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:

We’ve had a very busy week here at the Rawles Ranch. Both Lily and #1 Daughter did a lot of refurbishing work on one last saddle and some left over tack. The standing joke in the American Redoubt is that the most popular “perfumes” used by eligible young ladies to attract future husbands are not Diptyque Vetyverio or Chanel #5. Rather, they are Leather Milk and Hoppe’s #9. Speaking of horse tack repair, I stopped by a nearby farm and ranch store (55 miles away) and bought some replacement bull snaps and brass “finger” lead rope clamps. With those, I’ll be able to repair several lead ropes that had their snaps broken by our Problem Child horse. This is a knot-headed 10-year-old that is notorious for breaking tack. That horse has broken more tack than all of our other horses, combined!

BTW, I prefer the Weaver brand 1″ bull snaps. These are imported from Taiwan (Free China). I’d prefer to find some that are American made, but at least these aren’t made in some Mainland China prison factory. The Weaver bull snaps are quite sturdy and don’t seem to break as easily as the alleged “heavy duty” snaps that come on the ready-made horse leads.

On that same trip, I bought a lawn mower for Lily. We don’t have a “lawn” here per se, but we do need something to mow down the weeds between the raised beds in our gardens, and to mow around the fruit trees in our orchard. With a proper shrouded gas mower, there will be less risk of killing a sapling. (All it takes is a moment of inattention, and you can “ring” a small tree with a weed eater. That is a costly mistake!) Yes, Jim, Lily here, commenting on Jim’s section of the preps; Our weedwhacker gave up it’s ghost this spring, and I had accidentally ringed an apple sapling, with it, last summer, oops! It survived, though.)

I also stopped by our local Les Schwab tire center, and had the studded snow tires on our pickup truck switched out for the summer rubber. (We keep both sets mounted on rims.) That pickup rarely leaves the ranch, but to do summer hauling, we need regular all-season tires, to stay legal on paved public roads in the summer.

We’ve also been doing a lot of Spring Cleaning around the place.  But Lily can fill you in on that.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
This week has been gorgeously sunny and fairly warm in the 60s and 70s here in our part of the American Redoubt.  I decided that since the extended forecast looks as though we may be past the risk of nightly frosts, (we could have a frost during any month of the year, anyway.) that I’d partially end the “Hurry-up-and-wait” game and start planting some of the warmer weather crops.

In the Main garden, I planted seeds of Contender beans, a mystery bean that I harvested and threshed last fall, of which I think are Yellow wax, the red and green cabbage seedlings, Zucchini seedlings and seeds.

In the greenhouse beds, I planted six tiny Beefsteak tomato seedlings. (I have about 18 more of them that I’ll plant outside under hoops in another two weeks or so.)  I’m kinda curious to see if they will grow  faster in the  greenhouse bed or in their small pots which are also in the greenhouse. I also planted Yellow Zucchini seedlings and seeds, and lettuce and a fast growing Raab broccoli.

I took seeds from my onion flowers that bloomed last summer and I had dried in a paper lunch sack bag and put them in trays of soil to germinate to grow my own onion bulbs this summer for onion bulbs for for next summer’s garden.  I also replanted some of last summer’s harvested onions that have sprouted their stems to get more flowers and seeds for next summer.  Growing onions from your own seeds is a two to three year process.  I have not had too much luck in the past of growing onions from seed, but I’m going to try again, because, soon we may not have access to buying onion bulbs.

The girls and I pulled the weeds in the Walking onions/garlic bed and spread straw mulch between all of the plants and in between the beds on the paths.  We spread straw between all rows of the planted garden: the carrots, potatoes, zucchini, onions, beans, etc.  The straw will hold in the moisture, keep down the weeds and help fertilize the garden for next year.  This year, I think that I won’t be using black layment for mulch, because it lessens the available earth in which to plant crops.  I’m trying to maximize growth space this coming year and the layment didn’t allow for planting between plants. I also think that it made the soil underneath too hot for the plants.  I think straw will probably do a better job.

I helped Jim replace some old rotted cedar posts from one side of our garden fencing with metal 10-foot heavy duty T-posts.  This spring we will be replacing many of the cedar posts with  T-posts all around the Main Garden and will be fencing in the Extension garden, too, soon.

Miss Violet and I picked up the rocks in the Extension garden, and stacked, in a large burn pile, the branches from the trees that both Jim and I, had dropped and limbed.  Next week, I hope Jim will disc it.  Then the girls and I will collect more of the rocks that will be unearthed.  I’ll have Jim disc it again, we’ll collect rocks again, then I will lay down manure, and the kitchen compost pile, and rototill.  We’ll have to see how the soil looks once we do those things.  If  the soil looks pretty good, I’ll plant it. Otherwise, we’ll have to leave it for a year and keep adding compost to it to build it up and plant it next summer.

I measured our garden areas.  All of them combined–Main garden, Annex, Herb, Orchard and the currently-being-developed Extension gardens–are over 8,000 square feet. And, I still do not think we have enough garden space, yet, to be completely self-sufficient. I’m working on it, though.

The Farrier came this week to do the (almost) monthly hoof trimming.  Both “lame” horses have now recovered from their leg and hoof ailments.  Thank you, Lord!  Now to get back to exercising and riding them, soon.  I’m currently focused on the garden.  Life is just like that.

I mowed the pathways around the garden beds.  I do the mowing, because I enjoy doing it. I also mowed the orchard. That will have to be mowed once a week, this year.

I just have a short comment about words. With a few short words I write what we have accomplished this week.  These words just don’t seem to do justice/don’t seem to convey, the large amount of work that was done. 🙁

I didn’t do any “sporty” exercise this week, gardening, rototilling and mowing were the exercise of the week. But I wanna hike! The wildflowers are blooming in the woods and I want to see them! Next week, I’ll make the time to do so.

I rototilled the chicken-manured patch of garden for a 5th time (the manure chunks are getting smaller and smaller more mixed into the soil each time I rototill. The chicken-manured area will become the tomato patch in a few weeks.  I also rototilled another area of the garden for a second time.

The girls are doing a bit of school in the mornings. Miss Violet is getting a preview of Pre-Algebra, so that she’ll be familiar with the concepts for her class this coming fall. Miss Eloise is studying and reviewing everything from her school years in order to take the ACT, soon.  In the afternoons we are tackling different jobs.  One of the jobs we tackled this week, was the girls’ bedroom.  We emptied their closet and sorted through all of the clothes, culled out the things that doesn’t fit or they don’t like, and made a list of what they need to acquire to round out their wardrobes.  We went through their collections of other STUFF and culled out some things from that, and sorted through books, movies on DVD, etc.  It’s so bad how we become such pack rats of things that just clutter space and frustrate us when we have to reorganize and find places to keep them. What a waste of time.  I respect our kids’ sentimentality for many objects.  But we try to see what we can peacefully cull. Actually, on occasion, I’m the one with the sentimental feelings for certain objects of their possessions and don’t want them to part with them. Some help I am at times, huh?

Well,  furthermore, there is such a fine line between having what you need and a little extra for the future and for needy others who may come during a SHTF scenario, and outright hoarding.  It is a never-ending battle.

Speaking of deep cleaning, Jim, finally, cleaned off his desk.  He uses for his desk an old wooden door resting on two filing cabinets for his workspace, computer and monitor.  It was piled high with papers, notes, office supplies, and the flotsam and jetsam of ranch life, etc. I walked into the office one afternoon this week, to talk to him. My eyes dropped to the desk.  I looked at it. It took a moment to register what I was seeing. I exclaimed, “Whoa, Jim, Whaddaya do in here?” I was absolutely floored by it’s transformation, shocked, I tell you, I almost needed CPR.  🙂  Just kidding.  Jim’s desk is usually the only spot in his jurisdiction that ever gets overly cluttered. But he clears and organizes it about four times a year.

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. We continue to build our bench stocks in our workshop. This we we purchased 4lbs of 20d 4″ galvanized nails, 5lbs of 3″ wood screws, several packs of outdoor project screws, 2 spools of wire, carriage bolts and cotter pins. The local flea market has opened, I stopped by there and got about 10lbs of lead and a sickle. Picked up a spool of leather lacing/thread and another spool of cotton thread. Also got a dozen fine tip dry erase markers for white boards that are around the BOL.

    Mowed the grass at the BOL for the first time this year. Unfortunately all four of the apple trees that were planted last spring are dead. However the 4 planted 2 years ago are fine. Not sure why they died but with the raining year we had I’m wondering if they got root water. Installed a solar light on the pole barn. I bought one at Wal-mart just to test it out. Install a flag holder on the barn. Installed fire extinguisher in pole barn and put up sign. Hung up the barometer, thermometer, humidity set in the barn as well. I have several in the house already.

  2. That is a surprise to me. By the map, the western part of the US is mostly alkaline soil, due to less rainfall than the eastern US. We are in Mississippi, and we have very acidic soil. I do still use chicken manure and other sources of manure in the garden, but I started this year adding more lime and ashes to raise the pH. I do not hold to the theory that manure will burn plants. I have sprouted and raised a lot of plants, including tomatoes, in chicken poop. However, the more I learn, the more I am coming to understand the need to balance the pH for certain plants. Blueberries grow well here, though. No lime for them!

  3. This week was not what I planned at all. In addition to being offered extra work tutoring, it was mostly rainy and cold all week. I don’t mind working in a warm rain, but not a cold and windy one. Despite that and around the raindrops, most of the planting, weeding and mulching is finished on our little place. We too do not have a lawn, but either weedwack or mow to keep things down and manageable. I enjoy everyone’s lawns, but am amazed at how much time is spent mowing. The lawns are not merely presentable, but beautifully done. I’m enjoying them!

    With the extra tutoring money, we are buying an electric fencing system for the dogs that emmanates from a central unit. It is for our Redoubt place that is not fenced, but can be taken and used anywhere. A wonderful invention that will make my life easier. We have “shock” collars for our dogs but they still can run off after some small animal without fencing if I’m not watching.

    Here at the cabin I have sorted every paper and piece of clothing I can get my hands on. I agree with Lilly, we have stuff. I’m not adverse to having things, but dislike the amount of work it takes to sort it out and keep it from cluttering. I sent all of the extra to the local thrift shop for others to use. Of course in a small space, it looks worse during the process, but cleans up nicely. My son was gone for most of each day as it was finals, so between that and the rain, the timing was perfect!

    I found my essential oils and ordered two low noise large reservoir diffusers to replace ones that finally quit awhile ago. I’ve been using them to combat the wet dog smell. I took classes for a couple years and have seen their effect when our daughter was recovering from her head injury. I just sent her a few more essential oils – especially calming. Our favorite are the woodsy scents, but I do have lilac in one diffuser now.

    Not sure if I can mention this but – I just replenished our coffee supply from the Mystic Monks in Powell Wyoming. We love Cowboy Coffee blend (a mix of dark and lighter beans) and buy it in 5 lb mylar bags. I have green beans and tea in storage but love supporting their monastery in the Redoubt for our everyday coffee needs.

  4. I read what you accomplish each week and am amazed at how much you get done. You are a very hard worker and seem quite organized. Life always throws us disruptions and you seem to handle it so well as well as with creativity and a “can do” attitude. Having lived a homestead lifestyle for a long time I appreciate the hard work you do and have a very good understanding of the time it takes . Please be encouraged, you are amazing!!

  5. Productive week, in between rain events, here at the Ondarosa Farms. The refurbishing of our main garden area (800 sqft) that was prompted by deer activity last year (read, totally destroyed), is nearly complete. Deer have approached the 7-foot fenced garden but simply just “snort” and move on. Have harvested young Kale leaves for Miso soup and it’s wonderful. Harvested Toy Joy, daikon/cherry bell radishes and green onions to make a batch of Kimchi. We’ve been seriously rethinking for the umpteenth time to look into raising rabbits. We’ve got a good handle on a small (15 or so) chicken flock but need a source of more meat to can. We figure one buck and two does should meet our needs. Any surplus canned rabbit would be used to barter with our neighbor who raises pigs. Hydroponic system use continues to be our most reliable source of “dirt free” lettuce and herbs. Have discovered large root making plants, e.g. Swiss Chard, tend to slow water flow through the pipes. Got 6 gallons (about 30 bottles) of Shiraz wine clearing and should be ready to bottle in about two weeks. Like Ms. Lily, you start writing and it goes on and on but there’s still so much more to cover. Lots of little things that are “normal routine” and to write about all of them would become a three-part or more tome. So with that ORF (Ondarosa Farms) signing off.

  6. Lilly mentioned threshing beans – would be very interested in hearing what / how she does that.

    Am very interested in an article about threshing on a small homestead if one of your readers has some appropriate experience?

    1. Edgewater, = That’s a good question. Once the garden crop arrives, how is it prepared for storage? … There are good ideas on the Internet (I looked because of your comment). … SurvivalBlog has mentioned growing the Three Sisters plants, which will include a bean plant.

    2. Dear Edgewater,

      Last year was the first time I had ever threshed beans. I did it the old fashioned way. After the beans were dried. I took a long cedar branch, put the dried beans on a cement pad, and flailed them with the cedar branch. It took quite awhile of beating them to separate the beans from the pods. When I had broken up as many pods as I could. I sorted through the pods and the ones that hadn’t shed their beans, I shelled by hand. After I had shelled the beans, I picked up every one of them from the ground by hand. Then I ran a fan and dropped the beans from a height to a large bowl past the fan to blow away the chaff. It took a few hours. In the end, I had about a gallon of mixed beans.

      I mentioned above that one of the beans I had planted in the garden this week was a mystery bean, that was because, I had threshed a group of mixed beans together and hadn’t separated them until I wanted to plant them. This was to save time at that time last fall. We’ll see what they are this coming summer. I’m fairly good at guessing what bean is what according to color and size. I will be planting other types of beans as the planting season continues.



  7. Nights are still hitting upper 30’s here in NE OH, and the ground is still incredibly wet. Peppers, tomatoes, basil, and eggplant were all planted in the greenhouse this week. Berries were planted last weekend. Planted more rhubarb and lettuce. Beautiful harvest of asparagus yesterday- 4th year and finally hitting a nice yield. Received a big load of aged manure (black gold) from the horse farm across the street. Gonna top off all the recently planted trees with manure before covering with landscape fabric. Never enough time!

  8. Lights out, Sacramento

    Monday, I left our place near the outskirts of Eugene Oregon.
    I headed to the mountains east of Sacramento, the capital of California.

    Yes, I know. BEL == Behind Enemy Lines.

    My intent was to evaluate for evacuation my extended family. How soon can they move to Oregon? What skills do they offer? How quickly can they adapt?

    Based on interviews with my 40-year old nephews and my 300# sister and my 400# brother-in-law, they are set in their ways. I offer them my loving support, but I cannot help the deaf and blind and lame.

    On a side note, I filled-up in Eugene at us$2.59.99 a gallon.
    Fuel in California is us$4.35.99 a gallon.

    Two weeks ago, we were in Boise Idaho for an equipment auction.
    Fuel was us$2.99.99 a gallon.
    I attended the auction for a specific piece I expected to see go for us$1,800. I walked out of the room laughing as the bidders passed 8 grand. The gavel dropped at us$20,350… more than ten times my high-go. Unbelievable!

    Our favorite restaurant in the yuge buffet operated by GoldenCorral.
    Boise, we paid us$8.76.
    Vancouver, Washington (the state), we paid us$8.76.
    Sacramento GoldenCorral is us$10.25!
    I asked the management team about the difference in price; partly due to more taxes, but the worst impact is A Living Minimum Wage©.

    During earlier visits, the Sacramento GoldenCorral had lines out the door.
    Three days ago, we had our choice of tables… the restaurant was struggling along at about 15% capacity. No way that can continue.

    Many of the staff at the Sacramento location transferred after the other of our favorites, HomeTownBuffet, closed.

    1979-89, I owned a restaurant in Chico California, so this hits me in my heritage. If YABEL == You Are Behind Enemy Lines == you might want to consider bailing before the rest of us close our borders. Can you imagine The Wall around California?

    1. Howdy Neighbor,
      I won’t ask where in the outskirts of Eugene your live, but I will say we live right in the midst of that unusual and complicated city. Your price of gasoline made me wonder… we filled up a couple of days ago in West Eugene for $3.31 per gallon at Fred Meyer. That was about the cheapest in town (Can’t forgive Costco for their anti-2A stance). We went through Oakridge a few days back and saw the price was about $3.30, but Pleasant Hill was well over $3.79. Springtuckey has lower taxes, but not that much lower. Please share where you are getting gas at $2.59!!!.
      On a side note, Hometown Buffet still exists in the Gateway Mall in Springfield, so you can always get your fix there!
      So sorry to see your auction in Idaho didn’t go as planned. Is there nothing in the Roseburg area that would work? So many rows of equipment seem to be along the I-5 down there.
      Good luck and safe travels in Commiefornia.

      1. Try gasbuddy.com,I can often find gas .15-.20 cents/gallon cheaper in a number of locations(great for road trips to plan stops in less familiar areas)

      2. Diesel. Union 76, west 11th between Bailey Hill and Bertlesen. That was then; last week, diesel was us$2.89.99 a gallon.

        I am grateful for every drop.

        Fortunately for petroleum-based vehicle users, we still have some of the stuff remaining. For a few more weeks? A few more months? Based on the obvious volatility of petroleum availability, some say this would be a particularly bad time to get bogged in payments on a stationary vehicle aka ‘planter’.

        Does ‘normalcy bias’ sound familiar?

  9. Two weeks ago our old video security system died. We have alarms scattered about the farm and video cameras covering the alarmed areas so I needed to get a new system. I replaced it with a wireless/battery operated camera system which we tried to set up but could never get it to work even with 10 calls and emails to “China support center” (with a 12 hour delay.) So packed it up and returned it. Ordered another traditional video system which is more labor intensive to set up but it has USA phone support center.

    Living on a farm there are always the usual chores of taking care of animals, weeding the garden, spraying fruit trees and bushes, cutting wood, building things and always, always repairing things. It is not IF things break or go bad, it is WHEN things go bad…and at the most inconvenient time. But, you just have to love what you do in order to be happy.

  10. On a related note, during my drive from Oregon through the fertile Sacramento Valley == the former Breadbasket Of The World™ == I was shocked at the lack of bugs smashed against my windshield.

    I remember stopping every hour or so to clean the windshield because it had layers of bugs upon bugs.

    This last week driving through a couple hundred miles of factory farms, the bug swarms were nearly non-existent.

    After we pesticide all the bugs out of our factory crops, what do the birds eat? What do the bats eat?

    What are we doing to pollinators such as bees and wasps?
    This is among my definitions of ‘armageddon’.

    1. Good report, LargeMarge about the lack of bugs on the windshield. … Our government civil servant responds to problems first spotted by the citizens. = Think Fire Departments, where people wait for a call. It’s like that ~usually in most Government Departments.

      + California has just emerged from years of a long drought period. From Drought(dot)Gov. ~ “Since 2000, the longest duration of drought in California lasted 376 weeks beginning on December 27, 2011 and ending on March 5th, 2019.
      ~~ (me) = That could be the reason for fewer insects (besides the seasonal changes).

      The Airflow Bug Deflectors to help keep smashed bugs off of the windshield are popular in Rural Areas, for a reason. = Usually there are a lot of bugs.

      Plus, farmers are under economic pressure now days, and they resort to applications of chemicals. It’s possible to check with all local ‘tap water’ suppliers and learn about the quality of their water. [Some farm chemicals are NOT reported because they are deemed safe. = At least by my Tap Water Supplier.]

      As a note: SurvivalBlog advertises quality Water Filtration Products. They’re worth a thought. In my area, Arsenic and Asbestos are naturally occurring in the Tap Water supplies. There are also many farm chemicals and other chemicals. [And yes, I bought a Gravity Water Filtration System.]

      “A Common Herbicide Turns Some Male Frogs into Females.”
      “One of the mostly widely used weed killers, atrazine, may be disrupting male frogs’ sexual development–even reversing it.”
      “The bountiful fields of the U.S. are awash in atrazine. Some 36 million kilograms of the odorless, white powder are applied on farms to control grassy weeds. Some 225,000 kilograms of the herbicide fall with the rain each year, sometimes up to 1,000 kilometers from the source. All that atrazine may be having another effect: turning male frogs female.” ~ From Scientific American, March 2, 2010.

  11. Building a new greenhouse for my bride this weekend … the snow is gone now, and hopefully the new much larger greenhouse will work well for out tomato and herb gardens, and who knows what else we can get to grow in there. Living as far north as we do is problematic for many crops … but it is fun to eat fresh veggies we have grown. If this works well, we’ll be able to grow enough for the next year caned sauces, herbs dried, etc. The experiment continues …

  12. Last year was my first time to thresh cowpeas (black-eyed peas). It was pretty easy.
    I cheated by tying them securely in an old pillow case and letting them tumble in an
    unheated clothes dryer. Check periodically to remove beans before the pods are too crumbled. Makes for easier removal. : )

  13. I know what people mean that have to travel into California.
    My friend that still works there,( 18 months and counting) calls the place Occupied Territory.

    Anyway for anyone traveling please note any traffic accident in which an illegal hits your vehicle, the police will let them go. This happened to my friend in a company vehicle.
    My wife and I were threatened by a group years ago in the Bay Area and after calling the local police, they told us they were ordered to leave these people alone.

    Bottom line, if you must travel have these things;
    Dash Cam for front and rear, plus interior of your ride

    Have 2 cell phones,( with one that’s old and not working), because the police will take your phone

    If traveling with weapons, gun in one vehicle safe, ammo in another safe and have a set of targets and range gear. I think you know why.

    Lastly, make your stay as short as possible.

    1. Unfortunately, I have kinfolk out there that I have not seen in a very long time, and probably never will again, because of the socialist-cartel regime. Now I know how the old folks in W. Berlin/E. Germany felt back in the day.

    2. The people’s republic of California is the only state that has interstate border checkpoints at every entry. Facial recognition cameras and license plates readers with X Ray vision for trucks. They have heavily armed personnel at these checkpoints.

      It is the most harassing law enforcement agency in the county.

      It is pure communism. That’s why libtards love it there.

  14. And now back to our regularly schedule programming…

    I was just crowing about the health of my plant starts with some friends. I’m also enjoying giving away finished compost to a local community garden. It will provide work for local people and food for those who are struggling nutritionally. The land is owned and managed by a local church that walks the talk of the gospels.

    The church also owns apartment buildings that provide housing for working families.

    I consider the work this church does to be acting as Jesus commanded when He gave us the Great Commission.

    Matthew 28:19–20 contains what has come to be called the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus gave this command to the apostles shortly before He ascended into heaven, and it essentially outlines what Jesus expected the apostles and those who followed them to do in His absence.

    It is interesting that, in the original Greek, the only direct command in Matthew 28:19–20 is “make disciples.” The Great Commission instructs us to make disciples while we are going throughout the world. The instructions to “go,” “baptize,” and “teach” are indirect commands—participles in the original. How are we to make disciples? By baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus commanded. “Make disciples” is the primary command of the Great Commission. “Going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are the means by which we fulfill the command to “make disciples.”

    Carry on

    1. Good to see you back, once a Marine! I thought of you and Lt. Mike and others as I put together a collaborative letter writing project between the most unruly 5th grade class ever and my high schoolers. They are writing letters to veterans and active service men and women. I might be stuck in a public school system, but I can effect change. As my son says, God put people everywhere.

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