The Editors’ Preps for the Week

To be prepared for a crisis, every prepper must establish goals and make long-term and short-term plans. Steadily, we work on meeting our prepping goals. In this column, the SurvivalBlog editors share their planned prep activities for the coming week. These range from healthcare and gear purchases to gardening, property improvements, and food storage. This is something akin to our Retreat Owner Profiles, but written incrementally and in detail, throughout the year. We also welcome you to share your planned activities for increasing personal preparedness in the coming week. (Leave a Comment with your project details.) Let’s keep busy and be ready!


This week has been a lovely, and quite interesting week here in the northern half of the American Redoubt.

In the Garden

We are harvesting some Strawberries, Red Raspberries, Mesculin Lettuce, and Walking Onion bulbs. While weeding near one of my volunteer potatoes, I uncovered a two inch diameter  Red Potato. This is good news, because we are now just about out of last year’s stored potatoes. This means I can start harvesting the new crop, as we need them. I always harvest the volunteer potatoes first, since they’re scattered all around the garden. These almost always get an earlier start from the specifically planted potato patch.

The assorted beans look as though they’ll be flowering in the next two or so weeks.

We’ve been doing the usual weeding and watering, daily. When the heat arrived everything had a major growth spurt, weeds included. Therefore, we’ve been waging war against them. Unfortunately, currently, they have the upper hand.

In the Greenhouse

Everything looks very good in the greenhouse this week. We harvested our first three Zucchinis this week and ate them immediately, cooking them with a roast from one of our retired cows. They were very, very yummy. The greenhouse zucchinis, only appear to be one week ahead of the outside garden ones. If I remember correctly, I planted both by seed within a week of each other. Interesting!

We are also harvesting broccoli heads. There are enough in there, currently, for two meals. In another two weeks, I’ll have enough heads to begin freezing them. The broccoli in the greenhouse is maturing far ahead of the broccoli outside.

A Livestock Adventure: Cows and Horses Versus a Black Bear

We had a bit of excitement on Saturday morning. As you know we live in an area surrounded by National Forest. This happened while Number One Daughter and I were bathing our horses in the parking lot. Our poor horses had been tortured by mosquitos. We were sponging them down with warm water and lathering them with a solution of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile Soap,  and scrubbing their very itchy spots. They were loving us for this special attention. Afterwards, we rinsed and sprayed them with a cold water hose. The weather was very hot, nearly 98 degrees F. We then applied homemade bug spray made from White vinegar, Citronella oil, Tea Tree oil, Eucalyptus oil, liquid dish soap, and some Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap.

Just as we finished rinsing and spraying our next to last horse and were about to collect the last, the other horses who’d already been washed and sprayed went into high alert mode and were staring intently into the woods. All the horses had been milling around the parking lot with their friends, waiting for the one being washed to be finished and to rejoin them. (They’re herd-bound, which is typical for horses.) Number One Daughter and I stopped what we were doing and looked in the same direction that our specific “watchdog” horse was gazing. We asked it, “Whatcha seein’, girl?” At that very moment, we saw movement through the trees.

We all looked intently and saw a large black animal lumbering through the trees on all fours. Next, we saw the cows fanned out, walking behind it. Number One Daughter and I were about 200 feet away. We began to slowly walk parallel to the animals, to get a better look. As we walked across the parking lot, all of the horses beelined it down through the trees towards the cows and the mystery visitor animal.

Then It Got More Exciting

The animals then all emerged from the trees and into our meadow. We then clearly saw that it was a bear–a very large bear. We looked closely, and saw that it didn’t have a humped shoulder, so it was definitely a very large Black Bear, rather than a Grizzly. It had to be a boar. By this time we were by the house. So thinking that I could get a picture with my camera, I dashed into the garage and raced through the house to the living room to retrieve the camera and my Glock .45, just in case. As we walked out onto the back porch, we saw all the cows and horses converge into one large group and chase the bear up against our orchard fence. That fence is 10 feet tall. There, the cows and horses surrounded Mr. Bear and the cows began bawling at it.

Mr. Bear freaked out and leaped up against the orchard fence couple of times–not so good for the fence–and then he ran alongside the fence.  It charged right through the small herd of cows. This got the bovines worked up, so then they then chased him. Mr. Bear hopped our east meadow fence–which is only four feet tall. Then he headed south through our meadow and then presumably off our property. The cows and horses mingled around down there for a while, still acting as though the bear was still in the vicinity.

Our livestock left the orchard area a while later, still quite alert and slightly agitated. I should mention: our stock are largely their own guardians against predators. They don’t like any strange animals on “their” land in their territory, and as a group they are nearly fearless in ganging up and chasing off a predator or two.

We love our beasties. There is seldom a dull moment with them. They’re always giving us plenty of chuckles and bring us much joy, daily.

Outdoor Skills Acquisition – Wildflowers

The Children and Lily continued with their plant identification hikes this week. (Edible, medicinal, and “other.”) As a family, we really enjoy identifying wild vegetation together. Two hikes were taken in the in the garden and orchard, and two hikes were taken off the ranch.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of what we’ve found on the Rawles Ranch so far. Note: not every plant that I mention is safe for use. Nor have I yet used most of the edible plants, except for the very common safe ones. Here is some of what is found on our ranch: Lamb’s Quarter, Tansy, Shepherd’s Purse, Dandelion, Red Clover, Mullein, Curly Dock, Buttercup, Rough-Fruited Cinqfoil, Yarrow, Pine drops, Johnny Jump Ups, St. John’s Wort, Blue and Yellow Violets, Pussy Toes, Queen’s Cup, Wild Strawberries, Bunchberries, Wild Raspberries, Pineapple Weed, Plantain, Pearly Everlasting, Wild Ginger, Bladder Campion, Bearberry, Wild Ginger, and Touch-Me-Nots.

And of course there are many trees: Pines, Spruces, various Firs, Cedar, Birch, Maples, Alders, Hemlock, Western Larch, et cetera.

Another Jaunt

A recent off-ranch, low elevation, deep woods hike, revealed much to us. This included: Wild Ginger, Foam Flower (also known as Miterwort), Sarsparilla, Devil’s Club, Queen’s Cup, and Horsetails. On the drive there, we also observed Bird’s Foot Trefoil.

On Friday morning, Lily and the children drove up a nearby mountain on a numbered National Forest road and identified lots of flowers, plants and trees on the way up. We did a whole lot of stopping and jumping out of the rig and looking. We then jumped back in and opened up our stack of plant books. Those include the two books that I mentioned last week. Also in the stack of books in the rig:  the National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Wildflowers (Western and Eastern editions), Alpine Wildflowers, by Dr. Dee Strickler, and Rocky Mountain Flora Field Guide, written by James Eels of the Colorado Mountain Club. The goal of course was to identify the names of the new species that we had spotted.

Near The Summit

We reached the top of the road at about 5,500 foot elevation and then hiked up a trail for about two miles. At that elevation there wasn’t much new to us so we spent more time enjoying the views. All in all, we identified well over 40 species of plants. About five of them were brand new to Lily, such as Towering Lousewort, Mountain Mallow, Monkshood, Ocean Sprays, Mountain Spirea, and Golden Aster. It’s very exciting to see something you’ve never seen before and to be able to identify it’s name and to tuck it into your memory.

Most of the plants we saw were like renewing acquaintances with an old friend and introducing that friend to the children, such as the False Hellebore, Meadow Rue, Foam Flower, Bunch Berry, Thimbleberry, Mountain Ash, Elderberries, Orange and Yellow Hawkweeds, Twin Flower, Yarrow, Cow Parsnip, Twisted Stalk, and Fireweed. The western flowers that I now know and claim as friends, are the Bear Grass, the Avalanche Lily (my namesake, and pictured today), the Indian Paintbrush, the delicious Huckleberry, and the Wild Rose. Other plants and bushes observed were Serviceberry, Baneberry, and Daisies.

Some Are Poisonous!

Again, not all of the plants that I’ve mentioned are edible. Some of these are seriously poisonous! It’s very important for me that our children are able to identify nearly everything they see in our forests. They need to be versed in their uses and whether they’re edible or poisonous. We wish to encourage you all to acquire some good flower and plant books and get yourselves outside and begin identifying the plants around your local area. It is very valuable to know what is growing nearby!

Jim’s Outdoor Activities

Jim was busy this week hauling and stacking slash to burn this fall. He has reached the roughly 80% point on firewood that has been felled, bucked, and hauled. Jim is now nearly ready to split the rounds for next winter’s firewood.  He hauled more rock, culvert pipe, and gravel to create a couple of gully crossings to level out our utility ATV trails. He also assisted our kids with their own dedicated slash hauling and stacking projects.  (We cut all of our firewood on our own property, so that means we burn at least six or seven slash piles each fall. Just the slash hauling and stacking is a substantial project, in and of itself.  For the sake of long term fire safety, this step cannot be skipped!)

Next week is sure to be busy. July is always a buzz of activity here at the Rawles Ranch. More, later! – Avalanche Lily Rawles


This week we were able to make some great progress on weeding in the gardens of the Latimer Homestead as well as take action to further protect our food storage from the heat. Insulation was hung and secured to provide insulation on the two bay doors that had merely been closed in. We were shocked that the thermostat registered a temperature reduction of nine degrees within an hour of completing the project in mid-day heat with no other modifications except for the insulation being added. It is in an air conditioned area, but against the bay doors with the sun shining on them it gets warm. I had anticipated that it would help, particularly right up against them, but I didn’t expect that much difference in such a short amount of time.


We also further tackled some of the storage clean up and organization issues. Sarah even went through some boxes and purged old records and such that we no longer needed to keep in order to make room for necessities. There is still more to do on this in the weeks ahead, but we made great progress. However, in shifting our efforts to organizing and cleaning, some of the repotting plans and chicken pen work is now postponed until next week.


With a new batch of chicks hatching next week, we can’t put it off any longer. Early in the week, we will need to finish our chicken coop and run cleaning and make everything ready for the new chick arrival. We are hopeful that they will arrive healthy and strong. Our grandchildren are looking forward to playing with them, too! So, we have a lot of preparations to make to get the homestead ready for a variety of young ones, and this will be our focus along with maintaining the gardens and animals in the summer heat, not to mention processing the produce that is beginning to come out of our gardens in mass and continue cleaning and organizing.


This week, Sarah will be smoking another batch of beef bacon that has been curing for five days already. We are excited about this batch. It is almost nine pounds of yumminess. This time we used a brisket cut. We have just about finished the last bit that has been carefully rationed and are looking forward to more. Every time we open the refrigerator, we anticipate that bacon!


Daily salads out of the garden or stir-fry dinners are the norm now, but we are also beginning to run the freeze dryer fairly heavily with herbs, eggs, and a few vegetables and expect that we will soon be running two freeze dryers full time.

Chicken Feed

By the way, the chickens are doing great on their new homemade chicken feed. They are gaining their feathers again, though they don’t have all of them in yet, but they have half grown back. They’re eating well, getting along better than ever, and the egg production is outstanding.


  1. First and foremost, a beautiful picture of the Avalanche Lily. Thanks for sharing.
    With as much rain as we’ve received lately you’d think I reside in a temporal rain forest, but I do not. What we get in the Southeast is moisture off the Gulf of Mexico. It is common for this time of the year, but it also brings with it severe storms that create tornados. I live in what is called Dixie Tornado Alley so we are always watchful for these bad storms and have to be prepared for the worst. Yesterday evening we had a really bad cell develop on top of us and it flooded for about an hour. No hail this time so that is good, but plenty of strong winds and rain. Sometimes with these heavy down pours our shop in the back gets flooded. We’ve all but cured this with a few modifications, but looking at the small pond that formed around the building last night I’m afraid it may have flooded again. I’ll have to go check it out shortly. It is currently raining today, but it is a slow steady rain with no wind or storms associated with it. The good thing is this helps the crops grow. The bad thing is the weeds like it too.
    Yesterday, during the 98 degree temperature preceding the storms, I spent the day at the gun show in the air-conditioning away from the heat. People are surprised when I tell them that I do make a day of it, but I really do. I spent six hours there and spent a few hundred dollars too. The first purchase was some ammo cans. The man I normally buy them from was finally back after missing several shows. The bad news is that he is terminally ill and has been in and out of hospice. He told me that this was the last of his ammo cans and that he has been selling off all of his guns and ammo too. It made my heart sink when he told me his situation. I purchased from him one M19A1 can (the small one) for $6, one M2A1 .50-cal can for $8, and one slightly larger can stamped PA108 (Roughly 7”x12” and 8.5” deep) for $10. Later I found another ammo can dealer and purchased two of the .50-cal cans and one small can from him and he had the same prices. Other people had ammo cans out too, but they were priced at the standard of $14 to $16 dollars. My friend that accompanied me to the show works on a military installation and he said a DOD memo came out a while back indicating that there will be no more selling of the used ammo cans. They are now sending them back to the manufacturer for refurbishing and for reuse. So if you know where to get the used military ammo cans, you may want to get them now.
    Personally I can’t go to a gun show without picking up ammo. I ran into the vendor that I tried to get the Remington bucket of bullets in .22-cal from last time he was there, but someone bought all four cases that he had before I could get back to him. This time I got my bucket of 1,400 rounds of .22-cal LR bullets. The price was the equivalent of $.06 a round or $30 for a brick. It’s not a great deal, but I wanted my bucket-o-bullets. I also purchased 500 rounds of 115 gr 9mm ball ammo for $80 form him as well.
    I found another vendor that I normally get my PMAGS from and purchased two in Olive Drab Green (ODG) and another brand in Flat Dark earth (FDE) because he had no PMAGS in any colors other than black and ODG. When I inquired about the FDE color in PMAG he told me that MAGPUL was not making any more colored mags and were only making black. That is why he had the other brand there. I went to MAGPUL’s site and while they do offer the Gen M3 30 round mag in Black, Medium Coyote Tan (FDE), and Sand, when clicking on the ODG or other colors they have listed nothing comes up. It does appear that they are phasing out the colors on their PMAGS. Kind of disappointing as I wanted to build a 6.5 in the grey and wanted the mags to match. Oh well I know there is more than just MAGPUL out there.
    Lastly I spent some time with a vendor that deals mainly in military surplus items. I picked up some knee pads (needed these when working on the toilet a while back), two boonie hats (one for me and one for the wife) a canteen in the molle carrier pouch and a small backpack. I went with the woodland digital camo on the pack and boonie hat for me as this seems to blend real well into the woodlands that I hunt. I personally cannot stand the Urban Digital camo (ACU) as it sticks out like a sore thumb and unfortunately this is what a few of my bags currently have. I need to start selling these to get rid of them. I love the new Multicam pattern, but it is way too expensive right now so I’ll just stick with the tried and true woodland pattern or the woodland digital patterns.
    My plans for pulling the mower blades off my rough cut mower are out today due to the rain, but I may slip out back and pick a few tomatoes to add to the others on the window seal.

  2. Ditto on the fly spray. Our horses are constantly molested by regular fly’s and horse-fly’s. The commercial products work fair, but put a dent in the budget! Perhaps you could write it up as an article?

    – K in Tenn

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