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:

Our winter supply of firewood is now all safely under cover, but this past week I spent some more time splitting and boxing fire kindling wood. (I prefer to keep our kindling in plastic tote bins, for subsequent ease of handling.)  My preferred kindling wood is western red cedar. I usually cut small rounds to just 9 or 10 inch length. I do a lot of the kindling splitting with a shingle froe and a 30-ounce mallet. I find that at least with straight-grained wood and a froe, I have better control. More control means that I spend less time chasing pieces of kindling. (Which is the norm whenever I use a mine axe or large hatchet to split it.)

Avalanche Lily Reports:

This week at the Rawles Ranch, we butchered two Turkeys that have reached butcher weight.  They are beginning to eat us out of house and home.  We roasted one, and have de-boned the breast meat, froze it and boiled the rest of the carcass for the meat and broth. We have quite a few more Turkeys and chickens that we’ll be gradually butchering over the next few weeks.  We are lacking enough freezer space, maybe not so bad if I’d do some rearranging.  So we might be canning some. I’m not a big on canning. And we will be giving a few away to friends and family.

This week we started our homeschooling year.  We have a high school senior and a sophomore still at home.  Both are taking a class or two through HSLDA and CLRC.  This is to get them used to on-line classroom formats and to understand what a college course will be like–as well as to lessen my teaching load.  It’s time to let them be accountable to someone else for part of their learning.  I am teaching them the subjects that I most enjoy, such as a foreign language, Essay writing, Literature, History, Current Events, Bible and Biblical subjects such as: Apologetics, Discernment, Prophecy, Jewish and Christian History and Philosophy.  I find it interesting that even though I was a science major in College, teaching science and mathematics are what I’m least interested in, in teaching my children. Go figure.

This year between the two of them, we will conquer (Lord willing): Chemistry, Biology, Algebra II and an overview class of Geometry, Basic Math Review/Pre-Algebra, US History, together, Music Theory (Younger), Essay Writing together with IEW: Institute for Excellence in Writing: Andrew Pudewa), Advanced Communications (IEW), Advanced Spelling (IEW). Older daughter is taking after Jim and wants to be a writer, so she’ll take a Novel Writing class through (IEW).  Both are studying Biblical and Modern Hebrew. Both play piano and have received regular lessons, for years now. Both will study Literature for their respective years.  Older daughter will be reading literature that involves apologetics, a history of philosophy, “The Consequences of ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped our World” by R.C. Sproul and other books similar to what has shaped our western thinking and the “development of man” through history.  Younger child is finishing up American Literature and will be moving into English literature.

I’m trying very hard to keep things very simple and straightforward this year.  It is very difficult to run a ranch and businesses, and to homeschool well. We need to work on being very disciplined with our time and motivations to complete what we must and to keep distractions at bay until we finish what we must. I’m hoping to get the rest of the main garden harvested, soon.  But all is good out there if we don’t have an early frost.

May you all have a very blessed week.

Many Blessings to All, – Jim Rawles and Avalanche Lily, Rawles



The Latimer’s remain busy putting up the garden proceeds. However, this week the freezers are filling up and one needs to be defrosted and the other one organized. We will attempt to make progress on this in the midst of the food canning and drying as well as freezing. We also have the never ending weeding and more tree work to be done, and we’re keeping a close eye out for some wildlife that seems to be invading our territory and disturbing our hens. Traps may need to go out also.

Farmers Market

It seems that most of Mrs Latimer’s egg customers have either moved away or are not consuming as many eggs lately. Over the last few weeks, the refrigerator has been slowly filling up with more eggs and this week we just had to do something about it. There is a local farmer’s market that runs on Fridays so we thought we’d give it a try.

While the sales were good and the excess eggs sold out in just a little over 2 hours, the hassles required to sell there were unbelievable. The vast majority of customers want to pay with their government issued “food stamps”. Since the farmers usually don’t accept anything but cash, the organizers have an agreement with the state that they will take the food stamps and then issue paper checks or wooden tokens to the customers who then buy the farmers products as if it was cash. At the end of the market, the farmer can trade the tokens in for actual cash, but only if they have “registered” with the state and have obtained an identification number.

Also, there can be no home baked or canned goods sold unless you have a commercial kitchen license. Don’t you just love government regulations?

o o o

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


  1. re:
    Eggs, turkey == FreezeDried

    With our new freeze-driers at church, we are experimenting with FDing eggs, fresh and scrambled. We welcome your experiences.

    Our turkey is from wild, and tends toward drier than domestic with much more of that delicious dark meat. Irregardless, it ‘reconstitutes’ fine for sandwiches… and scrambled eggs.

    1. We’ve freeze dried so many eggs I’m not sure we’ll every be able to use them all. At last count, there were a little over 110 quarts with each quart holding about 72 eggs. When eggs were in short supply (due to avian flu), we had plenty of customers. Now with the manufacturers flooding the market and prices hovering around all time lows, it’s a tough nut to crack.

  2. I had the same problem when I had my hens. Everyone who bought eggs seemed to want them in the same week, the no sales the rest of the month, go figure. I would boil up a bunch and make pickled eggs, then keep them in my refrigerator ( they will keep for 6 months, a one quart wide mouth jar will hold about a dozen. I’ve wanted to can them so they would keep on the shelf but have not found a reliable looking recipe.) I use the pickled eggs for egg salad and as snacks and day trip lunches. I also boil then chop extra eggs and zip lock bag them and freeze, I thaw and mix with feed and give them to the hens in the winter as a boost when it is very cold and to supplement their protein. I now have only 5 hens and 1 rooster. One of my girls went broody in AUGUST, she hatched 2 chicks and yesterday I reintroduced her and the chicks to the “flock”. One hen wants to take the chicks and the rooster wants to be “frisky”, she put the boots to all, but I have been checking them often. Last night she bedded down with the chicks in the layer/nest box and puffed and growled when anyone stuck their heads in the hen door. Apparently when it got too dark for her to see the others snuck in and bedded down. I thought they had acclamated, BUT this morning when she could see, EVERYBODY got thrown out, what a racket. My girls are 2 and 1/2 years old and lay an egg a day. They are Buff Orpingtons, catalog says 4 eggs per week, so I am very please with them.

  3. Spent some time organizing tools in the new pole barn at the BOL, hand tools were placed on hooks, and have been sorting through numerous smaller tool boxes and putting the tools into the two larger rolling tool cabinets my father gave me. Brought more stuff out to the new pole barn from the BOL home. The addition to the BOL is progressing.

    Picked up a new shotgun cleaning kit at Tractor supply on clearance for less than $4. Picked up an extra filter for the Katadyn Vario for about $8!!!! It was marked down to $28 and then it was an extra 75% off. That put the reserve stock of water filters up to 4 now. Sad news is that one of my favorite Used shops is going out of business. Stopped in and picked up some stuff- 2 sets of new bicycle brake pads for .75 cents a set, a craftsman tool roll for .75 cents, a new caulking gun for .75, an organizer peg board $1.50 and the best find which I almost missed seeing since it was hanging from the ceiling was a sythe for about $28. I have been looking for one all year and most that I saw were pretty beat up and expensive ($78!!) so I passed on those. Have company in this weekend and will be heading to a wedding today. Will spend a few hours at the BOL Sunday to show our company the projects and progress.

  4. I don’t waste my time with storing kindling. Whenever I need to start a fire, I pull out my Fireside Friend from Estwing. It is a hand-held splitting maul with a good weight. It looks like a splitting wedge with a forged steel handle. I stand one piece of firewood on end and have gotten very good at splitting of 1/8″ & 1/4″ thick lengths from the edge. After I have a few of these, I cut the rest into ~1″ wide pieces. I can start a nice fire every time from a single match (okay, occasionally I need a second match). Once in a blue moon, it will get wedged in. It has a large hammer face on the other end, so a hit or two with an engineer’s hammer finishes the job. Since two is one…, I have a spare but am confident it will outlast me.

  5. Split kindling is good to have on hand ahead of time. We used to live in NE Washington state and our home was set up for wood heat. Going into winter one year I experienced a severe back injury that incapacitated me for a few weeks and caused problems for months afterward. Preparing kindling using any kind of weight or motion would have been agony. It validates the idea that you should stock up on necessary materials ahead of time whenever possible. Thankfully we had plenty of kindling and boxes of dried pine cones to use as fire starters throughout a cold snowy winter and never had to use the furnace at all for a 3400 sq ft home. Don’t leave to tomorrow (or chance) what you can do today.

  6. Eight years ago I bought and installed a brand new Blaze King wood stove in our house. It is the catalytic type, and I have never burned anything but very dry birch wood in it. Kindling, when needed, is simply some birch bark and then a quarter round of 20″ log with bark on it. Once that is going and the catalyst temps in range, we close off the vent and let it burn. A full box will burn on average 18 hours or so. If the temps hit more than 60 below zero then the burn time is about 16 hours on a full box since we open the draft a bit more at those temps.
    The wood stove is our primary heat source, with a fuel oil back up should we be away from home. At the end of every burn season I usually have about 1 to 2 inches of light soot at the top of the chimney pipe, and light coating on the cap. I has never gone beyond that depth, and our burning season usually lasts from early September until mid May. We do keep a tote box of bark in the garage for the occasional needs.

  7. Planted a few seedlings in the fall garden; just enough for the animals. We decided to burn off everything but the grapes, potatoes and peanuts and restructure the garden for spring. We plan to install either a green house or hoop house in one area, build some high beds, leave the grapes and fruit bushes where they are and leave open ground for the root and trellis vine veges.

    Made a resupply run to the city and stocked up; gotta love pickup trucks. Fortunately we have the UTV to move supplies to the feed shed, barn and around the compound, but still have to tote some 25 and 50 pd bags to the house. We now at the age where we have to plan a farmer’s day off (that means light duty and only feeding the animals) after a supply run as toting 50 pd bags around then repackaging them just wears us out.

    We also have a lot of eggs so I keep my elderly neighbors supplied with eggs and chicken meat which helps us both out. There are too many rules and food laws now to sell at the farmer’s market any more. We have to put of warning signs saying where food was grown, in what environment (organic or not organic) and that any processed food items we cooked or canned were made in a non-certified kitchen; but we can still be sued if somebody gets sick if they bought our items. I think area will be moving to bartering between communities in a few years.

    We are at 4 cords of firewood but I am going to have some big trees thinned out and others elevated so that should provide a cord or two before cold weather sets in.

    Enjoy the holiday and hug your family and friends!

  8. My husband is losing his job fairly soon due to his company closing. He will likely be able to find another job or work from home. But times will be tight soon. We have long planned for this scenario. It’s the most likely SHTF scenario out there. The only thing I never previously figured out was, how to feed chickens and dogs and such. Well, I’ve pretty much figured it out now. I milk a cow every day. The feed for her isn’t really that much. Cow feed is pretty cheap. I also started feeding cow feed to the chickens. All the chickens also get high mag cow minerals. The young pullets also get some added cotton seed meal for added protein. I have also been souring all of my extra milk after the cream has been skimmed to make butter (to sell). Then I ration out the sour milk to the chickens. The pullets are first priority, since the grown hens are turned out everyday to scratch. They only get a little feed to coax them back into the pen at night. Doing this regiment, my egg production has gone way up! And my feed cost has gone way down. And the annoying bug population has gone way down, without pesticides that kill my bees. I also have most of the chickens that don’t get turned out in mobile wire cages, so they can eat weeds and grass. Also, the rabbits are in mobile cages. I’m fixing to put my ducks in a mobile pen to put out on weeds I need eaten down. I started using the extra eggs to feed my dog and cats, along with some cow minerals and milk. I have cut way down on how many animals I’m feeding, and I’m fixing to butcher a few more. I got rid of two dogs, so I’m not taxing my resources. I am thrilled to have found out how to do this! I am finding out that the minerals are way more important to the health of all these animals than the protein content. I am trying to build up the minerals in my soil. We are going to be burning lots of stuff to add ash to the soil, so the minerals will be helped there. Ash helps the phosphates to balance out, which are high from all the manure.

  9. I know a fella who lets chickens in mobile cages forage in pasture where his cattle grazed the week before. The hens feed on the undigested items (of which there are many) in the manure. Another thrifty way to feed the chiskens.

    Carry on.

  10. For Avalanche Lily.
    You mentioning that the older daughter wants be a writer and will be taking a course. Well, a favorite author of mine (Larry Correia) has written quite a bit about getting started. It is accessible from his website and blog “Monster Hunter Nation” and once there click on the “Best of MHN”.
    Thought it could be worth a perusal. Be fore warned though, his opinions abound and language can be a bit colorful if that bothers you any.

  11. Avalanche Lily’s report was very interesting. What a great education.

    I am in awe of the homeschooling families here in the Redoubt. They offer Americans’ greatest earthly hope for the future. I love seeing the homeschoolers at our little church. They are so polite and well educated. After service families share a pot luck dinner. The older homeschoolers care for the younger ones. They quietly but enthusiastically entertain themselves. And not one cell phone in sight!

  12. Still canning and done a little fermenting for the first time.

    Put up 13 jars of salsa last week, and this week planning to another big batch of marinara. We should have yet another bunch of tomatoes even after that.

    I wanted to try sauerkraut, and when the biggest head of cabbage (of the four) split, I got to work. I was shocked at how small and amount of kraut comes from even a very large head of cabbage! It was a little slow to get started bubbling, but once it had been going a few days, I put it in the fridge for the longer term.

    I had a decent crop of elderberries, but the birds were getting some so I harvested the larger, ripe heads and after the hour of pulling the berries off stems — quite tedious! — I decided to ferment them in sugar. It was easy, and after about three weeks I should have a syrup that can be used during the winter months.

    Getting ready to have a big garage sale to get rid of too much stuff, but waiting for cooler weather to work in the garage.

    We’ve had unusual amounts of rain lately, so we’ll how that affect the rest of what’s in the garden!

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