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:

Between my writing, helping Lily in the greenhouse, ranch chores, patching a pond liner, and some mail-order biz, I’ve had a very busy week!

I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to my ad for some extra HK 91 and HK93 parts, magazines, and accessories, at The FALFiles Marketplace. The large number of orders has meant making a few extra trips to mail out packages, at the local post office. Thank goodness for Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes. Mailing heavy items like steel HK magazines (as many as 23 magazines per box) has been a bargain, with flat rate pricing.  still have about 30 more pre-packaged lots to sell and mail out, so this project will continue for another couple of weeks. Note that I keep adding items to my “want to sell” list.  For example, I just added two rare original German-made HK91/93 bipods: One light and one heavy!

One of my other projects this week was re-attaching a couple of cedar plank shelves, in our greenhouse.  Lily had found that they were a bit too high for her liking. I lowered them both about 10 inches, and now they are in easy reach for her. I’ve also been hauling rocks, soil, and manure. One fairly fun project this week was using our pickup and a heavy tow chain to drag an excavated stump out to a burn pile that is not close to any trees. (It was too heavy for an ATV to move.) Every serious prepper needs to own at least one tow chain. (But there is more versatility if you own two. And, of course, remember: “Two is one and one is none.”)

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,

Where has this week gone?  The weather was cool and rainy for the beginning of the week and only warmed up on Thursday.  And now we are back to rain showers.

This week I harvested a gallon’s worth of Rhubarb, chopped and froze it.

In the Main garden, I roto-tilled for the seventh time the chicken-manured bed and planted all of my tomato seedlings: reds, yellows, purples, orange cherry, etc.  I planted three more rows of potatoes.  This brings my total, so far of 11 rows (each 30-feet long) of potatoes planted. I planted five rows of broccoli, both seedlings and seeds.  I spread more straw between the new beds and around some of the larger seedlings.

I roto-tilled the section for a third time, where I planted the potatoes and broccoli.  I had the girls out there picking rocks from this bed, yet again.  The reason why there are so many rocks in this particular bed is that… we grow them!!  Seriously, every winter the cold frost and melting action brings them to the surface.  Also, about three or four years ago, Jim had to excavate a section of this part of the garden to run electrical lines and water pipes to our guest cabin and to add additional spigots that we placed in key spots around the ranch for easier watering of tree saplings, and to keep the area around our home damp during fire season.  This action brought many rocks to the surface that we just haven’t gotten rid of many of them. Since we live on an ancient glacial river valley, they are just everywhere.

I mowed the paths around the garden, again, and started to mow the orchard, yet, again.

I pulled weeds like crazy to stay ahead of them.  They are growing around the straw, and in between the small plants.  Once some of the plants are larger, I will be putting a lot more straw mulch around them.

I went and looked at the kitchen compost pile which has been in the building process for three years.  I put my shovel into it and turned it over.  Oh my goodness, the soil is so rich and broken down!  It’s lovely!  I am spreading it on three beds that still need to be planted and will be putting some of it aside in a large planter pot to be used for potting soil for next spring’s seedlings.

I spread some of this compost in another area of the main garden, roto-tilled it in. It is the fourth time this section has been roto-tilled. I planted it with Mandan flour corn, and mulched it with straw.  This will be the first time I have planted corn specifically for flour.  We’ll see how this grows, here.

The Annex garden has been put off yet again, this week.  Next week, for certain, I will get into it.

In the greenhouse, I filled three large planters with the kitchen compost and some surface soil from an unplanted bed and transplanted some of my butternut squash, Honeydew melon and Spaghetti squash seedlings into them and put them up on one of the plank shelves that Jim just lowered for me.

I cleaned the chicken coop and brushed the horses.  Our hairy monster horse is still shedding copious amounts of hair, whiles the other horses are completely transitioned into their summer short-haired summer coats.

Along the Unnamed River that flows through the ranch, I have observed a small flock of about 20 Canada Geese that have taken up residence here.  Among the 20 or so birds are three pairs raising about 9 goslings between them.  I am able to observe them through one of our windows with binoculars.  One day this week as I was heading outside to do some work, I heard a loud commotion occurring down by the river. I saw a Bald Eagle trying to take one of the goslings and the parents fighting back at it.  I know that that is the natural way of things but I didn’t want that eagle to succeed. “Go eat fish, eagle. Leave those baby goslings alone.” So, I shouted  “Hey, Hey, POW, pow, pow!” as I ran down towards the river through the meadows.  The meadows are still flooded from snow melt and river overflow. I had to pass through seven-inch deep water, mud, and muck to get to the river’s edge.  I got soaked.

The eagle didn’t even fly off until I was only about 50 feet away, and then it just flew across the river, landed on a low tree, and looked at me.  It wasn’t even concerned with me.  So I skirted the poor geese who were now worried about me, and shouted, again, and waved my arms and “jumped” at the eagle numerous times.  Finally, it flew off up the river, but only a little ways, and landed high up in a tree.  Meanwhile, one of the parents was trying to get me to chase it up the river, while the other parent and the other two sets of parents/five adult geese and the nine goslings were heading down river.  I gave one final shout,  “Hey, hey, pow pow”, a few more jumps, while waving my arms at the eagle, who just looked at me with what was probably mild amusement, and then headed back down the river, but away from the bank so as not to scare the geese anymore than necessary.  I went back to my work and would occasionally look down toward the river to see if there was any more drama, but there wasn’t.  I think I gave a baby gosling another day of life.

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. Can’t get the garden in, nothing but rain in Iowa. Mowing grass 2X per week. Rivers are all high, can’t even go fishing. Confirmed last winter’s “global warming temps” of -33* killed 2 peach trees , 2 quince trees and an apricot. Asparagus is coming on strong, 30+ lbs. Wife has been pickling asparagus. Surrounding neighbors have gotten a lot of the surplus too.
    Guess I’m going have to wade through the mud this week end and stick in the tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and okra…no other choice now.

    1. I just recently heard from a friend in great pain from gout, that her doctor told her that asparagus was a cause of gout even if you are not a red meat eater, which she is not. Dang, I love asparagus…has anyone else heard of this?

  2. Way to go Lilly! Not only did you save the gosling, but having an established goose habitat might come in handy one day. I fondly think of Dickens’ goose dinner Christmas scene. Not to mention down comforters – just watch for spiders.

    This week has indeed been cold and rainy. I took advantage and transplanted more perennials for landscaping. In addition, I have now secured horseradish to plant by the barn. Anyone planting horseradish who doesn’t know – it is invasive and nigh on impossible to eradicate. It does, however, have a lot of redemptive qualities in addition to tasting great! The final piece on the gardening front is that I’ve decided up mulch the ugly mini hill in front of the cabin where I moved the rescued baby trees and transplanted hostas and ferns to keep the soil from eroding. This hill, when I inherited the land, was piled so high with brush that I couldn’t see over the top. A layer of mulch will protect the soil, the plants and help against drought when I’m not here to water. Sadly, not all the blueberry starts made it through the icy freeze/thaw/freeze winter, but the current bushes did. I was given walking onions and look forward to seeing them multiply and spread.

    Best news ever! I get to return home to the Redoubt permanently after all. I am beyond happy and have been preparing for this eventuality since I arrived here. Most of my work here is done. A few things remaining. If I do not get them done, I’ll be back to visit in the fall and can cut more wood than. I’d like to leave the wood box full! I expect a severe winter here (In my part of the east) next year and someone might need to keep warm if holed up in the cabin for a time – just praying it is not me! Always prudent to leave a supply of wood ready to burn anyway.

    I’ll be blackening the stove this weekend when the weather turns nice. I keep adding kindling gathered from yard cleanup to the barn along with saved newspaper and cardboard. .

  3. Took a vacation day Friday to work on remodeling our mud room at the BOL. Putting in new 2″ styrofoam insulation and new paneling. Found out that there was, at some point, a wasp nest in the wall. Once the new walls are up I will be putting up Gladiator storage units up.

    While at Lowes picking up insulation and other material I saw a Kobalt cement mixer on sale. I have been thinking about getting a mixer and I got this one for just a few dollars more than what the Harbor Freight mixer would cost.

    Stopped by Tractor Supply and they had a bunch of air hose fittings on clearance and clearance was an additional 20% off so I picked up an armful.

    Stopped by one of the local antique shops by the BOL. They have a corn sheller in workable condition but they want $150 which I think is outrageous for the condition so I passed on that. I’ll wait a few month then make an offer.

  4. RE tow chains – 2 chains, certainly, and 3 isn’t too many (20 ft, 3/8″ links, Grade 70 only, and avoid the Chinesium versions….). Add a 50 ft and 100 ft 3/8″ 14,000 lb rated steel cable and a couple heavy duty snatch blocks (rated 8 ton or greater), a pair of 8 ft 30K lb rated “tree saver” straps, a 30 ft 30K lb rated tow strap and a HD 3/4″ – 1″ D-ring for each end of each strap. Every vehicle should have tow hooks, 2 at each end, and a D-ring shackle adapter for every frame-mounted trailer hitch, AND A PAIR OF HEAVY GLOVES. If you can mount or carry a 48-60″ high lift jack, do it – it lifts things and can also be used a come-along – and make a “jack plate” for it – 2X 3/4″ plywood Gorilla-glued together, at least 12″ X 12″, 14X14 is a handy size extra points – pro tip, make it the largest size that will fit under the vehicle’s passenger seat, with for 5/16′ – 3/8″ grade 5 or better through-bolts (and nuts, wing nuts are fine, don’t forget spares) to anchor the jack base to the jack plate. A few extra 13/32″ holes (1/32 larger than 3/8″) in the wood jack plate for 12″ long timber spikes to anchor the plate are handy, too.

    Pro tip: when using a steel cable run it through both sleeves of an old jacket or coat; if the cable snaps under load IT WILL WHIP and the jacket MAY reduce that somewhat. A snapped chain will just drop, a cable will whip, and if heavily loaded the whipping cable WILL be strong enough to sever legs and arms.

    Harbor Freight has cheap tool bags in various sizes, ~10-14″, and they’re good for keeping “tow stuff” together: 1 20 ft chain, 1 8ft tree saver, 1 30 ft tow strap, 1 snatch block, 2-4 D-rings, 1 pair heavy gloves, 4 anchor spikes for the jack plate. All in one place, with handles. Put one (or two…) in each vehicle and one on the shed/barn shelf.

    Clean and dry stuff after use, re-store in the “tow bag”, it’ll always be there for the next use.

    Pro tip: Those cheap HF tool bags make good “ballast bags” when filled with clean, dry gravel (wash it to get the “fines” and dust out and let it dry completely). Put the weighted bag(s) over equipment feet or hang with the handles to keep wind from blowing things over. Easier to carry and cleaner than sandbags.

  5. Our “break up” broke up very fast this year, and I built one of two green houses for my wife. It is in full swing now and working better than expected. The second green house will be completed in the early fall (August) once I have cleared the area of our acreage I cut many spruce and birch trees down that had been damaged two years ago in a heavy winter freeze; they will be good firewood in two years. Good for you Lily, that gosling will be much happier outside that eagles belly … if it lives. Up here the ravens are very aggressive especially on the new born livestock, the eagles are all south on the coast and I don’t expect to see them for a few weeks yet.

    Today we planted several tubs rescued from the transfer site (land fill area) with potatoes. This is an experiment on our part to see if we can grow potatoes in these large tubs filled with dirt. Our summer is very intense, but short so it remains to be seen if this will work. We planted arctic golds, and some red potatoes that sprouted in our supply bin because we didn’t keep watch on them … so we’ll see how that works for us. If it works then I’ll but watering troughs and fill them and use them since the perma frost won’t let us grow anything much in the ground. I can even build frames over them to provide a mini green house (hot frames?) if needed to extend the season.

    The biggest push we are doing now is to fill our dry goods supply of food. Mountain House and other staples we find at the new Costco store just opened are our primary focus. I love the gallon size hash brown potatoes we bought there, soak for a few minuets and cook …

    I lined our “crawl space ” under our house with vapor barrier, I can stand full height between the rafters and over the last 10 years determined that the temperature down there never gets below 40 above zero so I’m making a type of storage and root cellar of it. My water well pump is down there so keeping it above freezing was our goal. We “weatherized” our house with last year a new roof and this has kept the temps stable in the full house as well as our “new; root cellar.

    Next year all new windows and our home will be done; then a new workshop to be built and move my gun shop out of the garage and arctic mommy can have her garage back … some how that project got out of hand and grew like a weed …

    God bless and AMERICA bless God.

  6. This week was the first time my wife got really on board with food storage. She started reading James’s book How to Survive The End of the World as We Know It, which amazed me as she has shown no desire to do food storage. I’m excited about the potential of what we can do if she fully gets “in the game”.

    1. Our pastor illustrated that women are “now” thinkers, whereas as a man’s brain is always in the “future”. That’s why a baby’s diaper will be changed the moment it is soil with a woman, whereas a man will will change it at half-time of the football game.

      With my wife, she thinks it’s a waste of time and money to stock the Ready Store #10 cans, because “We have food now!”

      You might want to get some of the church ladies involved that are Preppers, that seems to get her in the mood.

    2. South Texas Prepper… How did you get her to read the book and get on board? I’ve been trying for a while now but can’t seem to get my wife on board. We’re both retired and all she sees is the money.

      1. Didn’t do anything. I bought the book on amazon and it showed up. She started reading the chapter about the deep larder, and sent me a text at work. We’re now listening to the audio version together, which is huge. I’ve found pushing her doesn’t work, and for whatever reason, she just started reading it. That being said, I think it’s more of a fear thing if she really opened her eyes to the danger in the world and the risk out there, it would freak her out. I know that we are wired differently. Pat of what I do for a living is identifying risk, and then finding a way to reduce it. Prepping just seems natural with that mindset. That being said, her getting to this point has taken 10 years of marriage, and then hurricane Harvey didn’t hurt. Most people were trying to get their stuff together, while I was pretty good. Found a ton of gaps in my plans and some of them are still there, but she saw the benefit.

        Also today, I let her lead the shopping and food storage effort. I’m going to try and get her to be an “owner” of this process. This way it’s hers and besides she’s the only one that cooks, so she knows what she needs.

  7. The more we read and learn, the more things we think of that need to be done. Oh well… baby steps.

    We bought the ranch next to ours – two main reasons, besides having more land and river frontage: there are 3 good wells, 1 with a solar-powered pump and the house is brick with an underground storm shelter in the back yard. Oh, and since we own it, we don’t have to worry about some liberals from the left coast or the Northeast buying it and complaining about the noise once we get our training classes up and running. That brings our total acreage close to 1500. If we find that we need to liquidate it at some point, we can always sell off a smaller portion of it.

    We made a short trip to the old house, a few states away, for a medical procedure (results were better than expected, so we are very happy about that) and to pick up a trailer full of things we pulled out of storage a few months ago but couldn’t bring down to the ranch yet, due to winter road conditions up north. The last two hours of the drive here were in pouring rain so we had to drop the trailer at the new ranch since the road conditions at the old ranch were so bad. Most of the time we spent up north last week, we watched the snow come down – ahh, yes, Springtime in the Rockies…. Gotta love it!

    I built a keyhole garden out front of the house and have been trying to get a bunch of veggies to grow, but it has been difficult. They either get too dry or get pounded by the rain. I have been starting seedlings in the house, but the results have been irregular, shall we say. Just got a new grow lamp the other day, so we’ll see if more light helps to develop stronger seedlings. The biggest disappointment has been the herbs. They just aren’t germinating as well as the veggies. Because of the small size of the keyhole garden (6’ diameter), I have a wide variety of seeds but have been trying to plant just a few of each.

    I think we have finally decided on the best place to plant an in-ground garden and orchard. We need to clear out the weeds and bushes, first. Then we can begin work on the soil and get some fruit trees in.

    Meanwhile, plans are being drawn for the new house. It will be constructed with ICF’s and poured concrete, with concrete floors and flat roofs. Any sloped roofs will be metal. Shingles just don’t last long down here. Besides, metal roofing means we can harvest rainwater more efficiently. And flat roofs mean rooftop gardens can be built, as well as providing a tactical advantage by placing 3’ or 4’ parapets all around. Think of a Medieval castle with crenellations. Once the house is done, we can pack up the rest of what is up north and divest ourselves of the property there. That will help to replenish the cash reserves.

    I keep trying to think of all the little things I would miss once the supply chain breaks down. Things like sponges, brooms, toothbrushes and hairbrushes, underwear, socks. We have been stocking up on food, first aid supplies, canning jars, toilet paper and seeds but what about the other things that we use everyday but that last long enough that they slip our minds until they finally wear out or break? Those need to be stocked up on and stored away, too.

    I have been assembling small personal hygiene kits for charity or barter. Since I have saved toiletries from motels for many years, I have been finding good uses for them. I keep them around for overnight guests, I used to give them to an acquaintance who dropped them off at a Battered Women’s Shelter and now, I am using them for prepping. I fill a ziplock sandwich bag with a bar of soap, a bottle each of shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer lotion, two tea bags (for the caffeine as well as for first aid as a blood clotting agent for minor cuts and to neutralize insect venom) because tea is easier to brew than coffee, a couple of mints, a small pill bottle with a couple of tablespoons of salt – so many uses – and a 1-time-use toothbrush with tooth gel. The toothbrushes run about 21 cents each and are the biggest expense, but to help someone feel human again, that is a reasonable cash output, in my opinion. I have about 60 of the bags put together, 17 are complete, the rest need a couple of items, but will have to wait until I spend a few more nights on the road to gather lotion bottles and until I take some more vitamins to empty out bottles for salt. The little 1-shot liquor bottles work well, too. Eventually, I might add in a few sugar packets. My goal is to increase the total to 100 bags. We’ll see…

    As I said, baby steps. We are just hoping we can get the house done before the bubble bursts. With the situations in the Middle East, North Korea and the Southern border, we are getting a bit nervous but trying to be patient. Once the house is done, we will have a secure retreat and the rest can fall into place as it will.

    Now, if the politicians would get their acts together and do the jobs they were elected/hired to do, we could all breathe easier. If they had to actually work for a living, they would find themselves out in the street. Any of them who refuse to do the job of government need to be impeached, recalled or voted out of office. If only…

    That’s about it for now. We’ve only been doing this for a couple of years, so I guess we have a long way to go. Hopefully, the world will wait for us to get closer to our goals.

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