Editors’ Prepping Progress

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 a busy yet quiet week here at the ranch.  I made some major progress on getting in our firewood for next winter. As it now stands, I’ve worked us up to a reserve of an extra 15 cords.  That provides a comfortable margin, just in case of a future injury or perhaps a volcanically-induced year or two “without a summer“.

My work in the woodlot ate up most of my non-sleeping and non-writing hours. I also helped Avalanche Lily by hauling some compost material to the main garden. I wish that I had something more exciting to mention, but 90% of family preparedness is just plain old repetitive hard work and practice.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Yes, I concur with my husband’s sentiments on this week.  The work we did this week is the regular chores of summer ranching and gardening.  I spent many hours weeding the main garden, Annex Garden and Greenhouse beds.  I replanted/planted more carrots, beets and lettuces.  I harvested more strawberries from the main garden, and french beans, summer squash, celery and kale (from the greenhouse.)  They all went right into a white bean soup, I made with chicken).  In the greenhouse, I brought in more manure for a bed that I’m preparing for late summer/Fall crops.

We did more weeding in the Annex garden and rotated the water sprinklers in all of the gardens.

I’ve been watching with great anticipation the growth progress of my three types of raspberries.  It’s looking like, Lord willing, that we’re going to have a bumper crop.  I can’t wait.  I just love raspberries, especially Black Raspberries.

I do wish to say that around the world there are currently 42 volcanoes in some stage of eruption.  The preceding years’ average has been around 22 volcanoes erupting at one time.  We’re in record volcanic eruption territory.  I’m going to suggest that these eruptions are putting countless tons of ash into our atmosphere which will affect the earth’s temperatures and food growing capabilities.  Please look into alternative ways to sprout and grow your foods indoors or under cover of greenhouses and hoops, etc.

Hope you all have a productive week.

Blessings, – Jim Rawles and Avalanche Lily, Rawles



The Latimers have had a bit of a difficult week. During extremely high temperatures, we have had an air conditioner break down. The effects of intense heat combined with time spent on making air conditioner repairs put a halt to the fencing project. While some may point out that man got along without air conditioning for many years, I am reminded that their homes and lifestyles reflected that fact. Our modern society has evolved to the point where the home becomes nearly uninhabitable without that ever present air conditioning. Every summer you read reports of how the weak or elderly suffer during blackouts with a number of them dying. It is a good reminder to me when I build my next house. Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways.

However, we expect to begin working on the fencing again in the coming week. Though it has been hot, we’ve kept up on watering and it has paid off in the garden. We are harvesting radishes, lettuce, herbs, and green beans. The garden and yard need thorough weeding, which we will work on this week, if the temperatures are a little milder.

o o o

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


  1. Over the past few years we’ve slowly expanded our growing areas. None of them are any larger than 10′ X 12′ and all are raised beds. In order to identify the different “garden” areas, we’ve categorized them as “G” (for garden), 1-4. So when my wife says, “I think G2 needs water”, I know what she’s talking about.
    This year we decided to further expand our growing options by establishing hydroponic systems in our sunroom that’s attached to the home and accessed through the main dining room. So we had to come up with an nomenclature for the futuristic “garden” in the “Sunroom.” Since the two of us are Si-Fi freaks, the name was obvious, SG-1.
    One aspect of “growing old in place?” – humor

  2. To me, it seems like almost all of preparedness is not exciting. At first it was novel, but that doesn’t last. One of my big concerns, with our living in the South, is how we’d cope withOUT air conditioning. I did not realize that houses are built differently, due to central a/c. Can anyone explain to me how houses are now built differently?

    1. Chris,
      Southern houses built before air conditioning were not air tight, had 10 to 12 ft ceilings and every room had a fan. They also had large windows strategically spaced for cross breezes. The windows had shutters which could be closed during the hottest part of the day. A wide wrap around porch kept the sun from directly hitting the windows and cooled the air going inside significantly. Another feature was a ventilation opening on top of the roof, but I can’t remember what it is called. It looked like the top of a gazebo and it had slotted boards to keep the rain out but allowed hot air to exit the house. Plus there were 100 ft oak trees placed on the west side of the house to shelter it from the heat of the day.

    2. Lack of A/C, Florida Cracker Homes,


      Large porches around the whole home, detached kitchens, breezeway in the center of the home.

      They relied more on shade and ventilation, than insulation & A/C.

      Later, they added screens for mosquito protection. My father was the first male in his long time Floridian family to not have Malaria, his stepson caught Malaria on a mission trip to Africa.

      1. I had no idea of the name of the style of house, but that style is very common in the very old houses here in Mississippi. My husband’s great grandpa’s house, still standing, has many of those features, including the outside kitchen and wide porches, including the covered walkway to the outdoor kitchen. It was actually the inspiration for my outdoor kitchen. His great grandpa’s house on another line, not standing, was the divided house with the breezeway in the middle.

    3. The house I grew up in had 18 inch masonry walls which held cold well and were painted white so they would reflect some of the heat and over-sized double hung windows compared to ones built in houses today. In addition there were huge deciduous trees on the south & west side of the house. These kept the hottest areas in the shade during the summer, but allowed solar heating during the winter when the leaves fell. But the best addition to the house was a 3 foot by 3 foot commercial exhaust fan that was inserted into the wall above the door to the basement. When that baby was switched on you could be at the complete opposite end of the house & see the curtains sway inward as air was pulled through the open windows. The house, to this day, doesn’t have air conditioning and temps regularly reach 90° with humidity levels approaching 65%. It’s a little disconcerting for the first day or 2 when going home but I quickly adjust.

  3. Chris, one main build difference, with no air conditioning (AC), would be to build 10 to 12 ft ceilings with transom windows over the doors and main windows situated with prevalent winds . Heat rises and the transom windows keep the air moving through up high to keep it moving out. I always wondered how my people could handle the heat down here, it’s dang hot ,it’s not AC but it’s will make heat more tolerable than a standard house built like today.

  4. We’ve been busy tending to our garden. Japanese beetles are bad where we are. Horn worms aren’t to bad in our tomatoes so far. Also we have been repairing livestock fences and spreading rock on the low areas of our lanes that tend to get mucky when it rains.
    We are off grid and have been dealing with hear indexes of 105-110. No A/C so we get creative in cooling. Have all the windows open in the cool of the morning. Then close the shades before it warms up. Spending time under our trees. Sitting with our feet in tubs of water when we rest. Preparing and eating foods like chicken, salads, tortillas, etc. Cooler to prepare and eat. Drinking plenty of water with electrolytes.

  5. I agree, we in this modern life, do not even have houses that are built to help us survive high heat with out the modern invention of air conditioning. When I see some of the older generations’ buildings, they demonstrate wisdom in their design. Everything was designed for living in the heat and humidity. Many native tribes built their humble huts 6 ft. above ground on stilts. This was so breezes find you and the bugs don’t…without even needing netting or screens. Mosquitoes and other predators like gators hunt their prey during the night, (us and warm blooded animals) at the level 6 feet and below. Some smart native figured that out apparently! They also had the open under story in which to sit during the day while the heat would be rising. They could grind grain, and do tasks on the cooler earthen floor under shade. Other early settlers from Spain and France built masonry, or adobe dwellings as modeled by some other native tribes or in their own cultural influences with thick walls. Some with pools or wells in the center courtyard designed to provide water and shade for those in it’s shelter. Others had frame dwellings cooled by cross breezes via huge floor to ceiling windows put in rows along parallel walls oriented to catch the prevailing winds. They battened down the hatches, with strong shutters for storms. The passive cooling action was further aided by deep wide porches, sometimes wrapping the whole house. They sometimes made “dog trots” where the house was divided by an open porch area between sleeping quarters and the other rooms of the home, like the “parlor”. “Summer Kitchens” were built outside the main house so all that heat stayed outside the house. I’m sure that there were many other ways too. These are just a few I have seen in the South, that showed me their thoughtfulness in how they built their homes. Houses up North, like my great-grandfather’s place had MANY windows, to take advantage of “cross- breezes”, and a deep, wrap-a-round porch too. People had drafts to deal with in the Winter. Oh, but what a blessing in the hot days of Summer! They believed fresh air and sunshine then, were well worth it, even to having to be stoke up the wood stove, and piling on the quilts for a few months a year. Now, like in the house I currently rent, there is only ONE WINDOW PER ROOM. There are NO WINDOWS ON ANY OF THE SIDES ONLY THE FRONT AND BACK. We are thankful we are oriented facing North. The South side has a covered patio that my husband enclosed with screening. (I and some of my daughters are allergic to mosquito bites.) The breezes go East to West on most days. The only place we can take advantage of those cooling breezes is to be on the patio! The thick concrete walls, ceiling fans, and tile floors help some. But due to these design changes of putting in fewer windows, and less porch space, since air conditioning was invented. We have to have air conditioning in this house for the health and safety of our family! Believe me, we tried without it once. The air conditioner broke down, when it was in the 100 degree and up temps in June in FL! NOT FUN! My daughter, that uses a wheelchair, got her FIRST and hopefully, LAST open sore EVER! She had to have wound care due to the heat, that time. We have a much better layout and window plan than this in our new home we are buying soon. It helps to cope with those “Dog Days of Summer” doing some things the “old-fashioned” way, esp. during power losses from hurricanes!

  6. Many of the ‘older’ homes (pre-A/C) also incorporated floors composed of wood, linoleum/tile, stone, etc vs carpeting. Different materials provide different feels and warmness/coolness and are imho cleaner. We had wood & linoleum floors with area rugs which were dust mopped (wood/linoleum) ) or vacuumed/swept (area rugs), or hung on the line and beaten periodically. Large windows w/screens, and a whole house upstairs window fan which we turned on after sundown to draw in cooler air downstairs and draw out warmer air upstairs, kept it manageable all but 1-2 weeks per summer (and we didn’t have tall ceilings). We had a porch which had 3 sides screened on the back of the house and a vinyl glider (which I slept on for those 2 weeks). Pre-A/C homes also used cross ventilation from windows & strategically placed mirrors to reflect light around rooms so lights were largely not necessary during the day. Some in our area had awnings but most had large trees. on the west side, pines or evergreens on the north side to block winter winds, and open ground to the south side.

  7. Got the usual chores done early before the heat index of 106° came each afternoon. We finish the outside chores by 1100, shower and just work inside during the hottest part of the day (or take a nap). Even the animals are lethargic and not eating as much. By 6:00 it’s starting cool off and a few more outdoor things can be accomplished. We’ve been eating a lot of salads and cold soups.

    We are harvesting the first fruits and veges from the garden so I’ve been canning small batches of tomato sauce, hot pepper sauce, beans and corn. The sweet potatoes are doing well but the zucs and cukes are suffering from bugs. I made some homemade bug juice and while it killed the bugs, it killed some of plants also. It’s too hot to replant right now so I’ll try again in the fall garden.

  8. Yeah, the heat is miserable. Take some hints from us folks down South, who have been living with this for about 300 years. Build your house in a shaded area. Have a porch that extends to at least 3 sides of the house, so you can take advantage of any breeze that’s blowing. The really rich had a small outdoor kitchen for summer; they cooked outside and ate inside. Andrew Jackson’s “Hermitage” has one of these. It sure helps keep the rest of the house cooler. Poorer folks often had a screened-in room just for eating in the summer. It was away from the kitchen (where we ate in the winter) and the screening kept the bugs away. Be sure there’s a hole under the porch where the dogs can stay cool. Iced tea is also great this time of year. My central AC went out one year and I spent most of the day in a cool bathtub, reading. My Dad would have gone to the local pond or lake, but we modern folk have to get by the best way we can. Hope you get it fixed quickly.

  9. How to handle heat w/o ac. I grew up in the north east, so not intense heat like the south, but some summers were hot. Most if not all old houses ( ours was built 1840’s ) had a cellar, used for canned food, root cellar, and dug water well. When it was hot you opened the cellar door and the door to the 2nd floor and opened a window on the north side. The heat would go from 1st to 2nd floor causing a draft like a chimney that would pull the cold air up from the cellar. Not having a cellar ( these days most houses are built on a slab ) I would try evaporation cooling if it’s not too humid. On north facing windows hang cotton sheets on your curtain rods, pin them up with clothes pins or safety pins, let them hang onto the floor. Take a pan or bucket and gather the bottom of the sheet and put it in the bucket, put water in the bucket and the fabric will wick the water up the sheet. as the water evaporates out of the sheet it will cool the air.
    Also use neck coolers, take a hand or dish towel soak it in a pan of cold water, wring it out so it is still soggy and drape around your neck. You want contact with your neck to cool the veins under your skin, thus cooling your brain to avoid heat stroke. Another soggy towel on your stomach and chest will help to cool your core. Rewet when it gets warm. If possible do as little as possible during the heat of the day, keep hydrated, especially with electrolites, avoid sugar and cafein. Hope this helps.

      1. On a very small scale, I did something close to this while in college. I lived with my Dad in Tulsa, OK, and the two small apartments were heat catchers. We lived over a dry cleaning/laundry business, so it was always hot, especially in the summer. I slept on a folding roll-away cot, and put a big glass of ice water in front of a fan, and a wet hand towel behind it. It did keep me cool(er) for most of the night.

  10. Whenever we reroof our house, we will definitely swap the brown metal roof for white (preferably glossy white). It makes a huge difference in the heat.

  11. Methods to deal with the heat. I live in the Deep South eastern US, where it’s above 90 for 8 months out of the year, and humid. We also have the flies and mosquitos to accompany the heat. I moved here about 10 years ago from the Midwest, and this is the first year I have dealt ok with the heat, while farming. Here are some things that helped me:

    1. Get your minerals right. I now buy liquid plant based minerals and take a lot every day. How much you need depends on your body weight. I take twice the recommended amount.

    2. Drink raw cow’s milk and cream, as well as eat yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, butter, etc. This contains sugar and fats that give you the energy to function. The fats also keep your skin in good shape to withstand skin cancer.

    3. Keep a farmer’s tan. Because I grew up in the Midwest, I apparently have a big need for sunshine, and so I keep a farmers tan year round, and I never ever burn.

    4. Stay out of the sun when you get too hot. Learn to take a nap or run errands in the middle of the day, and do your farm work in morning and evening. The animals do the same thing. They stand/lay in the sun when it’s cool in the morning and then in the shade during the heat of the day.

    5. Cut out all unnatural foods, as well as white sugar and modern gluten (wheat). When I did this, I quit having painful welps where the mosquitos bit me. It also made me sweat less, because it fixed my metabolism.

    6. Grow a garden. I am the biggest fan of eating fruits and veggies literally right off the plant. It is most nutrient dense when it just came off the plant. They give you many vitamins and minerals. I happen to love cucumbers and okra and tomatoes.

    7. Consider nixing the AC. Believe it or not, you adjust better when you aren’t going in and out of the cold rooms. I haven’t nixed the AC. Right now, I’m in a relationship with my AC.

  12. I had a friend come over to help me weed on Wednesday, a total of six hour between us. Planted/replanted beets, Provider green beans, mixed lettuce, and arugula. Made a “teepee” out of 5′ bamboo sticks to give more support for my first-ever “Mortgage Lifter” variety tomato plant. It’s growing so fast it kept knocking down the standard metal frame. It’s supposed to have tomatoes as large as one pound, and appears to be on track to do so!

    The weather has been quite cool up in the northern redoubt, today barely clearing 65 degrees. I am getting ready to investigate buying a hoop house for next year, and will look into USDA grants I have heard about.

    My potatoes are going crazy; I planted them as an afterthought, just sort of threw them in a hole and threw some soil on top, and they are the most enthusiastic vegie in the garden. Several different types of squash and pumpkin are thriving. A new one this year is Montana Jack pumpkin; it seems to love this climate and is looking strong. I had a small bowlful of strawberries the other day, so delicious this year. It’s nice to see the progress and already be eating out of the garden.

  13. Resting in the middle of the day. Isn’t that what’s called a siesta? I always remember movies and TV shows from the 50’s and 60’s where there were references to Mexicans and how “lazy” they were for resting in the middle of the day. Frankly I think they were pretty darned smart for taking that siesta time. Work in the mornings and evenings and sleep in the shade during the day.

    When we finally make our move to the “farm”, one of the first things to change will be the addition of geothermal cooling. Looking at both ducted and circulating water. Hope to eliminate the A/C unit entirely. Both ways also work as natural dehumidifiers.

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