too far away to be comfortable? Do you favor a close-knit cooperative community or a loosely associated independent group of family homesteads?