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 review their week’s prep activities. They also 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 always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready!


Dear SurvivalBlog Readers,
This week we were amid much smoke from regional fires. We were trying to homeschool, but harvest time chores got in the way.

Jim gang cut piles and piles of five- to seven-foot long larch and red fir logs with the chainsaw. He alternated days, splitting several cords of wood. Meanwhile Lily and the children stacked it in the woodshed. We had to get them in before the expected rain comes. We still have yet a bit more to split. But we got this stacked and covered with tarps. Getting in our own wood supply really is an all summer-long affair, I’ve realized.

Harvesting the Garden

The weather forecast is about to make an abrupt change this coming week. We can officially say “goodbye” to summer weather and it looks like even sunshine, after Sunday. There appears to be a river of clouds developing over the Northern Pacific. That pattern looks like it won’t break much in the foreseeable future. Bummer! Lily loves the sun. Parts of Idaho and Montana at elevations higher than 5,500 feet are receiving their first winter snowstorm at the very moment I’m writing this.

Thursday night we had a very light frost at the Ranch. So Friday morning Lily decided to harvest most of the garden. Lily and the children dug up 225 feet of red and blue/purple potato rows and 102 feet of white potato rows. These will be stored in our a cold cellar closet. While digging/pulling potatoes, she stacked the pulled potatoes plants and weeds that are going to seed in the burn pile to be burned after our first heavy rains come.

There are also still lots of rocks in the garden so opportunity was taken to toss those over the fence as they were encountered. Digging potatoes is like digging for a treasure. You never know what you’ll find and it’s always a delight to see a large number of them and to count them. (Our highest count was 31 potatoes under one plant. ) It is also great fun to find a huge giant one, or one that is interestingly misshapen. Freshly dug potatoes are so beautiful to look at.

Frosts Ahead!

Lily is an amazing gardener and very hard working. While the children went to do other chores/school, she continued harvesting all the different squashes, onions and turnips, pulling weeds and chucking rocks as she went. Another light frost is expected on Friday night. (It turned out to be a hard frost). On Sunday afternoon, Lily intends to get in all of the beans. The carrots, broccoli, cabbage can stay in the garden until the hard freezes come.

Lily is still freezing and dehydrating produce. This week she froze yet another gallon of zucchini. She dehydrated zucchini and celery, from the garden and greenhouse, respectively. Also some red, yellow and orange peppers that were bought at Costco this week. She also made some tasty pear leather in our Excalibur dehydrator. And she canned four more quarts of apple sauce. (The pears and apples had been given to us by some local friends.)

A Costco Run

We went to Costco for our regular pre-winter stock-up. It is more than a two hour drive to get there. We bought: White flour, (we also grind hard red winter wheat flour from stored wheat berries), sugar, which is mostly used for canning fruits and some baking. (Our main sweeteners are honey and maple syrup.) We also bought some spices that I am not yet growing or that come from overseas, potato chips and corn chips, pasta, mixed nuts, bags of almonds, raisins, and several 20 pound sacks of Jasmine and Basmati rice. (We have buckets and buckets of long-grained white rice, but prefer the taste of these other rices).

As usual, we also bought canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and paste. (We really need another greenhouse dedicated to just tomatoes and peppers!)  And, as usual, we stocked up on tuna and peanut butter. Although we do have freeze dried peanut butter powder, that is for emergency food only, for when the real stuff is gone! We also replenished our stores of laundry soap, dish soap, bleach, sponges, paper towels, TP, and facial tissue.

Remember: Always rotate your foods and stores, eating or using the older stuff first. “First in, first out”.  (FIFO.)

On the mother side of things, this week, because the children are growing so fast, we replenished their clothing needs. We did so through mail-order, particularly in the dressing-up/going-to-town and church arena: new pants, sweaters, skirts, shirts, and jackets. Hah! As much as the children love to run around the ranch in hole-y jeans. t-shirts, and hooded sweatshirts, I love to see them dressed up in nice pants, shirts, skirts and sweaters on those going-to-town days, looking civilized!

The End of Calving Season

We recently had another heifer calf born, late in the calving season. What a beauty she is! She was begotten from sex-sorted A.I. from a high level genetic strain Jersey bull. What a looker he was in the catalog! This girl will probably be a keeper/milker for us. It’s very exciting to have babies about the ranch. Speaking of which, we need to arrange to get a couple of more cows bred in the next month. In the past, we have rented bulls and and have owned them. But we find at this season of our lives and for many reasons that it is not practical for us to own one. For us it is better to either rent, visit, or do A.I.. (Although, we haven’t had 100% success with AI.) All in all it is better to rent a bull or have our cows visit one.

The calf needs to be de-horned, soon. We’ll probably do that early next week.

May you all have a blessed week, – Avalanche Lily Rawles


The Latimer Homestead is busy harvesting all we can in the rapidly cooling weather. We are also collecting and preparing seeds for next year’s garden. It’s a bit of a chore to sort, clean, dry, and store seeds, but we’ve done this for years and are at least seven years into many of our recycled crops. Our seeds aren’t all in the condition that someone would buy out of a seed vendor’s paper package. Some are prepped by placing them, still in their mucilage, in pots outside. Others are washed, dried, and then stored in the freezer. Some beans are left on the vine an extra long time to grow large for seed use and then dried. While we have bought seeds some years, the plants grown from our own garden collected seeds have always outperformed the ones purchased.

This week we fertilized a few of our fall plants and pulled out more of our spent plants and weeded. We also weeded around the property and cleaned the chicken pen. While you can’t really tell yet, Fall is in the air. Our thoughts and preps are beginning to shift towards getting ready for Winter now.

o o o

Again, please share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments.


  1. I am still harvesting some items from the summer garden, e.g., tomatoes and peppers, but spent lots of time harvesting/processing the pears. I can them up in a chunky sauce, which can be made into just about anything at a later date… jelly, leather, pie filling, drink mixes. While our weather is slowly changing, we in the mid-south don’t have the extreme cold and snow you have at your ranch. Our fall garden is growing well with winter veges and rabbit food. Come Thanksgiving time, some plants, like the onions, garlic, cabbages, sprouts and cauliflower will over-winter under a blanket of straw.

    Had the blower motor on the wood stove repaired; had the chimney cleaned last year so we’re good.
    We now have 5 cords of wood for the wood stove/fireplace. We only need to do twigs and slivers for kindling. I have a tall kitchen trash container full of cardboard TP/PT rolls stuffed with dryer lint with wax and plastic tote containers of paper and light weight cardboard from food packages. Plenty of matches on hand and new containers of both regular and long lighters, plus fire extinguishers. I’ve been making emergency candles for the folding stove burners and clay flower pot heaters. A tuna can with 4 cotton mop wicks puts out a lot of heat and is way cheaper than sterno!

    Various trips to thrift stores have provided a thick comforter for the big dogs when they need to come into the garage for severe weather, a 4×6 washable rug for the medium size dogs for the sun porch, a couple of fuzzy cuddly throws for the cats, two small dog beds, sweats and fleeces for cold mornings, yarn and dozens of fiction books to pass the dark hours.

    I ordered a paper copy of The Federalist Papers and a dz small booklets of the the US Constitution with the Amendments and the Declaration of Independence. I plan on sending them for Christmas gifts to remind my less-aware friends and family of how easily our freedom has been eroded.

    Have a great week.

    1. Could you expand on this? Thanks!
      “A tuna can with 4 cotton mop wicks puts out a lot of heat and is way cheaper than Sterno.” I understood tuna can and sterno 🙂

      1. Butch,
        For an explanation, see Patient Momma’s previous sentence. She has made emergency candles by filling a tuna can with molten wax, into which she has placed four wicks fashioned from strands from a cotton mop head. This four-flame candle may be used in place of a Sterno can in a Sterno folding stove for emergency cooking.

      2. Butch, sorry for the delay in responding, really busy, like everyone.

        I melt paraffin and stubs of old wax candles in an old worthless pan used only for wax melting. A cotton swab mop head, like used in commercial cleaning, is nothing but twisted cotton and is great for wicks. I cut the thick strings off the mop and then cut the cotton into appropriate sizes for the tuna cans.

        For the folding stove heater I leave the mop string of 4 twisted layers together so they are thick and fat. I put a knot in each end of the 3″ length and drape the “wick” over a wooden skewer across the top of the can. The knots are to keep the wicks from pulling out of the hardened wax. Then I pour the liquid wax into the tuna cans and let them sit over night. When the wax is hard, I cut the wicks to 1/4″ above the wax. The heat from one tuna can with 4 wicks will boil water.

        For candles for light I do the same process but I untwine the 4 strands in the mop string and use only 1 or 2 strands as wicks, which gives off enough brightness for playing board games.

  2. Canned 22 quarts of tomatoes in the past couple weekends. Pears are coming on gangbusters, wife has canned oodles of pints of pear butter. We’re in the middle of a major drought here in Iowa, probably won’t have to mow again this year!
    I had shoulder surgery 12 weeks ago and am finally getting about three hours of work done in the shop per day, it will be nice to generate some income again. The PT gals say my recovery isn’t “typical”. My shoulder blade won’t move so I have limited mobility in my left arm. It’s taking some doing to gain back my strength over my entire body as well. Looks like I’ll be seeing the PT gals for quite some time yet. Needles to say I haven’t been loads of help around here over the summer.
    I think I’ve worked up enough strength to hold a little single shot .22. Squirrels beware!

  3. I’ve been busy canning dozens of quarts of tomato sauce, too. Brooksy, I do hope you will recover soon. Said a prayer asking the Father to watch over your healing moments ago. I know how difficult it is to feel helpless when your heart’s desire is to be useful to your family. I also understand the desire to “get those squirrels”. Had some raiding my box of sunflowers recently put out by the chicken pen for the chickens. Hope you are able to get back out and “get ’em” soon!

  4. Once upon a time in my wild youth I was a Wild land Firefighter and also having grown up in a logging community the threat of fire is of major concern for most everyone. I have seen first hand the destructive nature of fire and with the fires in the Pacific Northwest being particularly difficult this year. Now when, I read about the cutting of much needed firewood for winter so late in the season is still on going, I take pause and I pray that every precaution is taken to minimize the risks associated with such activities. Such as cutting early in the morning, having and making sure a spark arresting device is on your chainsaw and working as intended, having some form of fire suppression on hand such as a fire extinguisher or garden hose if you use a dedicated area close to a water source. Even posting yourself up as a fire watch for a few hours after you’ve finished using your chainsaw or hydraulic wood splitter if you use one to ensure that nothing turns into a fire. So please be careful, be vigilant and by all means only let that fire wood warm you only when you need it to. When cutting it and when you burn it.

    1. Dear A in Aloha,

      No worries, here. We’re no longer cutting trees in our woods. The gang cutting takes place next to the house with the chainsaw, between 7:30 and 9AM. Jim is splitting the wood by the house with the ax. Not only that, we water the meadow and gardens around the house daily so there is no chance of sparks setting off a fire, they’re too wet. Furthermore, even though we water the meadows and our campfire circle is in the middle of the meadow, we do not and have not had any campfires since the end of June, just in case an ember gets carried away by the wind into our woods which are not watered. Thankfully, the expected rains are due to begin after midnight on Sunday. We’ll be glad when they soak our dry land and begin to help to put out all the fires in our western regions. We do thank You for your concern. Many blessings to you and yours. Lily

  5. We’ve been busy wrapping up the “garden” and canning. We canned a dozen or so jars of chicken. These are great for last minute chicken salad, tacos or chicken soup and the weather cools. Also tried our hand at harvesting acorns and making acorn “flour”. It is a long process and not one I am likely to repeat. However, it is a good skill to have if needed.

  6. Ripened and canned 9 qt of peaches(had 1 qt glass fail),harvested lettuce seed and volunteer tomato seed(should grow great next year). Time to start prowling for end of season deals on fertilizer and charcoal and early salt.

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