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:

This past week was fairly quiet at the Rawles Ranch. As expected, rain transitioned to snow showers.  I went ahead and attached our Western brand snow plow to our pickup, as usual. Also per my seasonal SOP, I loaded 350 pounds of sand (in long cylindrical bags) into the back of the pickup bed, to provide counterbalance and some extra traction, for plowing. To keep those tube sand bags from shifting, I use a 2×10 plank that is cut to the width of the pickup bed. The plank sits at an angle, braced up against the back of the protruding wheel wells. With the sand bags in place, that plank doesn’t budge and the sand bags all stay back near the tailgate, where they belong. Courtesy of the good folks at the local Les Schwab tire store, the pickup is already wearing studded snow tires. (I keep a complete set, on rims, for the seasonal swap.)

It feels good to be ready to plow snow.  I’ve only been faked out a couple of years out of the past 12 here at the ranch. In those two years the snows were so light that I didn’t have to plow at all. But such years are the exception rather than the rule.

Such is life, north of the 45th Parallel.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers,

This week, we saw our first accumulating snow.  About two inches fell.  This year I have very mixed feelings about it.  Usually, I’m happy about snow, but not so much this year….Hmmm, It seems that only a short time ago, it had just melted… Never mind.  I have to live with it!  Life/time seems to go faster with each passing year.
This week, I treaded out all of my kale seeds pods, like one would tread grapes.  The dry pod branches were in five feed sacks.  I laid the sacks on the floor, and jumped on them for about five minutes crushing the pods.  When done, I shook the seeds down to the bottom of the sacks, took out the branches and large pieces of chaff, consolidated the contents of the five bags into a mason quart jar filled with kale seeds, chaff and dirt. I then retrieved our fan from storage and tried the chaff winnowing method on my Kale seeds.    I poured them into a very large stainless steel bowl.  I scooped up handfuls of the mixture and dropped it from my hands past the air flowing from the fan. The chaff immediately blew out from the seeds as they dropped into the bowl.  I was very, very impressed.  I scooped up and dropped the mixture past the fan about twenty times.  When I was finished, I put the seeds back into the jar and found that I had harvested two full cups of kale seeds.  During the winnowing process, I lost only a few seeds to the porch.  Most of those, I suspect, were not going to be viable anyway.  And if they are, we’ll find out in the spring, since they were swept off our porch onto the ground.
There is something very deeply satisfying about seed-saving……. Such amazing little treasures of potential life.
This week we (the whole family) went for an exploratory nighttime hike around the perimeter of our land with flashlights.  We turned them off frequently to look around and feel the dark, and adjust our eyes to the landscape.  It is seriously dark here at night, if there isn’t a moon and it’s cloudy.   We could barely see anything, only a few stars above.  It’d be very dangerous to be out in these woods on a cloudy night without a flashlight.  One cannot see anything.  After our walk, we returned to the house and retrieved Jim’s new “keeper” SIG thermal scope to test it out. (He also bought several others, to re-sell.) We could clearly see our horses, cat, and each other.
We continued working on our knitting and crocheting skills and then on some home health care skills.  We’ve also begun a unit in making knots with various kinds of rope for varying purposes.  My mother gifted the children, two years ago, this little set “The Handy Box of Knots” by Randy Penn.  We’re just getting into it now.  The package contains nylon ropes,  a book on the history and uses of knots and a detailed instructional guide on how to make them, as well as dozens of games and exercises for honing our new skills.  We highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning knots.
We butchered a turkey and three chickens this week.  We froze the three chickens and some of the best meat from the turkey and boiled down the bones to get the rest of the meat and to make some soup broth.  We have so much else to do that it is easier for us to just do a few birds at a time.  Also to be really honest with you, neither Jim nor I like the job very much.  We like the meat, of course, but not the job.  It is a cold outside job.  It’s icky and sad and very time consuming.  We tend to be quite grumpy with each other on butcher day until the job is nearly completed.  Once we can see the end of the job approaching, when we look at the work of our hands, the abundance of our own home raised meat, we feel quite rewarded, and the atmosphere between us becomes noticeably more cheerful once again.
I cleaned the chicken coop.
In the kitchen, I seriously reorganized, reassessed all of our cookware and food storage containers, culled some, put some away for later use, and generally reorganized much of the kitchen cupboards and drawers.  Let’s just say that I am a Prepper and a Minimalist.  Therefore I am always assessing, what is needed and used and what we need for the future.  It is a tough road for balance.  Many would say that I’m not a true Minimalist.  But we’re definitely not hoarders, either.  🙂  It’s an on-going battle.  Balance is the key word!
We hope you all have a very Blessed, productive and safe week,
Avalanche Lily


This week we started the big push to clean up the house. In a way, it was somewhat disheartening for me as I watched box after box of “stuff” hauled into my recently cleaned and organized shop. Oh well. I guess I know what I’ll be doing for the next week now.

The gardening is done, the property is winterized and now the winter projects begin. One of those projects actually relates to the recent house cleaning as well. Our world has become more digital and very seldom do we even print the pictures that we take with a camera anymore. The important ones get printed and hung on the wal, but where we used to carry wallet size photos around, it’s all digital. It’s just too easy to whip out that smart phone and flip through thousands of photos.

Mrs Latimer is somewhat of the family historian and the extended family has dumped their old family photos on her for years. This winter, one of my projects will be to digitize the boxes of these photos and reclaim the storage space that they take up. Hard drive space is cheap.

o o o

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


  1. Looking out the window, I decided to rearrange my schedule for today. It is snowing little balls of snow /ice. Later today will be better! With a sturdy, 12′ long double wide stackable wood box/shed newly built from wood on the premises, I now have to fill it.

    I had hoped to be able to finally mow the lawn for the first time in the 2 years since we started this project -today; however, the weather insists I wait till spring! Such a blessing to have the yard part if the land cleared. I will continue to gather kindling in large dog food bags to store in the barn and clear the hillside of the last of the brush at the same time. I’m continuing, weather permitting, to build terrace gardens of stone walls. It’s rather shaded, so I’ll be planting shade perennials unless anyone has shaded vegetables/fruit for zone 4 that I do not recall. Hauling stone from the piles up on the hill from eons ago when the fields were cleared. We grow stone here, we say.

    Now that we have a plan to keep this land in the family, I am pleased to say that I have finally been approved by a genealogical organization as officially settling here since the arrival of the ship the Halve Maen in the 1600s. We have family land passed from my mother that is but an hour’s drive from the original settlement. My children are the fourth generation on this particular piece of land. Although not prepping per say, this is a “putting your house in order” piece for me. No matter what comes, or where we will live (Redoubt is our permanent address), the history is established and verified. Done.

  2. As the editors speak of their snow readiness we prepare for ice storms which I know will be coming our way. We don’t get deep snow but we do get 1-2 inches of ice so we just have to plan for it. Last month we had the big trees trimmed by professionals, plus my sons cut back the small tree and bush growth 15′ away the perimeter fencing.

    This week had several days of rain but of course the animal chores must be done every day whether it rains or shines. Slipped in the mud out back and got a huge bruise to show for it but didn’t break anything! Still have collards growing in containers and have picked and dried some spices. But, we had our first hard freeze Friday and another one coming tonight so we put remaining tender plants in the garage or sunroom until the temp goes back up in a couple of days.

    Made the quarterly trip to the commissary to get specific items to restock the pantry. Two hours each way makes for a long day! Got there and the computers were down so it was cash only. People were coming in and then getting back in their cars because they only had plastic money. I always pay cash so I had the $$ and had to spot my friend some money until she could get to the bank. Remember when the EBT/SNAP system went down a while back? Total chaos! Could be happening more and more; keep some cash on hand;;;just saying.

    Now is the time of year when baking items and butter go on sale at the local grocery stores, so I stocked up on those items. The squash bugs got most of my garden squash this year so when I found spaghetti and butternut squash at a huge sale price I got lots and put them in the cold room to store. I have not ground any wheat yet this fall so when I saw bread flour at 35% off I put lots in my basket.

    Also visited a couple of thrift stores and found new books on a BOGO-F sale and new yarn at $1/skein. Order a few of the grand children’s gifts so I could get them boxed and out the door on 1 Dec.

  3. We had two full cords of firewood delivered about a month ago. We built a cubbyhole under our main stairwell to the upstairs loft of our log home. This will hold about twenty days of fire wood and will be nice to just pull from the stack inside the home instead of the small bundles we had laying on the floor near our fireplace.

    Go snow!


    1. WarVet; the year my husband and brother died, we widows went on a road trip to Key West to get a way from the sorrows. We went down the east coast of Florida .and came back up the west coast (gulf side) and we loved it. Being in warm breezy weather lifted our spirits and everyone was super friendly. Fond memories; stay safe.

  5. The timber harvest has finally started at the retreat. Amazing what can be accomplished with modern equipment. With four loggers and four pieces of equipment a huge stack of logs ready for the mill was generated in just two days. Trucks will start hauling logs next week. All 85 acres will be harvested be the end of the month. We will have a healthier more fire resistant forest, and enough money to finish the cabin.

  6. The power company for our area has hired a tree trimming company to cut trees too close to power lines near the roads. Mostly oak, ash, cherry, maple. Logs are five to six feet in length and anywhere between 5″ to 12″ in diameter. Ugh! The truck fills up quickly with these sizes. Once home, I can cut them down, split and stack for next years’ supply. This doesn’t happen very frequently so I’m taking advantage as are others in the area. Keeps my old a@$ in shape. Always busy. Stay safe all.

  7. Setting up plans for a half acre orchard/vineyard and garden, to be deer -proof fenced. The nursery said trees will be ready to pick up in February. I’m getting nut trees: heart nut, hazelnut, almond, walnut, and three varieties of chestnut.

    Already have 4 varieties of grapes, 12 varieties of berries, and 22 varieties of mostly heirloom apples and pears started in pots. Fencing, irrigation system design and soil prep mean busy times waiting for spring.

    With winter chill rain and bringing back our hypothermia time, the warm wood stove is great. We run our furnace circulation fan- not on the heat setting- for our old design ducted furnace system. The air return by the wood stove sucks in the warm air and circulates it through the whole house. Far cheaper to blow the stove-heated air through the house than to heat air with the electric furnace.

  8. 2″ of snow? We here in the UP received quite a snowstorm yesterday and last night. Even with the ground not yet frozen and melting from underneath, we ended up with at least 7″ to plow this morning. Lucky for me, I put the tractor tire chains on a couple of weeks ago. Less than 20 miles from me, they received only an inch. Darned lake effect band got me.

    With all the firewood cut, split, and stacked as of 2 months ago, it was nice to come in and have a cup of hot tea after all the plowing. I wanted to get that out of the way to have more hunting time. I have to plow a half mile to get to a plowed county road which, if things go as usual, will not get plowed until Monday.

    Hunting – I have two very nice bucks coming in and it is just a matter of time (I hope) before we come together under the right conditions which will end with me dragging one of them out of the woods. If I get the big guy, I will then wonder if pictures can be put in these comments.

    What else? It’s been a little while since I said anything here. The wife had a cougar encounter a few weeks back. It’s a good thing she was in a vehicle because 20 feet is way too close to one of them. The wife canned up many dozens of jars of raspberry, blackberry, and grape jelly just recently, as well as many jars of pickles from the end of the cucumbers. We saved and froze the berries until she could can in cooler weather, and the grapes had also just been harvested. Next year’s garlic has been planted. Tons and tons of leaves have been sucked up and shredded, which will end up in next year’s garden for fertilizer, holding in moisture and making it harder for the weeds to grow. Also, gave a thorough interior cleaning to the Elmira Findley Oval wood cookstove which is our main source of winter heat, as well as the chimney. And, we had some very expensive repairs done to our side by side 4-wheeler. It is 90% work vehicle and 10% pleasure, so it was necessary and had been put off for over a year.

    We recently made more than 20 straight nights below 40°, which means it is time to harvest chaga. We have about 40 pounds drying on the fireplace mantel, which will lose at least half that weight when dry. I’ve also started a chaga alcohol extraction tincture which will take a couple of months. That will be followed by a hot water double extraction when finished, and then combined together. This is a new thing for me, and only after lots of reading on the subject. I am not impulsive and I was almost too skeptical to even try it. All I can say is that there are positive and noticeable benefits to it.

    I guess that is enough for now. I don’t want to get too long-winded. Still loving the life out here. Thanks again to James Rawles and Survivalblog for giving me the spark I needed to make “living the dream” happen.

  9. Built about an 8×8 shelf today with the help of my brother and nephew today for ammo storage. It is in the new part of the basement of the BOL. Due to the landscaping the east end of the basement is not totally backfilled in thus it doesn’t provide the needed/wanted shielding for radiation so I am putting the ammo up against that wall to provide addition shielding. See all that ammo comes in handy for other things too!!

    Put Drylock on the new walls too. Moved some of the ammo onto the new shelf.

    We also had the first major snow fall of the season. 6-8 inches in town but at the BOL we had a dusting. Which doesn’t bother me at all. Had a nice chit chat with the neighbor out at the BOL. Was interested in who he used for Internet and garbage pick up. After that it turned to Bees, fruit trees and livestock.

    Got a special financing offer from Lowes so picked up stuff for the ammo shelf, Drylock and a bunch of deck screws and galvanized nails for the stockpile.

    Added lots of information to my “Book of Apocalyptic Knowledge”. Put a recipe for Pemmican, Information of what woods make the best charcoal for making blackpowder, info on rendering fat and making tallow, ect.

Comments are closed.