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 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.

Shop Progress

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.

o o o

As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.


  1. I’ve put a stop to the County coming into our property for an “inspection “. My neighbor Ray told us about their inspection in late summer. Whereby six county people were out walking our many acres of property and taking photos saying it was an assesssmnet. I raised Cain back then and then they emailed me a PDF about their law to inspect while a dwelling is under construction. He said they will be out in two weeks and I said I will be present. But I did stop them from waltzing the property without my knowledge for that trip.

    Now any thoughts from anyone ? I beileve this is a violation of constitutional rights about private property. Especially when he stated they will walk the inside when it’s finalized. What????

    This might escalate to a Constitutional attorney real quick and even a second amendment action if you know what I mean. I don’t want the county on my property every six years is what they said once construction is complete.

    Any thoughts / information would be great. God bless.

    1. Thankfully, in most parts of the American Redoubt there are no building permits required, outside of city limits. (As you drive into many town and cities, there are small signs at the city limits that say “Building Permits Required.” Outside of those areas, they can’t use “permits” as an excuse to “visit.” In most of the Redoubt, landowners can admirably be described as “fiercely independent”, and the phrase “not without a warrant” is often heard.

      Most livestock reporting tax systems in the Redoubt are “self-reporting” systems, simply because they don’t have the bureaucratic busybody manpower to visit even a fraction of the ranches. But I’ve heard that in some locales, they now use Google Earth for verification. If there is a variance between what an rancher reports and what they can see in Google Earth imagery, they send you a bill. That must be aggravating.

      1. In our very small rural county in Mississippi, there is only one guy who does building inspections, and he wears many hats, including director of homeland security. Most of what he does is assign 911 addresses. Our county just enacted building inspections, and they are voluntary, whether by code or by being lax. Our supervisor said, well, if you don’t get it inspected, you just won’t be eligible for flood insurance. My husband said, “oh well, I’m not worried about flood insurance.” He holds the philosophy that it’s our own responsibility to build things so they won’t fall down and be smart enough to take all our own precautions. Many in the county do as well. And thankfully, most of the county officials respect that. We have had a lot of influence on county politics through the years, and it has helped matters.

      2. About Google Earth: about 6 years ago, I was researching that, and found that governments can’t use Google Earth for those purposes unless they have a license from Google. Without such a license, Google Earth is just for personal, non-commercial, non-governmental use. Maybe a complaint to Google is in order.

    2. I would put up a lot of No Trespassing signs. And a Beware of Dog sign, with a large dog house, and a water bowl, with water in it. Nobody wants to be attacked by a dog.

  2. For Seed starting: I have 2 4′ baseboard heaters which I have enclosed as a bench to start seedlings. This bottom heat gives a faster germination. I start later because the sun is stronger and the greenhouse heat is minimal.

    Johnny’s Seeds has a good chart for when to start according to your last average last frost.

    Fedco seeds is a very good source for Northern gardeners. Good tasting vegetables at good prices, with good germination.

  3. I also have a pre-greenhouse starter room. I use fluorescent grow lights because the light is much more pleasant and they give off enough heat to keep the room in the mid-70’s during the winter which is optimum for most seedlings. The downside is that they do use more electricity than the LED’s, but not very much in my real world tests.

  4. “Remember: There is a huge difference between just owning gear and actually getting out there to use it.” From what I’ve seen, that and lack of COMMs (such as local AmRRON nets) are the Achilles heal of prepping.

  5. Found the recommendations for snow gear extremely helpful since I will be moving to an area that has weather from climate in about a year. Also, timely since the second ad on your blog is COLD TIMES: The coming Mini Ice Age by Dr. Anita Bailey. It’s worth every penny. She obviously walks the talk. I can’t recommend it enough.

  6. Fire Kindling Practice
    Your post reminded me of Jack London’s story “To Build a Fire.” I have always considered it one of the best written stories. I remember the movie adaptation scared my littlest boy a while back but he still remembers the simple mistakes that were made.

  7. I have to say I really enjoy reading these. It kind of reminds me of journal entries of the early explorers. Which has made me want to up my game in documenting my own journey through life.

  8. Last year I went snowshoe camping with some friends and I picked up a useful idea- since adding a 20+ backpack to your body weight can negatively impact snowshoe use, I switched to pulling my backpack behind me on a small plastic sled that I tied to the outside of my pack. I could easily put the pack back on when the terrain got too tough, and just drop it back in the snow when I wanted to pull it. I attached it to my backpack using some webbing and buckles for quick removal.

  9. Re: Fire Kindling Practice
    Just a couple of tips that might benefit others. For many years I have utilized cotton make-up removal discs coated with Petroleum Jelly to start fires in conjunction with a quality ferrocium rod. Discs prepared in this manner will give a reliable burn time upwards of ten minutes. Using them is simple; fluff the discs by gently pulling it in opposite directions separating some fibers and touch it off with a spark. The ferrocium rod I have settled on after testing numerous others is the “Gobspark” by
    Also, folks need to realize that during winter many trees and shrubs go dormant. They may look dead and break easily leading one to believe the branches are dry, this however is not the case and they will not work well as tinder or kindling. During the winter in wet conditions cut a 8″-10″ section of a large, dead limb no smaller than 5″ in diameter. Split the section until all of it has been split into small kindling. As you split it separate the kindling into piles sorted from the outer most sections to the inner most. The inner sections will be the driest, these sections are then shaved into tinder. In the winter part of my kit always consist of a small saw (my preference is a small “Wyoming” saw with wood cutting blades) and a large fixed blade knife with a single, plain edge such as the USMC “Kabar” pattern. I use the knife along with a wood club to “baton” the section of dead limb. I have never had a problem starting a fire with this system even in the wettest of conditions. These discs and ferrocium rod are part of my kit regardless of season. I keep these kits in all my packs, hunting vests and parkas. Remember 2 is 1, 1 is none! Practice this system become proficient with it before needing to use it in an emergency situation! Next to a means of acquiring/carrying water, a quality fixed blade knife (Quality does not have to be expensive!) this fire kit is my most important piece of kit.

  10. We love snowshoeing, but it is exhausting. We would play the game of “Fox and Geese” in the yard /field when the children were little to encourage them to move past the awkwardness and to a level of comfort where they could run and turn fast with them on. Really helped me as well. I was amazed at how this practice improved our skills and strength/endurance.

    Potassium iodide tablets are finally with everyone. Except I did just realize that our daughter has a increasingly serious boyfriend and we might as well invest $8 to ensure she doesn’t negate the use of the potassium iodide by splitting her pack with him if they were needed…as youngsters in love are apt to do.

    As money has been available, I have been adding to our first aid supplies. This week it was Vitiman E soft capsules to help with healing and to keep scaring soft and minimal. As well, we have more disposable plastic gloves in large sizes, face masks and Kleenex. I realized with our cabin experience how valuable not spreading germs is and just how difficult it can be.

    I pulled together in one place a toilet bucket by putting the bucket toilet seat on a bucket and filling it he bucket with toilet paper, plastic bags that will fit it, plastic gloves and hand sanitizer. Now I think some feminine products would be useful in there as well. We had all the pieces in different places…now they are all together.

    We commute to work (me…8 miles) and to college/ AFROTC (.5 hour to 1.5 hour)…I will be checking the supplies in the cars to make sure they remain ready for a sleep in the car or walk home scenario. So far we have never needed the emergency supplies in 50+ years for Anything major. Thankfully.

    My order of caffeinated tea arrived. I’m a coffee drinker but also like tea. I usually drink herbal or medicinal teas, but decided that there was no possibility of storing enough green coffee beans and how the aroma might be a concern. Hence the bulk caffeinated tea order.

  11. JWR :
    A Great Blog site. You and Mr. Latimer realy know how to keep us glued to the comp. for outstanding info thanx. Which brings me to my next point, winter/snow camo, I would like yours and any other peoples opinions of where, what type, and/or whom to buy from. The last time I did cold weather training was along time ago in Adak Alaska. Any and all lists and help in modern day winter/snow camo would help. I’am also HEAVILY looking into doing cold weather training at Thunder Ranch if they offer the class again. They did last year and I swear that if I did not know any better it sold out in less than a week of being offered, I’am on top of that little problem this year I have everything except….yep you guessed it winter/snow camo. Semper Fi.

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