Editors’ Prepping Progress

To be prepared for a crisis, every Prepper must establish goals and make long-term and short-term plans. In this column, the SurvivalBlog editors review their week’s prep activities and planned prep activities for the coming week. These range from healthcare and gear purchases to gardening, ranch improvements, bug out bag fine-tuning, 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’ve been very busy with my contracted writing project. But I did have some time to do a few projects here at the ranch. For example, I helped Lily in the main garden and orchard.  She’ll let you know all of those gardening details. I also disassembled a disused chicken tractor, to save that lumber and hardware. Oh, and I bought a few more cattle panels, in town. Those seem to have umpteen uses.

I’ve just lined up one of my usual local hay suppliers. I’m scheduled to pick up six tons in the field, next week. We’ll see how that goes. Stay tuned.

Avalanche Lily Reports:

Dear Readers,

This week was a crazy week trying to get things done around the ranch, gardens and orchard.

The orchard was weed-whacked.  I need to mow it, too, so the grass will be very short.  We bought and planted three more fruit trees and a new set of grape vines (Last year, we tried to plant a vineyard up in the garden and it didn’t take.  This year we bought larger potted grape vines and prepared a very nice arching arbor from hog panels for them in the orchard.  We’ll see how they fare, there).  Additionally we planted 12 Thornless Blackberries to get a blackberry patch under way.  I trimmed suckers off of the apple, and plum trees.

In the garden, paths were mowed. I harvested 4 pounds of carrots which were part of the experiment plot, I planted last fall from carrot seeds I had harvested here on the ranch last summer.  They did super well, with over-wintering and gave us an earlier harvest.  I also harvested a large amount of turnip fronds with seeds pods from turnips also planted last fall. And I harvested seed fronds from kale and mizuna greens.  The seeds fronds are drying out in large shallow bins in the greenhouse.  Later, when they’re fully dry, I will thresh and winnow the seeds.  I rototilled that section, where the carrots, Mizuna and turnips over-wintered, and will plant something in it, later.  I also did a lot of weeding all over the garden, Misses Eloise and Violet helped me with this..

In the greenhouse, I pulled up the kale and spinach seed fronds and put them in bins to continue drying.  I will be preparing to plant in that bed, too, soon, for a fall/winter crops.

I planted some yellow potatoes in three large planter pots.  The potatoes had begun sprouting, so, I though, “Why not?”  I can always cover them with plastic if we get some cold nights to prolong their season.

My “broccoli” failed this year.  I think the seeds I bought, from an “new” company from a regional store were not what the package had said they were, seriously, and grew this really weird broccoli type species that had super tiny heads that bolted/went to flower super quickly.  I think it’s Raab broccoli.  I don’t like it.  So, I tore out all of the “broccoli” and weeds and rototilled that section.  Not sure what I will do with it, yet. I have only one true/proper broccoli growing in my garden, as a volunteer, and have bought the broccoli species from a trusted vendor, that I really wanted and will use to try for a fall crop, shortly.  Sometimes, I just buy seeds at local stores, just because.  This time it was a mistake.

I really want to harvest my own broccoli seeds, one of these years. I tried for it last summer, but none of those seeds took this year.  I had planted them in a patch and none came up, so I replanted that patch with something else.  Those seeds that I took from some of my broccoli that went to seed this last summer in their first growing season, were not viable, because the plant itself has to over winter, the cold does some magic to it, and then it needs to regrow and produce flowers and seeds in the second summer which makes the seeds viable.  In other words, as I have read, broccoli plants that produce flowers and seeds in their first summer, the seeds are not viable. But I tried anyway, and found out that this is true.  I had used seeds from flowers from a plant that hadn’t experienced the cold dormant stage of winter, therefore weren’t viable.  Maybe next summer?  Is there anyone out there in in our community that has saved broccoli seeds from their own plants?  If so, then please tell us what method you use.

We harvested our first purple cabbage and along with some of the harvested carrots, and some raisins, made our first coleslaw of the year.

Last year I didn’t quite have enough Zucchini, imagine that!!  So this year I planted a whole row of them.  Well, now,  I have a boatload of zucchini coming in.  I love Zucchini!  So I have begun dehydrating it for soups.  I cut up six medium sized Zuchs, and dehydrated them and ended up with two thirds of a quart.  I froze 2 gallons worth and still have 10 more Zuchs. sitting on my counter awaiting processing.  I will continue alternating between dehydrating, freezing, eating them, and giving them away.

I harvested a large amount of green beans.  I blanched and froze a gallons worth, but have a large stainless steel bowl full of them, still in the fridge awaiting to be frozen or canned.  I will process them on Sunday.

Raspberries:  They are going gang-busters for us this year.  I have already picked two gallons between the reds, blacks and goldens, which we are freezing, and we’ve only just begun the season.  Yeah!  I have always wanted large patches of berries and finally this dream has come true!!

Our farrier is no longer available and there isn’t another one in our area at this time.  So I have been studying a farrier textbook that Jim had acquired sometime in the past, and have been watching videos and ordering up a couple of farrier tools that we were lacking.  I was very present and attentive each time our last farrier visited the ranch and worked on the horses, so I have a really good idea on his method of hoof trimming for our horses’ particular needs.  So I will be giving that a try sometime in the very near future.  More on that later.

Please warn your friends and family to begin stocking up on food, etc.  The crop failures worldwide are mounting and foods will be becoming scarce and unavailable. I suspect that prices will be skyrocketing very soon.  Famine is knocking at the door for all nations within the next two years!  Please be discerning and wise.  Take this warning to heart!

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. Wife took advantage of Amazon prime days to get items on our wish list to include 2 Baofeng UV-5R radios with accessories, a bunch of D-ring grimlocks for Molle gear, 10 pack of of replacement gas can spouts and a chainmail cast iron cleaner.

    I was out of town and was in rural PA and had the chance to visit a large hardware store where I picked up some rather interesting finds including a box of Tattler Canning jar lids, a thread repair file, D-cell mag light holder, 2 sets of utility hinges, 2-30 amp charging clips, some roller chain replacement links, some storage hooks for the barn, and 2 small pillow block bearings. Nice store.

    Was at tractor supply and picked up an assortment of Hairpin cotter pins, some clevis pins, a barbed wire gripper and some buckles that were on clearance in the tack section.

    Was going through a bunch of door knobs someone gave me and realized that he gave me a bunch of nice door hinges too! Hinges have been on my “stock up on” list after seeing the prices they want for a set now and not having an ample supple on hand.

    We had a severe thunder storm come though last evening and several other thunder storms through the night. Flood warnings were also issued. As we were coming home from dinner we noticed several drive ways where the pipes couldn’t handle the water coming off the hill and was flowing across the road.

    Will be going to the Gas and Steam Engine show today. They always have a nice flea Market that I am sure I’ll find come across some good finds. I will probably be real wet and humid from all the rain last night. We are under a heat advisory today as well.

    1. If you don’t mind, where’s this store you mentioned? I’m in NE PA regularly, hoping it’s near there. Was there last weekend helping mother-in-law with fixing up her mother’s house to sell and we ran into a hardware store in a city, thought I had stepped back in to the 70s. Everything was dust covered and very minimal stock. Not sure how they are still open, they didn’t have what we needed and had to run out since we were in a rush but will definitely go back to scope it out.

      1. I go to Holtwood Supply in Holtwood, PA just south of Lancaster. It’s run by Amish. Closed Sundays. Propane lights. They carry a mix of farm supply to hardware parts. I’ve purchased bolts, nails, and drywall screws by the pound, rail road ties, fencing, propane, wood tool handles, etc. Prices are good on bulk items and products that turn over, reasonable otherwise.

  2. I missed commenting on Milwaukee’s new cordless chain saw. Chain saws figure heavily in my off-grid lifestyle and plans. I have a couple of Husqvarna industrial saws, and a Sears electric 16″ and a LOT of chains for all.
    The Milwaukee unit is very attractive to me, but I have concerns….batteries die. Li-Ion batteries are fragile and vulnerable to harsh electromagnetic insult (lightning, EMP). The charger is, of course, jammed with boards to manage the tricky job of charging these chip-filled batteries. A single battery costs as much or more than the saw itself! By the time you are into a few batteries, the saw, and a couple of chargers (one in a can), you’re well into a top grade industrial gas saw. Being heavily chip dependent, it will also require a pure sine wave 120 volt source to operate the charger. So a good inverter will be in order. The typical vehicle inverter will likely be of modified sine wave design, and the charger will not function.
    I have a selection of bow saws and blades….never hurts to have cave man technology in reserve.

  3. We had four days of rain from TS Barry so we were only dashing outside to feed the animals; other chores were delayed. So the last two days have been heavy chore days, including bush hogging the meadows, weed whacking area around the rabbit cages, mowing the 6” high grass around the house and cleaning the chicken coops. Dispatched 2 more copperheads with 9mm shot shells, 1 in the big chicken coop and 1 on the patio! Thinking of renaming the farm “Copperhead Alley.” Now we are experiencing 105 heat index days so we are working early mornings only.

    Changed the oil in the freeze-dryer to get ready for loads of veges and fruit. Even though I have the dryer on the enclosed porch it still heats up the room, so I’m going to wait until the temps go back down a bit.

    The hybrid battery on my 13 year old Prius finally had to be replaced. Shopped around the dealers as they are the only ones with the equipment to program the hybrid; it was pricey but the car gets 49 MPG, has only120,000 miles and this is the only major expense I’ve had in 13 years.

    My son finished leveling an area where we are putting the hoop house so next step is to lay the foundation. It was a challenge as the garden area is on a slight hill. We will be building raised beds inside the hoop house but will keep the corn and vines outside.

    Have a safe week!

    1. If you are looking for a Prius replacement battery, NAPA has them. If you have some way of getting the old one out, pop the new one in and take the core back for your refund. We sell them at the store I work at.

    2. Word of warning, the battery change in the Prius,interview the mechanic doing the job. Worked at a dealer that had a hybrid come in for service,only one mechanic had been to the class and was the first one he had actually serviced. Took twice as long as expected(book hours),the tools didn’t work as expected,parts were special order only and high voltage work was hazardous(cordoned off a section of the shop to work). Make sure they have at least 2 experienced mechanics(in case one is injured),all parts and tools on hand and a plan for unforseen problems/expenses

    3. ChrisFix on Youtube has a complete Prius battery change published. If I remember correctly he did the entire job in under a day for under $1500. I don’t recall him having to use special tools. Just in case you want to take a stab at it yourself for significant savings. I do all of my car repairs now using youtube videos as a guide and its saved me a ton of money.

  4. We had family visiting. We did not want to overwhelm them but we walked them through our water catchment system, wood heating systems and our gardens.
    When they left they knew we were concerned about food shortages, seismic events and grid down situations. Just leading horses to water here.

    Thanks for the reminder to store more food. A tangible investment that you can eat will become more important very soon.

  5. OK, Jim, I’m an Oklahoma farm boy and thought I knew my way around equipment fairly well, BUT – what is a chicken tractor? A small Ford powered by hens?

      1. I converted one of those into a rabbit hutch this week. The wife and kids went to the feed mill for chicken feed last week and came back with bunnies from an Amish roadside stand! I had built the tractor years ago for a flock of meat birds. It’s been sitting unused- glad I kept it.

        We got hit by the same severe storms as 3AD last night. Glad I cut the grass yesterday! Other than the greenhouses, we shouldn’t have to water the garden this weekend. The hard rain did however destroy some of our recent lettuce transplants and other sensitive field crops. Heading out now to repair one of the pear trees damaged by the recent high winds.

        Also on the list this week is to fix the kids’ yamaha moto quad. Stalls out when idling. Any suggestions from readers would be welcome. Im a carpenter not a mechanic, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut on occasion.

  6. In doing some reading about natural lacto-fermentation, I came across a fermentation Festival. The location is Reesburg Wisconsin. It just so happens I’ll be in that neck of the woods visiting at the end of September, first week or so of October. Natural fermentation is of great interest to me as a prepper food source. It runs two weekends October 4th 5th and 6th, and again on the 12th and 13th. Just thought I would pass this along for anyone else who might be in the area visiting, or those that might live only A few hours away.

  7. I retired a couple of weeks ago so the last few weeks have been laying out our priorities that have been set aside for many years. Weeding, planting, canning, organizing and so forth are all on our list as well as repairs to the house. We live in the country and this is harvest season which means hay flies until it is thrashed and bailed. We have tried freeze drying raspberries but experienced a couple of power interruptions from hay on the powerlines so our freeze dryer kept resetting. We will freeze the fruit for now and freeze dry it in the fall.

    I switched to canning and put up some strawberry rhubarb jam. We have both strawberries and rhubarb in abundance on the property. The blackberries are coming on now so that will be my next canning session. Peanut butter and jelly is always a good storage item, especially with grand children.

    I planted a fall crop of peas and tried putting in lettuce, mustard greens and onion starts. If I am lucky I will get stick onions out of the onion starts. I expect the greens to bolt but tried to put them in an area with some shade so we will see what happens.

    Lilly you might try Territorial Seed for broccoli seeds. We have had very good luck with their seeds and they are meant for zones in the northwest including Idaho.

  8. We worked on our food preps this week.There was a good sale on boneless chicken breast,so some were canned and the rest went to the Meal Saver. Also vacuum sealed up a fair amount of hard candy for barter,along with white rice and elbow pasta.There is a great sale at Costco on the large jars of Tasters Choice Coffee so we stocked up. A sunny and hot week is predicted so the Solar Oven will bake bread and a small roast.
    God BlessAll,and Long Live The Republic

  9. Moved into a new home in April, so had precious little time to prepare between settling in, and taking care of grandkids while the newest grandbaby was born. Beautiful, healthy, girl. Thank the Lord. However, I ordered bulk supplies from Costco, Walmart, Bob’s Red Mill, Nuts.com, etc. The poor UPS guy has been lugging huge boxes up the stairs to the front door for weeks now. I realize that’s not OpSec, but I’m in a pinch at the moment. I also took advantage of Amazon Prime day, but not intentionally. I found high quality queen size blow up beds for only $35/each, normally at least $65 – I bought 4. They are electric, but you can substitute a manual foot pump if needed. My opinion is you can never have enough beds for extended family that might show up. I’ve been growing tomatoes and potatoes in felt pots on the deck due to lack of time to plant the property this year. All the other things I planted failed due to heat and lack of water while I was playing gramma. I researched the “grand solar minimum” to the degree that I am finally convinced that it’s real, unlike “global warming”. I am in process of working with other family members to get a large greenhouse up and ready for 2020 spring planting. The master bedroom walk in closet has been converted to a storeroom because the pantry is full. I am considering milk goats for milk and cheese, but I’m hesitant and will do more research. I purchased a pound of delicious goat cheese at the local farmer’s market – $19/lb, as well as fresh cucumbers (now pickles). I will be going back this week to purchase more cucumbers and green beans for pickling since I failed at growing my own. I picked up a variety of fresh local berries and froze them. I found a local source for fresh eggs – the eggs have a gorgeous deep yellow yolk, and on the honor system you can swing by, grab a few dozen eggs out of the refrigerator in the garage and drop $3 into a can. I love my neighbors! I really miss having my own chickens… sigh. I’ve been practicing my sourdough bread making skills and am enjoying not having to buy bread at the store. I refuse to buy processed foods, so I am forcing myself to only eat whole foods, unless it’s something I can make. I located a local rancher who is now providing organic whole chickens, in addition to beef, pork and lamb. The chicken costs almost as much as the beef and pork per pound, which seems outrageous, but you have to look at their costs for producing organic birds. Sigh… I’m also trying to research nutritional requirements vs. stored foods to understand how I could provide healthy meals if I was unable to source meat and eggs. I thought maybe studying how vegetarians eat, might be insightful? I did purchase bulk nuts and seeds, and am working on the legumes. There are “case sales” at a local market in about a month or two. I might be able to purchase bulk beans half price. We’ll see. I stocked up on canning supplies and bulk spices. So much more still to do.

  10. In the old days of horse drawn equipment the tractor was the axil, wheels and seat that the driver sat on. The equipment was attached to the back as on a pickup truck. You could drive the horses from barn to field and also be able to leave plows harrows etc at the place you finished for the day making it much easier than unhooking the team and walking behind them home. Picture an 18 wheeler ” tractor trailer” the word was shortened from tractor and trailer. Thus a tractor is 2 wheels and axil used to move something. A chicken tractor is a set of wheels on a chicken pen you move around a field or yard to access fresh grass. Now days the word dolly is used as in a tow dolly to pull a small car behind an RV.
    Love the posts and all the ideas you all share.

  11. Well, we finally got 3 sides of the new garden fenced in with T-posts and hog panels, picked up a 6’ Wide gate at Tractor Supply and got 2 old round bales of hay plus what was left of 3 REALLY old round bales. Temps here have been hovering close to the 100 degree mark so it took me 2 days to spread out the really old hay plus about half of a round bale in the first garden space, at least a foot thick. Then, I watered it a bit. The next day, the sprinkler got set up in the middle of it to wet it down some more. Now, we just have to wait for Nature to rake its course and turn it into compost.

    The little shed that was full of old rotted sorghum heads when we bought the place finally got cleaned out and all that “compost” has been dumped on the second garden area. Once the sun dries it out and the UV rays kill any nasties left in it, I will spread it out and cover it with a foot of hay, then water it and let it compost, too. Still have to fence in the 4th side of the garden and install the gate. Then, I have some seed potatoes to throw in. I doubt I will get anything to harvest from them but I am hoping they will send down roots to start breaking up the soil below the hay.

    Meanwhile, I got stung by something while taking a break from the hay spreading the other day. We think it might have been a scorpion because of the way my hand has swollen up. I am sitting in the ER right now, waiting for antibiotics. The doctor thinks I may have picked up Staph or Strep from the sting. And it itches like the dickens! Okay, that sucked!! 2 shots of antibiotics in my butt! But I should be out of here shortly. Then, because we are in town, we can run a few other errands.

    Note to self… keep the work gloves on!

  12. I am already seeing a slight uptick in food prices. A couple cents here and there. Gasoline will also jump due to the ethanol mandate, which will impact delivery, which sets the cycle in motion.

  13. Got back from vacation yesterday and all our animals and plants survived. A reliable and competent house sitter is such a blessing. However, he seems to have forgotten that he was welcome to the chicken eggs. When we got home one of our hens had gone broodie for the first time and won’t leave the seven or so eggs she is sitting on. Crossing our fingers for some new chicks.

  14. Planted our second crop of peas and corn today. We ate and canned the first crops. Trying to save some seed from our heirloom pencil cob corn, but the squirrels really love it. Hoped to get enough for seed next year and to grind some fresh corn meal this year. We need to eat more fried squirrel simmered in gravy with some home made gravy. Our yellow squash did really good this year, probably picked 20 gallons of squash. The heat in this region has killed it along with longer summer days. Okra is over 6 feet tall now, picked 10 gallons today. I really like fried okra with fresh purple hull peas with the pea juice easing thru the okra. A slice of fresh cornbread, a couple of ears of baked corn on the cob, and maybe a smoked chicken thigh is an awesome supper. We finished our first cutting of hay about a month ago. Our next cutting will be huge. Put 250 pounds of commercial fertilizer per acre along with about 10 inches of rain, 70+ degree nights will probably yield 5 round bales (4’x5′)per acre easy. Looking for a 2 week break in the rain to cut all the fields. Probably not.
    Very discouraging that calf prices are so low. I guess the feed lots are afraid to fill up because of the unknown corn harvest due to all the floods in the mid-west. I have lots of projects I need to do but 95 degree temps and 80% humidity really saps an old man.

  15. Got more ammo delivered this week. My new garden and orchard still need to be fenced. Ordered 600 feet of 8 foot high elk netting, which is supposed to be good for 25 years.

    I’m learning more about our new location. Calm nights in the 40s during growing season and daily winds from 20 to 30 mph by afternoon, day after day, with usual temp in the low 60s. Too cool for crop production

    Looks like a greenhouse is needed. Our potatoes and tomatoes get sorely beaten by the winds.

    Ran hard for the first time in many years, this morning. A buck was grazing in our yard and I’m sure it is the one that was stripping leaves off our fruit trees. I ran him off. Will be getting a deer tag.

    Had a contractor drill holes for my garden fence. Saved me several days of labor, getting postholes for the 200 foot by 100 foot area.

    Spent all day at our Fruit Club summer pruning and bud grafting clinic. Learned a lot, hosted by the grower who produces 58,000 pounds of apples on an acre and a half. Yes, he sold 29 tons of apples from his intensive orchard. His trees look like columns of apples.

    His goal is to try to harvest 125 apples from each 10-foot high tree, shaping the trees into a structure 5-6 feet in diameter. So from a footprint of about 15 square feet on the ground, trying to sell 60 dollars of quality fruit.

    I learned to do summer bud grafting today, starting 5 new trees. Club members are very generous to eachother with all manners of horticulture.

    One member gave me 8 walnut trees today. I also was given an armload of summer squash. Another member gave me an heirloom “20 Ounce” variety potted apple tree. A mature healthy tree of this variety produces apples weighing 20 ounces each.

    This week my CERT team practiced building searches.

    May God Bless your lives.

  16. Zucchini idea, bought a vegetable noodle maker,might try making zucchini noodles and drying them like pasta nests. You only have that much left over zucchini? Had that from 2-3 plants.

  17. Lily,
    I grow and save broccoli seeds. We are in Zone 6/7 and plant Fall broccoli. To grow out the seeds, the broccoli must winter-over. In Spring, the broccoli will complete its growth-cycle within a couple of months. Very long fronds will develop on the broccoli plants and those fronds will have small yellow flowers that will provide seed pods. The pods are between 1-2 inches in length and must be dried for viable seed. (Bees are attracted to the flowers, too.)

    How you handle your harvest depends on the size of the area you want to grow out. We grow out several very long double-rows because some seeds are retained for sprouting.

    We let the pods stay on the fronds until dry. When it is time to collect the pods, we use a sheet or tarp and will machete-down the long stalks. When finished harvesting, we bring the harvest to the back porch where we can begin to pluck pods in the shade.

    Pods are placed in containers, then when it is time to get seeds from the pods, you can grab a very small quantity and rub them together in your hands, allowing the seeds to drop from the pods into a plastic container.

    This is a chore that children and elderly can do, and it’s a chore that can be broken up into a number of segments, if needed.

    Growing and saving your own seed is so critical to gardening! Not only can you save money, you can obtain your own seeds, and you can grow seeds for sprouting for yourself or for small livestock.

  18. Harvested all spinach and lettuce. Picked first batch of green beans-about 3lbs. Our broccoli is the same as Lily’s. We bought plants already grown from a local store. We’ll be more careful next time. Last year’s broccoli plants were beautiful. We also picked our first tomato. Food prices are rising and we’re getting more clever at stretching our dollar, but only so much you can do.

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