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!

Avalanche Lily Reports

Dear Readers,
This week Jim was still traveling, to help an ailing relative. His only prepping this week was helping that family stock up. Jim says: “Costco rocks!” But we try to only buy American-made goods there.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the weather, this week has been cold and very rainy with only a few breaks in the weather, here and there.  It was a week of doctor appointments for the girls, and wrapping up classes and studying for exams. So therefore, not too much prepping occurred. No exercise for any of us, or our horses, either, sadly. I did get the asparagus planted, but not the raspberries.  I was able to spread some rotted-down cow manure on a section of garden that didn’t receive it last fall.  And I did do some stocking up shopping while in the towns.  One stop was at Costco for paper items, laundry soap, fresh fruit, and veggies.  I bought five bags of mixed sweet peppers to chop up and freeze. I also bought a bag of large onions.

In the greenhouse the broccoli and cabbage are already sprouting.

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

o o o

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


  1. Taking stock at the cabin today before a week off with nowhere to go! It is rather comforting!

    The one thing I need is a new chainsaw to move downed dead wood and start on next winter’s firewood. Should we ever have a grid down situation or experience even colder temperatures than this winter (which was rather frigid and icy), we will need far more wood than we have been preparing. I ordered the second best chainsaw out there in my size as the best brand was just too expensive. I also bought an extra chain, another sharpener just for my saw, and only a blade cover instead of the entire case. I’m thinking of buying some of the premix gas that I saw for sale to store, but know little about it. Anyone know if it is worth the high cost and how long it would store? I already fill the gas cans and add stabilizer every fall, but was thinking of longer storage possibilities.

    The other items on my to do list are mostly organizational. Every food item not in the kitchen ready for use needs to be properly packaged and stored. I’m getting there. I bought a box of mylar vaccum seal bags to seal up some smaller items that are stored in thrift store Christmas tins. I’ll report in on how they work as they were a bit more costly. Other then that, my week will be focused on cleaning up, organizing, and sewing. I’m using some fabric scraps to make a crazy patchwork quilt to cover some fluffy blankets. I find that this helps make the blankets heavier and more useful for actual warmth.

    It’s probably going to be too wet and cold to get any preparation in on the berry garden. I may be able to move all the tree seedlings I’ve flagged though. Weather dependent of course.

    Our final prep this week will be contemplative in preparation for the high holy days ahead.

    1. Always go with a Stihl chainsaw, and I’ve used the premixed cans from Home Depot and Lowes buy one small can and then the rest in gallon cans, they Re use for other chemicals, but the little one you keep filled from the gallon can it’s easier to pour into chainsaw or weed eater .
      I’ve stored some for about 3 years and now I rotate them with no issues. I get the red for chain saw and blue for weed eater. The chainsaw you can get the base 16 inch Stihl for less that $200 bucks. Never use anything else.

    2. The pre-mixed fuel is generally over-priced. But buying just one or two of them provides handy small containers that are easy to decant. Don’t neglect getting gear before you even fire that saw up for the first time. Remember: ALL the gear, ALL the time.” I prefer the combination helmet/earmuffs/face screen helmets made by Stihl. And of course Kevlar chainsaw chaps are a must.

      1. I switched over to the combination helmet, face shield, ear muffs and love it. I used to use goggles and they steamed up all the time, safety glasses would get scratched and dirty and it was sometimes difficult to see, and my ear plugs were always getting lost. The face shield is the best part.

        As far as fuel, I have used the pre-mixed and it is expensive but it works, but it works no better in my opinion than a mix using ethanol free gasoline. Concur that they are much easier to use to pour the fuel into the saw. Plus I can keep a can right in the saw box.

  2. PJGT we enjoy reading about your journey. JWR nailed it when he recommended safety gear.
    Years ago, when I was using my first chain saw I was cutting through a pile of logs when I let my guard down for a second. The saw chain just touched my blue jeans for a fraction of a second.
    I was fatigued, not paying as much attention as when I started. That chain shredded my jeans and I managed to redirect the saw before it cut me. Wake up call! Time to stop for the day!
    My Wife and Sons visited our local saw shop and bought me the safety gear. I also use steel toe boots.
    Like JWR says “ALL the gear ALL the time”. Just takes a minute to put on the chaps.

    I do use the premix fuel. Expensive but my machines start and run better.
    If I can find ethanol free gas I will mix my own.

    1. Thank you, Lee, for those kind words and sage advice. I do own the gear, and must admit that it took some bit of shopping to find a pair of chaps that were short enough so that I would not cause more problems by tripping. I also wear a back brace do as to not strain my core.

  3. Yes to the premixed gas in a quart can. I carry one in my truck tool box everywhere, for emergencies such as downed trees blocking roads. This happened to me this year, and I was prepared with it. At 5 bucks per quart it is danged expensive, but I look at it as a $5 investment in getting through natural roadblocks, and did not have to go to town or all the way back home for the mixed fuel. Even if you have no chainsaw yourself, it could be the $5 ticket for someone else stuck who has saw but no fuel, if you have room to carry it.

    This week I continued filling in trenches by hand. Only 450 feet total left to go. Two feet deep trenches,and place a layer of cardboard around the edges to reduce grass infiltration, layer of alder sawdust in the bottom then garden fork the sawdust and underlying soil to mix, replace sod upside down in the trench to rot, add layer of alder sawdust and mixed subsoil, plant trees and shrubs, then I mulch around the trees with more sawdust.

    Fertilizing may harm the root development they tell me, so I’l wait until we get good root establishment going before I start enriching my soil. I just didn’t have opportunity to build good soils in advance, after moving in last summer.

    The garden beds will get a three inch layer of enriched compost tilled in prior to planting, in May.

    I have 30 grape cuttings sitting in cans outside catching rainwater, and I’m watching buds form. In a week or two, will take the successfully budded cuttings and plant some directly into beds and some into containers. Get many cuttings yourself so you can either have enough survive, or have some to sell or barter, or all three.

    The IBC totes are collecting rainwater after a dry March month. We had 42 inches of snow in February (usually only 2-3 inches of rain here), and very dry March, and now a wet-looking April. Weather variation year to year means you should get multiple varieties of your choice of fruits (several different apples, hazelnuts, berries, etc) to increase chances of crops under late snow, wetter than average or colder or hotter than usual conditions.

    I’m getting ready to order chestnut trees. Nurseries now graft over a dozen varieties of chestnuts onto Asian and European rootstock to avoid chestnut blight, and the nuts are an excellent source of nutrition.

    My dream orchard/vineyard/berry patch will have about 200 different varieties of perennial food crop plants, herbs, and flowers, when complete…… should I survive the project.

    God Bless

    1. Wheatley,

      Good luck with your orchard. We are starting out very slow with the trees and bushes. I plan to plant more in the next few years. I am considering going with some varieties that are even more cold resistant due to the colder weather we have been seeing and could see even more of in the future. Just wondering what zone you are in and what varieties of apples you planted. Any suggestions for peach trees? Just curious as to how much acreage your orchard is?

      1. Happy to answer, Scout.

        First, let me point out that producing food for consumption is daily more critical for life, more so than needing accurate shooting daily, so a soil analysis is actually more critical than the analysis of powder in your cartridges.

        Try Frost Peach, and possibly Veteran Peach.

        I’ll preface with a description of the site factors affecting what I’m doing, species selection, and what I am planning to do.

        Here is a better explanation of ‘Zones’. We are in American Horticultural Society Heat Zone 2, and in US Hardiness Zone 8B.

        My total area for trees, vines, bushes measures 100 feet by 150 feet.

        I am intensively planting trees in rows on 10-foot spacings, and trees spaced from 4 to 6 feet apart in the rows. My tree rows are about a hundred feet long, with 22-25 trees per row. Rows of cane berries and kiwis are also 10 feet apart.

        The folks I am learning from are intensive orchardists, as in working on their place an average of 20 hours per week, and one guy harvested 56,000 pounds of apples off just an acre and a half, 4 years ago. He does on-farm sales from his own walk-in cooler and every bit of his own work.

        If you are doing a traditional orchard, I suggest spacing fruit trees out on a staggered pattern with 20 to 25 feet spacings,

        I have a north facing slope with wet soils from OCT to late APR, over a clay layer only 12 to 18 inches deep. Right now the holes I dug for berry bushes are overflowing with water, and the trenches are flowing water from south downhill to the north Waterlogged soils kill plants quickly by drowning roots, or slowly by root disease. I’m just learning how to deal with this.

        My replanning now is to bury drainage pipe at about a foot deep and to have the tree roots partly higher than the adjacent ground. Elevating the root structure makes for a very weak tree which winds over 20mph will uproot unless supported.

        So the slope is to the north and I had planned to grow trees on the tall spindle method (look up youtube videos for a visual). I picked shorter-term EMLA 26 roots for the trees, specifically to get rapidly into production and last only about 25-30 years. You can use EMLA26 for stand-alone trees, and I have some of those as well.

        My intensive system will have very strong trellises 10-12 feet above ground with four strong trellis wires spaced evenly to the top, and the trees will be tied to each wire. Limited movement of the tree without wind swaying them, means they do not put growth into making strong trunks, they can put energy into fruit production, thus more fruit.

        The EMLA26 root stock usually grows their grafted apple tops only to 10-12 feet height as a semi-dwarf tree.

        I selected the following apples for various reasons and variability, some for high nutrition, some for marketing, some for winter keeping, some for cidering, some for sauce and fresh eating: Granny Smith, Fulford Gala, Akane, Pumpkin Sweet, Westfield Seek-no-Further, Cinnamon Spice, Honeycrisp, Liberty, Queen Cox (one of the very few self-fertile varieties), Pacific Crab, Hudsons Golden Gem, Wolf River, Twenty-Ounce, Spartan, Scarlet Sentinel,Cox Orange Pippin, Newtown Pippin,Yarlington Mill, and a couple others I can’t think of right now.

        In planning for cold, I suggest you pick varieties based upon their blossoming periods and make sure they diversely spread out from early to late bloomers, thus enabling something to get fertilized during any warm spell during spring chill period.

        Raintree Nursery has an on-line plants growing guide, look at the top left of their home page. Their catalogue has separate blossoming and harvesting charts for all the varieties of apples. Same for Plums, Pears, etc.


        I’ll be glad to answer any further questions about the ‘madness to my methods.”

        Best wishes

        1. Sounds very impressive and well planned out. Thank you for sharing. Would love to see an article about this on SurvivalBlog sometime. I was thinkinking about doing the same with apples- eating, sauce, Cider, storing and selling. The apple trees planted thus far are Fuji, honey crisp, north spy and one I can’t remember off the top of my head. We are also getting bees to help pollenate and to have un-processed honey.

          I only plan on planting one tree this year (peach) since much of our time is being consumed by our move and the projects that need done out there before winter and next spring when we plan to add some pigs, goats, and a cow.

          Thanks again for the info/advice, I really appreciate it!

  4. Started to put together one of the two 2/3 firewood storage sheds I got from Northern Tool on clearance. They are put together using pop-rivets and I can tell I really have a new found respect for the rivet. We have been spending more time in town getting our house ready for market. I am glad to say that we now have it listed and the realtor confirmed that our local market is “very hot” right now. We bought the home in 2010 as the housing markets were falling. Good news for us is it looks like the values have gone back up. We plan to be out of the house and living full time at the BOL. My wife, the city girl, is excited and looking forward to a country life. This move will allow much more time to work on projects since we won’t be eating up 2 hours just in travel time.

  5. Purchases EMP protective device for house and vehicle http://www.myempsheild.com
    grabbed 7 food grade buckets from Home Depot
    got 300 vacuum seal bags ordered

    froze and vacuum sealed several lbs of beef

    Vacuum sealed 10-15lbs of spaghetti and stored

    put up 50lbs of jasmine rice in long term mylar bags and buckets with gamma lids

    several EMP bags for devices

    moved winter equipment to storage topped tanks off and stabilized fuel, added stabilizer to 25 gallons of stored fuel.

    preparing to sell old project motorcylce to fund other equipment and preps

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