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 exceptionally hot in our part of the American Redoubt on Thursday and Friday. Temperatures above 100 Fahrenheit are quite rare at our latitude and elevation, and few houses in our valley are air conditioned. There was also some haze from distant fires. At least the humidity was mercifully low. Needless to say, in this weather I did most of my outdoor chores and projects either in the morning or in the evening. The 2018 crop of mosquitoes are still with us, so the evening chores were a bit “slap dash”. (That is: With me slapping mosquitoes and dashing around to try to keep them off of me.)
My earthworks project is nearly done. It has been gratifying to see the result. It also helped me build some muscle and get back down to my target body weight. Like many other men in their late 50s, I have to watch my weight closely.
This week I also took a few useless items to the county landfill. I hate clutter around the ranch. Thankfully, there is no charge to use the landfill. That is covered by the “modest” taxes on our land. Since we’ve always homeschooled our children, I feel a bit over-taxed by the county. I suppose it is natural to grumble about being forced to pay for a service that I do not use.
I dropped one more dead-standing tree this week. This will probably be the last of the felling for this year.
Lily and our kids have been busy stacking the firewood that I’ve been gradually crosscutting and splitting. (I did that in my spare time between other projects.) Their stacking project will probably go on for another week–since the kids also want work in the cool of the morning.
Avalanche Lily Reports:
Despite the heat, we accomplished much outside. We’ve been waking up around 6AM and have been immediately going out to work on our various projects.
This week, the black raspberry season came to an end. After picking the last berries, I immediately grabbed my pruner and pruned all of the spent brambles from the beds.
I harvested almost all of my onions. I have one more patch that is slowly maturing. I have laid the onions out to dry in the sun and then will braid them and hang them for the winter. The onion beds have been rototilled and replanted for fall crops. We will be hooping these beds for the fall and winter.
I weed whacked the garden paths.
The children and I, each morning for an hour, are stacking the wood that Jim has cut or split, in our woodshed,
Friends from out of state came over and spent the night. The following morning they helped me weed a few sections of the garden. They were a wonderful help and encouragement to me. Thanks, you guys!
I had some extra Thimbleberries and Elderberries that I didn’t get to process. I got too busy with other items calling for my attention. They became moldy, so I brought them out to selected areas of our property and buried them. Maybe they’ll grow? We don’t yet have them on our property, though this is their natural habitat.
Picked and froze two gallons of Red Raspberries. Picked, blanched and froze green beans.
May you all have a very blessed and productive week.
Many Blessings to All, – Jim Rawles and Avalanche Lily, Rawles
It was just another week of harvest at the Latimer homestead this week. the routine constisted of getting up before it became too hot, harvesting the daily bounty from the garden and then shifting the work inside to start the storage prepping of that same bounty. Canning, freeze drying, dehydrating, freezing and, of course, eating.
This coming week the Latimer’s have some extraordinary appointments away from the homestead that will distract us a bit, but we still intend to continue to prune and stake some more of the tomato plants and also fertilize the beans, Brussel sprouts, and tomatoes. We are quite busy with harvest also. Processing our harvest is consuming a significant portion of each day, as we prepare delicious, nutritious food for the weeks, months, and years ahead.
o o o
As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.
Here is a mosquito repellant formula my wife found on the Internet that really
1 big bottle of cheap blue mouthwash
3 cups of Epson salts
3 stale 12 oz cheap beers
Mix in hand pump sprayer until salt desolves, spray everywhere . I spray the porch, rails, shrubs, everything around the house. It smell “minty” for about a day, then you don’t notice it at all. I also spray the chicken house, it keeps most bugs away. Works for about 3 months.
Got the usual homestead chores done early so I could get to the garden. Tomatoes and peppers are still producing but most everything else has bolted in the heat. Harvested the grapes and processed them. Put up unsweetened concentrate in quart jars for future use. Will make jelly after canning rush is finished.
The birds got most of my elderberries and blueberries this year. I don’t mind sharing but the feathered crew took more than their share. Maybe they’ll drop a few “processed” berries and some new bushes will grow. I’ve decided to prune the bushes back and put bird netting over them next year.
Transplanted some aloe plants and gave a separated one to my new neighbors for bug bites.
One of my male rabbits is pulling out his hair on his hind quarters; very unusual for males. I have been spraying him with an antifungal/ antibacterial treatment, which appears to be helping. Time will tell.
Let us know how it goes with your grapes and juice. I have four vines (2 Canadis, 2 Concord) growing up the four corners of a pergola in my backyard. I have several cases of several years of processed grape juice in my basement, waiting for me to take time to do something with them. I double-squoze them, so there’s a fair amount of residue in the bottom of the jars that I’ll have to filter out before using the juice. Hopefully this adds flavor and “body” to the juice when I finally get to using the juice. But I could be wrong. If I am, somebody please address this here. Thanks to all.
Still waiting on building projects at the BOL (soon to be full-time home) to get done. Pole barn is Sooooo close to being done I am itching to move in. Feel like a kid anticipating Christmas!! So until those projects get done I’m kind of at a stand still at the BOL. Today We are going to look at an old propane refrigerator and an old wood kitchen stove. Planning on putting both in the new pole barn. Plan is to use the pole barn as an off grid kitchen if/when SHTF. The wood burning stove will also provide heat for the building during the colder months. Good news is we are looking at a barter trade for the two which is even nicer!!
Peaches came in , wifey made and canned pie filing and jam. Elderberries got made into syrup yesterday. I’m picking a 5 gal. bucket of heritage tomatoes every other day, going to have to can tomatoes soon. Drying pablano peppers too. Went fishing last Tuesday. the catfish weren’t biting but we got three large-ish carp, two that weighed 13 1/2lbs and a 7lb. All chunked up and frozen for the moment, going in the smoker after I get back from a mongo Kentucky rifle show. Been slaving away in the shop, looks like I’ll have two guns to sell at the upcoming show.
RE: working in the cool of the morning. It’s coolest before the sun comes up, but hard to work in the dark. We have a Honda 2000 watt generator and a couple 60 watt LED floodlights. “Beam clamps” from the electrical dept of the home center can be bolted to the floodlight’s mounting bracket and clamped to 1/2′ EMT. Woodcraft.com has plastic knobs with male 5/16-18 threaded portions which will replace the square-head clamping bolt in the beam clamp. 1/2″ EMT fits loosely inside 3/4″ EMT; drill for 1/4″ bolts through the 3/4″ in one spot and the 1/2″ in several to allow different telescoped heights, wing nuts on the bolts make adjustment faster. EMT comes in 10 ft lengths, so 36″ of overlap allows placing the floodlight as high as 17 feet up, or as low as about 11 feet. Cutting both the 1/2″ and 3/4″ EMT shorter would allow almost any floodlight height, but we’ve found the higher the better. Two floodlights can be clamped to the 1/2″ EMT, one above the other, each angled slight away from center, to increase the light in the center and spread the light to the left and right, use one extension cord with a multi-plug. If we know we’ll be at a task for a few days, a 4 ft length of 5/8″ rebar driven halfway into the ground makes a “mounting pin” for the 3/4″ EMT, the little Honda is easy to carry back into secure storage between uses; a half-lapped “cross foot” of 48″ long 2X4s with a 36″ length of 1″ galvanized pipe screwed into a floor flange bolted to the center of the crossed 2X4s makes a portable stand for sliding the 3/4″ EMT into. Drill for 1/4″ bolts though the pipe and 3/4″ EMT. However you do it, it isn’t very portable, but it does work well for tasks performed in one general area, like stacking firewood.
The generator is quiet, a 60W LED floodlight puts out about 4,000 lumens – same as a 500 watt halogen – allowing work to start on some tasks as many hours before sunrise and the day’s heat as one wants.
By herself my wife split and stacked two cords worth of old birch billets that have been seasoning the last couple of years. We store them in the attached greenhouse/woodshed; bringing in a bundle is very nice in the winter.
Some “heavy duty” construction projects have taken a lot of my time this spring/summer.
I’m building an enclosed porch at the front door. Got so tired of the area immediately inside the house constantly either wet and nasty or dusty and nasty. Now we have an 8′ X 12′ covered, 3-season, screened shelter and a winter mudroom, nice storage bench and hanger space.
The front door faces west and it’s AMAZING what a difference the roof has made in solar gain in the afternoon. When it was 103 in the shade outside yesterday my non-air conditioned living room was 78.
Also had the sagging floor raised and stabilized, and I’m repairing the drywall and mouldings where they slumped and cracked. I can’t recommend enough the company
Foundation Supportworks of Idaho. FoundationRepairIdaho.com. (Yea Yea, no association, no financial gain, blah blah blah…)
There are now three “SmartJacks” bearing on 8 cu.ft. piers filled with gravel and supporting a huge beam running half the length of the house. The guys who came out started at 0730 and were finished and cleaned up at 1600. Never left the property, never made excuses or found “something we didn’t expect…that’ll cost more….”, never made a mess. Two very hardworking groundhogs that worked in a 24″ crawlspace all day.
The walls didn’t return to perfect, but the cracks have closed within fractions of an inch of new and the floors are level again! My desk drawers stay closed!
I used the 1969 Case 444 garden tractor to till up and turn over all the grasses/weeds and try to keep a fire barrier zone around the place. Hooked up the home made hydraulic wood splitter but blew another hydraulic line from the PTO valve. Very frustrating, this old machine. I love it to death but can’t depend on it.
If anyone has experience or insights about the hydraulic lines or electrics of the Case 444 I’d appreciate hearing from you. I’m a Luddite when it comes to these kinds of things and it’s probably a simple fix, like tightening a fluid connection…..
Gene, Please give your wife my admiration and respect!! Any woman who can cut and stack two cords of wood is totally awesome. I hope you appreciate what you have!!
Thanks for these posts. Encouraging to see others making progress.
I’m continuing the weekly clearing trees of some of our land to expand gardens and let more sunlight in for the apple trees. Here I am thankful for the tractor. Makes the job possible.
JWR: Question about your raspberries. Do you have a “garden” for them where they are protected from critters, or do you just have them around your property that you harvest from before they go to others?
The raspberries are within the fenced main garden in three concentrated areas. The three types: reds, golds and blacks, are separated by at least 20 yards each.
2 gal hand pump sprayer with 1.5 gals water
1 or 2 tablespoon dawn dish soap
2 oz. peppermint oil
Mix together in sprayer
Shake sprayer several times when spraying liquids then hand pump and spray straight or mist around areas you want covered. Please wear safety glasses and avoid spraying into wind. This last several days also work well against wood bess, wasps, hornets, mice, snakes and other critters. I’ve use straight stream around garage door over head too also leaves and nice scent too. Keep dogs away when you spray so it doesnt bother their nose. It also helps in garden to keep gophers and other small critters away.
Bought a pregnant Alpine goat and her last female kid a few weeks ago with the intention of using them for lawn mowers. They’re not good lawn mowers because they really prefer tree leaves. We realize the great advantage of having dairy goats when the SHTF and we had originally intended to wait and buy some goats at the last minute when I sensed that society was about to fall apart. But believing we could use them for lawn mowers we bought early. When we finally found out that they’re better for tree trimming we had already gotten attached to them. Goats have personalities just like dogs and these two goats would be missed if we sold them. So I am now presently fencing off about an acre and half of woods with a pond right in the middle. If the balloon goes up tomorrow we can at least look forward to good goat’s milk.
Last night, we had some business 2 miles from our house, but it is about the same distance from the river as our house is. I was shocked at how many mosquitos were 2 miles away but not here. We have been unsuccessful in attracting purple martins, but at the same time I put up purple Martin gourds, I put up bat houses, and we have a multitude of bats around now. They seem to be doing their job, since there is hardly any mosquitos around our house.
Here in the East Sierra, we have had two weeks of INTENSE smoke pollution from the numerous fires. This smoke has made it difficult to do outdoor chores. Unfortunately, watering the back lawn has been on the back burner, burning the grass to a nuce yellowish brown mat. Keeping a good lawn here is essential for dust abatement. Hopefully we will get a reprieve from the smoke soon, then the lawn watering will get the attention and time it requires.
I absolutely love this blog section! We are picking, blanching and freezing a ton of green beans. The tomatoes are coming in, and the cucumbers. The carrots are ready to be harvested, but not ready for that, yet; I will wait until the beans slow down. Soon the homeschooling will be starting again which will keep us all very busy until the snow falls again. The summer is going too fast. We have been looking at land; due to our jobs, we cannot escape to one of the wonderful retreats suggested, but looking to get out of our tax stressed county we live in and move one county over. Looking at downsizing as well. Blessings to all.