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

With the snow receding, I was finally able to get into part of our woods this week to clear deadfallen limbs and trees.  There were also some of the usual small pines and firs that had been bent over by the snow with no real chance of growing back to normality. Just quick swipes of the chainsaw dropped all of those. This year I’m hauling quite a bit of the deadfall a longer distance than in previous years. This is because Lily plans to expand the fenced area of our main garden. Burning that and then spreading the ashes and plowing them under should help neutralize the natural acidity of our local soil. I plan to burn those piles later this spring. Typically, I burn slash twice a year: May and October.  But since the goal this year is getting extra ashes for the new garden plot, I’ll try to get most of this year’s slash burned in May.

I was summoned on short notice to California to help an ailing relative, so I will be away from the ranch for a couple of weeks. At least this came at a good time: that is, Mud Season. So I’m not missing much productive time in our woods. By the time I get back home, the snow will be off the ranch entirely and I’ll be ready to clear deadfall, and get the annual firewood cutting project in high gear.  My travel also came just before a California magazine law change, so the timing was propitious.

Avalanche Lily Reports

Dear Readers,
This week has flown by very fast and has been very busy.  For exercise this week, I got in one “last” cross country skiing stint, on our ranch.  One day later, the snow out in the meadow was melted. There are still some large snow patches around the house and in our woods, but they are not continuous, anymore.  So that is the end of skiing down here in the valley.  I could still ski up in the National Forest at a slightly higher elevation, but we’re in crunch time for gardening and school, so I need to stay close to home.  We’ll see though, I kinda hate saying goodbye to skiing.  I really, really enjoy sliding over the surface of snow.  I might squeeze a few more in, on the small patches?

The young ladies and I took the horses out on lead lines into the National Forest, very close to home, for two hikes this week.  We ran them on trail and off trail up some steep short hills, through the trees, over logs and embankments, through snow patches.  It was really adventurous and great workouts for all. The horses loved it.  Ever since those workouts, whenever, I poke my head out the door to check on everybody, the horses look at me and whinny to me, with great expectation, as if asking,  “Are you coming out to bring us hiking, again?” Life is getting interesting for them, once again.  The horses were wormed this week and will get another dose in two weeks–spring cleansing for them.  I’ve also put Apple Cider Vinegar in their plastic drinking trough and a Tablespoon of diatomaceous earth in their daily wet C-O-B ration to help cleanse them of parasites and “unfriendlies” in their guts. We do this just for a week or two in the spring, and periodically. As far as continuing to clean the tack room: I washed two of their blankets, all of the halters, many of the leads, and saddle pads.  There is still much more to do, there.

This week, I received my mail-ordered strawberries, Anne raspberries and purple asparagus this week.  I immediately planted the strawberries in the snow-free strawberry bed that I had prepared last week.

The snow is still covering half of the house garden. Therefore, I had to shovel off most of the snow from the bed, I prepared last fall, for the new Asparagus bed. I hope to plant them this weekend, after the rest of the snow melts from the rain that is currently falling. The soil is already soft and workable under the snow.

I also had to shovel the top layer of snow from the area that I want to plant the Anne raspberries.

So you may ask, why did I already plant the strawberries outside if the weather may not yet cooperate with growing?  Well, I am taking a gamble but, my other established strawberries are alive and dormant and the snow is now off of them. So I figure, the newly-bought strawberries are still dormant and can be put in the workable soil and will come out of dormancy around the same time as my established berries.  Likewise, with both established and new, if when they come out of dormancy, and a frost is expected, I will cover both groups with coverings to protect them.  Here, where we live, we can have a frost at anytime in the summer, so therefore, must watch the expected nighttime temperatures and be ready to cover things up.

However, in my nearly a decade here, I have seen that the main weather pattern has been, that around April 15th the weather is usually very compatible with getting in most of the garden during the following three weeks from that date.  This spring, it appears that our weather has been generally warmer/drier than other years, more compatible with an even earlier planting than last year. We have had a long slow melt of three feet of snow since the second week in March up until this point, with very little rain.

This week, in the greenhouse, I planted broccoli and celery, in trays. (I should have planted the celery six weeks ago, in the house. Oops!)  I also planted green and red cabbage, pickling cucumbers, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, honeydew melons, all types of tomatoes, yellow and regular zucchinis, and peppers.

I have spinach and kale growing in one of the beds of the greenhouse from seeds that were planted last fall.  I will begin harvesting some leaves this coming week.  I also planted more spinach and beet seeds in this bed.

The garlic and walking onions that I planted in the garden last fall are beginning to grow.  I planted them in the area of the garden where it just so happens the snow comes off first.

This week I also ordered–from a well-known organic company–a large order of needed dry food items to continue our stocking up.  We ordered a case of Apple Cider Vinegar, oats, cornmeal, nuts, spices and seasonings, and more garden seeds for storage, and many other items for immediate use.

This coming week, if it is not too soggy from the rain, and if all of the rest of the snow has melted from the garden, I plan to roto-till all of it. There, I’ll plant onions, carrots, turnips, raspberries and asparagus.

I need to get busy clearing the rocks from the section near the greenhouse where we’re expanding the main garden.  From now on, until it is established, we’ll just call it the Expansion garden.  I must also clean out that chicken coop, again. I will make a list of everything I wish to plant directly into the ground when the temperatures are warmer. I will be checking the orchard this week as well as the Annex garden.  Maybe, I’ll be able to roto-till it, as well. Oh, and I need to wash and treat some leather bridles and cinches this coming week.

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. We got our soil samples back this week. The areas where we had burned stuff were REALLY high in minerals, specifically magnesium. It was so encouraging. So I am adding some ash into all my rows of garden as I plant it.

  2. I smiled when I read what Jim wrote, above,
    ” My travel also came just before a California magazine law change, so the timing was propitious.”
    Romans 8:28 came to mind. 🙂

  3. Good idea about removing all the dead wood from around the home area. California recently had a big forest fire, that resulted in ~88 dead people in the Paradise CA area. … Former Governor ‘moonbeam’ Brown wants to blame Global Warming, and the electric-utility that provided the ‘spark’ that started the fire.

    For years-and-years, California has limited the removal of dead trees from its forests, and the dead wood from the ground. There is ~thousands of years of human experience in constructing firebreaks, and removing dead wood plus cutting long grass, to protect people and dwellings.
    … [Yes forest-clearing does cost money and human effort. But, currently one-third of the USA Welfare recipients live in California. = There must be some money around, plus ~>men available; = In the Welfare Office and in the ~Prison System.]

    “Global Warming?” I’ve yet to speak to someone that accurately can tell all of us, the current temperature of the Earth, what it should be, and ~specifically how all of this was determined.
    … [The answer seems to be: Computer Modeling. As the predictions about Global Warming disasters are so often Wrong, it must be ‘Garbage In = Garbage Out’ computer programming.]

    Unfortunately, people (everyone) ignores the past, and will blame other people for the harm, they, themselves, have caused now days. … There will be a Last Judgement; people will answer to God.

      1. VT, please ask Jimmy Cornell for me, and anyone else that might be interested. I read his answers to 10 questions about his new Charts. He did NOT answer these three questions:

        1. What is the Current Temperature of the Earth?
        2. What the Temperature of the Earth should be?
        3. How was all of this determined?

        Jimmy Cornell does seem to be the expert in compiling information needed to plot a good course on the ocean.

        Quite a few people believe in ‘Global Warming’ as a religion, without much scientific ability to predict an accurate future. There are numerous articles on the Internet that list the wrong prognostications by believers in Global Warming.

        The latest headline is there is only 12 years left, unless we make drastic changes in our lifestyles. The headlines would be more believable, if the wealthy, politically powerful, and the believers in Global Warming, ~led the way, and made drastic changes to their own lifestyles first.

        SurvivalBlog use to have short links to a prepper named MistyPrepper. She and her husband lived as part of an Amish Community. She wasn’t Amish. But, her family lived what I thought was a wholesome, and simple life. Plus, it was a lot of daily (all day long) work. It’s a lifestyle, that people can freely choose. =

        We do NOT see the Wealthy and Powerful believers in Global Warming choosing an ‘Amish’ type of life. I don’t think we’ll see the Wealthy and Powerful give up their luxurious lifestyles. [At the Global Warming summits, the Global ‘elites’ fly to the summits in their private jets.]

        FIY: I’m religious, and I think the world will last until God decides it’s time for the World to End.

  4. Well, the 600 feet of trenching I dug with the rented excavator for tall spindle orchard, berry bushes and vines, and Kiwi plants, as well as the 2 fifty foot by 2 feet deep by 4 feet wide trenches for raised bed gardens are calling my name saying “fill us up now and do it properly”.

    I have backfilled about 150 feet manually so far. I

    I took my SIL shooting yesterday. I encouraged his getting an AR 10 so we each took ours and sighted them in for the first time. With my bipod and new 4.5-24X Sig scope I culminated the process with 4 rounds in the 2 inch red dot at 100 yards. Close enough.

    Now I’m headed to our monthly ham club breakfast.

    God Bless

  5. Here in the northeast warmer temps have finally started getting here and the race is on. Have the fencing trailer out hooked behind the atv and all the items loaded! The race is on repair our summer turn out fences before its gets a steady warm temperature and the black flies arrive. Would rather put on an extra layer then fight off those flies!

  6. Lots of work done this week around the farm as the weather warms up, but only preps were ordering buckets of non-GMO organic wheat, oats, and beans for humans. I have a couple more 50 pd bags coming in which I have to transfer to buckets with mylar bags and gamma lids. Our delivery people hate the 50 bags ’cause the packing boxes fall apart so easily.

    I am still trying to find a better source for bulk non-GMO, organic (no glyphosate aka roundup) corn. Found several local sources of non-GMO but not organic. Most of the corn grown around here is either feed corn or ethanol corn. But, I feel the need to stock up now while the prices are still steady. The flooding in the mid-west are going to have a huge impact on food availability and pricing. in the coming months.

  7. Hi James & A. Lilly,

    I don’t know if you read these comments yourselves but I have a couple questions.

    I often read your updates and they seem so family-centric (which is great) but I can’t recall you ever mention you training or preparing with an extended group such as is depicted in Patriots? Or is that just an ideal? Do you guys work on building community?

    What do your older children think of your lifestyle? Are they on board?

    What do your older children

    1. Hi Canuck_Prepper,

      Honestly, I read the comments, mostly only, on the weekends and usually post the pending comments that are in the waiting, first thing in the mornings, also only on the weekend. Jim reads the comments and posts them all the rest of the time. I have my work to do and cannot be on the computer all day. 🙂

      Our older children have families of their own and are making their own way in the world. They share most of the same values as we do and prepare as much as they are able. We help them as much as they want us to, and we are able.

      Jim really did have a survival group during college from which he based his Patriots novel series. They really did have meetings and did activities and trained together. Since college, however, everyone has gone their own way pursuing careers and now live many miles from each other. Jim is still in regular contact with most of them and they all still have a good level of preparedness.

      We have close friends and a community with whom we do some training with, when our schedules permit get-togethers, but that is OPSEC for them and us, so we very rarely talk about them or what we do with them.

      We believe that we must live independent lives. Most people are happiest being king and queen of their own domain. “Commune” like compounds usually do not work well during peacetime. But if things were to go south, we have prepared our ranch to take in friends and family, who are like-minded and prepared to add to the survival skill set and supplies, and whomever else the Lord sends our way to protect and care for, as the need arises, and as the Lord leads.



  8. Well shucks folks … up here in the arctic it ain’t break up (that’s spring to you folks in the outside) until the first skeeter crawls out of the snow bank and bites some body important in the back side … then it’s time to start seeds in the green house. I’ll admit it’s getting close, a lot of the smidgen of snow we had this year is melting off fast … but no skeeters yet … I’ll post a photo of the first one I catch … with our with out its fur coat on.

    1. Ha, LtMike,

      Last week Jim WAS bitten by a mosquito during the night, but I think the little bugger hibernated in the garage all winter, woke up earlier than her friends, and infiltrated the house while we were transferring stuff from the car into the house. I haven’t seen any others, yet, outside. Soon, though, very soon, usually around mid-May, we have to contend with swarms of the blood sucking terrorists in the early evenings.

      Once a visitor, quipped, “Geez, one has to order up an extra pint O’ blood, come dusk, just to survive, here.”

      Thankfully, by sunset the temperatures usually drop off rapidly, therefore we contend by putting on long sleeves, pants and jacket, and/or putting on a “Bug Baffler” shirt/ bug netting shirt, or by going into the house or shelter if camping. We try not to use bug spray.



      1. Last week our homestead was blessed by the Return of the Barn Swallows. Last year we treasured watching the group of about 15 working all hours on the insect population since our small pond is close to our buildings.

        I had to hurriedly put a tarp over our central barn opening this week, thus redirecting their nest building to the barn and garage eaves rather than inside.

        If we ever get our own fowl here, we’ll have biosecurity concerns, but until then we get some real mosquito control.

      2. Thank you Lilly,
        Last summer we had a new metal roof installed by some friends from our fellowship. It’s a great roof and held up good this winter. We weatherized our home and its extremely well insulated now. This summer our plans include a new arctic entryway ( a room you enter before the main entry to keep the 50 to 60 below zero temps out of the house) and to convert our back deck into a house attached green house for food production early and later in the season. Also we have a large number of Birch “rainbow” trees to cut down and convert into fire wood; these are trees bent over permanently by snow and ice.
        In addition we are going to replace all the windows in our home with new arctic rated windows. The large window in our dining area will become french doors into the rear deck green house area. Keep well dear lady, we’ll keep you and the family in our prayers. Lt. Mike

  9. This time of year always feels like a hurry, hurry and wait time…getting all the planting beds and supplies here and in order and practicing patience until it is the correct time. My rhubarb crowns arrived but it is still too early to put them in. I just have some horseradish left to find and plant. I’m sure I must know someone who would love to give me a root piece.

    The Mouse Wars are still raging. I’m considering banning the dogs from the RV and putting mouse poison all over!

    I did finally find a perfect coded lock for the garage and my dear husband installed it. Thanks everyone for the advice. He also brought all our hand tools from the pole barn down and locked them up. We have some old rusted hand tools that we put in the barn as a decoy. He also moved my gardening machinery to the shed so they wouldn’t be in the barn open to family and un-friendlies with prying eyes or shifty fingers. The shed is mostly used to store trash until there is enough for the transfer station, so should look as though there isn’t anything of value in there. I’m also going to add some lumber to get it out of the weather.

    My dear husband also was able to move the sinking sailboat. Where I had it parked was far too muddy. I am glad I put the money into having the 4WD fixed yet again on ye ol’ farm truck. Will have to replace the trailer lights, but it is done.

    Skiing done here as mud season is upon us.

    1. Any critter that eats a poisoned mouse is then poisoned. I have about a dozen traps that kill rodents quite well. Then our critters can feast without fear.

      Carry on

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