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!

JWR Reports

This week, after a break of several months, I finally made my way to a gun show. Getting there was a five hour drive, which is not unusual in the American Redoubt. I found a few items on my want list, including some .450 Bushmaster ammo, some primers, a few magazines, and most importantly a few AR-15 lower receivers. Of the latter, I got a mix of stripped and complete lowers.

One item on a table at the show made me laugh for a moment, and then frown: A gent was selling a new-in-the-box bumpfire stock. Those will become “machineguns” and a felony to possess on March 26, 2019, under a horribly unconstitutional ATF ruling. It is quite troubling that there is no grandfather clause. Perhaps that dealer sold it to someone from Washington State, where they cut loose some State funds to pay $150 for each one turned in for destruction. (Up to five per owner. Presumably you must have a Washington driver’s license to qualify.) I assume that this 11th-hour Washington “buy up” was partially a CYA move, since they had earlier legislated an unconstitutional taking.

Avalanche Lily Reports

Dear Readers,
This week we had six simply gloriously sunny days, making the Vernal Equinox really feel as it should.  The snow is coming off quickly, boo hoo!  The temperatures were in the 50s and low 60s in the afternoons.  I skied twice this week, once in shorts and a T-shirt.  That was a first for me!   And, I got my bike out and rode around the barnyard/parking area for about 20 minutes.

Starting on Thursday and Friday, I decided to do my walks with one of our horses to get her in shape for this coming riding season.  I put a halter on her and took her with the lead rope and we walked and jogged for a half hour up and down the driveway and around the parking lot.  The other animals: cows and horses, who were also loose, with, of course, the herd mentality: “we all stick together”, followed us. Our bull calf, bawled the whole time, not understanding what was going on.  Funny boy!  So everybody got in more exercise than the usual.  I love being with our animals.  The horses all got brushed.  The last few weeks of winter, the horses seem to get really bored, so they were quite excited to be getting some attention from me and enjoyed the bonding workouts and brushing.

I also got into the trailer tack room and took a look at our tack.  The leather saddles and bridles had some mold on them.  So I got out my vinegar bottle and made a half vinegar, half water mixture and sprayed all of the mold on the saddles and bridles and let the saddles dry out in the sun.  The vinegar and sun combo killed the mold.  They are looking quite good.   Next week, I’ll wash them with Murphy’s oil soap.  I’ll be keeping the saddles in the house now, until the spring rains stop in about June.  I need to do a deep clean and reorganize the tack room, soon.

Using some specially cut beef from one of our steers (cut by our friends at  Boar’s Head Butchery, in Weippe, Idaho), I got busy again. This week I made one batch of South African Biltong. (bil means butt, and tong means strips, hence: buttstrips.) It is still in the dehydrator as I write this.  It’s recipe is very simple: 4 pounds of beef strips, I rinsed them under water and then koshered them for a half hour in salt water.  Then put them on a tilted dish drainer, sprinkled them with rock salt on both sides, let sit for an hour and a half, letting juices drain into the sink, then scrape off the salt with a knife.  Put the beef strips in apple cider vinegar, 2 at a time, for 2-4 minutes, then heavily sprinkle both sides with coarsely ground black pepper and coarsely ground coriander, put hooks in the meat and hung them in the dehydrator to  dry for 12 hours in our Excalibur dehydrator, set at 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since proper Biltong is hung in strips to dry, rather than dried on trays, I did a little temporary conversion to our  Excalibur. I removed all of the tray except the top-most one. On that tray I hung some S-hooks that were leftovers from a batch of  bungee cords that we bought a few years back. Those had failed very rapidly–obviously a bad rubber formulation.  But Jim has a habit of saving useful hardware, so he had set aside all of those s-hooks.  They were perfect for hanging Biltong strips. We will let you know how it turns out.  We have about five more packages of specially-cut Biltong meat in the freezer, so I’ll be making this more often in the future.

Look, I know that I am contradicting myself when I made the statement last week that “our family does not like pepper”, and now here I am making Biltong with a lot of pepper.  Unfortunately for our palates, I am fairly certain that the pepper is part of the curing process and therefore cannot be omitted.  Therefore when the time comes to eat it, we will be brushing off as much pepper as possible so we can lessen that pepper burn. I have eaten Biltong in South Africa in the past and I really enjoyed it, once most of the pepper was brushed off.

This week, I also went out to the greenhouse and cleaned it up a bit, turned over the soil in three beds to get them ready to plant some seeds this coming week.  I still need to think on how I want to use the greenhouse this spring and summer, which is why I didn’t yet plant anything in there, this week.  This coming week, I’ll be getting my thinking done concerning the greenhouse, gardens and what I want to start in the house, and will get going on it. Time is a’wastin’!

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. Finished putting in the electrical outlets in the barn workshop. Woke up to no hot water and a split hot water tank on Wednesday morning. So had to pick up a new hot water tank and while at Lowes I picked up 5 LED shop lights for the Barn workshop and a bunch of tips that were on clearance for the cordless drill.

    Got a new 20 Volt cordless drill with 2 Batteries since my old one grew legs and walked off.

    Added several more pages of information to our binders.

    Working to buy 3 or 4, 235 Watt used solar panels. Wasn’t looking to buy any at this time but for the price I would be stupid not to.

    Dropped off the taxes to our tax preparer and had a very nice conversation about our homestead and taxes. We want to sell some of what we produce so it was nice to get some tax advice now. We are still a few years away from our trees producing any sizable crop.

  2. Hunkering down in the midst of a spring nor’easterner. During the couple nice days last week I was able to replenish some kindling and use up the last of the old wood from our yard cleanup last fall. I also started packing up what I will mail back home.

    This week I took stock of the pole barn. It’s seen better days, but is still standing. The chicken coop in the barn will be re-filled with stored kindling, chicken raising supplies, gardening supplies and some rather old and rusted hand tools that I was given. I’ll be moving all my machines and good hand tools to the shed or locked garage to keep them out of the weather and nosy neighbors. A treasure trove for future farmers to be sure.

    I am starting to put together an information binder. I do have one at the Redoubt cabin, but need one here specific to this place. Since I’m leaving 2 years earlier than I expected, I’ll have to get moving because, as Lily says, time is a’wastin’.

    And, finally, I did venture out one day to a big city for a curated art tour and lunch with an old society group I belong to. Wonderful! The lunch conversation was eye-opening, however, and made me realize why anonymity is so very important. Keeping my head low and getting it done.

  3. Exceptional snowfall this winter so I’ve had more time to research upcoming outdoor projects. After exploring many options for my wife’s raised garden beds we decided to make them out of concrete blocks. We can always face them with wood planks if we want to get fancy but they should last just about forever the way we have them designed.

    1. Great idea. The concrete should last quite a long time. It will crumble a bit after awhile, but will still stay sturdy. I designed a raised bed teaching garden for a school that was built by an eagle scout as his project. Depending on where you live, you’ve probably already investigated if you’ll need to use landscaping cloth to keep the chiggers from invading from the ground up.

  4. I absolutely love your resourcefulness! Way to go! I m looking forward to seeing how it turns out. This “outside of the box” thinking is what will make our lives easier if our lives make a radical change in the future.

  5. We have gone to full spring this week. While all the daffodils bloomed in late February, the bushes and fruit trees are blooming now. I don’t mind sharing but last season the birds got most of the elderberries so I was going to cut them back so they would be easier to cover with bird netting. I was a bit to slow and the bushes have budded already.

    This week I canned fresh meats and vegetables which I got on sale at the local grocer. My neighbor gave me three #10 cans of various vegetables which still need to be done.

    Have been moving rabbits around this week. We were given some cages and supplies by a neighbor who is getting out of the business so it means changing things up. The large meat rabbits stay outside all year but I am moving most of the small pet-sized rabbits outside for the season. Most of those will be traded to the feed store next week. The lionhead rabbits are traded with individuals/families as they are more costly.

    My dog groomer clippers went belly up half way thru a spring cut of a long haired dog. I always shave the rear-end first for health reasons but now I have something that looks like a lion mane up front and a poodle butt in the rear. Ha!Ha! New clippers should arrive today so I can finish up that chore!

    Have a great week!

  6. JWR,

    Could you please explain why you chose .450 Bushmaster over .458 Socom?
    I am looking for something to replace my Mossberg during hikes here in the Redoubt.

    Your opinion is greatly appreciated,


    1. In terms of ballistics, they are similar. But I prefer the.450 Bushmaster over the .450 SOCOM because of its confirmed popularity. Because several midwestern states opened up deer hunting to this cartridge (in areas that had previously been “shotgun only”), the .450 Bushmaster has become VERY popular. Great popularity will mean long term continuity of ammo production, lower cost per round (because of larger volume production) a wider range of bullets weight ammo available, and both hypersonic and subsonic loadings becoming available from a number of ammo makers.

  7. Hello Mr. Rawles,

    I have two questions.

    1. Should a buyer of private sale stripped AR lower avoid a private seller that insists upon a bill of sale?
    2. I am looking at an 1895 Chiliean Mauser that is chambered in 7.62×51 and have heard that these actions aren’t reliable in that caliber. What would the cost be to have a gunsmith rebarrel into a more appropriate caliber, and which caliber for a non-reloader?

    1. In answer to your questions:
      1. When you want privacy in buying a particular gun or receiver, then I’d recommend NO paper trail. If need be, buy 80% lowers and complete them yourself.
      2.) A Chilean 7.62 is NOT safe to shoot with either standard military loads or commercial hunting loads. They really should be shot only with mild handloads. For re-barreling, with a M1895 Chilean, three chamberings worth considering are 7×57 Mauser, 6.×55 Swedish Mauser and .257 Roberts. The action can definitely handle those.

  8. As far as the seller at the gun show offering a bumpstock, if I had been there I would have BOUGHT it. I, for one do not give a ROYAL PURPLE C**P about such an unconstitutional law. Of course, I would not advertise my purchase, or tell anyone about it either.
    Here’s to all the scofflaws, whistleblowers, smugglers, black marketeers, outlaws, privateers, and patriots who stand up for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.!

  9. We had another relatively dry week here in the Midlands, so we were once again able to get some things done around the farm. We continued preparing the raised beds for planting next weekend, as well as clearing and burning some yard debris. Unfortunately, a nest of fire ants has taken up residence in one of the beds, so I’ll need to clear them out before I can plant anything in it. The blueberry bushes are still blossoming and the blackberries and grape vines are putting out new leaves as well. Wife gave the dogs a bath, of which they were less than pleased. I participated in our church safety team’s monthly training, and ordered some situational shooting targets for next month’s training.

  10. We used what we had for our raised beds. We built some with concrete blocks and others with 2×10’s & 2×12’s. We lined the wood ones with cut down tin roofing we had removed from another project. This prevents most of the heavy moisture from rotting the wood. Also they don’t dry out as quickly.

    1. I made some raised beds a few years ago. I guess they could be called hybrid raised beds. They were rectangular made out of 2×6’s. I set the wood down and dug down about 12″ inside the bed. The result was a bed around 16″ deep. I put the dug dirt around the edge of the wood of the bed. The soil dug out was really poor Wyoming dirt. There was a spot in the yard with good quality soil. So, I dug that out and put them into the beds. Yeah, I know, it was a lot of work. But in the end there were several pseudo-raised beds with very good soil. The next hurdle was getting water to the beds in the dry Wyoming climate.

  11. Prepping in Anchorage, AK (I know, but B&R here). 3 br duplex.

    Planning a level platform to put in an 8 site Alaska buckets sip system. Need the platform due to an uneven yard. Have tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers under T5’s ready to go.

    Buying a large stuffed animal tomorrow for the express purpose of using it as a “patient” to begin teaching my young boys first aid.

    Built my first AR pistol, Sig Romeo5 on it. Shoots nice.

    Need more canned meats, Israeli bandages, a couple tourniquets and some celox.

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