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!

Jim Reports:

This week I went to a cedar mill and bought some rough-cut cedar planks. I plan to use these to construct some more raised beds in the expanded portion of our main garden.  That cedar mill is less than 50 miles away. By local standards, that is considered “practically next door.” By buying rough cut “seconds” directly at the mill, I pay only about 20% of the retail price that is charged for S4S cedar at retail lumberyards.

I was finally able to get busy with one of my Stihl gas chainsaws, and both limb and cut up a few of the trees that Lily had dropped, just before I was traveling. Then I felled a larger one–about 16″ at the butt. I plan to finish up that one next week. This too, was in furtherance of our planned garden expansion.

As part of our normal storage food rotation, I helped Lily re-fill six 7-gallon super pails with rolled oats that we had mail-ordered. And as, usual we labeled the buckets with the contents and date-of-pack.  All five of these buckets were already equipped with Gamma Seal lids, so access to those oats will be quick and easy.  Because rolled oats are so light (at least compared to beans, grain, or honey), those buckets of oats are destined for the top of the bucket stacks, in JASBORR.

I was also busy this week Internet-ordering a few odds and ends to complete “systemizing” some of my recent AR builds.  I don’t consider a rifle or carbine “fully mission capable” until they have 10 magazines each, a full set of both iron sights and optics, a sling, a cleaning kit, a set of web gear (with at least enough magazine pouches to hold 6 magazines), a canteen, an IFAK pouch, and a padded carry case of some sort. Of course there is also the requisite test-firing and zeroing with both irons and glass. And finally a thorough cleaning and lube. Then, and only then, do I feel that they are ready to tuck away.

While I was traveling, a mated pair of Cooper’s Hawks began nesting up in a fir tree at the far end of the Close Pasture.  We enjoy seeing them here at the ranch, because they are giftedly death on mice. But I don’t like it when they screech at us. And this morning they made a couple of half-hearted dives at Lily, when she stepped out from the back porch. Those little hawks are very feisty and territorial!  But I’m confident that they’ll soon figure out that we are no threat to them, and that our movements are merely routine.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
This week seems to have just flown by.  We’ve had nice weather in the 50s and 60s with three frosts, two of them very hard frosts, at night.  I did bring in all of the sensitive seedlings (12 large trays) from the greenhouse for three nights in a row.   Actually, I just brought them in and left them in the living room for three days. The squash seeds enjoyed the heat and took advantage of it by sprouting the rest in the pots where they hadn’t sprouted yet.  After bringing them back out to the greenhouse, I filled eight more trays with soil and planted more broccoli, pumpkin, Hubbard squash, Acorn squash, parsley and a few others I can’t think of just now.  I now have about 30 trays of seedlings.

Remember, last fall when I told you all, that I was planting, outside in the main garden, kale, garlic, walking onions and carrots from my second year carrot flowers?  Well, they are all sprouting.  That experiment to overwinter carrot and kale seeds in the ground really does work. (We already knew that garlic and walking onions over-winters).  I also planted five rows of potatoes in this same area, last fall.  Whether or not that experiment worked or not, still remains to be seen.

Part of what has excited me, is that I had germination success with raising my own carrot seeds from their flowers.  The wonder of it all!  Therefore, this week I prepared another two beds in the main garden and planted the carrot seeds from my carrot flowers.  The flowers are all dried out, so I just rubbed them over the bed to disperse their seeds, then raked the soil gently over them.

I roto-tilled a section of the main garden for a third time to mix in chicken manure.

I’m still in the “hurry up and wait” stage for the weather, for planting outside the cold sensitive crops.  I’ve looked over the Annex garden area.  I need to get in there with the rototiller and bring in more old rotted manure.  I bring manure in, usually, with the wheel barrel.  It takes time.  We are still building up that soil.  Seriously folks, it takes several years to get good fertile soil in gardens.  It is a joke to think that a “prepper”  who has never gardened before would think that they can just turn over some soil, throw seeds in the ground, and grow enough food to survive. I’ve been building up our main garden now for seven years and finally we have deep rich soil in it.  Just thinking about the Annex garden, that we’re still building it’s soil, and we still have a long way to go…  Not to mention the new Extension garden that we will be just starting from the beginning to build up, starting this summer.

I did some deep cleaning of two cupboards, and the house, de-cluttering surfaces and cupboards.

I finally got into the Horse Trailer tack room to clean it out. (I had already had taken out and cleaned, saddles, halters, ropes and blankets.) I finished taking out all of the other tack and emptied it. I vacuumed, and washed the carpet and all walls, and the loft deck. I sorted through the rest of the tack and culled out unneeded and broken tack: bridles, halters, ropes, etc.  I reorganized and put everything back in.  Whew, that was a job. I hadn’t realized how much horsy-related stuff we had collected over the past seven years. I left a pile of broken tack by our bedroom door for Jim to repair. 🙂 Some other pieces were just beyond repair–such as some lead ropes that had already been shortened a few times. We’ll just save some of the steel and brass hardware from that, to re-use.

We also hiked two days in a row for a total of four hours (eight miles) up in the adjoining National Forest.

May you all have a very 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. I’ve decided to stay another year here at the cabin for several reasons chief among them keeping my fantastic (for me) job. Right now is not the time to lower our income, and I will go home to the Redoubt every break. I also know I still have a lot to be done here. And, I have fantastic Healthcare that is very low cost. Though the dental insurance through work seems to cover only about 50% on procedures but 100% maintenance; I scheduled 2 major dental work appointments for us. This week I took one day and had a plethora of checkups. Yup, I’m healthy as a horse. I do know, however, that I did not get enough exercise last winter with all the ice and sleet instead of usable snow and will have to take care this spring. Especially with the heavy wood that I’m clearing.

    Reconnected with my neighbor while we were all out and about doing yard and garden things. This was probably the most important thing I accomplished this week. We keep to ourselves, but watch over each other’s places. At least I have known these neighbors and their families for a very long time.

    Moved baby trees that have self seeded on the yard part of the property in anticipation of mowing. Planted out seedlings and flowers. This year I’m going to plant some pumpkin and squash seeds and just let them grow all summer. I’ll see what happens by the time I return in late August. I do have the opportunity to get them started nicely and can have someone water them if it is a hot dry summer since I need to have someone water the newly established perennials and berry bushes and fruit trees anyway this summer.

    Still deciding on a greenhouse; we are leaning toward one built off the side of the cabin. I arranged a raised bed box I hadn’t yet setup to sit on top of the inground compost hole that has been filled before we could get the sides built-up. Yes, it will take years for the compost to rot down to nice usable dirt since we are still filling it, but it will be there and usable in the future. It’s in a nice sunny place too.

  2. I found some great bargains at various “used” stores this week including wine making equipment and supplies (corker, corks and air locks), some lead, miscellaneous hardware, scythe sharpening stone, a bunsen burner, 1lb of gulf wax, and a large baby food jar of rivets

    I got 29 more pounds of nails since I found such a great price on them, 2 spools of electric wire, a number of carriage bolts and wood screws.

    Hired somebody to do a little work on our well. The well head is currently in a pit with the wrong well cap. I am having the pipe extended and the proper cap installed. This will do 2 things for us, provide more insulation to the water line to protect it from freezing and two allow us to install a hand pump in the future.

    Did some research on Kubota tractors. I am thinking of getting either a BX or L model. Just about everyone I talk to say go with the L. The only the I really wanted on the BX that isn’t available on the L is the PTO mid under belly for a mower deck. I guess I cut just get a tow behind mower.
    Anyone have experience with either series?

    Will be leaving shortly to go look at some used Bee Keeping items and then head out to the BOL for the rest of the day. It is very wet, locals say it is the wettest spring they ever remember.

    1. We have a Kutoba L4701 and we really like it. For a medium duty tractor, it is just right for our 50 acre farm and forest. I purchased most of the implements to use for gardening, clearing land, cutting the meadows, maintaining dirt roads, pushing over trees and pulling stumps, hauling heavy items and just about any chore we have to do. My son does all the regular maintenance on the tractor and we have had no major problems with it.

  3. Are those 7 gallon buckets food grade? Is the food packaged any further within the buckets? What happens when a bucket gets down to 1/4 filled, are the contents moved to a smaller vessel?

    We once kept beans, nuts in their store bought packaging inside of food grade Gamma sealed buckets, but now we empty the bag in 1/2 gallon mason jars and as they are used up to the half-filled level transfer them to smaller containers. Of course this works for us as we have a considerably smaller stock.

    I had a rim of the Gamma seal bucket fail when too much weight was on it. The bucket that sits atop the lid puts the weight on the middle of the lid and not at the edges. If I stack them I would put a 1/4″ hardboard on top so that the weight is transferred away from the inner part of the lid to the edge.

    1. Lily, here, chiming in,

      Yes, I will also move, sometimes, smaller amounts of food from the bucket to a Mason jar. It all depends on, however, if I think of it, because we’re using a lot of that particular food item, and I’m in the mode of cleaning and organizing, consolidating foods, etc. What I mean is, it’s not always a given that we’ll transfer food to a smaller container just because it’s very low in the bucket. :).

    1. Dear KB,

      I do not like to buy potting soil. I have in the past, but I don’t trust it, anymore. It is sterile most of the time, and who knows what is truly in it? The last time I used it, about four years ago, I, at the same time, used some soil from my garden. The growth difference of the tomatoes between the store-bought pot potting soil and my garden soil was astounding. It really opened my eyes. Since then, I only use my own garden soil.

      In the fall after we have harvested the crops and have rototilled, I put some surface soil from my garden into large tree-sized planters and put it into the greenhouse to overwinter, and be available for me come spring seedling time.

      In the fall and spring, we put rotted cow and chicken manure on the soil to boost it, also, I sprinkle gypsum and Epsom salts to boost the soil’s magnesium content. This is all I do for my garden at this time. I do try to rotate where I plant my beans each year to get their nitrogen fixing abilities to each area every few years. I do need to do more research on soil amendments, too. However, I’m trying to be very careful of what is added to our soil. Going natural is best.

  4. Did the usual gardening and farm chores this week. Got most everything planted but still have melon and spinach seedlings in trays to do. My back spasms have returned so that has put the kabash on some of my plans.

    We get copperhead snakes in the summer time. I think they are attracted by the field mice that we are continually at war with, but for whatever reason, we get them. I read an article on the internet written by a vet that said most hunting size dogs can survive a copperhead bite without a vet to give antivenin at a cost of $500 to $1000 per vial. I can’t afford a $3000 vet bill so this week I set up a snake bite kit for the animals. I gathered up all the needed meds and treatment items and created a chart that listed all the dogs and the amount of Benadryl (liquid and pill form), antibiotic and pain pill amounts to use for treatment. This way we don’t have to stop and figure out who gets how much at a critical time.

    Our 5-year old video security system hard drive died this week, thus we have been unable to see what triggers the outdoor alarms. We have alarms scattered about the farm and video cameras covering the alarmed areas. The video system saves us a lot of time in checking out what triggered the alarm(s). I ordered and received a new wireless/battery operated camera system which we are setting up this today.

    Have a great week!

  5. The conversation about soil reinforces my belief that healthy, living, productive soil is a tangible asset worthy of investment. Having good soil takes time, money, and effort, but is a tangible asset that can pay significant dividends.

  6. I have a 25 lb dog that survived a copperhead bite, although I did take him to a vet for medication, you are correct that they did not use antivenin.

    It’s a tricky thing though, you never know how much venom they received, your mileage may vary.

    I usually find them out and about around midnight, I go on patrols with a flashlight and a shovel.

  7. One of my most favorite parts of Survivalblog is the weekly update on progress. I must say Lily, thou hath strength!! I spent the last month setting up a new-to-me home/cabin, but I immediately ordered seeds and started a miniature garden on the kitchen table due to the frigid outdoor temps. Having no real supplies yet, I grabbed a bag of potting soil at the Do-It Center, a package of small paper cups at the Dollar store in town, filled 64 tiny cups with soil, popped in the seeds, watered, and let the sun work it’s magic. My cabin is east facing with a wall of windows 2 stories high. The sun streams in every morning and heats the cabin to greenhouse temps no matter how cold outside. I love it that you made the living room your temporary greenhouse Lily. I did the same thing! Who says our growing season is only 90 days? LOL. I did some online bulk ordering. I’m growing fond of Nuts.com because I can get bulk organic dried fruit, nuts, baking supplies, grains, etc., delivered. I bounce between Bob’s Red Mill and Nuts.com for delivery of high quality supplies. Not as “cheap” as other sources, but in a pinch, I can stock up pretty quickly. I found a rancher in Lucille, ID that delivers grass fed beef, pork, lamb, and dairy, to a nearby drop off point, and received a delivery. Since I’ve been stocking up for a good 10 years, it was strange to be in a new place without all the supplies I was used to. Comparatively speaking, it was less expensive to move to rural Idaho without hauling everything with me, and purchase when I arrived, than it would have been if I tried to haul everything here. Before I moved, I gave the supplies to my four children and their families were happy for it. It’s about warm enough at night now to transplant the seedlings. I so want to dig in the dirt. There’s something magical about dirt and sunshine!

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