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:

I had a busy week of writing. Since we have some summer travel scheduled, I’m trying to edit some of the feature articles, and a few of the columns, two weeks in advance. Generally, researching, writing and editing the blog takes me about six hours a day. But at times like this, when I’m “doubling up” on editing, it stretches  to 10 hours a day. That doesn’t leave much extra time for ranch chores!  But I did squeeze in some axe, chainsaw, and shovel time.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,
This week our weather was mostly cool and rainy.  On Wednesday evening, we had a doozy of a thunderstorm roll through with a deluge of rain. In the two hours of rainfall, we estimate that we received almost two inches!  There were huge puddles everywhere.  It was a wild storm.  I was very worried that we’d also get hail.  Reports were, that some areas of our region, could receive ping-pong ball sized hail.  When the storm came our way, I prayed that the Lord would not drop hail on us and thankfully, He answered my prayer.  My garden survived the heavy rain.  I am very thankful that our region was drenched.  We really do need the rain.

We are now harvesting strawberries. The ripening is increasing from just two or three ripe berries, last week, to a full cereal bowl on Thursday. Soon it will be large bowls full. We can’t wait.

Of the last garden area that I planted in the Main garden, about three weeks ago, the plants are now large enough to put straw mulch around them.  So this week was spent weeding and mulching that area which is planted with spaghetti squash, French beans, yellow wax beans, Alaskan Corn, beets, Mesculun mix lettuce, cucumbers, Middle eastern Zucchini squash, pumpkin, and another bed of carrots.

Jim, the kids, and I all spent a lot of time working on a project that we started last summer which needed more work this past week.  I can’t be more specific, for OPSEC reasons. Sorry!  But I can say that this is something we all want and will use.

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. Picked up some nice pallets to make 2 composting bins at the homestead (no long the BOL since we live there). Got a chance to go to a Cabela’s where I picked up 200 rounds of 55 grain 5.56mm, an extra filter for my Katadyn Vario water filter, a package with 2 packs of activated charcoal and two pre-filters for the Vario, a sharpening stone for shovel and scythe blades, and a book titled “Outdoor Medical Emergency Handbook”, 2nd Edition. I have several filters for the Vario put away already but for less than $11 I couldn’t pass it up. The medical book is very good, way beyond just a run of the mill first aid book! Picked up the current edition of Backwoodsman. Found a spool of wire at the used store for $10.

    Took half a day of vacation to move an “uninterrupted power supply” (UPS). I am going to use it as an inverter for my solar power system. Very good find for the right price- $0, just haul it away! New the unit runs about $15,000!!! After getting the thing off the truck I spent time organizing the barn, moved some tools around and hung up more hand tools, air hoses and extension cords. I also hung up 13 folding camp chairs and 2 folding camp tables to get them up and out of the way and hopefully protected from critters. Hung up the hot dog forks and pie irons too.

  2. Hoping to get some more garden weeding done this weekend. We have had a lot of storms lately here in East Tn. Cucumbers and summer squash are doing great, the beets are about done and the okra is coming along well. Need to finish weed eating and hopefully cut the grass when the ground dries enough.

    We also need to dehydrate some of our herbs for storage. They did very well this year, tons of oregano, cilantro (coriander now), parsley, rosemary. Thyme did not do as well as expected. Need to mill some more logs to build storage shelves with. Lots of maintenance work to catch up on!

  3. We got hit with the same storm, We are still cutting up downed trees and clearing debris..it’s a mess. Thankfully we dodged the hail, otherwise the damage would have been much worse. I had moved my truck only 30 minutes prior to a large Jackpine coming down right in the same spot!

  4. Greatest potato harvest ever! Might not sound like much to the old timers out there, but from 5 lbs of seed potatoes we took in nearly 30 lbs. Red Lakota and Yukon Gold were the best. Simple planting method of, seed potato (not cut up) placed on the ground, cover with about six inches of straw and continue adding straw as potato plants grow through. Ended up placing about 12-15 inches of straw on the plants. Beautiful flowers appeared, plants began to yellow and we harvested. Lots of lessons learned and like a fan of a losing football team, “wait till next year!”
    Also harvested first round of Jade and Yellow Wax beans. These were the beans that were planted too early because of our lack of patience in waiting for warmer weather. Output was low as we only canned eight pints. But that’s eight pints we didn’t have before. Planted second round of beans and 95+% germination occurred within four days. Ahh, what a difference warm weather and patience makes!
    Thanks Avalanche Lily for the mulching tip, beans are well enough along for mulching. Weather predicted to turn super hot and dry for the next few weeks, beans will appreciate the help.

  5. https://www.hamradio.com/

    Sold the old Harley for cash( fixing to convert to preps), stopped by hamradio outlet local location to get some knowledge from a very friendly old timer. trying to figure out a cost effective duplicative setup for myself and a few other like minded friends within an hour drive north and south from my pos and he squared me away.

    my last radio experience was MBITR and SINCGARs A very long time ago.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra_k6Pfd-FM

      it is best to standardize, and one thing most folks would usually agree to is a lower cost. We’ve used a lot of Anytones, and Baofengs, although I have Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom, and Motorolla too. The Anytones will be open banded, and match up well with Baofengs. I do not know if this model of Anytone is still available, but there will likely be a current version of the AT-588 as seen in this video. I’ve programmed about 7 of them this spring, for a fellow got for them for $200 each, probably a close out sale price. Look for that maybe on EBAY. Other discontinued radios might be found there as well. The video shows off the cross band repeat, which is bit advanced for a novice, but it is not difficult to learn should you need it. The Anytone is very capable, and at a lower cost. It does have scramble, but that does not make it ‘secure’, but it does reduce the audience size. I generally recommend the Tram 1181 antenna as a low cost dual and wide band antenna to take full advantage of the radio. Unlike most other antennas, I have found these to have a low SWR, and should it not need to be tuned. The antenna will extend the range of a hand held, or Baofeng, up to 3 times over the short hand held antennas. You might have enough range with this combination, but a mobile has the power in reserve to overcome unfavorable terrain, should one find themselves behind a hill or other dead spot.

      There are tons of videos on commo. One of the better channels is CommsPrepper. Learn before you leap, so you can ask better questions.

    2. To SOG,

      This is a Yaesu FT-2800. NIB $220. Avoid the used ones. Proven performer, but only VHF, but that is all you’ll probably need. With the savings of $95 verses the more expensive AT-588, buy more Baofengs.
      It can be open banded with the press of a few ‘secret’ buttons not disclosed in the manual. Mine works good. Stay off the highest power setting of 70 watts, and it’ll last longer.


    3. SOG,

      I love shopping for radios. This one is good for those who will stick strictly to the Ham bands. No GMRS, or other is possible. I prefer more capability just in case, but it’s only $209.oo for a dual band Yaesu.

      These 3 mobile radios represent the categories you might consider, but wait, there is more. There are less expensive, about $100 dollar, Chinese mobiles out there with a lower maximum output of 25 watts, versus 50 and 70 watts for these more expensive models. However, more than 25 watts is seldom needed. The PRC series of low band VHF radios the Army used, were usually 25 watts or less. Buy radios from a reputable dealer, and there is less likely a chance of getting a Chinese ‘lemon’.

      Dual banded, open banded, backpack size, 25 watts for $86.00:
      Leixen VV-898S UHF/VHF 25W Dual Band Mobile Two-Way Radio



  6. SOG, just retired as CO of a JICCS, former 05C operator, extra class ham. I’d like to help you and comms with you if your interested. How can we make contact and keep OPSEC?

      1. If James is willing to set up a way to contact each other direct I would be willing to do so … but it’s up to him . There re times when I wish there was a way I could make contact direct with others I have watched on this blog.

  7. We also have had some bouts with hail recently here. We heard about hail netting and decided to try some out on our garden. Put it up right after we planted our transplants. Since then we have had 4 storms with varying sizes of hail up to golf ball size. The netting worked great, it sagged a little in the middle after the first storm. We added some additional framing across the top for additional support and it solved the sagging issue.

  8. A local NGO that teaches youngsters how to raise food asked me to offer a workshop on composting. Just a couple miles away so I bicycled, into a fierce rainstorm. Soaked, and eager to impart knowledge.

    They, some of them, were eager to contribute what they knew. Some good questions.

    Carry on

  9. Re: Novice Garden, installment #2

    Rather late to this party, but can mention briefly a few things. Even though no green house was used, these ‘cold weather’ short season open pollinated vegetables planted in early May, Joan rutabaga, Purple Top turnip, Fork Hook Giant chard, Danvers carrots, kohlrabi , a giant variety of spinach, and yellow onion are growing like gang busters in this cold, and very wet NW Montana season. Received torrential rains, and temps into high 30’s. However, the garden is mostly huge and healthy. The Early Top beets, and kale are smaller than expected, but there is plenty of summer left. The Yukon Gold potato, not a cold weather variety, but planted in early May, prior to the last frost date, is well over 2 feet high ,and literally growing like weeds. Red onion is smaller than the yellow onion but healthy, but the Southport Red Globe is much smaller, yet healthy, however these were planted not with ‘starts’ , but with seed, so it would take longer to grow to their potential. The spinach is bolting. Spinach did well in large containers, and beets seem to do okay too, but all varieties of vegetables planted in the ground are clearly growing the best. so far this novice garden is near 100%. happy with the yield from open pollinated, or non hybrid seed. Some produce more than others.
    An advantage to growing a root crop as the Irish discovered, is that often raided by Englishmen, and their gardens destroyed, the root crop was still in the ground untouched. A deer got part of my experimental section in a wheel barrel, but because the roots were strong, they sprung right back… All three soil types are growing strong plants.

    Two loads in the canner consisted of smoked salmon, deer, and pork, and a little of a very large bear. We’ll have tags for an early hunt this year for Elk. This is some of the best meat on the planet. Instead of organic beef, we grow organic wildlife. Cost of production is a couple of days in the woods.

  10. We built a keyhole garden and I planted a wide variety of heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Seeds. I started most of them inside in Jiffy Peat Pellets. I have decided that was a waste, in both time and money, at least this time, but it might be more viable a method with a greenhouse. This time, they were started in the kitchen with a mediocre grow light bulb and a daylight bulb. About a month into starting them, I ordered a 3-arm LED growlight with red and blue lights that seems to work much better. A month after that, I started transplanting the starts into the keyhole garden outside. I also put a few seeds directly into the soil and those seemed to be doing better than most of the transplants. After putting a package of garlic bulbs in the fridge for 3 months, I took one bulb out, broke it up, put about 6 or 7 cloves into the keyhole garden, put 5 cloves into the little in-ground garden where my Greek oregano is still living/growing/surviving from 2 years ago. The garlic sprouted up 2 days after being planted! I finally transplanted the Persian Basil seedlings I had been nursing for 3 months into the other little in-ground bed where I used to have Vulgare Basil that finally died and where I had direct seeded some more. I came back 2 hours later to plant the Vulgare Basil seedlings only to find the Persian Basil was GONE!!! Apparently, all that rain we had in the spring has convinced the grasshoppers to invade. Some have bodies larger than my thumb! They have eaten the Romaine lettuce seedlings, the onions, both bulb and green, the leeks, the cabbage seedlings, even the marigolds that were planted in with the veggies to deter pests. Well, that didn’t work! And now, they seem to have moved onto the garlic! I thought that would be too strong a flavor for them. Apparently, I was mistaken. Next step will be to put in some lemon balm seeds where the marigolds were. So far, the Wanda peas, zucchini, Israel melons, echinacea, radishes, Cubanelle peppers, beets, 4 varieties of tomatoes and the nasturtiums are surviving. For a first try, I am optimistic and semi-happy. Oh, and I have 1 or 2 cauliflowers that are hanging on. The carrots and other lettuces – not so much.
    I noticed a ranch about 15 miles away that has some old round bales of hay that look to be way past their prime. Next time I head into town, I will stop by and ask if they would be willing to part with 1 or 2 for a cheap price (or free?) to use as mulch for the new garden area and for the orchard. Oh! The order of fruit trees for the orchard arrived. They are all dormant right now, so as soon as I mix up some potting soil for them, I will put them into pots to get them started where I can get water to them easily and control sunshine and access by wildlife. They were all fairly reasonably priced, so this is an experiment. Also in the order were some weeping willows to eventually get planted down near the river and some magnolias to plant for shade. Eventually, the nut trees will get planted near the new house. I also bought seed potatoes, several varieties, to see if they will work down here. And I found 3 books by Ruth Stout, 1 from Barnes & Noble, the other 2 on eBay, describing her no-till, no-work method of year-round mulching, hence the search for the old hay bales. We have a source for free wheat straw from a local farmer but we are going to need to wait for a few more weeks to get it so I am looking for a more immediate answer to my mulching needs.
    The days are so hot right now that we haven’t been able to do much in the way of preparing the new garden. A few hours of using the loader to grub out dead trees and cart off stumps and limbs is about all we can stand. And that spring rain also brought out the horseflies in flocks this summer. They are too big and annoying to be referred to as swarms! Makes the no-work method sound better all the time, doesn’t it?
    We are hoping for some moderate rain to put the dust back in its place and to help the plants along. Other than that, it is simmertime in Texas. (Yeah, I’m going to let that typo stay there…). Whoo hoo!

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