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 often 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:
It was another fairly quiet week here at the Rawles Ranch. With some cold weather in the forecast, it was time to drain the pipes in our Bunk House. When I constructed the building, I planned ahead and installed a Tap and Drain valve near the back door. Because we live in a northern climate, all of our pipes are buried at a depth of 4 to 5 feet. This particular valve is 5 feet underground and surrounded by a large pocket of gravel. To access this valve, I use a 6 foot tall “valve key” pipe with a T-Handle, through a vertical 2″ diameter PVC pipe. The procedure is quick and simple: Unscrew the PVC pipe access cap; gently slide the key down the access pipe; find the top of the brass valve “by Braille”; and then give it a 90-degree twist. Then I go inside the Bunk House, power down the tankless hot water heater, and crack open all of the sink and shower valves, for a few hours. Done!
I took advantage of some good weather, and finished splitting all of the kindling that we’ll need for the rest of the winter. This used up the last of the framing construction lumber scraps that I had on hand. So for next winter I might end up buying (the horror!) a pickup truckload of scrap wood from either the local cedar mill, or from a local pallet-making company. But there is one good thing about living in the timbered portions of the Redoubt: Wood is very inexpensive here, in almost all forms–especially scrap wood and rough sawn lumber.
I also set up two more stock tank heaters, for the tanks at the edge of our our winter pasture. Parenthetically, I should mention that e use a mix of traditional galvanized steel tanks and Rubbermaid black plastic tanks. I’ve begun transitioning to exclusively using submerged heaters. Not only are the safe to use in both types of tanks, but the livestock seems to leave them alone more than they do the floating-type heaters. Bored cows and horses can be very destructive, whether it is “cribbing” (chewing) behavior, or just playfulness.
We had some relatives visiting, this past week, so we didn’t do too many projects around the ranch. With the seasonally limited daylight and chilly temperatures, growth in our “greenhouse within a greenhouse” experiment has slowed down. But at least the seedlings haven’t frozen.
We are looking forward to reading comments from readers about your preps this winter.
May you all have a blessed week, – James Wesley, Rawles
The Latimer Homestead has been busy with the winter weather finally settling in, though we still haven’t seen accumulations of snow. We are continuing to look after our chickens, and they seem to be doing well.
Sarah and the family are content with the vast collection of garden seeds we’ve captured from our heirloom vegetable and herb gardens. As of this week, the seeds have all been properly stored and set aside for spring planting, though we may gather more winter squash seeds to share with others as we consume the squash through the winter. But aside from this, our seed collecting, cleaning, preparation, and storage activites for the year are complete. We’ll begin drawing our 2018 garden plans in about eight weeks. But until next year’s garden, we will enjoy the bounty that has been stored.
We have begun to do some organizing and rotations of our food stores, but there is much more to do. With some sale opportunities, we took advantage of these and ordered a variety of grains in bulk and have begun putting these in storage in our usual method of using mason jars with a vacuum seal. Grains are generally stored in half gallon jars while vegetables, whether canned, dehydrated, or freeze-dried, are stored in quart jars. Herbs, teas, and spices are stored in quart or pint jars.
We are clearing some storage areas in preparation for rearranging our food storage area and this will continue for the next few weeks. So, this is a first priority before food gets moved further. We’ve recognized that there are temperature variations in our current food storage area, and we should rearrange where we have certain items. For example, the vacuum-sealed whole grains would better handle the temperature fluctuation (warmer and colder) on an outer wall than our freeze-dried dairy, meat, and egg products.
This week brings an opportunity for some family celebrations, so we have a lot of baking and some memories to make. We have begun sprouting grains, grinding them into flours, and creating tasty treats. It requires planning ahead but is quite easy and a wholesome new bread-making concept for our family. We have enjoyed the guidance of Peter Reinhart’s book, Bread Revolution: World-Class Baking With Sprouted and Whole Grains and will be making Cranberry Sprouted Muffins and more new creations this week. But we also plan to have a family funnel bread fry and some other traditional family favorites. It’s a busy social time of the year.
As we prepare for some of this social time, we are in the midst of reexamining some of our closet contents. It’s a great time of the year to donate! We know of several needy families in our community. You may too.
Hugh has been busy whipping the new shop into shape. It’s amazing how empty spaces fill up and flat spaces get piled on here. With the cold weather here now, it’s time to sort through all those “I’ll do it later” jobs. Last week, the shop was cleaned, sorted and organized. This week, it was time to set up the Grizzly Lathe that has been sitting in the garage for two years waiting on the shop. The original plan had been to use the small John Deere tractor to lift and move it into place. While the tractor would fit through the four foot door, it couldn’t be turned around with the forklift attachment. There just wasn’t enough room with the long forks. This necessitated a trip to Harbor Freight to pick up a two-ton engine hoist. Two one-ton lifting slings were needed as well, but this posed a problem. Three large big-box stores and 12 auto parts stores later, we were resolved to the idea that no one in this area even knew what those were. In the end, we used one 10,000lb tie down strap to hold the weight and two smaller tie downs to balance and level the load. Working with open hooks on the tie downs was a bit nerve racking and we made sure not to get sloppy while lifting and moving. It would have been much better to have lifting slings!
Having watched a number of YouTube videos like this one where the operator struggled to line up bolt holes, it was apparent that lifting the lathe bed while keeping it level was critical. As you can see from the picture, it wasn’t all that hard once we planned it out. The lift was able to keep it level and floating only 1/4” above the pedestals while we lined up the holes. We then placed the pan (pre-caulked under the lathe bed mounts) and inserted the bolts while the lathe bed still floated above the pedestals. Once everything was lined up, it was a matter of gently lowering the lathe and tightening the bolts. Easy-peasy! Perhaps the original YouTuber can take solace in the fact that we learned from his mistakes.
o o o
As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.