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!


We are in full Winter Mode, here at the Rawles Ranch. After a couple of glorious sunny (but chilly) days early in the week, we transitioned back to snow. This time it was a fine dry powder that refuses to clump together when pressed in your palm. This made Avalanche Lily quite excited, because she likes getting some of that on top of an established snow base, for cross country skiing.

I’ve been busy outlining a book for a publisher in England. The book contract is pending. I’ll post more updates on that is a couple of weeks.

I’ve also been frantically ordering parts and magazines for my current AR builds. These are all being assembled for my grandchildren. I say “frantically” because I’m starting to see prices creep up. I believe that we’ve seen the bottom of the Trump Slump. I expect AR parts and 11+ round magazines to positively gallop in price, in the next few months. Buy low and sell high, folks! Fair warning: The new U.S. Congress has been meeting. This famous quote bears repeating:

“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” – Gideon J. Tucker

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear SurvialBlog readers,

This week was a very good homeschooling week.  I believe we are getting into a good routine once again.

I ordered more seeds, tubers, canes, and crowns to expand some garden beds.  I am expanding by adding beds to my Golden Raspberry patch, another Asparagus bed, another Black Raspberry bed and another Strawberry bed. Since our climate seems to indicate that fruits of the berry kind do the best here and because I recently ate some awesome Blackberries from Costco, (I didn’t enjoy the bitterness of the Blackberries of my youth and so have not planted them on our land up to this point), I decided it was time to put in a Blackberry bed down in the orchard.  So we have sixteen canes on order.  This week while cleaning out the chicken coop, we ran the manure in the work sled, down into the orchard and put it in the area will I will put the Blackberries.  We will continue this practice until I have enough manure down there and then we’ll put manure in other areas until spring.

Yes, I did get to cross country ski once this week, and once last week in powder snow before the rains came and ruined both snowfalls. It is a lovely way to get some exercise.

Around here we’re lucky to have powdery snow for more than three days in a row before the rain comes.  But once it rains, usually after a day or two, it freezes then I can hike, run, walk on top of the crust until the next powdery snowfall. This is our winter weather pattern west of the Rockies.  I am awaiting/hoping for a huge rainstorm on top of snow which would form a large lake in our meadow followed immediately by a large non windy polar vortex which would freeze the meadow and give us a lovely skating rink!  If we’re going to live in a winter climate, can we please have the right conditions to properly play in it, so we can stay in good physical shape?

This week was also spent in much time of prayer and intercession, and reading of the scriptures.  As a family we, over the past three months, have read through 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings and this week have begun 1st Chronicles.  I also spent time reading the book of Daniel and comparing it to these books and comparing it to James Ussher’s book, “The Annals of the World”.  It is very interesting and I will continue reading this, this weekend.  I believe the Lord God is giving those who seek Him revelation and discernment of the days we are living in.  There is a serious sense of an “Impending Something” that is about to fall on us here in the USA and the whole world.  Please be in prayer and repentance for yourselves and this nation.

May you all have a very safe and blessed week. – Jim & Avalanche Lily, Rawles



This week at the Latimer household we spent much time dealing with the neighbors dogs who suddenly acquired a taste for chicken. Normally, when a dog does this, the dog just quietly disappears. However, this is a neighbor that we truly want to keep in good relations with so we had to work with them to control the dog. I happened to have a security camera that covers the adjoining property fence line and was able to maintain visual security while I worked on my computer. During the times in which the chickens were foraging, I would watch the fence line and catch the dog digging under the fence.

It took more than a couple of painful whacks on the dog over multiple instances as it tunneled under the fence, but it eventually stopped attempting it. I’m sure that the memories of that will fade a couple more times as it remembers the tasty treat and fun of bringing down a chicken, but I believe we can salvage this without the loss of the dog or the relationships.

We also finished digging up all of the carrots from last season and storing them in sand buckets in the garage.

In the meantime, the family has been in a somewhat subdued mood as we mourn the loss of an extended family member. He suffered from dementia for the last two years and it was painful to see his deterioration over time. We are confident of his safe arrival with our Lord, but we grieve the physical loss nonetheless.

o o o

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


  1. HJL, you have my condolences. Grief, although a part of life, is never easy. I find it brings a lot of introspection my way. Praying for you and your family.

    Avalanche Lilly, I too sense a change in our country. I have taught public HS on and off since the mid-1980s and I see a change in our family structures, character of our rural students (I cannot speak for urban schools), and a lack of self-sufficiency. The hopeful news is that children (such as my own) were not in public schools, so I’m hopeful that my observations are statistically skewed and there are moral, well educated and self-sufficient youth around.

    That said, what are we doing this week toward continued self-sufficiency? Well, I finally ran out of water in the “dry” cabin and my son arrived just in time to fill the containers from the spring water storage tank. I can do it, but heaving the heavy water containers hurts my shoulder even with the sled to haul them long distance. The water from the spring doesn’t run in the winter, and we have decided not to do the work necessary to make it run since we actually live in the Rocky Mts. and this cabin is not going to be lived in when my son is finished with college and his AFROTC program. That being said, I have started a berry patch and some young blueberry starts. I’m going to add a grapevine and some blackberries, and I will be planting apples trees. We just don’t know what will happen and I want my children and grandchildren to have a fully functional homestead here on generational family land should they need it. I’m looking into the varieties that I would like to buy during this calm and cold winter break.

    I have ordered a flint firestarter stick for the cabin, the gunsmithing book JWR recommended this fall, and some tubed brushes that I can fill with almond oil for my cuticles. I have found that I have two major issues with my skin that can cause a lot of pain. One is cracked heels and the other tearing cuticles. The heels I slather with creamy petroleum jelly and cover with a dedicated pair of socks for the night, but my hands only seem to respond to very expensive almond oil based cuticle oil. For the cost of replacing one tube of the cuticle oil, I was able to order what I needed to make my own. Lard works on both hands and feet; however, I do not want to smell like lard if I don’t have to 🙂

    Finally, we are working our way through the list of vehicle problems. The Jeep is back in the garage for an issue, and my son is going to work on ye ol’ farm truck. We will have to have the truck into the garage because the 4WD is no longer dependable – it works when it wants to. Studded tires will be on the car Monday. After we get our old-but-owned vehicles up to snuff, we are going to look at getting a nice older fun-to-drive EMP safe truck.

    A couple feet of snow is expected over this long weekend and I, too, look forward to getting out my cross-country skis and snowshoes. I’ve been rather inactive with the bitter cold lately; especially as I’ve taken Lilly’s advice and bought The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and am starting on my journey reading and re-reading through the classics. Balance.

    1. We have tried many varieties of apples over the last few decades.
      We recently planted one Liberty apple and one Pristine apple tree.
      We have a few years experience with these apples and I can report both apples are crisp, sweet and a little tart. They bear a lot of fruit for young trees and they are scab immune so far. I am sure others will reply as well. Best of luck.

      1. Thank you, Lee. I will start my search with those varieties. I am inclined to plant both dwarf and full trees. A few of each. We are fortunate to live in an apple growing area.

        1. PJGT root stock will make or break your trees. The experts in our statewide fruit club usually recommend EMLA 26 for apple and pear trees that generally stay below 12 feet tall. Liberty is a good apple. For health, Granny Smith is the absolute best.

          I wanted sweet apples that stay on the tree and don’t fall like hailstones in the fall. So I searched and found Pumpkin Sweet, and it is a favorite. Another tree excellent historically is Queen Cox. I also tried EMLA 9 root stock…..too much dwarf and the fruit grafted onto it grew fatter than the dwarf rootstock…..very bad and the tree tipped over. Antonovka root stock is extremely hardy, but mine seems to produce moderate growth compared to EMLA26, because semi-dwarf trees mature faster but live shorter lives than a full size tree.

          You may want to research some heirlooms. I did, and now have 16 heirloom trees and four modern.

          Root stock differences in the above-ground growth form have surprised me. Some root stock has such poor development that the trees tip over and roots come out. Others cannot abide clayey or wet soil and never feed their fruit portion enough to make fruit. Some root stock makes the fruit structure shoot straight to the sky like Spartan apples do ( never spreading out to make those high fruit production structure). EMLA 26 produces standard above ground development while others produce wide-spreading, sprawling limbs.

          For healthy selections, the book Eating On The Wild Side by Jo Robinson made a huge difference in the varieties we selected to grow. It’s an analysis and compilation of over 10,000 research articles on vegetables and fruits. She spent nearly 10 years doing this excellent scientific study.

          You didn’t ask for any of this advice (LOL) but maybe some readers here could benefit from it. Best wishes to you!

          1. Wonderful advice. I love getting advice when I am unsure of the questions to ask. Heirloom varieties would be a great choice. I’m off to read and research starting with the Liberty apple. Thank you!

        2. Anyone close to western Washington who wants to get grafted apples, pears, starts for berries, kiwis, grapes, and a very low price and cans spend a few hours attending some of the presentations on propagation, grafting, production, combatting insects, pollination with mason bees, varietal selection, and more, should attend our spring grafting clinic/plant sale.

          We’ll have more than 400 varieties of fruits to pick from, and a plant sale, mostoy of heirloom varieties. Admission is by donation, or free with a club membership of $20/family/year, which also entitles you to a dollar off the price for each grafted plant.

          We’ll have 3 or 4 experts grafting plants for you, or do your own at the clinic. March 2.


    2. PJGT. Can you provide the name of the gunsmithing book recommended by JWR? Also, try the same thing for your hands as your feet. Slather on something like Aquaphor or petroleum jelly and put on clean simple white cotton gloves. Hope that helps. I don’t live in the dry air West but my profession has me washing my hands several times per hour.
      Good luck!

      1. I forgot the book…

        Gunsmithing: The complete sourcebook of firearms design, construction, alteration, and restoration for amateur and professional gunsmiths by Roy E. Dunlap

        I was happy to find JWR’s recommendation since there are a lot of gunsmithing books available! I haven’t received it yet – it’s on its way.

    3. Hi PJGT,

      I too have the cracking cuticle problem, and it is painful and sometimes debilitating. At work I often have to do delicate electronics work with tweezers and a microscope, and it can take three times as long when the cracking starts. The first thing that helps is to avoid detergents. Most bar soaps are really detergents and not real soap. Dishwashing liquid is the worst offender. Switching to castile liquid soap has really helped. I also superglue the cracks closed. I use a toothpick to apply the smallest drop into the crack and then push the skin together. This works remarkably well. I find that petroleum jelly doesn’t help, and sometimes makes things worse. It is, after all, distilled from the same crude oil that gasoline, diesel, and kerosene are distilled from. I prefer a lanolin based hand cream. This combination has almost completely resolved the problem.

      I hope this helps.

      1. Thank you, Doc. I did add a number of dishwashing gloves in various sizes (for the entire family) to my storage. I’ll look into lanolin based hand creams. Good idea!

  2. Got the outdoor animals ready for the bad winter weather passing over our area; put out some extra feed and straw for the rabbits and pigs, extra cedar shavings for the outdoor dogs and a few boxes of old blanket rags for the barn cats. Closed the shutters on the chicken coops and layered more straw inside.

    We have two winters of cut wood in the sheds; but in our location we cannot keep wood stowed near the house because of termites. My son moved some of it closer to the garage to make it easier to keep the wood stove supplied during the nasty weather this weekend.

    Last week I put old seeds on a wet paper towel in a lidded glass container and watched them sprout in a couple of days. This week I transferred the sprouts to seed soil and wrapped them in clear plastic for humidity purposes. All of the sprouts are rooting and leafing. I put more old seeds in the glass container to see which ones will sprout.

    Made meatballs and freeze-dried some them and gave some to my elderly neighbors. Made wheat bread, banana bread and chili to keep the humans warm and happy. Nothing like coming in from the cold to a kitchen smelling like fresh bread! Have a safe week.

  3. We are back to work on our basement. Primed the garage walls, painted, installed pegboards this week. Also, working on a double 160 meter horizontal loop antenna.
    Getting ready for this snow storm. Eight to twelve inches is predicted tonight and more tomorrow. Church may be cancelled. Just loaded up with wood and coal. We stocked up provisions a few days ago. Vehicles at the end of the driveway just in case. Plenty of popcorn and some chestnuts we’ve been wanting to roast. Praying for our nation. There is plenty to do while it storms. Blessings to all at SB, N.

  4. I pray for you and your extended family member. I know what it’s like. I have been staying with my longest friend overnight these past two years so she could be at home since she suffers from dementia. It’s said, and I believe it now, that the people around the patient suffer more because they see the loss of the individual while the patient does not.

    Many people do not understand the disease. I know I didn’t. But at the beginning I stumbled upon the greatest resource for information on how to deal with it as a caregiver. It’s called the Alzheimer’s Reading Room dot com. As Google says…”it is the publisher of high quality information and news for the Alzheimer’s and dementia community.”

    It started because Bob DeMarco sold his small software company to go take care of his mom in Florida. As he has said, he did everything wrong in the first two years with no guidance whatsoever. What he learned from subsequent experience (and it turned out his mom lived another 10 years) he ended up putting in his newsletter for the help of others. It’s won several awards for excellence and he still maintains it as a resource for others. He could literally pick up the phone and talk to top researchers in the field.

    If you are in a similar situation don’t hesitate to use this resource. It has answers for many questions as to what to do to help.

  5. See comments in recent Chicken article;

    As I said, we have had problems with foxes and neighbor’s dogs decimating our “free range chickens” a couple times… irritating, but not a big deal now. However, it could be a life threatening situation in a real SHTF scenario.

    If that happened in a true survival situation, we’d be eating Dog Bulgogi that night.

  6. Last night was the first night our bio warfare team were allowed open access to the outside. They had tamed enough that they would come rub up to me at feeding time, purred when petted,and seemed habituated. But Dwight/Deathbiter is AWOL today.

    I’m continuing to build a strong room in our outbuilding. I’ve cut costs by scrounging leftover OSB sheets and boards of wood from construction sites, and regularly checking the 70% off cart at Home Depot. With new parts added to the price, it will run about $350 for a heated, lighted, insulated 8 by 12 unit 9 feet high at one end and 12 feet high at the other. Drywall lined complete interior and fire drywall on the exterior.

    I will layer heavy asphalt roofing paper between the exterior drywall and underlying OSB- it delays chainsaws from slicing through easily. Shelves for ammo and food will go up high, room for a Queen size futon which hinges and folds against the wall, radios, gun bench, safe, and a few amenities will be in there.

    It won’t be a safe room, but it will be hardened storage for earthquakes with walls all cross braced, and beams in corners screwed with plate connections to each other and the bottom plate getting bolted to the floor, and hurricane tie-downs connecting to the rafters.

    I’m running 10 and 12 foot studs all the way from the bottom plate to the rafters and putting cross pieces avery two feet, No nails- all construction screws.

    If you try this at home, buy the Torx head construction screws, not the cross-tip screws. The labor time savings will be less than half, as will frustration level.

    With temps in the 50’s, garden prep is sending me a yet unanswered summons.

    Criminals in our county have a simple escape strategy: drive in excess of 100mph on the two lane roads, because they know LEOs will stop chasing them. Two attempted home robberies were interrupted last night. One owner’s alarm triggered his attention about 9pm, so he confronted the perp who ran back to his car at the end of the driveway, and drove off. No apprehension in either chase when LEO pursuits halted.

    God Bless

  7. Switched gears from food prepping to financial prepping. Youngest graduated college this spring and i need to knock down the parent portion of the college debt along with a few others bills. I found dave ramseys baby step program to be very inspiring and should be able to get ahead of it very quickly.

  8. “The Well-Educated Mind” is an excellent introduction (or re-introduction) to the classics. I have a goal of reading through the History chapter this calendar year.

  9. Was a busy week here too,Started the week off on Tue. with our monthly Search & Rescue meeting with this months training focus on map reading, our C.O. does a great job keeping us well trained.
    Had to move one jeep project out of the garage and bring another one in, seems there is an awful noise coming from either the transfer case or transmission and i would like to figure out where the problem is coming from so i can plan a fix. unfortunately there is a lack of a good gear/transmission shop in our area so i will most likely have to go to the big city for repairs.
    Spoke with a good friend from where we fled from and lent him some encouragement as he and his wife are ready to make the exodus as well.
    This year we are committed to divest ourselves from the banking system completely so we are looking around for a fixer upper but housing costs are to high so had a conversation with 2 of our favorite precious metal dealers placed one order for 300oz. and another for 2000 rounds
    Thursday and Friday found me in town helping out a couple who are starting a folk school to try and bring back the lost art of self reliance to include sewing,cooking,canning, and the likes of topics that are discussed here.
    My role as a retired carpenter is one of getting the building up and running constructing the bathrooms, getting a working kitchen going and making it a great place to come and learn.
    Last night it snowed but the winter has been so mild to date that i have yet to do any plowing It’s been easy on the wood pile too.
    Today will paint the bathroom that we have been working on and will be able to wrap up that remodel project soon, one last indoor project after that and spring will be right around the corner!

  10. Camp Doubt, I am very interested in the folk school concept. Are your friends far enough along that they have developed a curriculum? I would love to see a copy of it.

    And others of you, are there any such schools in your area? I would like to learn more about this type of “school,” as I’ve been tossing around the idea in my head since we moved to the rural area where we now live. Any leads anyone could provide would be appreciated.

    1. Ma G
      i would be glad to put you in touch with them but don’t know how to do that on this public forum. I will be seeing them this week and perhaps she could contact you somehow as they are much more savvy with the internet

  11. Took a couple “sick” days from work to do a 4000lb winch install on the honda rancher and a new KDI snow plow. Just in time for the “big snow” here in Ohio. Mama’s doin’ the house cleaning and my son is helping with firewood gathering and stacking. Made a big pot of soup beans and ham yesterday with cornbread and now it’s gone so you know that turned out good. Next trip to town should yield more ammo and magazines, perhaps a Norinco AK and mini 14? Price is right if I buy both. We’ll see. Thank you all for your shared info on everything. God bless, stay warm and safe.

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