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! Today, a bit about body armor. (Modern, that is.)

JWR ReportS

We certainly had our share of snow plowing and snow shoveling this week. The weather had improved,  snow was already so deep that I had to ask a favor of my neighbor. He has a mid-size tractor with a dandy PTO rotary snow plow in the front. It blows snow out its snout nearly 40 feet. He punched some big voids in our snow banks with his rotary, so I now have a place to push snow, when I do plow. I’ll be happy when the Jet Stream shifts. The nearby Un-Named Range of Mountains must be at 130% of average annual snowpack. Our part of the American Redoubt never goes wanting for water.

After years of dawdling, I finally supplemented our body armor. In addition to a couple of Level II and IIIA concealment vests, we now have plate carriers with Level 4 mil-spec ceramic plates. It great having those options, depending on the situation. Finding surplus plates was easy. But finding comfortable and good-fitting plate carries that suited our purposes required some research. For Lily, we settled on a Blackhawk brand “Low Visibility” (minimalist) carrier.  And for me, I opted for a used CIRAS rig, with beaucoup pouches. The rig came with a holster, but I will probably remove that and use a Kydex hip holster, instead. We’ll see. I need this to work for both on the trail and in a vehicle. No doubt I’ll make some changes to make it carry what I need it to, and be comfortable.

Avalanche Lily Reports

Dear Readers,

Wow, where did this week go?  It flew by on me.  I feel that time is seriously speeding up…

This week I don’t feel that there is as much to say on my part, except that we did the usual school, and animal chores. I also skied for five hours.  I shoveled snow from the path from the house to the greenhouse. It had three feet of snow, for about lineal 80 feet.  Last week I shoveled out the frost-free spigot on the other side of the greenhouse.  I’ll still need to do that once again since we’ve had more snow since then.  Soon, I will be getting out my pots, trays, soil and seeds to start growing my seedlings.  I will be starting them in the house in a hallway this year, since our guest bedroom will be occupied by one of our older children who has returned to our home. Yes, I’m very happy he is coming home for a time.  He is our world traveler.

I did make our own Boston baked beans with maple syrup and a barley beef stew, both of which simmered on the wood stove for a few days of which we’d dip into, when hungry.

Jim ordered three Wiggy’s Ultralite 20-degree Fahrenheit-rated 3.4 pound sleeping bags for us girls, for our summer backpacking trips.  Our summer night temperatures average around 48 F. in the valley and are even colder up in the mountains.  Therefore I am very happy to be getting these bags. They are currently on sale for $150. Check them out. By the way, I did stuff one outer Wiggy’s bag (from one of our four Wiggy’s FTRSS dual-bag systems) into a compression stuff sack. I checked and it weighed 3.6 pounds. Jim will use this bag when we backpack this spring and summer.

I had needed to update my ski pants, having had used a cheap pair for the last ten years or so.  The zipper broke and they weren’t that comfortable and were rather bulky.  The kids were all set in this department.   Usually, I had been wearing long johns, jeans and my rain pants for short duration winter outdoor activity. But now that I want to try winter camping and Ice fishing, I wanted a nice durable warm pair for more sedentary winter activities. Through Amazon we ordered and received this week a pair of ArctiX women’s bibbed Thinsulate ski overalls. These are made in Bangladesh.  I’ve worn them twice, now. They are a great fit on me and they seem to be doing well the job of keeping me warm and dry.  I like them, a lot!  The only problem with them is that I will have to do something different with my Glock with them.  My Glock is in a paddle holster that slips into the waistband of my jeans.  Usually, when I go out the door, I just grab it from it’s resting place and put it in my jean’s waistband. (I don’t like belts).  These bibbed ski pants do not have a waist.  So when I wear them fishing or during some other winter activity, I’ll have to put the Glock somewhere else, which will make it not as quickly accessible for me…

The girls and I, and a friend, this week, simulated a survival situation by practicing fire building out in three feet of snow, practicing with a magnesium ferro rod fire starter.  It was not an easy thing to do without regular practice. We will be practicing more in the coming days.  I will write more about this later, since the exercise/situation and the ramifications of it was much larger than what I am depicting here.  It will probably become a regular article in itself. I’m planning on doing the same with the backpacking gear comparison article. However, at this time, I need to think, do, talk and pray more about both of them before writing about them.

No ice fishing this week.  It’s something that I want to do, it’s just not a priority…  Oh well.

Spiritual Concerns

Last week I brought the 7 Noahide Laws to your attention.  We linked to Steven Ben Nun’s web site page as a source of information.  Steven and his wife Jana are doing a seriously deep research into these laws and will be having a weekly talk about their research, every Wednesday (They began this past Wednesday) for the forseeable future.

A blog reader commented last week that he considered Steven Ben Nun as a “prophet” and that Steven has been wrong in the past with his “predictions”. To clarify: Steven has never claimed to be a prophet.  He is a Watchman, observing the events of our time and comparing them to the scriptures prophecies in the Bible.  He is seeing the events and thinking about what could possibly be an outcome for them.  He is not saying, “Thus says the Lord…” A Watchman’s job is to watch events unfold and warn the flock of the dangers that they might cause. That is not the same as a prophet.  Also, he is studying the prophesies and comparing them to current events, looking for their fulfillment.  That also doesn’t make one a prophet because they were already written down.  It’s not a new revelation.

Often, I had been thinking of something and then finding a few days or weeks later that Steven is addressing them.  I find that incredibly interesting and a little bit as though the Lord is talking to me, and confirming my thoughts and ideas/His thoughts that He gave me, of events through Steven.  The same has occurred with other people that I listen to, too.  I do not agree with everything he says.  But he is quite close on my page of ideas.

We’re all fallible human beings. We all see through the glass darkly. Therefore, I suggest that you, if you listen to someone’s ideas that you not take the as the gospel truth, that you always pray for discernment and do your own corroborative research.

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

o o o

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


  1. Fired up the melting pot and cast more 200 grain .45 caliber and 120 grain 9mm bullets. Also picked up other precious metal. Getting ready for planting in my raised bed garden…compost and seeds.
    Thanks for the fine articles and updates on the site!

  2. Where did you get your plates? We have plate carriers (we are part of a military simulation team) and have been saving for plates. There are SO many of them out there. Your recommendation will carry the day here! Thanks for all you do!

    1. Mil-spec plates are widely available on eBay for around $150/pair. The ones that we got in trade are marked “U.S.” and “7.62mm APM2 Protection”. Those are true Level 4, made by Ceradyne.

      1. Most US Military SAPI plates only have a true level 4 rating when used in conjuction w/ soft armor for the SPEARS/BALCS system.

        Used alone, they’re often level 3. There are level 4 standalone plates, but they need to be advertised as such.

        For light body armor — take a look at some of the dyeema (and other synthetic fiber) plates rated level III+ (not true AP, but many are rated to stop both M193 and M855).

        I’m not a fan of steel plates except for emergency backup use. Even w/ liner, there’s too much risk of fragmentation.

        For women, I forget where I saw it, but someone makes a foam insert that goes into the plate carrier and sits below the chest on the ribs to take pressure off the chest. I think it was one of the steel plate makers, but worthy of consideration too. Could probably diy something similar as well

      2. The ceramic plates may be lighter but are only good for one strike(or drop) before the plate starts to degrade. Metal plates are heavier but far more durable/multiple strikes/dropable and a fraction of the thickness.

        1. Not true and tests, including military, prove it. Ceramic only degraded to functional levels if bullet hits a fracture separation point or exact point of previous impact.

          Which is why I prefer level 3+ dyeema, etc, fiber materials to steel for most use. These are actually proven to be more likely to stop small caliber high velocity rounds at close range than most steel plates.
          Ceramic is great for a front plate for home defense, etc., confronting target at close range use. Most are rate ~25 years. I also like these synthetic plates for underarm/side use instead of steel or ceramic, primarily due to weight reasons — if you shoot Weaver [stance] though, then I’d go ceramic.

          One thing to note — AR500 does have an abdomen plate that hangs off molle below the standard plate carrier/plate. For home defense rigs, definitely worth considering the addition. Could probably stack two side two larger synthetic side plates in this pouch too, but don’t own and haven’t tried.

    2. @Ken

      About body armor. My wife is a petite Asian and it was too heavy to have steel plates in both the front and back. I replaced hers with ceramic, however it was front heavy with her pouches full with five AR-15 30-round mags and three Glock 17 mags along with medical, radio, and survival gear. Remedy is to use a lighter ceramic plate in the front and the heavier steel plate in the back. All of our body armor rigs are the same configuration.

      Meaning: two smoke grenades are on the right lower portion, medical bag is on the left lower portion (opposite shooting since it’s the bulkiest and we’re right handed shooters), survival gear on left upper, radio and comms to our bump helmets with night vision on our right upper, survival knife across the lower rig under the magazine pouches, AR-15 30 round pouches secured to the upper middle with handgun magazine pouches on secured to those pouches.

      This is a lot of equipment an we practice with it monthly: crawling on it, rolling, running, shooting, fighting, night ops, and medial scenarios (we plan that we have to fend for ourselves in a medical scenario- but hopefully someone will be there).

      My wife got accustom to it wearing the entire rig around the house, even vacuuming in it and sweeping floors.

      Hope that helps!

  3. We have had solid rain of 3-4″ per day for 5 days thus the farm is a mud-hole. My neighbors said our little country bridges over low-land streams and tributaries are flooded out. The alternate way out has standing water in lower parts of the road. I planned ahead so just waiting for dry and windy weather to come in. Fortunately, the house is on high ground so gravity drains off the worst of it. The barn, however, is on flat ground so we have standing pools of water. Sloshing around in rain gear feeding animals tires me right out. Satellite internet is spotty and cell phones useless but supposedly the weather will clear on Sunday. Hope everyone else is safe and dry!!

    Since the weather has kept me inside most of the week I have been doing freeze-drying and some canning. Started more seeds indoors, read a book and started a lap-blanket for my elderly neighbors. I look forward to seeing the sun again!

  4. Well, we have had lots of snow up here. I am also running out of room to put it. On top of that, the end of one of the loader arms on my tractor broke right where it attaches to the bucket. So, I made new parts for both sides, cut off the ends of both arms, and welded the new ends in place. In the meantime, my only neighbor out here came over with his PTO snowblower and widened my road for me. We really have to stick together out here.

    I got to try out the new loader arm ends for strength already, as we got another 6″ of snow the day after I finished repairs. It actually worked better than before because everything is tight instead of loose and worn out with lots of play.

    Today? Watching the snow come down real heavy again. It is the heavy, wet stuff this time, with 3″ so far and no sign of slowing down. We have over 24″ of snow cover on the ground now. That’s after several snowfalls that have compacted between storms. You guys who get a lot of snow, but most of it melts between storms, don’t know how lucky you are. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to scrape snow off the roof this winter.

    One more thing. Last week, after going to town, I was coming home. I came around a curve in the road and there, not 30 yards in front of me, were 6 wolves loping down the road. No collars on any of them. As they peeled off and ran into the woods, struggling in leaps through the deep snow, each one turned and looked right at me. Spooky. Yellow. Eyes. This was only a mile from my home. Now I know why the dogs are always barking when they are outside, and even inside, sometimes.

    One more one more thing. Chaga. Look into it. I gathered some this fall and made some double extract and it is definitely doing some very good things for me, medically. I was first introduced to it by a local Indi- oops, I mean Native American. (How many generations does my family have to be here before we are considered Native Americans, anyway?)

  5. Jim,

    I hope you do take pause on the removal of the holster on your new plate carrier. When conducting mounted patrols downrange, I always wore a chest holster on my kit. A long gun is all but useless for a driver or front seat passenger in a civilian vehicle, no matter the size or perceived roominess. The handgun becomes the first response in an encounter. Wearing full kit in a vehicle is challenging, and drawing a holstered pistol from the hip or thigh can be problematic. It is good practice to relocate the pistol to the chest whilst in the vehicle so it is accessible and ready to go. Upon dismount, one can always put it back on the hip or thigh if desired to fit the tactical conditions. I prefer to carry low on the hip, near the pocket, rather than a high-speed thigh carry because of the more natural draw. As you know, a slightly bent elbow when establishing the grip before draw is the most efficient.
    Also a note on the plates: Ceramic plates are lighter, but fragile if dropped or mishandled. Metal plates may be somewhat sensitive to age and heat/cold cycles (jury is still out on metal fatigue). Treat the plates and carrier as a piece of technical gear and they will last longer.

    Good on you and the family for taking the next step to ensure survivability!


  6. Got down the Bee hive stuff that a bought awhile ago. It was on sale at tractor supply. Now that I have a comfortable amount of knowledge I took everything out of the boxes and set it up. Have everything except a suit ready to get a nuc. Neighbor at the BOL stopped by. Showed him the hive and he was really happy since he was concerned when the guy who had hives in his apple orchard sold them. He was also thinking about getting his own too. Traded info about sources of local fire wood, fruit trees and about our pending move.

    The last K-mart in the county is going out of business so I’ve been stopping in to see what preps I could pick up cheaply. Just a word of caution about these sales, many of the sales are done by a firm that specializes in bankruptcy liquidation. It is obvious to anyone who knows prices that they mark the “normal” price up then put Huge signs up for 40% off which in the end might only equate to 20% off. I picked up some outdoor deck screws, chain, mechanical pencil lead and 2 bottles of mineral oil. Wife asked me if I was having a problem when semhe saw the mineral oil. I laughed and explained that mineral oil has a number of uses besides to un-clog your bowels.

    He is something I was shocked at- last weekend I left my battery operated LED light on and in the barn. I opened the barn up and was shocked to see it still on! Definitely not as bright but it was on for a week on 3 cheap no name AA Batteries.

  7. It is very dangerous to add or subtract from Jesus and his Crucifixion as the source of our redemption and that HE forgives sins. The Noahide laws (or the specific interpretatoin) are from the Talmud, not the Torah or the Bible.

    Galatians was all against the Judiaizers, as is much of the New Testament.

    Jesus fulfilled the law, but replaced it with a greater law of love, spirit, and truth. It cannot be mechanically obeyed.

    The occult considers that if you do certain ceremonies and acts, things will happen. This is what happened to the Pharisees – the Law was clear and simple, but was pointing to Jesus. Instead they made the law itself an idol, and instead of growing in holiness – which is hard even for the most believing Christian – they added lots of rules and observations and other things so they could claim quantity while the quality became corrupt.

    Jesus wishes you become like him, conform to God’s will and obey the commandments without a thought because you can’t even conceive of doing anything else.

    It is far easier to create a to-do and to-don’t list and mark check boxes as you “do the right thing”, yet not grow in love or holiness. Such lists might be “God’s Will”, but only if we were automatons and not creatures he gave free will to so we can really love him.

  8. Still plugging away at my safe room in our garage. The 3.5 feet of snow is mostly melted away, with another 6 inches possible through Monday.

    Had our monthly district CERT meeting this week. I am so grateful we have strong leaders in the county who push through another 3 day training class every month. Nearly 1000 people in our county of 75,000 people have been trained in 3 years, with organized squads, teams, and districts corresponding to county fire districts. This is a great way to increase family and neighborhood emergency preparation, as well as resiliency.

    Our church Emergency Preparedness leaders are preparing to meet Monday.

    I got a great bipod mounted on my PSA 20 inch home defense seven hundred sixty two tool, and another heavy box of fuel for it. Shopping now for the right scope. I’d appreciate recommendations for something in the area of about 4 to 16X or so.

    I started selling some of our 2018 hay crop, and yesterday took delivery of 70 bushes I ordered from our Conservation District.

    Today I worked again with our 3.5 year old granddaughter to make sourdough bread and corn meal muffins. She is catching on to the “one slash two and one slash three” I am showing her on the measuring spoons and cups.

    Corn meal muffins are boxed, not homemade, but for 45 cents a box I am able to repeat the process with her at a very cheap cost, and the boxes have tiny pictures showing to the use an egg and measure 1/3 cup milk. Good entry material to the cooking world.

    God Bless you-uns.

    She helped me make the sourdough bread by scratch using starter from our big bean pot, and I loved hearing her say, “I like cooking with you Grandpa”.

  9. Keep an eye on Target’s gift card sales/promos on certain product categories. They switched from shipping to require pick-up in store, but often you can purchase X dollars in goods and get a target giftcard for 20-33% of the purchased products valuation. And no limit — just do separate orders. Combined w/ RedCard 5% off and ebates 1+% cash back, you can see nearly 40% off retail $.

  10. Spending a lot of time this week on subjects not usually considered on this forum: end of life. Both my husband and I have family members very soon requiring significant care, but we are hours away from them. We are also both oldest children and important in the decision-making processes. So we’ve been having lots of conversations on the phone about powers of attorney (medical and financial), home health care, hospice, etc. Its is sobering, but we are reminded to discuss and finalize these things LONG before they are needed. I recently read a book called The Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, written by an women over 70, and it’s very straightforward and helpful.

    I’ve also been following a number of political threats to liberty: vaccine choice, 2nd Amendment bills, and more. We have been considering a move to a more “free” state (we are in the lovely state of Illinois), perhaps north to Wisconsin which is interestingly more classically liberal (e.g. the liberty part of liberal) on several issues, and recently relaxes gun laws. I’ve also been trying to add to my analog collection of home devices. The Redoubt is out for us due to distance from family.

  11. JWR, we here at the mountain ranch are curious to see how the new carriers work out for you. We have been on a long quest for carriers which are streamlined and fit well. Typically, with a 40lb loadout and a tac vest the plates do not seem obvious. In civies though, things are much different. The Blackhawk LowVis has been a good choice for some of our lean young men in the family but the rise can be odd for some of the taller gents.

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