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! This week’s emphasis is on the use of indoor grow lights.
Dear SurvivalBlog Readers,
This week, I took the family out into the surrounding National Forest for a semi-tactical snowshoeing hike. This turned out to be a good shakedown. It was only by getting our snowshoes on everyone living at the ranch that we learned that one of the bindings had a missing piece of hardware. That was soon corrected–using a small nut, bolt, and star lockwasher selected from the plastic drawers of hardware in my shop. We had plenty of snow camouflage ponchos. Those are still fairly inexpensive and plentiful. (The Bundeswehr must have switched to a different pattern, and they were all surplussed out.) But we discovered that we didn’t have a full set of white balaclavas and white watch caps. Those that were needed are now on order.
Two days after our hike–after the snowshoes had fully dried–I did some touch-up spot painting with some flat white spray paint. We are now “good to go.” Remember: There is a huge difference between just owning gear and actually getting out there to use it. It takes time and practice to work all the kinks out. And, of course, every piece of equipment comes with a learning curve.
By the way, many years ago I learned using long “trail” snowshoes in timbered areas just doesn’t work. Most of our snowshoes are the quite short “modified bear paw” style. Our longest shoes are only about 30″ long, and sometimes even those get tangled up. Your mileage may vary.
Fire Kindling Practice
Part of that hike was having the kids practice kindling fires in a cleared spot in the snow. It has been a very wet winter, so it was tough finding dry tinder. The local Old Man’s Beard lichen was soaking wet. (We tried to look for that on trees with very full overhead cover. No luck. Even our old standby of breaking dried twigs from tree trunks wasn’t working. We had to rely just on what was in our packs, for tinder and kindling. Lesson learned: Always carry plenty. Our favorites are clothes dryer lint, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and of course some finely-split fatwood. Note that it is crucial to carry a waterproof match case and to double-bag all of your tinder materials, to keep them perfectly dry.
Grow Lights in the Greenhouse Starter Room
To get an early start on our garden this year, we’ve been conducting a “greeenhouse within a greenhouse” experiment. That has only been marginally successful. So, to hedge our bets we’ve also temporarily turned an extra room into a Pre-Greenhouse Starter Room. This is a dedicated place to sprout some seedlings. As in the past, we plan to use some heavy duty gray plastic commercial kitchen bussing/washing tubs for planting the seedlings. We bought these several years ago at Cash & Carry Smart Foodservice. That is a restaurant supply house in Spokane, Washington. We found that they have great prices on many items, but some that are just barely competitive. That store was first recommended to us by Enola Gay, of the great Paratus Familia blog.
Overhead in the room, using 1/4-inch ceiling toggle bolts, I rigged my proven pair of fan-cooled LED grow light arrays. These throw a quite harsh and very bright light that is an odd slightly purplish-pink color. (Their spectrum is optimized for plant growth.) If you use them indoors, then make sure that you do so in a dedicated room that you can close off. Using them in a living space for people or pets is just about out of the question. Otherwise, you can expect eye strain and headaches.
I also set up a heavy duty power strip and a 15-amp 24-hour timer that will automatically turn the grow lights off on for 14 hours each day, and off for 10 hours each night. We will probably start planting in the Starter Room in mid-February. That way we will have established seedlings that can be moved out to the outdoor greenhouse in late March or early April.
We are looking forward to reading comments from readers about your preps, this winter. – Jim Rawles
The Latimer Homestead made some good progress in clearing out one section of our food storage and sweeping and rotating it last week, but there is much more yet to be done in the coming weeks. However, that project is being shelved a little, as we have significant amount of bulk items that have arrived to be repackaged for long-term storage first. At the beginning of the year, we submitted some large orders. Cold weather after the holiday rushes is the perfect time for ordering oils and herbs in large quantity, especially when sales are on, so we have taken advantage of these, and now need to put them away in our vacuum-sealed jars. We’d hoped to have our storage rotated and in order before these arrived, but illness delayed our plans.
Somehow this happens, and we just have to deal with it. We also purchased several hundred pounds of various grains this week, and these need to be put into large-term storage. So, basically our week will be spent putting foods in storage and then getting back into rotations and cleaning as we are able. Plus, with all of the sickness, we have nearly exhausted our supply of elderberry syrup, so it’s time for more of this. We most definitely need to build up our immune system after multiple rounds of illness through the homestead. We are thankful, though, that none were serious, just annoying and exhausting.
While waiting a part for the lathe, Mr. Latimer switched up projects and started working on the ClearVue Cyclone Dust collector. Now that the computer is in the same room as the saw, dust collection is becoming much more important. While the dust collector is designed to mount on the wall, since we know will be moving from this location within the next few years, Mr Latimer will be building a frame to mount it on. Since there are no YouTube videos showing someone else doing this, we get to do it the hard way. The collector will be assembled and measured, then the frame built around it. Finally, the frame/collector will be disassembled and re-assembled in it’s proper location.
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As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.