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:

There have been some more rain showers here at the ranch. We can definitely feel the seasonal change. Weather permitting, in two weeks we plan to begin burning slash piles that we accumulated over the summer.

The leaves are starting to turn color. Winter weather is fast approaching!

I had to reinforce the tubular fence panels that face the front of our hay barn, using T-posts. You see, our resident Equine and Bovine Delinquents were pushing the panels inward, in an attempt to get to the freshly-stacked hay bales. The fence is now “bull strong”, so they’ll have no more opportunities for such mischief.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

This week at the Rawles Ranch, we had two light frosts two nights in a row, which killed off some of my squash plants, the sweet potatoes, and nipped some tomato branches that had escaped from the plastic hoops. The main tomato plants that had remained under the plastic were spared the freezing. Hooray! The sweet potatoes were not happy growing here in our region and hardly grew all this summer.  Our summer nights are just too cold for their liking. I may try to grow them again next summer. We’ll see. The second morning the frost was a bit harder. I ran outside and hosed down the Fall Gold Raspberries, red raspberries, celery and carrots, before the sun could hit them and cause more damage. The hosing down worked. I didn’t lose them. The broccoli, cabbage, turnips just took the frosts in stride. It wasn’t a problem for them. It appears, at least for the next week, that we’ll have above freezing temps.

Also interesting to note, a few days earlier than the frosts, I had thrown plastic lightly over the top of my zucchini patch to encourage them to keep producing, I didn’t get enough Zuchs, either this summer, for what I like, imagine that. (The nights were on average cooler than in the past few years.  I have about seven gallons frozen, but I would like about seven gallons more.) The plastic saved them from the two nights of frost. I’m very happy about that. But we’ll see if day time temps in the sixties and nights in the mid to high thirties and forties will allow for more fruit setting. I’m thinking about turning the guest bedroom back into a greenhouse in a couple of weeks and seeing about growing zucchini in there this winter.

Jim, the young‘uns and I, together finished digging our purple and red potatoes. I have to say that the potato harvest was not as good as previous years. I had planted them in the Annex garden and I’m a bit disappointed.  I harvested the squashes in the main garden.

For the past six weeks the harvested onions had been drying out in a warm dry place.  On Friday, I finally had the time to go to them and to sort and clean them up by rubbing off the extra skins, pulling off the stems and sacking them up in a burlap bag and into storage.  We had a very large onion harvest this year.

We hope you all have a very blessed week and much success with all of your prepping activities. – Jim Rawles and Avalanche Lily, Rawles



The Latimers are out camping this week trialing the improvements made to the bugout trailer since last year. We’ve had some power issues with our solar system that were just worked out. First up were the 8DL 255AH batteries that decided to give up the ghost. They were the oldest batteries I had and had served us well, I’m just disappointed that they decided to die when time was of the essence. Oh well. An emergency trip to O’Reilly’s auto parts store had us up and running in short order with an acceptable replacement, though with much less reserve capacity.

The next issue was a refrigerator in the trailer that refused to defrost properly. It turns out that I didn’t tighten the positive side bolt down when I replaced the batteries and was losing nearly 100 watts of power at that junction. I discovered this when tracing the problem with a voltmeter as I could see the voltage drop in the system. However, it wasn’t the voltmeter that discovered it. I grabbed the wire to wiggle it and nearly burned my finger off. (Just a little exaggeration there, but it did hurt). So far, everything is running smoothly now.

o o o

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


  1. Nothing on par with above good people on their farms, but I spent the past two days processing MacIntosh apples from our one tree into 50+ pints of apple butter. This is the first good crop we’ve had in several years, and we’re taking full advantage of it. And we still have many more apples available to enjoy.

  2. Purchased some used kitchen cabinet bases and counter top for $50. Since my son has been busy with Cross Country meets I had to do some insulation work that he was doing. Next trip to the bug out location and the will be attached to the walls of the pole barn workshop. I bought some 1 1/2″ PVC pipe and some end caps and used it to store my “tanker bars”. Since the bars all had points on them I cut a piece of form insulation and stuck it in the cap at the bottom so the point wouldn’t crack the cap. Put up racks to hang extension cords, air hose come-a-longs and chains. The workshop and barn is coming together nicely.

    The work on the BOL home addition saw the plumbing and drywall sheets getting hung.

  3. re:

    In our hothouses in Oregon, we use above-ground SQUARE FOOT GARDENS. This means all our growing medium is local-sourced organic mulch. One of our hothouses is dedicated to zucchini.

    We like them for their nutrient density. At least once a week, SPIRALIZED with a splash of organic marinara topped with a cashew cheese.

    Since we avoid nightshades, our ‘marinara’ is cauliflower pulsed in the processor with beets for color. Add ground elk, and we are in bliss!

    This goes great over a yuge salad.

    Next morning, we can simmer bone-broth in a skillet. Add left-overs to warm, then crack three duck eggs to poach.

    Our ducks and turkeys are pastured for a diet rich in bugs and shoots… and the occasional snake and lizard.

  4. All the gardeners in this northern latitude community have commented on what a disappointing year it was in their gardens. Our community garden which donates produce to the local food bank reported only 3/5ths as many pounds of produce donated this year compared to last year. The year started out with a very warm spring for weeks, which then proceeded to turn cold and rainy for over a month. My plants didn’t know if they should grow or hibernate, and the output has ended up being pretty dismal.

    Of my 14 hard squash and pumpkin vines, I have only 3 pumpkins and about 8 various winter squash. They are covered now with garden cloth trying to eke out a few more days toward ripening. Since I covered them, the vines have started look like they’ve been on vacation in Hawaii, all succulent and happy. We’ll see what the results are soon. Green beans (my favorite variety, Provider, a hardy and delicious low bush green bean) produced quite well again, but my cabbages are still small – last year they were the size of pumpkins at the end of August.

    I have apples this year, where last year there were hardly any. Neighbor literally across the street has zero on his ten apple trees, bumper crop last year. There seems to be little rhyme or reason. But the lesson is clear; plant more than you need, plant different varieties, and stay on good terms with your neighbors.

    I’m taking it as a learning experience. This climate needs season extenders, period. Next year it’s hoops and garden cloth to get the starts in early, with succession planning actually *planned* on a calendar rather than the rather random way I did that this year. And for anyone who thinks their PVC tube of heirloom seeds is going to feed them when they finally bug out, be advised it is not as simple as you think. This was my second garden season since moving here and I assure you there is a steep learning curve to growing your own food. I’m learning more every day about how much I don’t know yet. At this point, I can drive up to the supermarket this morning and buy 30 pumpkins if I want to, but that may not always be the case. When it really counts, it’s going to be a completely different level of dismay if your harvest is scant, especially if you have little faces looking up at you.

    1. Your post reminded me of growing up on a farm where we grew or raised all our food. We would plan not for the next harvest, but would plan two harvests (years) out because you never knew just what was ahead for the next summer. In fact, one year (when I was quite young) our garden was raided at night by thieves who took most everything. The audacity! Of course in times of peace and prosperity there was not a thought of patrolling. There will be a need for that in the future I expect.

      1. What an excellent piece of wisdom to plan for two years out! I clearly remember when the US had so much excess grain that we sold all over the world. I don’t think we are like that anymore. And of all the many people I know and have met in the past ten years, I can only think of about ten families that keep surplus food supplies on hand and they all live up here in the Redoubt. Any kind of food shortage will be catastrophic to the masses. Anyway, thanks again for that great gem of knowledge.

  5. It’s something how certain things get done at certain times of the year whether you’re in Idaho or the UP. Burning brush piles? Check. Finished putting up firewood a couple weeks ago. Check. Put up lots of green beans, broccoli, onions, green peppers, cayennes, blueberrries Canned lots of pickles, raspberry and blackberry jam today. Putting up tomatoes regularly. So, harvesting – check.

    Also in the process of repairing my 9 foot back blade. I’ll need that to maintain contact with the rest of the world this winter. Also fixing my home made band saw mill. It needs a pulley I will have to scrounge for. I have several black cherry and maple logs to cut into boards as they are much too nice for firewood. Had 2 Stihl chainsaws give out this year and had the shop fix them up like new for me. Also in the process of building a deck/porch before winter. Also cut a tamarack 6 x 6 and put it 3 and a half feet in the ground with concrete for a new clothes line setup. Improved my compost area to a 3-bin setup.

    There are a LOT of downed trees needing to be cut up for future firewood; we had one heck of a nasty wind storm a couple weeks ago. Always, always, always something that needs to get done asap.

  6. Been living the saying “Don’t set a trap for a skunk until you have a plan for a skunk in a trap.” Have learned that the shooting needs to be from farther away than I initially thought. Also, even dead, the smell gets over everything. Twice I’ve had to go into work with a little smell left on me.

  7. Our garden in the PNW did much better than last year! We gave pounds away to our local food bank as well as bringing pounds into work: zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, …

    just closed down the tomatoes, potatoes, and corn and cleaned up the rest – left some cucumbers, sugar pie pumpkins, eggplants, artichokes (won’t produce any longer), green beans, and squash. It was a milder summer with less rain than usual, but we’re on a drip system, so…

    Just planted garlic today and next week will plant all the fall crops. We’ll see how the greenhouse – new, fairs during the winter and what we can start there – no additional heat.

    Michael J.

  8. Just getting out of debt is a good step towards self sufficiency. Everything but the mortgage now.

    However, and this is a big however, mitigating mailbox harassment is the next step. What do you all think? My wife and family over the past few years dread going to the mailbox. We collect mail once every two weeks now in order to keep our heart rate down. Then from that bundle of mail it takes about eight hours in a day to combat all the harassment.

    The IRS needs this and won’t let up. The homeowners association has something every other month which requires an electrician or Gardner to come out. The health insurance keeps going up. Then the auto insurance and registration and now smog checks with car inspections are in order. The utilities are always adding up. Credit card expiring on accounts and needing to wait hours on the customer service lines to place a new credit card on file for them. Neighbors suing neighbors. Property taxes which can only be paid in a two week window and not in advance. 401Ks which the brokerage companies are threatening to dissolve unless you come up with more documentation Big Brother is asking them for on everyone of their clients. Completing a will or trust. Filling out a new job application and so so so many personal documents going back to high school and birth. Sitting for an entire wasted day for a new drivers licnes. Etc etc etc.

    It seems this is occurring about once a month with so much harassment from the government agencies. It is cutting into our family life to where we can’t even breath anymore. It is nonstop and constant and if we faulter in any of this combat we loose our driving privilege or auto or house or even our retirement accounts liquidated.

    How can we stop this merry go round?

    Anyone ?

    1. I can only sympathize, being similarly overwhelmed. When I used to work full time, I kept track of all my bills and quarterly payments on an Excel spreadsheet, which was extremely helpful. You can see everything at a glance, and have a column for due dates. Excel is nifty if you take the time to learn it.

      Alternatively, create a filing system with pending bills sorted by due date, and paid bills. You will have to stay on top of it or it will mushroom into one of those big amorphous piles of envelopes. Yes, I seem to have several of those piles lying around the house on any given day. There’s one in my car, too.

      Some people set up automatic bill pay, which seems to take a lot of stress off them. I’m too much of a private person to be passing out my bank account information and allowing companies to draw on my account whatever amount they claim I owe. I’ve seen mistakes on my bills too many times in my life. But it does seem to be a workable alternative for some people.

      I have only one credit card and one debit card which is attached to my checking account. Used to have many, so this is a step toward simplification. I have a genius tax man who takes care of my taxes every year for an extremely reasonable amount of money, and that is a huge relief.

      If I were more organized, I would calendar two mornings a month to review and process any bills needing attention. I sort of do that now but it’s a tiny bit random.

      I never deal with bills or taxes when I’m tired or hungry, bad idea.

      And make sure the non-bill paying spouse has a working knowledge of what needs doing in case the other can’t perform that duty for some reason.

  9. Yesterday I finally located railroad ties to replace rotted corner posts for our boundary fences. We are surrounded by cattle and horses, and need to adhere to the adage, Good Fence Make Good Neighbors. In our high humidity and wet soils, even pressure-treated wood rots quickly at the ground surface level.

    The creosote treated wood is banned from coming into Washington State now, so one lumber yard after another told me they could not get used railroad ties anymore. I drove 90 minutes each way for these and got twice the amount I needed.

    And on Fridays we continue to receive our box of produce. We support our local small farmers by prepaying for 20 weekly boxs of food. It is a good feeling to drive through the county and see so many people with large areas of vegetables, fruits, and farm animals. And we are planning our 2019 agriculture efforts now. Next purchase will be free-proof netting

  10. You can’t stop this foolishness. It’s only going to get worse. Yesterday to access my bank account , which I’ve had over 50 years ,I had to certify i do not have dual citizenship .

    iRS? They tried to penalize me for an early IRA withdrawal . I called them and quoted the loophole. Told them the section number to look up. They didn’t have the code at the call center. Asked me to send it to them. I refused . Told them to scare up their own copy .

    I did call a large newspaper and give them the story, which they printed .

    I have no idea if it did any good , but it was fun.

    Finally a suggestion – stress reliever. Turn off cable news – all of them . They are entertainment, nothing more ( except the rare hard news story) . Cable news makes money by jacking emotions up. You just don’t need that.

  11. Plugging along here at the cabin. Hiked up to the wild apple tree to assess the fruit and found none. I’m disappointed, but some years there are killer spring frosts at just the wrong time.

    Since I’m not canning right now, I have been individually wrapping my jars in paper and putting them in tubs. I’ve also gathered all the canning supplies together. I also have put all of the laundry soap making supplies together into a mouse proof galvanized lidded bucket. I’m sure to need these at some point in the future.

    Still clearing the brush and wood in the yard. The last of the “junk” from the previous owners attempt to make this the dumping spot has been taken away! Joy of joys, it is now just wood and brush. Now that I have a small trimmer electric chainsaw (free to me), I can attack the brush piles and produce kindling while my son wields the large saw. We make a good team.

    Was given some lupin seedheads and spent some time collecting the seeds. I do love lupins.

    Winter is right around the corner, so fall chores must be done.

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